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Racial, gender disparity still exists in corporate America

Kevin Oliveira | 12/6/2013, 6 a.m.

America is a corporation – not a nation of laws or an ideal. Like the New Jack City generation says … it’s all about the money yo!

Working in corporate America has taught me that quality people are not always appreciated, and more often than not, bad behavior by management is rewarded with promotions and bonuses camouflaged with propaganda and rah-rah speeches about company goals, metrics, and balance sheets.

I have watched over the years the constant management contradictions of speech and actions by people in “leadership positions” who proclaim they appreciate and value front-line labor when in fact, through their behavior, use and abuse their employees.

In corporate America, I have seen the racial and gender disparity in promotions and in professional advancement, quality diverse men and women just simply overlooked so another white male or female can advance their career, quality men and women just “passed over” for advancement. Finding a token minority and put them in a marginal position is the best way to deflect and downplay unethical behavior.

Let me share a few examples. A department has 55 people on the labor front line – 90 percent are ethnically diverse (people of color and mostly ethnic females). Four African-American men in the department have four-year college degrees, three have master’s degrees, and one has his Ph.D. in economics. A white male comes to the department to work. He is trained next to the diverse population and in six months he is promoted to a lead supervisor position, and now the people who he worked with have to report to him.

Then six months later he is put in charge of a department project.

Six months later he is promoted to a project manager, making a substantial amount more money than the people with far more education and experience in the department.

So what’s up with that?

Another example: An African-American man with a master’s degree in teaching from one of the top universities in the nation applies for a training facilitator in a department he helped form from the ground floor. He applied for the position and he was not even granted an interview, even though the person management gave the job to has only a bachelor’s degree. Of course, the person who got the job was a white female.

What’s up with that?

Another example: Another facilitator’s position opens up because someone retired. This time around, the African-American male candidate applied and was given an interview but was asked to draft a PowerPoint presentation from scratch without any guidelines for the interview presentation.

The African-American male candidate interviewed and presented well. Two weeks later he was told he was not selected but did a great job. When he asked what he could have done better, the hiring manager told him nothing … you were excellent!

Then who got the job? You got it – a white female with far less education and experience in the position.

What’s up with that?

Are we going backward in this nation? Is the glass ceiling now steel? Do education and competence even matter anymore?