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Minority Report: The Role of Race in Hiring

by
Raghav Singh
May 8, 2012, 7:05 am ET

I started my professional career in recruiting when I was hired at a Native American casino to run the recruiting team. There was considerable consternation when I showed up because my boss had told people that I was an Indian, which had been interpreted to mean that I was Native American (I did wonder just how smart one has to be to think that someone with my last name was a Native American). Hiring Native Americans, especially for senior positions, was a goal of the casino and we were supposed to show preference in hiring to Native Americans. This was no easy task and my team was constantly berated for not hiring enough. Native Americans represent about 0.8% of the population, and of the ones that were qualified for senior roles had their pick of jobs.

This was when I learned just how much of a premium the claim to minority status can provide to a candidate. I had noticed that some of those who we hired didn’t look much like Native Americans, but more like Native Irish or Native Germans. Our only basis for classifying them as Native Americans were their personal claims about their ancestry, and apparently any claim was acceptable. I suggested that we ask anyone claiming Native American status for some proof, such as a tribal membership card, but was told that candidates would find this insulting — it was never explained why — so it went by the wayside. One of our managers was an African American individual who claimed that one of his ancestors, six generations back, was Native American. There was obviously no way to validate this and even if it was true it only made him 1/64 Native American but that was good enough for management and it got them off my back, so I didn’t complain.

The Diversity Dilemma

Employers are often desperate to hire minorities, which causes them to ignore obvious realities and creates incentives for candidates to lie. The case of Elizabeth Warren, currently running for a senate seat in Massachusetts, is the most recent reminder of how this works. Warren had described herself as a Native American while a professor at several universities, eventually making it to Harvard, where she dropped the claim. The school had claimed she was a minority as proof of its commitment to diversity. The claim was a dubious one: Warren is described as whiter than a polar bear with bleached teeth in a snowstorm. She supposedly had ancestors five generations back that was Native American. This may be impossible to prove, it’s equally impossible to disprove. This was obviously an advantage in getting hired at an elite institution. But once that goal was achieved, perpetuating the story would result in a stigma that she was hired because of her ancestry instead of her credentials and abilities.

One can hardly blame the university for accepting her claim — a Native American woman with an advanced degree in law from a major university … where would they find another? The number is so small that it doesn’t even register in the official education statistics.

The simple fact is that highly qualified minorities are still few in number. Recent census data show that the numbers of minorities with graduate degrees is only 4% of African Americans, about 3% of Hispanics, and 12% of Asians (compared to 8% of Caucasians). But in absolute numbers the quantities are small — only about 330,000 across all groups (compared to about 940,000 Caucasians). Add in the fact that a lot of advanced degrees held by minorities (other than Asians) tend to be in liberal arts or the social sciences and you can see that a minority candidate with an advanced degree in the sciences, IT, law, or business is a real prize catch.

You Get What You Pay For

If we reward minority status with advantages but expect people not to abuse them, we only have ourselves to blame. Take the venerable affirmative action programs as an example. The thinking behind affirmative action is to help disadvantaged minorities get ahead, but it produces some ridiculous outcomes — such as when affirmative action goals include Asians of all stripes. About 65% of people of Asian origin have a college degree and the majority have high incomes. The average person from India lives in a household that earns about $90,000 per year. This group hardly needs help getting ahead, and frankly to be labeled a disadvantaged minority is outright patronizing. There is some recognition of the absurdity of this approach, at least among colleges where programs in the sciences and technical fields are dominated by Asians, and the focus has switched to diversity.

I’ve long wondered why disadvantage is equated with race. Is everyone of a particular race automatically disadvantaged forever? They can’t ever get ahead without help? Talk about being patronized. If the goal is to help people get ahead, then shouldn’t it be based on economic status instead of race?

So long as government agencies continue to demand affirmative action as a condition of doing business with them we can expect to see situations like the Elizabeth Warren case. There are no statistics on how frequently these situations arise, but from anecdotal evidence they’re not uncommon. In 1988, the Boston Fire Department fired two firefighters for lying on their job applications, claiming to be African American. The two are identical twins — described as having red hair and fair complexions. They claimed that their mother had shown them an old picture of their grandmother and told them she was Black. The criteria for being classified as a minority was self-description, so having previously failed to pass the civil service exam they reapplied as minorities and were hired, despite getting low scores. The situation at the Boston Fire Department when they were hired was described as one where they needed to do something because they ran out of minorities on the list.

There are many Elizabeth Warren’s getting hired. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

 

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  1. Lisa Chase

    Raghav, you have touched upon an issue that will make many people angry. From my perspective by creating Affirmative Action the US effectively constructed a system that does the opposite of what was intended. As it plays out in recruiting both in business and at colleges we judge people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character (with kudos to Dr. King). I do see hope as more people decline to self identify on official forms and job applications but we are generations away from achieving true equality for all Americans.

  2. Jordan Clark

    Raghav great read, this subject has always perplexed me, the EEOC clearly states that you cannot make hiring decisions based on Race, but Affirmative Action promotes it.

    Like you said with Elizabeth Warren, she was clearly hired because of her “ethnic” value (although that is obviously in question)which gave her an advantage over other women/men applying for the same positions, doesn’t the whole Affirmative Action and the EEOC’s stand on race/color/religion/sex in the hiring process create one huge contradiction? The Federal Government says don’t hire based on race out of one side of its mouth and do hire based on race out of the other side?

    Thanks!

  3. eric shannon

    hi Raghav, I had no idea the craziness could go so far! Sometimes you have to laugh. We are trying something along those lines with some diversity recruiting cartoon contests at http://learn.latpro.com/cartoon-contest/ – I hope you’ll have a look…

    Best regards,
    Eric

  4. Keith Halperin

    Hi Raghav,

    At last we disagree again:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_wage_gap_in_the_United_States

    Discrimination
    See also: Discrimination in the United States

    When human capital, skills, and other factors contributing to the racial wage gap are taken into account, many researchers find that there is still a portion of the racial wage gap that is unexplained. Many attribute this to another factor: race. Differences in wages due solely to race is racial discrimination. Through the use of statistical controls, sociologists and economists “ask whether a given person with the same background characteristics, such as level of education, region of residence, gender, marital characteristics, has the same earnings as a statistically equivalent person from a different racial/ethnic group”.[4] Differences that emerge are taken as evidence of racial discrimination. Research has found wage and employment discrimination against blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Asians; however, discrimination has been found to a much larger contributing factor for black wages than wages of other races.[4]

    A study conducted by Grodsky & Pager (2001) found that individual attributes, such as human capital and region, account for just more than half of the black-white wage gap, and an additional 20 percent is due to different occupational distributions between blacks and whites.[11] The remaining portion of the wage gap not accounted for by individual and occupational distribution factors is thought to be due, at least in part, to discrimination.[11]

    Discrimination based on race has been found in other research as well. Seventy-four percent of employers in one study were found to be racially biased toward blacks, and blacks have been found to make lower wages than whites working in the same industry.[2] White Latinos earn higher wages than nonwhite Latinos, regardless of whether they are native or immigrant, suggesting possible discrimination based on skin color.[2] Additionally, many employers admit openly admit to discriminating against blacks and workers in the inner city, as one study by Kirschenman and Neckerman (1991) found.[2] Hiring audits have also found discrimination in the labor market. Blacks and whites who have the same credentials receive jobs at a rate of 3:1.[2]

    In the report:
    For the 23 percent of black men employed in the public sector, we find encouraging evidence that occupations levy their rewards primarily on the basis of individual qualifications, with largely random variation in the magnitude and direction of racial wage inequality. For the 77 percent of black men
    employed in the private sector, however, we find less reassurance that meritocracy is the driving force
    behind wage allocation. The strong and systematic relationship between white occupational earnings and racial disparities suggests that race remains a salient feature in the occupational hierarchy of the private sector. Higher earning private sector occupations are characterized by greater racial earnings inequalities, tempering the rewards for occupational advancement and widening the gulf between high- achieving black and white employees. We were surprised to find that occupational standing, occupational composition and occupational skill requirements were unable to account for even part of this relationship.

    -kh

  5. Alex de Soto

    Dear Mr. Singh,

    The headline of your post was intriguing so I clicked on to read the article. But I did not expect to read such a superficial opinion piece.
    I though about writing a long response to point out how much I disagree with some of your characterizations and generalizations about affirmative action. I will not waste my time.
    I’ll only point out that there are many incentives to commit fraud in resumes and applications when seeking employment — have you seen the news lately? Do you have any hard data showing how frequently (or infrequently) whites actually claim to be of mixed race to gain advantage? You cite a few examples but I fail to see a trend.
    You also fail to explain why it is that there are so few “highly qualified minorities.” I have my own theories. Perhaps you could follow up this post with your explanation as to why this is so.

  6. Jordan Clark

    I agree with both sides, being yes we do need some type of enforcement to ensure equal hiring across the board, and I agree that pointing out Elizabeth Warren is the norm and not the exception is a bit of a stretch, but in regards to having any hard data showing how frequently (or infrequently) whites actually claim to be of mixed race to gain advantage, I would say no more or less then they lie on unemployment benefit information, to the IRS, to workers comp, where there is a will there is a way, and people will figure it out one way or another.

    And not to point the southern states out for being backward, but having to travel through there on a regular basis in the past several years racism is still a very strong part of our country, as much as we try to pretend we fixed that years ago, people are still blatently discriminated against for race/sex/color/age, so its a slippery slope of progressionalism that we tend to decieve ourselves thinking things have changed.

  7. Lisa Chase

    Having given this issue some thought I’d like to share some points. As Americans we have 2 institutions where race seems not to matter. One is the Armed Services where I have personal experience and the other is sports where I can only share my observations from what I see on TV and read in the newspapers.

    In the Armed Services your ticket in is your desire to serve. It doesn’t matter what created that desire to serve only that you have it. On military bases all over America and in Europe individuals of all races live in mixed neighborhoods, attend the same schools, make the same amount of money based on their rank, their spouses support each other, their children play together; in short it is as close to a fully integrated community that America has.

    In sports your ticket in is your talent. You make as much money as your talent is worth (and your agent can negotiate). What makes you part of the team in victory and defeat is your character. These athletes strive for the same goals, work closely together, and accept their roles because they know that if they don’t perform well the endeavor will fall apart. A case in point is Randy Moss, a great talent but he bounces from team to team. Is it because of his race? No, it is because of his character. He is disruptive on the field, in the locker room and in the community.

    So here are 2 areas, one similar to the public sector and one similar to a meritocracy, that both work. Why don’t we find employers where integration works and study them to see how we can move the practices that work into the larger marketplace.

    Jordan, I lived in southern Virginia for ten years. And you are correct. But it is a racism that cuts both ways. The lingering hatreds will be especially hard to eradicate in that region. They are fresher in the memories of both whites and African Americans. From my experience the hostility on both sides is nearly palpable in the atmosphere. It is one of the reasons we left.

  8. Bill Bargas

    Raghav..
    Great article. I stopped everything i was doing to post it on our Linkedin group “Diversity – A World of Change” and I sent you an email literally begging you to join the group.

    “white as a polar bear”…
    You have no idea how appropriate a term that is for so many corporate work cultures. We interact with firms worth $100 million and more who are just discovering their work environments are “white as a polar bear” . Duh.

    Bill Bargas

    btw… My father was a Cherokee Indian but I passed as African American because I pitied the poor recruiters who were trying to pigeon hole me.

  9. Jerry Miller

    Very interesting and potentially polarizing topic. One could make the case that affirmative action is in fact reverse discrimination. The policy unintentionally discriminated against whites by favoring minorities under the guise of attempting to make up for past wrong doing.

    To take Lisa’s sports analogy a bit further, imagine trying to apply affirmative action principles to the NBA. 78% of the players in the NBA are black according to a study entitled 2011 NBA Racial and Gender Report Card, and only 17% are white. Is that discriminatory? No. NBA players are hired and rewarded based on their skill set and their ability to do the job they are hired for, playing basketball, with the objective of putting the best team possible on the floor. There are no doubt a host of reasons why blacks are, on the whole, more qualified to play NBA basketball than whites. The point is that the NBA hires players on their ability to play basketball, nothing else. How do you think team owners and fans would react if the federal government mandated that each team must have a certain percentage of white players?

    As long as they are not discriminating in their selection process businesses should be able to put their best team on the floor as well.

  10. Paul Tseko

    “I’ve long wondered why disadvantage is equated with race. Is everyone of a particular race automatically disadvantaged forever? They can’t ever get ahead without help? Talk about being patronized. If the goal is to help people get ahead, then shouldn’t it be based on economic status instead of race?”

    So apparently, Raghav, you feel as though you are being patronized? I bet though, that you would never turn down a lucrative position or consulting gig offered to you because you are a minority. You wouldn’t feel patronized then, would you?

  11. Paul Tseko

    @Alex de Soto: “The headline of your post was intriguing so I clicked on to read the article. But I did not expect to read such a superficial opinion piece”

    Alex, I commented on a previous opinion piece that Mr. Singh posted on ERE and it stirred quite a controversy (see “Planet of the Apes”; yup, that was the title). I am sure that Mr. Singh is a top notch professional in his field yet I personally find a number of his ERE opinion pieces to be naive and uninformed.

  12. Jordan Clark

    I never had the chance to finish my previous post earlier as to why I disagree, AA is an outdated organization founded back in 1961 under the Kennedy Administration, during the Civil Rights movement primarily from 1948-1968 during a time in which you had situations like The Little Rock Nine, Brown vs The Board of Education, and the murder of Martin Luther King Jr.

    While we still have a disproportionate amount of minorities unemployed the entire purpose of Affirmative Action is to promote equality within the work place, when the institution requires an employer to judge on race/color/religion in complete contradiction with EEOC’s stand on discrimination within the hiring process.

    The disproportion is, as was stated above, not in race/color/sex/age but rather in my *opinion* economic. No matter if your asian, african american, white, or any other race or color the case can be clearly made that opportunities present themselves based on an “economic value” meaning that those with money have significantly more access and ability to attain employment with above average compensation then those without.

    The case is very clear if using the college acceptance/rejection as a template for the un/employment market, meaning John the Asain is significantly more likely to be accepted to a college if he or his family were to make a significant donation to the school prior to his application, despite his apptitude, then John the Caucasian who had above average grades. Point being, those with more money have more access, to better schools, to better healthcare, to better jobs, and the divide is reflected economically.

    Wealthy latinos, african americans, asians, indians, and native americans ect. are afforded better opportunities for college/employment then their poor peers within the same race category, and often times afforded better opportunities then their poor caucasian peers as well, as they have access to a better education, and access to better education (having a higher price tag) will have a lasting impact on their career. Implying that it is their race that restricts them is to imply that because they were born the way they are puts them at a disadvantage from the moment they were brought onto this earth, which is clearly and planely not the case.

    There are still clusters around the country in which racism is still very previlent, but it is not the norm.

    Statistics can never accurately depict the unemployment market and those at an advantage or disadvantage due to race/economic value because the questions are close ended questions, normally with a choice of answers in which the accuracy is skewed due to the context in which the question was asked and the time, place, and situation it was presented.

    I think Raghav made an excellent point, about what makes a disadvantage equated with race, at what point does a race ever get ahead without help?

    As long as you have an organization that promotes viewing people by race/color/ect. we will never see a time in which people are judged equally, hence out-dated.

  13. Jordan Clark

    Oh and here’s a few articles to look at if you don’t believe me, we aren’t in a race war anymore, but rather a class war, one in which no matter what race/creed/ethnicity you are your chances of making it are no different then anyone else in your income tax bracket!

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/01/15/niall-ferguson-a-conservative-take-on-america-s-economic-divide.html

    http://money.usnews.com/money/business-economy/articles/2012/01/04/breaking-down-the-income-gap-into-real-terms

  14. Jordan Clark

    For those that don’t believe me, read this, we aren’t fighting a race war anymore, we are fighting a class war. The days in which people could rise through the classes and make it big, the American Dream, is over.

    http://money.usnews.com/money/business-economy/articles/2012/01/04/breaking-down-the-income-gap-into-real-terms

  15. Lisa Chase

    Glad you got to finish, Jordan. Well thought out, well written and well supported! And from my point of view absolutely correct!

  16. Keith Halperin

    @ Everybody: As mentioned above, if the research I cited is correct, there still IS significant workplace discrimination based on race apart from economic class, and it seems particularly marked in the higher-level professions.

    Also, we humans have an inherent tendency to discriminate- we like to be around people similar to us and avoid others different from us. Consequently, we can be aware of this and work to avoid situations like the employer of choice I contracted for where diversity meant: “We hire all types of attractive, upbeat, young, upper middle-class, mainly white people, just like us” or the start-ups where you see very few faces over 30.

    Finally IMHO, we can stop actively pushing for more access for various groups when the people in charge of our economy don’t overwhelmingly look- and have backgrounds like Mitt Romney:
    (If I counted the 4 minority women correctly, this means that 467 [93.4%] of Fortune 500 CEOs are white men. -kh)

    http://diversityinc.com/diversity-facts/wheres-the-diversity-in-fortune-500-ceos/
    Diversity Facts: Where’s the Diversity in Fortune 500 CEOs?
    Posted in: Diversity Facts

    Q: I was looking for a list of “minority” CEOs. Who are the Black, Latino, Asian and women CEOs on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity?

    There are four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 0.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. American Express and Merck & Co. are Nos. 14 and 16, respectively, in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

    Kenneth Chenault, American Express
    Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck & Co.
    Ursula Burns, Xerox
    Clarence Otis, Darden

    Source: Fortune

    A: There are nine Asian CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 1.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. MasterCard is No. 15 in the DiversityInc Top 50.

    Ajay Banga, MasterCard
    Sanjay K. Jha, Motorola
    Andrea Jung, Avon
    Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics
    Kevin M. Murai, Synnex
    Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo
    Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup
    Laura J. Sen, BJ’s Wholesale Club
    Ravi Saligram, OfficeMax

    Source: Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)

    There are six Latino CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 1.2 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs.

    Antonio Perez, Eastman Kodak Co.
    George Paz, Express Scripts
    Paul Raines, GameStop
    Enrique Salem, Symantec
    Josue Robles, United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
    Cristóbal I. Conde, SunGard

    Source: HACR

    There are 18 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 3.6 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs; Kraft and WellPoint are DiversityInc Top 50 companies (Nos. 7 and 34, respectively).

    Angela F. Braly, WellPoint
    Heather Bresch, Mylan (Effective Jan. 1, 2012)
    Ursula M. Burns, Xerox
    Lynn L. Elsenhans, Sunoco
    Andrea Jung, Avon
    Ellen J. Kullman, DuPont
    Gracia C. Martore, Gannett
    Carol M. Meyrowitz, TJX
    Denise M. Morrison, Campbell Soup
    Beth Mooney, KeyCorp
    Deanna M. Mulligan, Guardian
    Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo
    Debra L. Reed, Sempra Energy
    Virginia M. Rometty, IBM (Effective Jan. 1, 2012)
    Irene B. Rosenfeld, Kraft
    Laura J. Sen, BJ’s Wholesale Club
    Meg Whitney, HP
    Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland

    Source: Fortune

    You can also access all our lists at http://www.DiversityInc.com/top50

    ………………………………………………………

    Also, The Alliance for Board Diversity (http://theabd.org/) report, Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Corporate Boards, shows that women and minorities are severely underrepresented on Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 corporate boards. In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010, white men lost four board seats, slightly decreasing their share of seats from 71.2% to 69.9%. Minorities and women shared the remainder, with very few seats occupied by Hispanics, Asian Pacific Islanders, or minority women. Among minority men, Asian Pacific Islander men gained 12 seats, African-American men lost 5 seats, and Hispanic men lost 3 seats. White women gained 11 seats, Asian Pacific Islander women and Hispanic women each gained 3 seats, and African-American women lost 1 seat. Women gained 16 board seats—5 occupied by minority women—but the 1.1 percentage point increase for women on corporate boards over 6 years was not appreciable.

    In 2010, Fortune 500 corporate boards were less diverse than those in the Fortune 100. Men held nearly 85% of all board seats. White men continued to dominate the boardroom, holding 74.5% of board seats. Minority men held 9.9% of board seats. White women held 12.7% of seats, and minority women held only 3% of seats. Specifically, African-American women held 1.9% of Fortune 500 board seats; Hispanic women held 0.7%; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.3%; African-American men held 5.7%; Hispanic men held 2.3%; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.8%.

  17. Keith Halperin

    @ Everybody: As mentioned above, if the research I cited is correct, there still IS significant workplace discrimination based on race apart from economic class, and it seems particularly marked in the higher-level professions.

    Also, we humans have an inherent tendency to discriminate- we like to be around people similar to us and avoid others different from us. Consequently, we can be aware of this and work to avoid situations like the employer of choice I contracted for where diversity meant: “We hire all types of attractive, upbeat, young, upper middle-class, mainly white people, just like us” or the start-ups where you see very few faces over 30.

    Finally IMHO, we can stop actively pushing for more access for various groups when the people in charge of our economy don’t overwhelmingly look- and have backgrounds like Mitt Romney:
    (If I counted the 4 minority women correctly, this means that 467 [93.4%] of Fortune 500 CEOs are white men. -kh)

    http://diversityinc.com/diversity-facts/wheres-the-diversity-in-fortune-500-ceos/
    Diversity Facts: Where’s the Diversity in Fortune 500 CEOs?
    Posted in: Diversity Facts

    Q: I was looking for a list of “minority” CEOs. Who are the Black, Latino, Asian and women CEOs on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity?

    There are four Black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 0.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. American Express and Merck & Co. are Nos. 14 and 16, respectively, in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

    Kenneth Chenault, American Express
    Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck & Co.
    Ursula Burns, Xerox
    Clarence Otis, Darden

    Source: Fortune

    A: There are nine Asian CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 1.8 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs. MasterCard is No. 15 in the DiversityInc Top 50.

    Ajay Banga, MasterCard
    Sanjay K. Jha, Motorola
    Andrea Jung, Avon
    Surya N. Mohapatra, Quest Diagnostics
    Kevin M. Murai, Synnex
    Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo
    Vikram S. Pandit, Citigroup
    Laura J. Sen, BJ’s Wholesale Club
    Ravi Saligram, OfficeMax

    Source: Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)

    There are six Latino CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 1.2 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs.

    Antonio Perez, Eastman Kodak Co.
    George Paz, Express Scripts
    Paul Raines, GameStop
    Enrique Salem, Symantec
    Josue Robles, United Services Automobile Association (USAA)
    Cristóbal I. Conde, SunGard

    Source: HACR

    There are 18 women CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, accounting for 3.6 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs; Kraft and WellPoint are DiversityInc Top 50 companies (Nos. 7 and 34, respectively).

    Angela F. Braly, WellPoint
    Heather Bresch, Mylan (Effective Jan. 1, 2012)
    Ursula M. Burns, Xerox
    Lynn L. Elsenhans, Sunoco
    Andrea Jung, Avon
    Ellen J. Kullman, DuPont
    Gracia C. Martore, Gannett
    Carol M. Meyrowitz, TJX
    Denise M. Morrison, Campbell Soup
    Beth Mooney, KeyCorp
    Deanna M. Mulligan, Guardian
    Indra K. Nooyi, PepsiCo
    Debra L. Reed, Sempra Energy
    Virginia M. Rometty, IBM (Effective Jan. 1, 2012)
    Irene B. Rosenfeld, Kraft
    Laura J. Sen, BJ’s Wholesale Club
    Meg Whitney, HP
    Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland

    Source: Fortune

    You can also access all our lists at http://www.DiversityInc.com/top50

    ………………………………………………………

    Also, The Alliance for Board Diversity (http://theabd.org/) report, Missing Pieces: Women and Minorities on Fortune 500 Corporate Boards, shows that women and minorities are severely underrepresented on Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 corporate boards. In the Fortune 100, between 2004 and 2010, white men lost four board seats, slightly decreasing their share of seats from 71.2% to 69.9%. Minorities and women shared the remainder, with very few seats occupied by Hispanics, Asian Pacific Islanders, or minority women. Among minority men, Asian Pacific Islander men gained 12 seats, African-American men lost 5 seats, and Hispanic men lost 3 seats. White women gained 11 seats, Asian Pacific Islander women and Hispanic women each gained 3 seats, and African-American women lost 1 seat. Women gained 16 board seats—5 occupied by minority women—but the 1.1 percentage point increase for women on corporate boards over 6 years was not appreciable.

    In 2010, Fortune 500 corporate boards were less diverse than those in the Fortune 100. Men held nearly 85% of all board seats. White men continued to dominate the boardroom, holding 74.5% of board seats. Minority men held 9.9% of board seats. White women held 12.7% of seats, and minority women held only 3% of seats. Specifically, African-American women held 1.9% of Fortune 500 board seats; Hispanic women held 0.7%; Asian Pacific Islander women held 0.3%; African-American men held 5.7%; Hispanic men held 2.3%; and Asian Pacific Islander men held 1.8%.

    -Keith

  18. Jordan Clark

    @Keith: Those numbers are still skewed, because Ricoh for example, has more then one CEO, the head CEO/President being Shiro Kondo for the company globally, and their CEO for Ricoh America is Martin Brodigan. Or there’s also Akio Toyoda of Toyota, or Takanobu Ito for Honda, I can do this all day, most global companies have multiple CEO’s I have a feeling Fortune probably was only looking at the US market, but most fortune 500 companies don’t just operate in the US and there are normally Directors/President’s/CEO’s for various continents/hemispheres.

    A better question if you could provide statistics for this would be “what are the number of women/minorities that have the same qualifications as their male/caucasian counterparts that are not in CEO positions of Fortune 500 Companies within the US?” That would clearly and equitably justify discrimination.

    Hence why you can’t trust statistics.

  19. Jordan Clark

    @Keith: ” In 2008, more than half (54%) of degree holders in the social science fields were women, as were nearly half (46%) of those with a degree in the biological and related sciences. Men outnumbered women among computer sciences and mathematics degree holders (31% women) and among physical science degree holders (28% women). Disparities, however, were greatest among those with a degree in engineering, where only 13% of degree holders were women.”

    http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/c3/c3s4.htm

    There’s a show of statistics that show what I was asking, there is always going to be a disparity between Men and Women CEO’s when the types and % of degrees from women to men have such a huge disparity. Point being there are more caucasian men then caucasian women, or minority women, or minority men, so the % of minorities in related fields is always going to be smaller, theres just less of them, and because theres less of them, theres less qualified minorities and women then there are caucasian men, thats not discrimination, its a numbers game.

    “In 2008, among those whose highest degree was in an S&E field, Hispanics and blacks had the highest unemployment rate (5.2% and 5.1%, respectively), which was roughly two percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for whites (3.2%). Although whites had the lowest unemployment rate, they also had the highest labor force nonparticipation rate (17%). Because of the large numbers of whites who are out of the labor force, whites have the lowest rates of employment among S&E highest degree holders.”

    Another valid point if there’s say 1,000,000 white S&E workers (for a round number) 3% being unemployed = 30,000 where as if there is only 600,000 (another round number) hispanic S&E workers 5% being unemployed = 18,000 while the % makes it look like there are more unemployed hispanic workers, the fact is there isn’t, infact there are half as many.

    Now Salaries I can’t argue with you about, as even nsf says

    “Salary also varies by indicators of experience, including both age and years since completing education. Estimates of salary differences are made by applying controls for occupation, age, and years since completing the highest degree.[15] After controlling for these factors, the estimated wage difference between men and women narrows. However, among men and women in similar jobs and with similar levels of experience, women are still paid 16% less than men (among individuals whose highest degree is at the bachelor’s level) and 9% less than men (among individuals whose highest degree is at the master’s and doctoral level). Minorities with their highest degree at the bachelor’s level also earn somewhat less (6%) than whites, after controlling for occupation and experience. Among those with a doctoral degree, the wage difference between minorities and whites is mostly attenuated (3%) and at the master’s degree level, the difference is fully attenuated after controlling for occupation and experience. This illustrates that at higher degree levels, minorities and white degree holders in similar S&E occupations and with similar experiences receive about the same salaries.”

    There is a disparity worth looking into, but as this shows, employment isn’t being skued because of race, its being skued based on the # of people within the race within the specific career field/degree holder.

  20. Ananda Chakravarty

    Wow! A lot of comments and great pulls at statistical support of this or that. But all this information is confusing and may not highlight the real facts.

    Minorities (outside of Asians) have higher unemployment, lower opportunities, and do not have adequate representation in the corporate world.

    Even if we are in a class war, minorities remain clustered in the lowest of the classes, with higher representation percentages than the upper economic classes.

    Despite the few outliers in the statistics based on successful minorities, the opportunities for promotion, advancement and success are lower than those of non-minorities. Examples such as Asians also consist of sub-groups such as Cambodians, Vietnamese, and other groups with much lower standards of living. More importantly, even for Chinese, Indians, and Filipinos the dominant Asian groups, overall corporate promotion rates, advancement in the workplace, time to find work after a job loss, turnover rates, and actual executives or board level status is lower than white America, even more pronounced as you drop below the Fortune 100. This disparity extends even further when you add gender on top of that.

    Back to Raghav’s article (well written, provocative, but missing the real corporate perspective, and certainly not founded in reality but instead perception)…

    The thinking that corporations are craving diverse hires is misplaced. This is just not the case. In terms of actual compliance requirements, the focus is limited to general representation and any company worth it’s salt has a consultant who can usually wind out from these circumstances to show that they offer opportunities to diverse candidates.

    As a matter of fact, only federal contractors are in any way mandated to engage with diverse candidates, and more important, this mandate is focused on veterans and disabled candidates, not racially based. This is enforced by the OFCCP, not the EEOC – which imposes guidelines only, not enforcement of policy. Imposing quotas are illegal in the US. Affirmative action is a method of measurement, not enforcement.

    There is some focus on hiring minorities in government institutions, agencies, and municipalities (e.g. Boston FD, etc.) and also in academia. However, these are not the norm in the marketplace, and usually arise from poor management. In most cases, the situations arise due to internal assessments that show that there is a blatant lack of representation in their organizations relative to the communities they serve.

    The best companies on the other hand ARE looking for diverse candidates – particularly because the value of customer mirroring and representation of the marketplace matter. The buying power and influence of the Hispanic and African American marketplace has a direct relationship to economic value for corporations, and the more global the organization is, the more important addressing diverse marketplace concerns becomes prevalent.

    The important factor is that the number of opportunities where diversity is a driving factor, especially at levels such as Elizabeth Warren’s is undoubtedly small. There is no evidence that her claims (true or not) of being racially diverse mattered in the decision making, and the thought that she was chosen based on this seems to be absurd. The average minority person does not want to be hired for their race but for their ability.

    The premise of Raghav’s article, that there is an unfounded advantage in portraying yourself as a minority when in the workforce is absolutely off-base. All it does is perpetuate a mythical anti-diversity hypothesis based on the four specific anecdotal cases he cites (his own experience, Warren, and the fired firemen). In a US marketplace with 3MM+ hires every month and ~150MM employees, this is quite insufficient evidence of any common occurrence.

    There are inherent discriminations in Raghav’s article, such as suggesting qualification is based on graduate degrees and education and minorities have yet to achieve these. Graduate education is rarely a measure of success in today’s corporate world. Most CEOs achieve graduate degrees after they’ve reached executive levels.

    I could go on, but this is enough to continue the provocation. Many other commenters have already provided some great thoughts.

    Then again, he was able to push me to write about it – so maybe there’s some value in this after all…

  21. Taking White Supremacy to Task - Page 6

    [...] 409 Thanked 323 Times in 274 Posts old, but interesting In 1988, the Boston Fire Department fired two firefighters for lying on their job applications, claiming to be African American. The two are identical twins — described as having red hair and fair complexions. They claimed that their mother had shown them an old picture of their grandmother and told them she was Black. The criteria for being classified as a minority was self-description, so having previously failed to pass the civil service exam they reapplied as minorities and were hired, despite getting low scores. The situation at the Boston Fire Department when they were hired was described as one where they needed to do something because they ran out of minorities on the list. Minority Report: The Role of Race in Hiring – ERE.net [...]

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