Minorities still lack a presence in executive ranks

By Alejandra Cancino
Posted Nov. 15, 2010 at 10:43 a.m.

Despite slight improvements, minorities continue to have limited access to managerial and executive positions in Chicago-area corporations, according to a report by Chicago United, an advocacy group.

“Unfortunately, despite the more than 30 years of affirmative action and corporate diversity initiatives, access to the C-suite is still elusive in Chicago and in corporations across the country,” according to the report.

The report, called the “2010 Corporate Diversity Profile,” was based on a survey of 19 public corporations. It found a slight increase in the number of minority executives, but no change in the representation minorities at the corporate director level, where about 9 percent of board members are black, 4 percent are Hispanic, 3 percent are Asian and 84 percent are white.

At the vice president, director and senior manager levels, there was a slight increase in the number of Hispanic and Asian executives, but an overall decrease in the number of minorities in senior management positions. This was most likely due to cutbacks of senior managers regardless of race, according to the report.

“This trend is consistent with what Americans across the country are doing, accepting lower wages and reduced title recognition in order to keep their jobs or secure employment,” according to the report.

The data shows that despite the decrease in employment levels during the recession, the companies that responded to the survey kept their representation of people of color, said Gloria Castillo, president of Chicago United.

“The disappointment is that we have not made more rapid progress,” Castillo said, adding that high-ranking employees are not representative of Chicago’s diversity.

The report also found that during the recession, minorities were most affected by unemployment, reduced pay and hours and underemployment — further hampering efforts to diversify the workforce.

“The bad news is that the 2007-2009 recession impacted people of color at more than twice the rate of their white counterparts,” according to the report.

At the current rate, the report said, it will take more than 89 years for minorities to achieve equal representation in executive ranks.

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