Nearly one in five black professionals feel that someone of their race/ethnicity would never achieve a top job at their companies, according to a study conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation.

“Being Black in Corporate America: An Intersectional Exploration” takes a look at the prejudices that are still commonly found in many companies and points out possible solutions to the problem.

The study found that black professionals were more likely than any other group to encounter racial prejudice at work. While 48 percent of Latinx professionals and 38 percent of Asians said they had experienced racial prejudice at work, that number rises to 58 percent for black professionals.


The Midwest registered as the worst area of the country in this regard, with 79 percent of its black professionals saying they had experienced racial prejudice in the workplace. The West followed with 66 percent, the South with 56 percent and the Northeast doing the best at 44 percent.

Not surprisingly, black employees are far more likely than their white colleagues to see the racial barriers that still exist in their companies. Almost two-thirds (65 percent) of black professionals said black employees have to work harder to advance, while only 16 percent of white employees agreed.

Access to company leadership was also a problem for black professionals. While 44 percent of white full-time employees said they have access to senior leaders at work, only 31 percent of full-time black employees said they had similar access.

When it comes to corporate diversity and inclusion efforts, employees across the board say that there is plenty of room for improvement. Only 34 percent of black professionals said their company has effective D&I efforts, and the numbers are little better for LatinX (39 percent), Asian (40 percent) or white professionals (41 percent).

In addition, black full-time professionals think that D&I efforts are disproportionately directed at benefiting white women. Almost three in ten black professionals surveyed (29 percent) said that white women are the primary beneficiaries of D&I efforts at their companies. Only 13 percent of white professionals said the same.

Because of these factors, there is a higher amount of dissatisfaction among black professionals. More than one in three (35 percent) of them said they intend to leave their current company within two years, as opposed to 27 percent of white respondents.

However, some strategies prove somewhat successful at increasing the level of job satisfaction among black professionals. Black women who are satisfied with their advancement and intend to remain at their companies cite clear expectations for inclusive behavior and a positive reputation around diversity and inclusion as key. For black men, providing funding to attend external conferences for people of color and offering in-person bias awareness training were seen as being helpful.

The CTI study was conducted in June 2019, polling 3,736 participants.