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White Ceiling: The Alarming Result of 50 Years of Integration in Corporate America

Five decades years after President John F. Kennedy launched an ambitious effort to integrate the workplace, a white ceiling still exists. The difference now is that white women are part of the problem. In 2009, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 100 had no minorities among their executive officers. 1These white-ceiling companies often depict a rainbow of employees on the leadership pages of their Web sites. They advertise their employee networks and expound upon their commitment to diversity with inspirational statements. But the executive officers who are entrusted with setting policy in the corporation, the names listed in the annual report, are Caucasian. By not following a diverse strategy, companies may be depriving shareholders of higher returns. A 2008 study that compared the financial performance of Diversity Inc.’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity to a matched sample showed that firms with a strong commitment to diversity outperformed their peers on average with higher profit margins, and greater return on equity and assets. 2 Corporations that fail to develop a group of diverse employees could

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