The chances for more diverse executive leadership start early, Ted Colbert, CEO of Boeing Global Services, said in an interview at the CNBC Evolve Summit on Tuesday.
As the aerospace manufacturer evaluates and tries to improve its own diversity, it keeps track of how its workers are progressing, to manager and executive level positions. Having that diverse talent early on means those employees end up in succession plans. Having a small number of people on numerous succession plans is a warning sign of a problem, Colbert said.
In October, Boeing expanded its executive council to 21 from 12 members, and one-third are people of color. Six members of the top executive council are Black.
But Colbert, who leads the aerospace giant's division that services defense and commercial products, said leaders themselves also need to reevaluate their own behaviors, warning that data on talent pools is hardly enough to solve the problem.
"This opportunity that we're in right now has given us a chance to improve the way [leaders] are educated about bias and discrimination and microinequities and things like that. Those are the things that feed the issues we've been talking about," he said.
"We can look at the data all that we want and try to put actions in place to make improvements, but if we don't improve with the way that our leaders operate every day and treat our teammates and help them go after the opportunities that are important to them, we won't make broad improvements."
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