People Of Color Missing From High-Wage Careers

youngmenAfrican Americans, Native Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans adults are underrepresented in high skilled, high status occupations, such as management positions.

Researchers found African Americans employed in managerial professions at 40% the rate of White Americans (Bigler et al.). High concentration in low-skilled occupations and low representation in high-skilled occupations leads to lower wage earnings and wealth accumulation for members of ethnic minority groups.

>> Culture Plays Role In Hiring Gap <<

This gap in the number of ethnic minorities in high-skilled occupations will have a harmful effect on the entire workforce. Continue reading


4 Ways MN Employers Can Address Disparities TODAY

Income and wealth among Minnesota’s Black families is falling at a time when the state’s economy is strong.

suitA large contributor to this crisis is Minnesota’s growing employment disparities. Recently Black and Brown Minnesotans are reportedly much more likely to be unemployed than White Minnesotans with the same job qualifications – some reports say African Americans are four times more likely to be unemployed than White Minnesotans.

We all have a role in increasing economic equity in our state. Continue reading

QUIZ: What Do You Know About Poverty In The U.S.?

When you think about “poor people,” what images come to mind?

Image courtesy of Ambro at

For the many middle class Americans, most of what we know about people living in poverty comes from the media — fictional TV shows and over-sensationalized news stories.

But what do you REALLY know about the financial, social and emotional realities of living in poverty in the United States?

Take this quiz, adapted from research by Dr. Donna Beegle, Communications Across Barriers, to gauge your poverty awareness. Continue reading

Culture Plays Role In Hiring Gap

work-dicePeople of color are more likely to face unemployment and be unemployed longer in the United States than White Americans. This employment disparity was highlighted again in a September 2013 report from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)  showing the “stark difference in Minnesota unemployment rates by race and ethnicity.”

DEED reports that African Americans in Minnesota have an unemployment rate of 13.8% in 2012, and Hispanic or Latino unemployment rates were 8.5% in 2012. The unemployment rate for White Minnesotans in this same time period was 5.2%; the state’s total average was 5.8%.

Many economic, societal, organizational and individual factors contribute to unemployment. However, the cultural differences between organizations (employing companies) and individuals from non-White-American groups might be underestimated. The “culture clash” in the workplace and in hiring processes could be a more significant factor in employment disparities than previously assessed.

Aycan (2000) analyzed literature related to cross-cultural industrial and organizational psychology. Many of the hiring practices and policies normed in the U.S. contradict the preferences of people from collectivist cultures. In fact, some of the self-promoting practices common in the U.S. recruitment and selection process might offend a job candidate who values interpersonal competencies and reverence to work superiors.

Career advisers typically instruct self-effacing job candidates to be more assertive and self-aggrandizing. A job candidate not able or willing to conform to the U.S. hiring standards is not considered a good candidate. Little, if any, efforts are made to change hiring practices to acknowledge and allow for various cultural behaviors.

handwrittenresumeSome of the collectivist culture recruitment and hiring practices mentioned in Aycan’s study are used officially or unofficially to select candidates in the U.S. Aycan said that word-of-mouth is a common way job openings are announced in cultures where in-group membership is favored. This equates with the growing U.S. trend for candidates to rely on networking to receive information.

It is common, but untested, knowledge that employers are more likely to favor a candidate who is referred to them by someone from their in-group, even if the job is publicly posted. This means that, in addition to having the right qualifications, job candidates need to be aware of which in-group connections are most likely to lead them to employment. This information is not easy to come by, because in-group favoritism is not an official recruiting technique. It might be illegal discrimination in certain situations.

While networking is common, it is not likely that any company will officially admit to using in-group connections as part of its recruitment tactics, unless it was targeting an underrepresented population as part of its diversity efforts. Otherwise, hiring practices used in collectivist cultures — such as choosing a candidate based on marital status, religious background, physical appearance – are not only offensive in the U.S., they are also illegal. This can lead to immigrant job candidates committing social blunders in the interview process, or saying or doing something that is normal in the country or origin, but will hurt their employability in the U.S.

Cultural differences between organizations and individuals from non-Anglo-American groups need to be addressed in order to fully understand why racial-cultural employment disparities exist. Aycan admits that is difficult to detangle cultural factors from other factors that influence organizational structures and processes. However, cross-cultural analysis might help job seekers, career advisers, and employers understand some important reasons why people of color are getting hired at lower rates than their White peers.


What Does Labor (People) Want?

Samuel Gompers A recent visit to San Antonio, TX revealed an unusual treasure. The taxi drove by a strange-looking statue of a man surrounded by a crowd of people.

I immediately wanted to know who the man was, and why was he immortalized with an adoring crowd around him?

Later I took a walk to find The Alamo. On my way, I stopped to get a closer look at the statue. The figure is of Samuel Gompers, the first president of the American Federation of Labor (now the AFL-CIO). Gompers died in San Antonio in 1924.

The statue depicts Gompers speaking to a group of workers. Apparently, the odd-looking statue caused a minor controversy in the city. What’s most interesting to me is the quote from Gompers on the base of the statue.

What does labor want? …Gompers1
We want more schoolhouses and less jails,
More books and less guns,
More learning and less vice,
More leisure and less greed,
More justice and less revenge.
We want more … opportunities to cultivate our better natures.”
~ Samuel Gompers (1850 – 1924)

The things that Gompers and union workers were fighting for are the same things that we all want today.

Why do you think that we are struggling with the same issues in our communities 90 years later?