Market Commentary

It’s Frontline Leaders Who Make or Break Progress on Diversity

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in Market Commentary


People often reflexively equate leadership with the C-suite. But frontline leaders—the middle managers who directly supervise line employees—can have a huge impact on an organization’s performance. A large company may have hundreds or even thousands of people performing this role, and they have the most direct influence on the day-to-day experience of employees. Frontline leaders are particularly critical in implementing large cultural changes such as diversity and inclusion (D&I) initiatives, where even the best-intended programs will fail if they don’t have the right support at all levels.

Unfortunately, that support doesn’t always happen. Our research revealed that over a quarter of employees at large companies do not feel that their direct manager is committed to D&I. This is a major challenge as organizations seek to hire members of underrepresented groups—women, people of color, and people with LGBTQ status, among others—and create a more inclusive workplace to support them. Even when the executive team is fully committed, employees working under a less-than-committed direct manager are far less likely to feel welcome and included—and far more likely to leave for a job elsewhere. In short, getting frontline leaders to support D&I is a huge opportunity and should be a focus of every organization’s D&I strategy.

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