NEW YORK, NY— Wesley, Brown & Bartle, a national executive search firm, announces survey results reflecting a dismal re-employment picture for minority executives.

“Despite the advance of widely publicized corporate diversity programs
since we last surveyed them five years ago, lingering myths, de-selective biases and an impaired hiring process have impacted far more severely on African-American and Latino executives than their white counterparts,” says Wesley Poriotis, Chairman of Wesley Brown & Bartle.

“Back then, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Wall Street Project asked our firm to report on the employment status of Black and Latino executives in corporate America,” says Poriotis. “Findings: less than one percent of them held operations and line roles — rather, these diverse professionals mostly held posts in non-operations and corporate staff functions.”

Today, Mr. Poriotis says, it’s a fraction of what it was then. “Moreover, the WB&B survey included a tally of hundreds of corporate executive searches and showed that when an equally credentialed Black or Latino executive is one of three finalists for an open position, their respective chance of getting the job offer is not one in three
but one in 33.”

He cites assignments from Fortune 500 companies where his firm in
2008-09 courted and presented in excess of 300 highly qualified
minority candidates across multi-functions and multi-levels, “the
hidden talent pool of high performers,” as he terms them. Less than
two percent were hired in line and operations roles that affect the
company’s bottom-line.

“Blacks and Latinos have fallen further behind as corporations
downsized during the past three years,” he says, causing a
particularly poignant “hit” on affected executives of color who face a
disproportionate challenge for re-employment. They must wade through
the complex and de-selective hiring process which continues to result
in multiple interviews without ultimate selection.

Poriotis blames his own executive search industry’s lack of commitment
to inclusion for this. “In fact,” he says, “this economy has enabled
the recruitment industry to fall back on an old myth that qualified
Black and Latino candidates don’t exist. Plus, majority hiring
managers are loath to pull the trigger, especially on a
high-performing Black candidate who happens to be male.”

Moreover, he says the fact that Blacks and Latinos with advanced
degrees from the Ivy League are perennially destined to lose in
candidate shoot-outs is a harbinger of worse things to come. “The
ranks of this upper-middle class group of diverse executives are being
depleted,” he says, “much to the detriment of those in junior ranks
who will follow, who look up through their corporate hierarchies to
see no one in power in middle-management who looks like them. We must
translate the ‘talk the talk’ of inclusion into a ‘walk the walk’ for
the ultimate hiring of qualified Black and Latino mid-to-senior
managers. Or otherwise corporate succession planning will continue to
yield a paucity of diversity and stifle upward mobility in corporate

He cites the conclusion of a Boston-based group, United for a Fair
Economy, that even “college-educated black men are nearly twice as
likely to be unemployed as their white college-educated counterparts.”
That report inspired New York Times columnist Bob Herbert to fire off
“Blacks in Retreat,” an op-ed noting that while “the election of a
black president may have been important to African-Americans … it
hasn’t done much for their bottom lines.”

Further evidence was provided in a 2009 Harvard Business Review
article: The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad. It
rated executive recruiting as “haphazard at best, ineffective at
worst,” and “a failure,” especially adding a dismal note on succession

In essence, adds Poriotis, there are three “players” engaged in the
process: the CEO, the human resources professional and the hiring
manager. “While the hiring manager makes the ultimate decision on
which candidate will report to him/her,” he says, “the odds favoring a
person of color ultimately will rise or fall on the CEO’s personal
commitment to diversity as well as on the HR officer’s belief or
disbelief that qualified minorities do exist.”

He notes that unless and until a CEO mandates a balanced slate of
candidates for every staffing engagement, qualified Blacks and Latinos
submerged in hidden talent pools will have little chance to compete
for unadvertised, unpublicized, quality corporate roles.

“Accordingly, WB&B has devised an innovative strategic pipelining
system external to a corporate client’s succession plan whereby the
firm creates a proprietary bank of qualified diverse executives for
positions across multi-functions and multi-levels before they open.”

Poriotis says, “We socialize these highly talented professionals with
corporate leaders to simulate the ‘ole boy network’ way to forge
relationships.” This informal and confidential “ice-breaking” method
has helped negate the myths that “they don’t exist; they can’t perform
like their majority counterparts; or they are not just a cultural fit”
— myths which stubbornly persist.

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