Perceptions of company leadership diversity don't always match up with reality, according to a new report from Owler.
In its 2017 Perceptions of Leadership Team Diversity report, Owler asked more than 11,700 employees and other stakeholders at more than 1,100 organizations, "Do you think this company has a diverse leadership team?" The rankings demonstrate which companies are perceived to have the most diverse leaders by industry, region, and division, across both public and private companies.
Out of the report's full list of 17 companies, the tech industry came in at no. 7. However, the average diversity perception score for technology companies was exactly equal to the median, the report noted.
In terms of other industries, Owler found that retail was perceived to have the most diverse leadership teams—which is to be expected, as one-third of the retail industry's labor force is made up of ethnic and racial minorities, according to a press release.
SEE: How CXOs can develop a diverse workforce (Tech Pro Research)
Perceived diversity rankings differed by region as well: Across the US, southern companies were perceived as having more diverse leadership teams than those in other locations. Specifically, the division of the US that includes companies based in Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee were ranked most diverse—again, not surprising, considering Mississippi and Alabama are two of the most diverse states, according to the most recent US Census, the report noted. The Northeast region is considered to be the least diverse, the report found.
However, perceptions were not always equated with the truth of the situation. For example, in terms of company listings, Snap-on, Autozone, Mary Kay, New York Life Insurance, and MillerCoors all came in near the top of this year's ranking for perceived leadership diversity.
However, all of these companies have white, male leaders, the report noted. And although Mary Kay has more diversity toward the top of its organization, it has had a white, male CEO for more than a decade.
"News flash for executives: You're being watched," said Jim Fowler, founder and CEO of Owler, in a press release. "Members of the Owler Community are following your every move. And, for many of you, they weren't impressed with the diversity of your company's leadership team. Knowing that, we want to invite those who had a strong showing to take pride in having established a reputation for embracing diversity. And for those who didn't fare as well, we invite you to reflect on what can be done now and in the future to become known for being more diverse than you are today."
Here are the rankings for perceptions of leadership diversity by industry.
Percent different from median: +12.30%
2. Transportation and warehousing
Percent different from median: +8.20%
3. Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology
Percent different from median: +7.40%
4. Travel, recreation, and leisure
Percent different from median: +5.70%
5. Aerospace and defense
Percent different from median: +3.30
6. Energy and utilities
Percent different from median: +0%
Percent different from median: +0%
8. Banking, financial services, and insurance
Percent different from median: -4.10%
9. Automobiles and parts
Percent different from median: -4.90%
10. Chemicals, metals, and mining
Percent different from median: -4.90
- Is diversity in tech truly possible? 3 executives share their success stories (TechRepublic)
- Designing the future: Silicon Valley struggles with diversity and inclusivity (ZDNet)
- Tips for building and advancing your leadership career (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Does your company need a chief diversity officer? (TechRepublic)
- Closing the tech gender gap: How women can negotiate a higher salary (TechRepublic)
- Can these tech tools fight gender bias and increase workplace diversity? (TechRepublic)
Alison DeNisco Rayome has nothing to disclose. She does not hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.