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Building Trust Between Managers and Diverse Women Direct Reports

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Trust between managers and direct reports is essential to forming productive workplace relationships, facilitating employee engagement, navigating the workplace, and improving overall performance across the organization. However, diverse women, defined in Building Trust Between Managers and Diverse Women Direct Reports as those belonging to racial minority groups in North America, often face greater challenges than white women in forming trusting relationships with their managers. Among other factors, negative stereotyping and exclusion from influential networks can influence the ways in which diverse women experience workplaces and can limit diverse women’s access to trusting relationships.

The report examines two dimensions of trust: 

  • Disclosure: When a direct report communicates sensitive or personal information to her manager.
  • Reliance: The direct report’s ability to rely on her manager to take action on her behalf.

The analyses, which include perspectives from both diverse women and white male managers, show that:

  • Diverse women’s disclosure with their white male managers is lower than white women’s.
  • Disclosure predicted engagement with the organization for diverse women, but not for white women.
  • Reliance for diverse women and white women is similar. However, diverse women’s perception of their ability to rely on their managers made no difference to their satisfaction regarding career advancement opportunities while for white women it did.
  • White male managers may overestimate the level of trust in relationships with diverse women direct reports.
  • Organization-wide efforts are needed to overcome barriers to building trust in relationships between white male managers and diverse women direct reports.

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Mentor Circle Sponsors: NYSE Euronext, Seagate Technology LLC
Associate Circle Sponsors: Cardinal Health Foundation; The Chubb Corporation; The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; ING; Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
Research Partners: American Express CompanyBMO Financial GroupChevron CorporationDeloitte LLPDesjardins GroupDeutsche Bank AGErnst & Young LLPHewlett Packard CompanyIBM CorporationMcDonald's CorporationUPS