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Reflections on the labyrinth: Investigating Black and Minority Ethnic leaders’ career experiences

Wyatt, M. & Silvester, J. (2015). Reflections on the labyrinth: Investigating Black and Minority Ethnic leaders’ career experiences. Human Relations, 68(8), pp. 1243-1269. doi: 10.1177/0018726714550890


Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) employees appear to experience more difficulty reaching senior leadership positions than their white counterparts. Using Eagly and Carli’s (2007) metaphor of the labyrinth our aim was to give voice to black and minority ethnic managers who have successfully achieved senior management roles, and compare their leadership journeys with those of matched white managers. This paper used semi-structured interviews and attribution theory to examine how 20 black and minority ethnic and 20 white senior managers, from a UK government department made sense of significant career incidents in their leadership journeys. Template analysis was used to identify facilitators and barriers of career progression from causal explanations of these incidents. Although BME and white managers identified four common themes (visibility, networks, development, and line manager support), they differed in how they made sense of formal and informal organisational processes to achieve career progression. The findings are used to theorise about the individual and organisational factors that contribute to the leadership journeys of minority ethnic employees.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright Sage 2015
Publisher Keywords: Ethnicity, Minority Ethnic, Race, Leadership, Labyrinth, Diversity, Careers, Career Progression, Sense-making
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Bayes Business School > Management
Text - Accepted Version
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