Despite spending millions on corporate diversity efforts, U.S. companies aren’t retaining Black professionals or promoting them to top positions, causing many of those workers to walk out of the doors in frustration, says a new report.
Black people account for about 12 percent of the U.S. population, but occupy only 3.2 percent of the senior leadership roles at large companies in the U.S. and just 0.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEO positions, according to the analysis by the Center for Talent Innovation, a workplace think tank in New York City.
The study was funded by Disney, Pfizer and other major corporate players. Its conclusions were drawn from a survey conducted online and via telephone in June of more than 3,700 people who work in white-collar jobs and have at least a bachelor’s degree.
About 65 percent of Blacks in the study said they have to work harder to advance, compared with only 16 percent of White employees.
“We hope that business leaders will respond to these findings by making a serious assessment of their own workplaces and creating a comprehensive plan of action,” Pat Fili-Krushel, the center’s CEO, said in a statement. “”We are especially concerned about the lack of awareness we discovered among White professionals.”
Perhaps the best way to enhance career opportunities for African-Americans, the study suggests, is for more companies to introduce bias training for managers, implement clear, consistent standards for promotions and hire decision-makers who are committed to diversity. Companies must also create a diversity hiring strategy specifically for Black employees.
The center’s study comes at a time when America continues to lose Black CEOs and companies are spending millions of dollars trying to diversify their staffs, often to little avail. In 2012, there were six Black Fortune 500 CEOs. Today there are three: Kenneth Frazier of Merck, Roger Ferguson of TIAA and Marvin Ellison of home improvement giant Lowe’s.
“It’s embarrassing because there are thousands of Black people who are just as qualified or more qualified than I am who deserve the opportunity, but haven’t been given the opportunity,” retired American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault told the researchers behind the study.