Black Professionals in Corporate America Hold 3.2% of Executive and Senior Manager Positions

Black Professionals in Corporate America Hold 3.2% of Executive and Senior Manager Positions

Corporate America is still oblivious to the challenges faced by black professionals.

A recent study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation reveals that despite companies spending billions on diversity and inclusion, black professionals still face prejudice, a lack of support from managers, and a cycle of exclusion that keeps them from the C-suite.

In a statement released by Patricia Fili-Krushel, CEO of Center for Talent Innovation said, “This report sounds the alarm that, despite many good intentions, companies are falling short of creating equitable workplaces for black 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.”

She went on to say, “We are especially concerned about the lack of awareness we discovered among white professionals. This report gives business leaders a path for moving forward.”

Black professionals hold just 3.2% of all executive or senior leadership positions and less than 1% of all Fortune 500 CEO positions.

In the same press release, Skip Spriggs, president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council, a research partner on the report said, “Study after study has shown that black executives perform as well as or better than other executives but are not advanced to the highest levels. The roadmap offered by CTI as a result of this study could make a difference because it is rooted in intentional, results-oriented actions designed to effect measurable, positive change.”

Key takeaways from the report:

  • Black professionals are nearly four times as likely as white professionals to say they have experienced racial prejudice at work (58% versus 15%). Regional differences are stark: 79% of black professionals in the Midwest say they have experienced racial prejudice at work, compared to 66% of black professionals in the West, 56% in the South, and 44% in the Northeast.
  • 43% of black executives have had colleagues use racially insensitive language in their presence.
  • Nearly 1in 5 (19%) black professionals feel that someone of their race/ethnicity would never achieve a top position at their companies, compared to only 3% of white professionals who feel this way.
  • Black women are less likely to have access to the same support and advocacy as white women. For instance, 35% of white women have individuals in their networks who have advocated for their ideas and skills, compared to 19% of black women.

This report also finds that talented black professionals are much more likely than white professionals to start entrepreneurial ventures. Black professionals are also more likely to find an environment of trust, respect, and a sense of belonging at smaller companies.