Climbing the Corporate Ladder—Tips for Minority Execs

By Beth Brody

According to The Council on Economic Priorities, minorities hold only 15.7% of the management jobs at large companies. However, minority executives shouldn't rely on company diversity programs to climb the corporate ladder, says, the executive career site from The Wall Street Journal. The diversity-hiring guidelines that most large companies heed may help minorities get hired, but achieving success is up to them.

A December 2001 survey by search firm Korn/Ferry International indicates that 57% of corporate executives believe large organizations are generally effective in achieving diversity. However, just 38% of minority professionals agree. Similarly, 74% of executives believe their own organization has been effective in achieving diversity, while just 48% of professionals agree. "Despite years of effort, current diversity initiatives may have an illusion of inclusion but they aren't as effective as companies think they are," says Tony Lee, editor in chief and general manager of "The good news for those who have the right skills is that U.S. business has become aware of how demographics are changing and that they need to take steps to reflect that change." offers these tips to help minority professionals get ahead in their careers and reach the senior ranks:

  • Join an organization that has a track record of providing a range of career paths that lead to the executive suite.
  • Have skill sets that are easily transferable to a variety of different environments.
  • Communicate well, in writing and orally.
  • Stay focused and work hard despite a volatile economy.
  • Don't be discouraged if you fail to be fast-tracked early in your career.
  • Keep moving your goals upwards.
  • Find a mentor who can show you the ropes and pull strings.
  • Build a large and diverse network of relationships.
  • Contribute to the bottom line and produce results.

For more information on diversity recruitment, read’s special report, "Diversity At Work: Advice and Insights on Diversity Issues in Today’s Job Market."

Back to Top

For an AMA Training Consultant or to Register: 1-800-262-9699
American Management Association © Copyright 1997-2018
1601 Broadway New York, NY 10019
Phone: 212-586-8100 • Fax: 212-903-8168 • Customer Service: 1-800-262-9699