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Social Capital with Human Capital development aligns individual to organizational goals

When I ask my trainees how they have progressed in their careers, they usually talk about developing their work skills through advanced college degrees, professional development classes, or from mentoring they have received. We call this Human Capital Development (HCD) of knowledge, skills, and abilities.

But if we really think about how we have advanced in our careers, we remember that someone sponsored us, or that we allied with a more powerful boss or executive, or networked inside and outside of our organizations. We call this Social Capital Development (SCD) of building strategic relationships and networks.

In my 2021 doctoral research study, I asked executive women leaders what barriers they faced in their careers and what strategies they used to overcome their barriers. Even when they experienced barriers due to the intersectionality of multiple characteristics like race, age, and weight, they were able to overcome them with a combination of human and social capital development strategies. They had a growth mindset that they could constantly learn, improve, and increase their skills and relationships to excel throughout their careers. They would leave organizations that would not enable their social capital development to join other organizations that valued and helped them develop their social capital. When they could not find other organizations, they created their own organizations to lead as executive leaders to align their personal SCD with their organization's.

My study found that organizations and leaders who align their SCD create mutually-beneficial relationships that grow both of their social capital simultaneously to create an inclusive working environment. This finding indicates the value of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training to develop and improve organizational culture that enables everyone in organizations to gain SCD as well as their HCD. Not only do individuals continue to develop and grow, but they also have high job satisfaction and career success which enhances organizational accomplishments.

For leaders who are interested in learning more about social capital development individually and organizationally, I have created a LinkedIn group to share individual and collective SCD strategies and please join me when I train "Understanding and Developing Cultural Diversity" online for Pryor Learning Solutions on February 3, 9, 17, or 22.


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