Beyond diversity: a group of officers came together to discuss the current state of diversity in the workforce.

Author:Trevino, Joseph

Though many advances have been made, minorities in the work force still face the biggest hurdle: cracking the top managerial and CEO spots.

That was one of the many conclusions reached during the Chief Diversity Officers Roundtable that was held a the Tower Club, in Downtown Dallas. The business breakfast took place at the Skybox Room, on the 48th floor on Thursday, May 14th.

Organized by Comerica Bank and Latino Leaders Magazine, the Roundtable brought together Linda Forte, Chief Diversity Officer of Comerica Bank, Mina Kini, of Texas Health Resources, James Fripp of Yum! Brands, Kelley Johnson, of JC Penney and Terri Bryant-Harrell, Vice President, Corporate HR & Diversity of the Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG.

Monica Martinez, National Hispanic Business Affairs director of Comerica Bank also took part in the Roundtable. Jorge Ferraez, publisher of Latino Leaders Magazine, facilitated the discussion.

Though efforts to implement diversity in the workplace have been going on for decades, it still faces many challenges, the participants said. Hiring practices, especially regarding entry-level positions and some in middle management, have improved.

But the problems lie in how to prepare minority middle managers for the next step up the corporate ladder, they said. Johnson, from J.C. Penney, says that one of the major problems is being able to find minority candidates who have the skills and experience that is required of a senior executive's position.

"We know in this country that if you are over forty there's five Caucasians to one person of color. That's census data," she says. "By virtue of that, when you look at senior management, the pool of ethnically diverse individuals who are within an age span that probably has the experience, credentials to be in a senior executive level role, we're in a scarcity situation, which is why building the pipeline is so important."

But the challenge to rise to the requirements to reach executive level positions should not only be on minority candidates, but on senior leaders who must insists on not only mentoring middle managers, but taking a step further and sponsoring them, says James Fripp, of YUM! Brands.

"It's more about how do we engage, how do we create the safe environment where we can have open dialogue," Fripp says.

Still, many industries are still struggling with hiring diverse people, says Kini, of Texas Health Resources. For instance, she adds that in the U.S. only four per cent of nurses are...

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