In my first years as a consultant, some of my most important mentors and role models were my direct line managers—and I quickly understood the influence people in that role can have. In fact, at a large company, there may be hundreds or even thousands of employees performing this role, directly affecting how people experience their work life.

That influence also has the power to help—or hinder—a company’s diversity program. Unfortunately, many managers are dropping the ball in this area; according to recent BCG research, more than 25% of employees at large companies feel that their direct manager is not committed to diversity and inclusion.

We have to turn this trend around. Frontline leaders can be responsible for significant cultural change, diversity and inclusion efforts chief among them. In our research, we found that women, LGBTQ employees, and people of color all agree that a bias-free day-to-day experience is one of the most important characteristics of a diverse and inclusive environment. From evaluations and promotions to group dynamics in meetings, frontline leaders can set the tone, ward off bias when it begins to creep in, and encourage an inclusive workplace.

Senior leaders have overlooked the influence frontline leaders can have in improving diversity and inclusion. Despite the fact that these managers and their reports make up 80% of the workforce, they get only 20% to 30% of available effective-leadership training. We have to pay more attention to this influential group. Without them, we’ll never see the diversity and inclusion change we so desperately need.

Full article here.