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Keywords:

  • diversity;
  • leadership;
  • succession;
  • succession planning

Abstract

The development of gender diversity in leadership positions is a critical need for many companies as they develop strategies for how they will compete in the future. In this article, we test hypotheses about diverse leadership succession, using survey and archival data. Survey data were collected from executives and managers who responded to questions about their succession planning, successors, and the context of diversity in their work environments. Results indicate that the nomination of women as successors was positively associated with more favorable diversity climates for women. Furthermore, we found that the nomination of female successors was positively associated with the performance of incumbent managers who nominated them as their successors. We also found that the performance of incumbent managers moderated the relationship between diversity climate and the nomination of female successors. Lower-performing incumbents were less likely than higher-performing incumbents to nominate women as successors when the diversity climate was unfavorable. When the diversity climate was favorable, lower performers were more likely and higher performers were equally likely to nominate women as successors. We found no differences in the degree of objectivity in incumbents' descriptions of the strengths of female successors versus their male counterparts or in the degree of subjectivity in their developmental needs. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.