Color Barriers

A two-part survey—conducted by Catalyst in 1998 and again in 2001—of African American, Hispanic and Asian American women in corporate management, including accounting firms, revealed both positive and negative trends. On the positive side, respondents said they

Experienced positive career growth.
Employed several key strategies to succeed—with great emphasis on the importance of networking and mentoring.

Yet they
Moved out to move up.

And they were
Less hopeful in 2001 about their career prospects than they had been in 1998.

Barriers to Advancement for Women of Color
The study concluded that companies must create open, more inclusive work environments if they want to retain women of color as managers. In both studies women of color cited the lack of support mechanisms they perceived in their companies.

How Managers and Management Influenced Retention
The study identified three factors that “predicted retention” of women of color:
The quality of their relationship with managers.
Management’s role in diversity efforts.
Openness in the work environment.

The study concluded that when women of color perceived that upper management and their supervisors were committed to diversity and they experienced high-quality relationships with their direct managers, they were likely to view their work environments quite favorably.

Catalyst is an independent, nonprofit research and advisory organization working with businesses and the professions to build inclusive environments and expand opportunities for women at work. It has offices in New York, San Jose, Calif., and Toronto.


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