This work comes from a major database on women of color in prof level corporate positions – over 1700 women in 30 f 1000 corporations. Specifically they include african amer women; latinas; and asian women.
… the common theme among these barriers is lack of connection w/ others in the workplace. This work is part of a series on better understanding barriers to advancement among women.
Advice to people fo color about composition of their networks has often been assimilationist--Bthat minorities should attempt to compose their informal networks with majority group members, given that they often hold more powerful positions in orgs. However, the structural segregation typical in large organizations makes this difficult. In addition, as has been pointed out in work by Ibarra, homophily, or the extent of similarity between a pair of individuals, has been shown to be directly related to network composition. People wish to associate with others who are similar, and tend to receive more affective support from similar others (Ibarra, 1993). A hypothesis derived from this view is that that woc managers with a greater percentage of network members who are like themselves will be more successful than those with a greater percentage of those unlike themselves. Recent research has upheld the pluralist view. In a study of African-American managers, Brutus (1999) found that high-performing African-American managers tended to have more same-race ties in their informal networks than did low-performing African-American managers. But no one has looked at this among woc. This work is loosely based on the work that Herminia Ibarra did, on plurality Similarity among people access to informal networks
Survey data: respondents could list up to five people that they went to for advice on job issues. We asked them to note the race and gender of each of these people, and whether they worked for the resp’s company or not. The descriptive stats tell us the following: Asian women had the highest concentration of whites and men in their networks, representing a ‘blending in’ strategy. Latinas had a high concentration of whites in their networks, representing a ‘blending in’ strategy, but on average more than one-half their networks were female, which represents a ‘separatism’ strategy. African-American women had the highest concentration of other African-Americans in their networks, and also the highest concentration of women of their racial/ethnic group, which represents a ‘separatism’ strategy. (71% pf african amer women’s netowrks are other blacks; About 38% of afr amer women’s networks are other african american women by contrast, 55% of Asian women’s networks and latinas’ networks are made up of whites. A minority of latinas and asian women’s networks are made up of women of their same race – 18% of Latinas networks are made up of other latinas’ 19 of asian women’s networks are made up of other Asian women)
These results are based on linear regressions, controlling for demographic and occupational vars including occupation, age, and hierarchical level Having network members who worked in the organziation appeared to factor into socialization to the workplace, A fairly standard org commitment index, which included items such as I talk up this organization to my friends as a great place to work My values and the organization’s values are similar I am glad that I chose this organization to work for over others I was considering at the time I joined I am proud to tell others that I am part of this organization When we looked at the individual elements of the org commitment index, there were a couple of telling findings “ My values and the organization’s values are similar”: there was much higher agreement w/ this item when the network was high in company colleagues For African-American women, especially, limiting personal disclosure was an issue. They were most likely of all women of color groups to limit such disclosure, probably because of the higher workplace exclusivity they perceive. African-Americans were often aware of the negative consequences of withholding personal information, but reported that they often found advances from coworkers too intrusive for response. [i] Both African-American women and Latinas with high in-company network representation were less likely to limit disclosure about themselves at work. While this is not a measure of organizational commitment per se, it is one indication of a personal connection with the workplace. Establishing rapport by sharing one’s personal experiences is often key to building relationships; not doing so is a barrier to fitting in. These data reported here suggest that having very few in-company network members may exacerbate the difficulty of sharing personal information. Conversely, if management offers opportunities for in-company networking, women of color could be more comfortable with personal disclosure.
These results are based on linear regressions, controlling for demographic and occupational vars including occupation, age, and hierarchical level Presence of other African-American women Asian Women: Blending in Presence of whites and company colleagues Latinas: Neither No significance of independent variables
One possible reason for Afr amer women’s results: the high degree of exclusion they experienced at work. ‘ Exclusion’ scale consisted of items such as : a great deal of neg stereotypes exist about my group: Racist comments are tolerated Sexist comments are tolerated and Many employees feel uncomfortable around members of my racial/ethnic group
African-American women appear to succeed, to the extent they do, without being accepted as insiders
Asian findings: Had to balance: Appeal (to researcher) of alliance building among women of color with Presenting findings as they are Latinas: How is ‘heterogeneity’ defined? – looking white is one characteristic. Can we imply that one group is ‘more’ heterogeneous than another and why does that matter? African American women’s findings: If positioned as prescriptive, fear that organizations will not address ‘exclusivity’ of environments… It’s a very complex question that merits further discussion.
Networks of Corporate Women of Color _ Academy of Management presentation 2006
Women of Color and Informal Networks Academy of Management Conference August, 2006 Katherine Giscombe, Ph.D. Senior Director, Catalyst
Women of Color in Corporate Management: Barriers to Advancement Lack of Networking Opportunities % of Respondents Rating The Barrier as Important (To some/ great/ very great extent ) Lack of Mentor/sponsor Lack of Same-Race Role Models Lack of High visibility Assignments
Informal Networks and Women of Color (WOC) <ul><li>Approaches to networking </li></ul><ul><li>Blending in: Networking with those in power (i.e., white, male, colleagues at work) </li></ul><ul><li>Separating: Networking with similar others (in terms of race/gender, and those outside the work environment) </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships between networking approaches and outcomes (promotion rate and commitment to the organization? </li></ul>
Approaches to networking among Women of Color <ul><li>African-American Women </li></ul><ul><li>Separating: Networks high in other African-Americans, particularly African-American women </li></ul><ul><li>Latinas </li></ul><ul><li>Some separating and Blending in: Networks high in whites, but have relatively more women than men </li></ul><ul><li>Asian women </li></ul><ul><li>Blending in: Networks high in whites and men </li></ul>
What networking approach linked positively to commitment? <ul><li>African-American Women and Latinas: Blending in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only in terms of the presence of company colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Suggests the role of workplace colleagues in socializing those in marginalized groups </li></ul>
What networking approach linked positively to promotion? <ul><li>African-American Women: Separating </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Presence of other African-American women </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Asian Women: Blending in </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Presence of whites and company colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Latinas: Neither </li></ul>
Workplace Exclusion Perception of High Workplace Exclusivity 42% 27% 21% African-American Women Asian Women Hispanic/Latina
Implications <ul><li>Asian women appear to be able to leverage the presence of whites in networks </li></ul><ul><li>African-American women appear to succeed without being accepted as insiders </li></ul>
Further Questions / Challenges Raised by the Results <ul><ul><li>Heterogeneity of Latinas as possible reason for lack of promotion rate findings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>How is ‘heterogeneity’ defined? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reactions of progressive Asian women report reviewers – ‘We have not assimilated!’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are African-American women’s networks homogenous primarily because of push or pull factors? </li></ul></ul>