Elite careers still lack racial diversity

American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenaul
American Express Chairman and CEO Kenneth Chenault chatted before a 2004 press conference in New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even as the U.S. job market and economy improve, the number of blacks in elite careers has declined, in part due to cuts in racial diversity programs at many companies, according to a recent New York Times investigation.

More from the Times:

Only a little more than 1 percent of the nation's Fortune 500 companies have black chief executives, although there are some prominent exceptions, like Kenneth I. Chenault of American Express and Ursula M. Burns of Xerox. At the nation's biggest companies, about 3.2 percent of senior executive positions are held by African-Americans, according to an estimate by the Executive Leadership Council, an organization of current and former black senior executives.

While about 12 percent of the nation's working-age population is black, about 5 percent of physicians and dentists in the United States are black — a share that has not grown since 1990, according to an analysis of census data that was prepared for The New York Times by sociologists at Queens College of the City University of New York. The analysis found that 3 percent of American architects are black, another field where the share has not increased in more than two decades.

Nancy DiTomaso, author of the new book, "The American Non-Dilemma: Racial Inequality Without Racism," has researched how networking and social circles play into hiring discrimination.

Janell Ross wrote about that research for Huffington Post:

The way that whites, often unconsciously, hoard and distribute advantage inside their almost all white networks of family and friends is one of the driving reasons that in February just 6.8 percent of white workers remained unemployed while 13.8 percent of black workers and 9.6 percent of Hispanic workers were unable to find jobs, DiTomaso said...

"Across all three states where I did my research, I heard over and over again [white] people admitting that they don't interact very often with nonwhites, not at work, not at home or otherwise," said DiTomaso about the 246 interviews with working-class and middle-class whites she did over the course of about a decade in Tennessee, Ohio and New Jersey. Her research included detailed job histories and information about the way her study participants obtained jobs over the course of their careers.


The Black and White Labor Gap in America
"The unemployment rates for African Americans by gender, education, and age are much higher today than those of whites, and these unemployment rates for African Americans rose much faster than those for comparable groups of whites during and after the Great Recession. The unemployment rates for many black groups in fact continued to rise during the economic recovery while they started to drop for whites. The first few months of 2011 saw substantial employment gains for African Americans but job growth stalled yet again in the past few months." (Center for American Progress)

Obama And The Black Elite
"Are we free at last? Well, given that people of no color are truly free in America or anywhere else, I think we can say black Americans, problems acknowledged, are pretty close. So 'some folks talk too plain?' Well, Obama sure talks plain in his way, and in 2009, no one white or black tells him not to. And most of us think he talks just right." (Forbes)

Book says elite black students don't try for high-paying jobs
"Black students who graduate from elite colleges consistently gravitate toward less prestigious — though by no means less important — jobs in fields perceived as directly addressing social and racial inequities, such as education, social work and community and nonprofit organizing, the author found." (Inside Higher Ed)

Diversity Sounds Nice, But Limitations Exist In Elite Jobs
"The recession has hit people of color disproportionately hard. And it's forced a lot of working-class families out of their homes and their jobs. But the downturn also hurt minorities in elite careers." (NPR)

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