Vaya Insights
Vaya Vision Reveals Significant Biases in Leadership Development

Vaya Insight Exposes Substantial Bias in Leadership Growth

Vaya Vision Survey Reveals Significant Biases in Leadership Development and DE&I Initiatives

  •  Wide gaps divide males and females in selection for career advancement
  • Lack of objective assessments jeopardize women and minority leadership growth
  • Perceptions of company DE&I commitment, connection and engagement differ between genders and races

CHICAGO, IL – September 14, 2021Vaya Group, a global leadership development consultancy, announced key findings of its annual 2021 Vaya Vision Survey of more than 1,000 U.S. professionals. As businesses struggle with how to acclimate hybrid workers, develop valued employees and manage growing pressures to diversify their workforce, the results revealed insights into how today’s leaders should prepare for tomorrow’s world of work.

The Vaya Vision survey explored how companies are approaching Leadership Development (LD) programs, as well as how businesses are faring with their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives. In both cases, vast inequities persist and pose serious challenges to executive management.

LD Programs Show Gender Imbalance in Selection and Participation

When it comes to developing emerging leaders and high potential (HiPo) talent, the survey found that men have several advantages over their female counterparts. For example:

  • 22% more men than women participate in LD programs – that’s nearly a quarter more of the workforce.
  • 58% more women than men have to ask to be included in LD opportunities.       The biggest group is women in upper management – 67% of who have to self-advocate for LD. This is followed by 50% of Asian women.
  • 40% more males than females are informally assessed for enrollment in LD programs, 39% more men are formally assessed, and 35% more men are selected by their managers.
  • 63% of emerging leaders are chosen based on subjective, biased and informal criteria vs. a professional, formal assessment.

“It’s concerning that females and people of color are so widely underrepresented for selection in LD programs and not given the same opportunity as men to fully develop their leadership skills. Many candidates are selected by their managers for LD opportunities based on similarities and a ‘looks like me’ approach – not by an objective, unbiased assessment,” said Paul Eccher, PhD, co-founder, president and chief executive officer, Vaya Group.

DE&I Deficiencies Lead to Misperceptions

Lack of a formal assessment process to identify and develop emerging leaders has a domino effect on the rest of the organization. When companies lack diversity in leadership, employees tend to develop skewed perceptions. This, in turn, impacts their sense of recognition, belonging and connectedness.

Here’s what the survey found:

  • Caucasian men are nearly twice as likely as other respondents (including women and minorities) to say that their organization visibly reinforces its commitment to diversity, and that diverse representation has increased.
  • Less than 1 in 4 minority respondents believe that promotions are based on objective measures. In particular, non-Caucasian women feel the most under-recognized for their work, starting with 24% of Asian females. This is followed by African-American women (19%) and Latino/Hispanic women (15%).
  • 40% of white men feel connected and engaged at their company compared to 28% of white women, 24% of Asian women and 13% of Asian men.

“One’s sense of inclusion and belonging is important to how employees perceive their value in the workplace, as well as how committed the organization is to their career advancement. As highlighted by this survey, there’s ample opportunity to create more sustainable pathways to DE&I success in leadership development. Organizations who ignore the perceptions and needs of their people now will likely struggle with a lack of diverse representation for years to come,” added Dr. Eccher.

Vaya Group is committed to helping businesses empower their HiPo employees to be future leaders with proven assessments, professional coaching and highly individualized virtual LD solutions like VayabilityTM.


For more information on the Vaya Vision survey, please visit:


About Vaya Group

Vaya Group helps the world’s leading companies identify, assess, cultivate and promote the talent needed to thrive in a competitive marketplace. Trusted by Fortune 1000 organizations spanning the globe and across industries, Vaya Group has provided assessment and coaching services to C-suite and senior executives, as well as managers and employees at all levels. Vaya Group was recognized on the Inc. 5000 annual list of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies. To learn more, visit

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