Make it Easier for Minorities to Advance to Leadership Roles in Business?
"Excuse me, sir. I'm looking for the Color Line. Would you know where I can find it?" (Miller)
The United States has made great strides in regard to minority relations by electing its first black president. By today's standard, minority entails many different things such as classifying by nationality, race, religious preference, physical disability, gender or sexual preference. Throughout history, there have been many great leaders who came from their respective minority groups. For example, few people are aware of the fact that the Roman Empire had black emperors and even less know that one of them, Septimius Severus, through his legislative changes to military pay scales and community control laws, may not only have been the greatest black emperor, he may actually have been the most influential Roman emperor of them all. "Severus brought many changes to the Roman military. Soldiers' pay was increased by half, they were allowed to be married while in service, and greater opportunities were provided for promotion into officer ranks and the civil service. The entire praetorian guard, discredited by the murder of Pertinax and the auctioning of their support to Julianus, was dismissed. The emperor created a new, larger praetorian guard out of provincial soldiers from the legions. Increases were also made to the two other security forces based in Rome: the urban cohorts, who maintained order; and the night watch, who fought fires and dealt with overnight disturbances, break-ins and other petty crime. These military reforms proved expensive, but the measures may well have increased soldiers' performance and morale in an increasingly unsettled age." (Meckler) Barak Obama may or may not be the modern day equivalent of Septimius Severus, but one thing is for sure, by having a minority leader in the white house, other minorities will face all new levels of scrutiny. So, does having a new black president make it easier for minorities to advance to leadership roles in the business world? This paper aims to examine the evidence on all sides and come to a conclusion that is supported by the data.
A funny thing happened on the way to work
With a new black president and many new minority millionaires throughout the nation, one would think that it has become okay to be a minority in the United States. It appears that something clearly has changed because the nation has a plethora of all new influential power brokers that sway both black and white alike. The recently passed singer Michael Jackson, sports stars like Michael Jordon, Lebron James, Shaq and Tiger Woods, movie and television stars like Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, J Lo, Oprah, Chris Rock, George Lopez and other stars like OJ, Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre have all crossed the not so imaginary color line. In one way or another, these minorities have made their own levels of contribution to our society which has technically reduced the perceived level of racism. They, in a sense, have made it okay to be a minority. But, is this new found level of acceptance towards minorities carrying over into the world of business, finance or politics? Are minorities getting and thriving in jobs at the mid to upper levels of management in the business, finance or political spectrum?
Throughout the United States, statistics show that there have been more minorities hired; but, those minorities face barriers to advancement once the hiring process has been completed. Therefore, any cure all solution by Human Resource departments institute for diversity training initiatives have not addressed the major issue of minorities being overlooked for regular promotions. But before one can worry about mid to upper levels of job opportunities and promotions, one must consider the employment picture as a whole. "In October, employers took 2,127 mass layoff actions involving 217,182 workers. Mass layoff events decreased by 434 and associated initial claims by 30,824 from September. Over the month, the number of manufacturing events, at 619, decreased by 237, and associated initial claims, at 70,572, decreased by 26,494." (Bureau of Labor Statistics) There are vast differences between white and minority opinions when it comes to the subject of jobs.
A 2006 Gallup's Annual Minority Rights and Relations Poll found that "blacks are much more likely than whites or Hispanics to agree with the notion that society is divided into the 'haves' and 'have-nots.' Roughly two in three blacks (67%) say American society is divided into these two classifications, while only 42% of whites and 31% of Hispanics feel this way. Most whites (57%) and Hispanics (64%) say American society is not divided. Hispanics are the least likely of the three groups to acknowledge such a division." (Carrol) Unemployment statistics give a more accurate understanding of these poll numbers. Consider the implications of the high level of unemployment -- that is because some groups are affected more than others.
Unemployment Rate (1)
Change in Payroll Employment (2)
Average Hourly Earnings (3)
Consumer Price Index (4)
Producer Price Index (5)
U.S. Import Price Index (6)
(1) In percent, seasonally adjusted. Annual averages are available for Not Seasonally Adjusted data.
(2) Number of jobs, in thousands, seasonally adjusted.
(3) For production and nonsupervisory workers on private nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted.
(4) All items, U.S. city average, all urban consumers, 1982-84=100, 1-month percent change, seasonally adjusted.
(2) Output per hour, nonfarm business, quarterly data, percent change from previous quarter at annual rate, seasonally adjusted
United States - Quarterly Data
Data extracted on: November 20, 2009 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Minorities and whites clearly see the business and political worlds and their relation to unemployment or underemployment very differently. Whites are far more likely to consider themselves on an equal footing when it comes to job opportunities against minorities. Hispanics and the vast majority of blacks strongly disagree and blacks know that unemployment is one of the most pressing issues this nation faces. If minorities believe in the cultural divide of 'haves' and 'have-nots,' it is also not a great leap of faith to understand that minorities know that they are in the wrong group, they have been labeled as the 'have-nots.'
That is because they are the ones more likely to be unemployed. As CNN points out, the percentage of Whites who are unemployed is 3.9%, Hispanics 5.8%, and Blacks at 8.5%. This is not just a problem in the United States. Like the United States, cities all over Canada are trying to become more diverse in the mid to upper levels of management for business, finance and politics. An extremely multicultural city like Toronto, Canada can often be compared to cities like Indianapolis, Detroit or Minneapolis. The majority of the population may be considered to be minorities but the management spectrum is often all white. "In the most diverse GTA municipalities, visible minorities make up nearly 50 per cent of the population. But just 13 per cent of the top leaders in the public, non-profit and corporate sectors belong to visible minorities, according to a study earlier this year. Corporations fared the worst, with minorities accounting for just 5 per cent of senior executive positions in the firms studied." (Toronto Star)
Toronto has been trying to add more diversity to corporate, financial and governmental management jobs. "The initiative, called DiverseCity, has met or exceeded its targets, the organizers announced last night. More than 300 people from minority groups have made it on to public, private and non-profit boards, and 140 have become spokespersons helping to ensure a broader range of media voices. This is good news not just for minorities but for everyone. When all our citizens are able to contribute their utmost, society as a whole benefits. Studies have linked diversity in leadership to better corporate performance and more creative thinking." (Toronto Star)
Who's the boss?
Far too often, qualified minorities are kept from advancing up through the corporate ladder within organizations. Many believe this is only a minor setback, but it seems it is long-term phenomena. "Nor does the…