Opening Access to the Fast Track for Career Equity | MIT Sloan Management Review

Talent Development

This article discusses the importance of addressing situational factors, beyond bias and discrimination, that contribute to or hinder the career progression of women and people of color. The article analyzes multiple years of promotion, retention, performance, and pay data from 20 large and midsize companies, employing over 700,000 individuals. The findings reveal that four factors significantly influence career advancement and pay equity for women and people of color: 1) performance ratings, 2) access to accelerator roles, 3) reporting relationships, and 4) flexible working arrangements. Apart from performance ratings, these factors are associated with an employee’s circumstances, rather than their knowledge, skills, or behavior. The article provides suggestions for eliminating and mitigating the negative aspects of these situational factors relative to equitable career advancement and pay equity. One case study describes an organization that leveraged workforce data as a tactic. By analyzing the success profile of its salaried workforce, this company identified 12 factors that determined whether someone would be promoted. Surprisingly, situational factors dominated this success profile, which shocked company leaders who previously believed their culture operated as a meritocracy. While the article may require time to thoroughly read, it presents many valuable insights that are worth the time.