Business In America

There is very little argument that America has it’s woes when it comes to racial inequality; it’s deeply embedded in the history of the country. This inequality dates all the way back to the year 1619 when the first African slaves arrived in America from the continent of Africa. The nation has made significant progress in an effort to eradicate racial inequality, but here has been a great default. This default has been brought to the forefront in most recent years.

The country has experienced an increase in consciousness as it relates to race relations, which has influenced a surge in public discourse and rage.  This surge is due to the broadcasting of debauched acts toward marginalized individuals; the calamities are magnified. In 2020, these calamities ignited a much deeper conversation about the way marginalized individuals experience racial inequality all aspects of modern life; whether it's underrepresentation in college attainment rates, underrepresentation in higher paying careers, or over-representation in disease and sickness hospitalizations.

Extensive academic research and data collected by the federal government and researchers has documented numerous ways that Black Americans experience life in the United States differently from their white counterparts.  The data shows that these disparities exist along nearly every facet of American life, including employment, wealth, education, home ownership, healthcare, and incarceration. This sort of disparity is "systemic" racism.  This means that it is deeply-rooted in nearly every way people move through society in the policies and practices at institutions like banks, schools, companies, government agencies, and law enforcement.

 

Figure 1.1 shows the employment demographic ratio.  It is clear to see that this employment has been lower for Black and Asian Americans (Labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, 2019).

Figure 1.1

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Equally important, Figure 1.2 (Kiersz, 2020) shows the unemployment rates for Black Americans compared to White Americans. At 16.8%, Black Americans experience the inability to obtain and maintain jobs at higher rates that White Americans.  This creates a domino effect in that unemployment leads to a higher rate of Black Americans experiencing poverty, which leads to an increase in crimes committed in order to provide food, shelter, and clothing.

Figure 1.2

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The most compelling data is of that indicating that Black Americans are less likely to gain higher level and higher paying jobs. This creates an astounding wage gap. Figure 1.3 (Labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity, 2019) shows that Black and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented in professional and managerial positions. 

Figure 1.3

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Many scholars and researchers theorize that this underrepresentation can be the remnant effects of the discriminatory hiring practices under The Jim Crow Law, which were enacted during the years of 1876 -1965.  Jim Crow Laws hindered Black Americans from obtaining business related jobs (Soloman, 2019).

In an effort to combat job discrimination, some Black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans have engaged in a process called “Resume Whitening.”  Resume Whitening is simply altering the resume so that the employer assumes the candidate is a White American. For example, the candidate may alter their name and address. A study conducted by Harvard University found that this process works! Upwards of 20% of Black candidates received callbacks from their whitened resumes, while only 10% received calls when they left ethnic details on their resume ( Gerdeman, 2017). 

 

Now, let’s look at the representation of American ethnicities and the relation to the corporate hierarchy. Figure 1.4 displays data that indicates there has been in increase in Asian, Black, and Hispanic Americans named as CEOs of top companies since 2004.  However, this number is still less than 10%. In 2019 executive-staffing firm Crist Kolder Associates found that only 8.7% of the 675 Fortune 500 companies had CEOs other than White.

Figure 1.4

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Gerdeman, D. (2017, May 17). Working Knowledge: Business Research for Business Leaders. Retrieved from Harvard Business School: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/minorities-who-whiten-job-resumes-get-more-interviews
Kiersz, A. (2020, July 8). Employment Population Ratio. Business Insider.
Labor force characteristics by race and ethnicity. (2019). Retrieved from Us Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/race-and-ethnicity/2018/home.htm
Solomon, D. (2019, August 7). Systematic Inequality and Economic Opportunity. Retrieved from Center For American Progress: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/reports/2019/08/07/472910/systematic-inequality-economic-opportunity/