The intent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1991 amendment was to prohibit discrimination in employment based on race, color, national origin, religion, and gender and bring equality to employee hiring, transfers, promotions, compensation, access to training, and other employment-related decisions. Although there are visible cracks in the glass ceiling, after more than 45 years it still not broken!

Among graduates from elite MBA programs around the world, men continue to outpace women at every career stage, including their first entry-level professional job. According to the Harvard Business Review, “reports of progress in advancement, compensation and career satisfaction are at best overstated, at worst just plain wrong”. Even after adjustments are made for years of experience, industry and region, new research from Catalyst shows that men start their careers at a higher level than women, even among women that aspire to senior executive-level positions.

Now, some may argue that these differences are due to women delaying or postponing their career to raise children, or women not wanting to attain the highest levels of management, or regional differences, but the Catalyst research shows that these excuses don’t hold water under scrutiny.

Is your company guilty of systemic bias? Perform the following ‘test” and see. Take the resumes of your most recently hired 50-100 people in leadership/professional roles, remove their names from the resume to insure anonymity, and ask your leadership team to determine, based solely on the merits of the resume, where the hire should be positioned in the company, what salary band or grade they would expect to see the person at, what their expected rate of pay would be and then compare that with where they were actually placed.

Not sure you really want to know the answer to that question? Consider the following:

So, what are the Top 10 things you can do to drive out systemic bias and protect your organization:

  1. Survey the landscape of your organization – what does it look like? How is your diversity? Is it representative of your hiring population?
  2. Review your hiring practices, including your pay structures and look for equity not only among people in a similar group of jobs and roles, but also look for equity among people with similar background and experience placed in different job groups and roles. Ask yourself, why are these employees in different roles and groups – is there a bona fide business reason?
  3. Develop mentoring systems to recognize and grow underutilized talent within your organization.
  4. Strategically establish affinity groups.
  5. Integrate customized career planning into your performance management system
  6. Provide advancement opportunities.
  7. Broaden your hiring pool to include well qualified women and then ensure they’re properly placed in the organization.
  8. Establish metrics and measure progress and identify opportunities for improvement early.
  9. Train your leaders to recognize and eliminate bias and discrimination.
  10. Provide employees with a complaint procedure where they can raise issues and give you an opportunity to resolve them. Allowing employees to raise issues and see them resolved enhances an organization’s culture and drives engagement and loyalty.

While it’s uncomfortable to learn about these issues in an organization, finding out about them from your own employees is much more desirable, and less expensive than receiving a letter from an outside 3rd party, whether it’s the EEOC , an attorney or a labor union. Remember, if you don’t address these issues, someone else will.