Some research findings from a survey conducted on 1,201 minority US managers: Not our kind of people
42 percent of minority professional women in large corporations feel constrained by the white male model -- constantly editing themselves, engaged in the hopeless task of trying to look, sound, and act like white male executives. Thirty-four percent of minority men feel the same way.
Nearly a third of minority female executives fear that their speaking style and tone of voice label them as lacking leadership potential. Asians think they speak too softly to be considered CEO material; African-Americans think that they speak too loudly and are therefore seen as trouble-makers.
23 percent of minority female executives are concerned that their animated hand gestures are thought of as inappropriate. ''You can't imagine how often I sit on my hands at team meetings," said one Hispanic woman we interviewed.
19 percent of minority female professionals worry that their clothing (hairstyle or even manicure) stands out as being too ethnic or flamboyant. In the words of one African-American executive, ''Large earrings, the wrong nails -- stuff that wouldn't begin to attract attention on a white colleague -- makes me stand out like a sore thumb."
30 percent of minority professionals feel that promotion in their companies is based on appearance rather than merit.
The bottom line: 19 percent of minority professionals experience hidden biases severe enough to make them consider quitting. This is a wake-up call for companies. Since minorities comprise 30 percent of the highly qualified talent pool, hidden bias is a luxury few employers can afford.
I believe the authors of the study have it all wrong. I don't think it's anything to do with bias, I think it's about conforming to corporate culture. There are many things that I hate about corporate culture myself, especially pantyhose. I hate pantyhose and I believe I should have the right to not have to wear pantyhose at work. Also, if my co-workers can have corn-rows then so can I and I demand the right to wear corn-rows whether I like them or not. On the issue of long nails: I hate long nails and I think they're disgusting, not to mention the bacteria that's hiding in there. Long nails gross me out in general, I don't care who wears them and I don't care what their ethnicity is. On the issue of animated hand gestures: if it wasn't for animated hand gestures, many of us (and our various Italian, Greek, Israeli and Arab bosses) would be mute. No one at work has ever complained about my animated hand gestures but then again, my gestures didn't involve giving anyone the finger. So on this one, I could go either way.
On the matter of ethnic dressing, see above pantyhose statement. I do believe we should have the freedom to wear anything we want at work and not be stuck with the drab suit and pantyhose. I'm not asking to wear a toga fercrissakes, I'm just saying that if evariste doesn't have to wear pantyhose to work, why do I have to?
And about speaking loudly, since when is a loud voice a matter of ethnicity?