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RHR International Executive Development


Cultural Misalignment Hampers Advancement of African-American Executives
New research from RHR International cites need for Culture Specific Development program.

CHICAGO – June 25, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) Evidence indicates that ethnic minorities and women continue to be underrepresented in the ranks of senior executives. The dearth of African Americans in the uppermost corporate leadership roles is especially stark. According to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission survey in 2011, African-American executives made up only 2.8 percent of CEOs. This number is lowest amongst the four major ethnic groups (Asian, Black, Hispanic, and White) in the United States.

These numbers clearly indicate that African Americans are struggling to gain a foothold on the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, hitting their glass ceiling around the mid-management level. A new research study from RHR International was designed to create a deeper understanding of the nuances inherent in the developmental journey of African Americans as they strive to move upwards.

Based on a series of in-depth qualitative interviews with a select group of African-American executives, the study suggests that interventions should be targeted with the specific cultural needs of the African-American executive in mind. As a guide to beginning this process, RHR International introduces the Culture Specific Executive Development Model. Organizational advantages gained from its adoption include:

  • A deeper and more diverse talent bench
  • A larger and more diverse cadre of executives capable of increasing their organizational contribution and impact
  • Higher retention rates for talented minorities
  • Lowered risk of in-role failure for executives of color when moving to roles with greater scope

“Our analysis indicates the need for a paradigm shift among HR and consulting professionals who have been taught never to bring up race,” said Dr. Lawrence James, author of the study and a partner with RHR International. “Collectively, we are more likely to understand its impact if we find ways to discuss it openly and honestly whether as a high-potential executive, peer, boss, or external consultant in a coaching relationship.”

To learn more, download the complete report, entitled, “Journey to the Top: Developing African-American Executives” or call RHR International at 312-924-0885.

We are a firm of management psychologists and consultants who work closely with top management to accelerate individual, team and business performance. We focus on four key areas of client need — Individual Assessment, Executive Development, Senior Team Effectiveness, and Board and CEO Services. We have been proven difference-makers for almost 70 years, unique in our combination of top management focus, psychologists’ perspective and high-level business acumen.

RHR International has offices in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. The company is headquartered in Chicago, Ill. For more information, please visit or follow us on the RHR blog site, Twitter and Facebook.

RHR International
Jeff Durocher, 312-924-0885

227 West Monroe
Suite 3950
Chicago, IL 60606
P: (312) 925-4579
F: (312) 788-2772


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