by Stefanie K. JohnsonDavid R. Hekman
Originally published: March 23, 2016
Roughly 85% of corporate executives and board members are white men. This number hasn’t budged for decades, which suggests that white men are continuing to select and promote other white men.
It is well known that people tend to favor and promote those who are similar to them — and that this in-group bias is problematic because it reinforces stereotypes and inequality. However, while it is a common tendency, not everyone is allowed to advocate for their own group. Sometimes when women and minorities promote their own group, it garners criticism from others.
We see this play out in all kinds of contexts. For example, both Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem were criticized for telling young women that they should support presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Likewise, Rosalind Brewer, an African-American woman and Sam’s Club CEO, was called racist for advocating for diversity. These widely publicized examples demonstrate that women and minorities are scrutinized when they try to favor those like them, in a way that white men are not.