Understanding a Firm's Culture the Key to Success for Diverse Women

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It’s not surprising that policy alone can’t resolve workplace bias and diversify organizations. And, according to research from Catalyst, “unwritten rules or implicitly communicated workplace norms and behaviors” matter greatly. In “Navigating Organizational Cultures: A Guide for Diverse Women and Their Managers,” researchers argue that the behavior of diverse women and their managers can help to ensure success on the job.

Focus on Relationships

While networking is important for any professional, the report notes that diverse women need to make sure to “aim high and cast a wide net when developing relationships.” Even when someone is lucky enough to find a strong mentor and “champion” in their company or firm, the research shows that it’s wise to avoid becoming too dependent on that one person.

Fitting In vs. Giving In

But interestingly, the researchers also found that “fitting in” can also come with its burdens. Diverse women have to “maintain a good balance between self-identity and fitting in,” they argue. At the same time, the research shows that getting mired in negatives can only cripple a professional. The report recommends that diverse women professionals look to “overcome guardedness to cultivate trust in relationships” and simply acknowledge the reality of workplace bias.

Stun Them with Brilliance

Catalyst also found that it helped to “develop core competencies to instill a sense of confidence,” including such things as “technical knowledge; communication skill, both verbal and written; core knowledge of industry; interpersonal skills, including managing up and down; creativity; innovation; project and time management; and teamwork.” A focus on career goals is essential. According to the report, diverse women professionals need to work hard to maintain connections outside of work, staying involved in networking groups and relying on a support net outside of the job.

Managers Make the Difference

On the manager side, the report recommends that managers seek out diverse women hires and bring them into the fold, communicating much of the unwritten rules at the firm. Introductions are essential, of course, and managers can facilitate those relationships for diverse women on their staff. Not only should they help to make the introductions and push mentoring programs, managers need to make sure diverse women professionals are recommended for key strategic opportunities.

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