April 24, 2015

Black women in the US want top-level jobs but are less likely to get them

Black American women are more likely than white American women to strive for top-level jobs, but are less likely to attain them.

The Center for Talent Innovation released a report this week after conducting a survey of working women in the US. 22% of the black women who responded said that they aspired to positions with prestigious titles, compared with just 8% of the white respondents. However, 44% of the black respondents said that they felt "stalled" in their careers, compared with 30% of the white respondents.

Moreover, over half of the black women surveyed were unsatisfied with their rate of promotion, compared with around a quarter of the white women.

The report recommends training to help company directors recognize unconscious biases that may be keeping them from promoting minority employees.

Graziella Bertocchi looks at the education and employment gap among races in the US, suggesting that the history of slavery may still be having an effect on the distribution of labor. Empirical evidence shows that racial education inequality has been closing over time but is still persistent. She says that policies designed to remove attainment inequalities between races in schools can favor income equalization, but this is by no means an immediate solution.

Female representation on boards in general continues to be a topic for debate. Ghazala Azmat says that promoting diversity and equal opportunities could help to break down cultural barriers and make up for past inequities, though this may have an immediate negative impact on firm performance.

Nina Smith discusses the advantages of introducing quotas on boards of directors, but notes that offering minority employees adequate training and progression pathways lower down in the company will ensure that there is a good stream of able minority candidates in the pipeline for board positions.

Read more here.

Related articles:
Slavery, racial inequality, and education, by Graziella Bertocchi
Gender diversity in teams, by Ghazala Azmat
Gender quotas on boards of directors, by Nina Smith