White males still hold more than 95% of the top management jobs at the country’s largest corporations, a figure that remains virtually unchanged despite a decade of social change, according to a new survey on the American work force released Monday.
The study by UCLA Graduate School of Management and Korn-Ferry, a corporate recruiter, surveyed nearly 700 top executives around the country and compared the findings to a similar study they had conducted in 1979. Since the earlier study, neither women nor minorities have increased their ranks by more than 2% at the senior vice president level or above, the study found.
Experts on management and workplace issues said they were astonished at the study’s revelation that 10 years of growing corporate awareness of the importance of promoting women and minorities has yielded little progress.
Several said it comes as further evidence that many companies still have an invisible ceiling above which women and minorities find it difficult to climb.
“I think there’s clearly a glass ceiling,” said Barbara Franklin, a Washington businesswoman who serves on the boards of directors of companies such as Dow Chemical, Westinghouse and Aetna Life & Casualty.
“There’s a lot of subtle discrimination,” she said.
In the most recent study, researchers at UCLA sent questionnaires to more than 4,000 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest service and industrial companies, asking them questions about their own gender and race, and about the makeup of their companies’ top ranks.
They received about 700 responses, a number that management experts said was sizable.
According to the study, women made slightly more progress than minorities. About 3% in the latest survey were women, compared to 0.5% in 1979. Less than 1% identified themselves as black, Hispanic or Asian in the latest survey. The numbers are virtually identical to those in 1979.