Who Rules America?  By G. William Domhoff, University of California at Santa Cruz

Diversity in the Power Elite

The Rise and Fall of Diversity at the Top: The Appointments of Fortune 500 CEOs from 2005 through 2015

by Richard L. Zweigenhaft, Guilford College

January 2016 (based on a paper delivered to the Southern Sociological Society meeting in New Orleans on March 27, 2015)

Over the past four years, there has been a dramatic decline in the appointments of white women, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans as the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In combination with several other telltale indicators, it may be that the heyday of diversity at the top of major American corporations has come and gone. This decline is striking because it followed a decade in which there was a gradual increase in those we call "the new CEOs" — that is, those who are not white men. More generally, a more careful look at just who has been appointed as Fortune 500 CEOs and when they were appointed over the last 11 years is revealing.

Figure 1: Total number of new "New CEOs" by year, 2005-2015

By looking at the number of new appointments in a given year (see Figures 1 and 2), some clear patterns emerge. They demonstrate that the increases in numbers have been glacial at best, and that the limited progress that has taken place applies much more to white women and recent South Asian immigrants than to African Americans, Latinos, or those from traditional Asian American backgrounds (China, Japan or Korea). Moreover, looking at these new appointees in terms of gender and in terms of their class backgrounds shows that men still outnumber women by a ratio of about 17 to 1, and the large majority of the new CEOs come from privileged economic backgrounds.

Figure 2: White women, African American, Latino and Asian American CEOs, 2005-2015
Note: These data are based on those who were in the CEO office of Fortune 500 companies at any time during each calendar year; in some cases, therefore, the numbers differ slightly from some of those published by others that are based on the date the Fortune lists were published.

African American CEOs

As can be seen in Figure 2, in 2005 there were six African American CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, and in 2015 there were still six. One of the six, Don Thompson, appointed as CEO of McDonald's in 2012, stepped down in March 2015, so there were only five at the beginning of 2016. Kenneth Chennault, who has been the CEO of American Express since 2001, is the only one who remains from the 2005 cohort. The other four African American CEOs in office at the end of 2015 were Roger Ferguson, CEO of TIAA-CREF (appointed in 2008), Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox (appointed in 2009), Kenneth Frazier, CEO of Merck (appointed in 2011 and Marvin Ellison of J. C. Penneys (appointed in 2015). Of the 17 African Americans who have been Fortune 500 CEOs, Ursula Burns of Xerox is the only female.

Asian American CEOs

Those whom we and others have referred to as Asian Americans actually include two very different groups of people. First, those who are traditionally thought to be Asian Americans include men and women who came from, or whose parents came from, Japan, China, or Korea. Second, however, and more apparent in recent years, there are those from South Asia, especially India, but also Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (see Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2014, p. xii).

In 2005, there were eight Asian American Fortune 500 CEOs, half of whom were from traditional Asian American backgrounds: Andrea Jung, the CEO of Avon, a Chinese American born in Canada; Chong Park, the CEO of Maxtor, born in South Korea; Wayne Inouye, the CEO of Gateway, a Japanese American born in southern California; and Jerry Yang, the CEO and co-founder of Yahoo, who was born in Taiwan and came to live in California at the age of eight. The number of Asian Americans peaked in 2011 and 2012, when there were 14 (see Figure 1). By 2015, the number had dropped to 11. By this time eight of the 11 were South Asians (six from India, one from Pakistan, and one from Bangladesh), with only three from the traditional Asian countries (two Japanese Americans, and one Chinese American).

None of the eight who were CEOs in 2005 were still serving in 2015. The longest running of the current Asian American CEOs is Indra Nooyi, born in India, who came to the USA in 1978 to do graduate work, and worked for a number of corporations before she was hired by Pepsi. After twelve years moving up the corporate ranks at Pepsi, she became the CEO in 2006. Of the 30 Asian Americans who have ever been Fortune 500 CEOs, Nooyi is one of only four women, and she is the only South Asian. The other three are Andrea Jung, the Chinese American CEO of Avon from 1999 to 2012, Laura Sen, CEO of BJ's Wholesale Club from 2009 to 2012, who grew up in Massachusetts, and Lisa Su, who became CEO of Advanced Micro Devices in October, 2014. Su was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the USA at the age of three.

Latino CEOs

In 2005 there were nine Latino Fortune 500 CEOs, and in 2015 there were 13, matching the previous peak for Latinos in 2008 (one departed in June 2015, so by the end of 2015 there were only 12). Paul Diaz, who became CEO of Kindred Health Care in 2004, and George Paz, who became CEO of Express Scripts in 2005, were the only Latino CEOs from the 2005 list who were still in office at the end of 2015; the others were appointed in 2007, 2010, 2011 (three that year), 2012, 2013 (two that year), and 2015 (two that year). All 28 of the Latinos who have served as Fortune 500 CEOs have been men.

White women CEOs

As can also be seen in Figure 2 above, the pattern is strikingly different for the white women CEOs. With very few exceptions, each year there were more white women Fortune 500 CEOs than the year before. In 2015, the number decreased, from 26 to 25. Strikingly, there were no new white women CEOs appointed in 2015 (which only happened once before in the eleven-year period we are looking at -- in 2010). Two of the white women CEOs who were on the list in 2005 were still on the list in 2015, though both had left their original CEO positions during that decade. Susan Cameron, at the time known as Susan Ivey, was the CEO of Reynolds American from 2005 until 2011, at which time she retired; in May, 2014, having changed her surname to that of her husband, Roger Cameron, she was hired again as the CEO at Reynolds. Similarly, Meg Whitman was the CEO of eBay until 2007. She ran as the Republican nominee for Governor of California in 2010, spending $144 million of her own fortune, but she lost to the Democratic nominee, Jerry Brown. She joined the board of Hewlett Packard in January, 2011, and in September of that year she was appointed the CEO.

New "New CEOs" by group and year

Another way to look at these data is illustrated in Table 1 and Figure 3. They show the number of new CEOs appointed each year from 2005 through 2015 (as does Figure 1), but it also includes the data for each of the separate groups (white women, Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans).

Table 1. New "New CEOs," by group, 2005-2015
 White WomenLatinosAsian AmericansAfrican AmericansTOTAL
Figure 3. New "New CEOs" by group, 2005-2015

Overall, as can be seen in the rightmost column of Table 1 (and in Figure 1 & Figure 3), there were two peaks during the decade: first, in 2007, when 9 new CEOs were appointed, and then in 2011, when 13 were appointed. Since that peak in 2011, there were nine appointments in 2012, six in 2013, seven in 2014, and, quite notably, only four in 2015. Strikingly, when one looks at just who the new appointments were each year, one sees that 31 of the 75 total appointments of new CEOs during this eleven-year period have been white women (42%); in the last three years, 15 of the 26 appointments were white women (58%). To the extent that diversity is taking place, white women seem to have been the beneficiaries, and this has been even more the case in the last three years.

The newbies — the eleven new CEOs appointed in 2014 and 2015

The eleven "new CEOs" appointed in 2014 and 2015 are worth a closer look to see if they came from backgrounds similar to those who previously have populated the corporate elite. Contrary to the frequently expressed but inaccurate claim that many of those in the corporate elite in the past have come from all levels of society, including immigrant families who purportedly arrived in the United States with little or nothing, studies of corporate leaders as far back as the early twentieth century have shown that most have come from economically privileged backgrounds. Updating studies of early twentieth century business leaders, C. Wright Mills (1956) found in his comprehensive study of the social backgrounds of "the power elite" that almost all had come from "the upper third of the income and occupational pyramids." In fact, most of them came from even higher in the class structure (as he put it, "they managed to have fathers on at least upper middle-class levels of occupation and income" p. 129). In our research on the class backgrounds of those who first diversified the previously all male and all white corporate, political and military elites, by becoming, for example, members of corporate boards, Presidential Cabinets, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we found much the same thing using the model proposed by sociologist Dennis Gilbert in his various books on the American class structure (see, for example, Gilbert, 2015). Gilbert estimates that about 1% of the families in America fall in what he calls the "capitalist" class, and another 14% fall in the upper middle class. With the exception of African Americans, who are more likely to have come from middle or working class backgrounds, most of those who have diversified the formerly all white male power elite have come from the capitalist or upper middle class, and thus from the upper 15% of the class structure (Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 1998, 2006). This is also the case for the first 109 white women and men of color who became Fortune 500 CEOs, though more of them had grown up economically privileged in other countries (Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2011 and 2014). Given the consistency of these findings, what I am about to report will not be surprising.

Four of the eleven new CEOs appointed in 2014 and 2015 were white women (all were appointed in 2014): Jacqueline Hinman became CEO of CH2M Hill (#415 on the 2014 Fortune list) on January 1, 2014, and two weeks later, Mary Barra became CEO of GM (#7). In June, 2014, Barbara Rentler became CEO of Ross Stores (#277), and in September, 2014, Safra Catz became co-CEO of Oracle (#82).

Hinman clearly grew up with economic privilege — her father was an engineer and her mother a biologist and so, too, did Catz, whose father was a physics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston (Safra Catz was born in Israel, and came to the USA at age six).

I have not yet been able to find information about the occupations of Rentler's parents. Barra was one of the relatively rare cases of a CEO who actually rose from the working class — her father was a die maker who worked for GM for 39 years. She began work at GM at age 18, and worked there for 33 years before she became the CEO. Along the way she received a BS from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), and an MBA from Stanford, one of several elite MBA programs that serve as training grounds for future top corporate executives in recent years. All four were insiders who had been working at the companies, most for many years.

The other seven newcomers to the CEO ranks in 2014 and 2015 included two South Asian Americans, one traditional Asian American, three Latinos, and one African American. The first of the two South Asian American appointees, Satya Nadella, born in India, became CEO of Microsoft in June 2014. The son of a highly placed civil servant in India (his father worked for the elite administrative service, and was a member of a planning commission for the Prime Minister in the 1990s), Nadella has a BA from Bangalore University in India, with an MS from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Sundar Pichai, also born in India, became CEO of Google in August 2015. His father was an electrical engineer who managed a factory for a British conglomerate, and his mother was a stenographer. Apparently he did not grow up with great privilege -- one Bloomberg profile of his childhood reported that when he was a child, he, his one brother, and his parents lived in a two-room apartment, they did not have a television or a car, and they did not get a phone until he was 12 (Stone, 2014). Pichai earned a BA in engineering from the elite India Institute of Technology, earned an MS from Stanford and an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania. The third Asian American, Lisa Su, became CEO of Advanced Micro Devices in October 2014. She was born in Taiwan, came to the states when she was young with her parents, a statistician and an accountant, and she went on to earn both an undergraduate degree and a Ph.D. from MIT. Thus, two of the three Asian American CEOs came from economic privilege, and the father of the third was an electrical engineer who managed a factory for a British company.

The three newly appointed Latino CEOs were Richard A. ("Rick") Gonzalez, who became CEO of Abbie when it split from Abbott Labs in January 2014; Juan R. Luciano, who became CEO of ADM in January 2015; and Oscar Munoz, who became CEO of United in September 2015. Gonzalez' background is murky and full of unanswered questions. What is known is that he, like some other recently appointed CEOs, was found to have fabricated his educational achievements. Although Abbott Laboratories between 2002 and 2007 claimed in at least nine filings with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission that Gonzalez (then the company's president and chief operating officer) had a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Houston and a master's degree in biochemistry from the University of Miami, these claims turned out to be false. The company's website "softened" its claims about Gonzales to read that he had "attended" the University of Houston, and that he had been a research biochemist at the University of Miami, but a spokesperson at Abbott acknowledged that he had not received a degree from either school (Wang, 2012).

Luciano had been at ADM since 2011, so when Patricia Woertz stepped down as CEO, he was an insider when he was appointed CEO. He grew up in Argentina, where his grandfather owned a farm (his 80-year old mother now owns the farm, and still asks him how the price of soybeans is doing on the Chicago Board of Trade). After receiving both a bachelor's and a master's degree in industrial engineering from a top Argentine university, he worked for Dow Chemical before joining ADM in 2011.

Munoz, a long-time railroad executive who previously had been the president of CSX Corporation, also had been on the board of United, and thus was an outsider with insider knowledge of the company. He grew up in Southern California, the oldest of nine children, and he was the first in the family to graduate from college (he went to USC, and then earned an MBA from Pepperdine). Just a month after his appointment, Munoz suffered a heart attack and was temporarily replaced; he was scheduled to return in the first quarter of 2016 (Lublin, Cameron, and Mann, 2015; Mouawad, 2015).

The only newly appointed African American CEO in 2014 or 2015 was Marvin Ellison, appointed in August 2015 as CEO of J. C. Penney. Ellison's parents were sharecroppers who became gospel singers (they recorded four albums). He earned a BA from the University of Memphis and an MBA from Emory before embarking on a corporate career that included 15 years at Target and 12 years at Home Depot.

Although I don't have family background information on some of these eleven newly appointed Fortune 500 CEOs, some clear patterns emerge. Of the eleven, four are white women and two are South Asians, and most of these six are from privileged or relatively privileged family backgrounds (certainly the upper third, and more likely the upper 15% of the class structures in which they grew up). The minimal diversity that takes place at the CEO-level, therefore, favors those from these two groups, and favors those from privileged class backgrounds.

What to make of these patterns?

There are two more patterns of note in the data just described. First, when it comes to the appointments of Fortune 500 CEOs, the bloom certainly seems to be off the rose for African Americans, Asian Americans and Latinos. In contrast, the representation of white women continued to increase, although very slowly, until a slight drop-off in 2015 from 26 to 25 (with no new appointments in 2015). Second, although the number of white women Fortune 500 CEOs for the most part continued to increase over this eleven-year period, albeit at a very slow rate, there have been very few women in the other three groups (only one African American, four Asian Americans, and no Latinas).

As for the first pattern, it appears that the heyday of diversity has indeed come and gone and, in fact, an ironic feature may be at play: now that there have been some white women, African American, Latino and Asian American CEOs, there may be less, not more, pressure on boards to consider and appoint them as CEOs. We have written about the many ironies of diversity, and one is that a little diversity may decrease, not increase, future pressure to diversify (Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2006, Ch. 8, and 2013, pp. 139-143).

The situation is different for African Americans than it is for Asian Americans or Latinos. In a study of the pipeline to the CEO office — those who graduate from college, those who receive MBAs, those who earn more than $250,000 per year, and, finally, those who hold positions within a few steps of the top, we have found that the closer one gets to the top, the smaller the percentage of African Americans. When we looked at those who were one step from the CEO office, we found that only 2.6% were African Americans. Latinos also were underrepresented (4.2%, though they make up 16% of the population), but Asian Americans were slightly over-represented (7.8% -- they make up about 4% of the population) (see Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2014, Table 6.3, p. 136).

Asian Americans and Latinos, however, have used two routes to the CEO office that have not yet been an option for African Americans. The first is that some of those who have become Fortune 500 CEOs have been in the families that founded or co-founded companies that made it so big that they subsequently entered the Fortune 500. For example, Robert Huang, born in Taiwan in 1945, the son of a man who launched Nichidai Trading Company, a Japanese paper trading company, after receiving his undergraduate degree in Japan, and master's degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester and MIT, founded a company called Synnex in 1980. The company went public in 2004, and by 2007 it was #360 on the Fortune 500 list. Similarly, Joseph Molina, the CEO of Molina Healthcare, is the son of David Molina, an emergency room physician who founded Molina Healthcare in 1980. Under Joseph's CEO leadership (he, too, is a physician), the company made it to the Fortune list in 2012 as #500 (and since that time the company has done even better, riding the corporate healthcare wave: it was #423 in 2013, #393 in 2014, and #301 in 2015). To date, none of the African American CEOs has founded, or is the son or daughter of someone who founded, a Fortune-level company.

A second pathway to the CEO office for some Asian Americans and Latinas has been their anticipated ability to capitalize on the increasingly global economy. Consider the following two examples. J. Paul Raines has been the CEO at Gamestop (#311 in 2015) since 2010. Born in Costa Rica to a Costa Rican mother and a white American father who was in the U. S. Navy for 26 years, Raines grew up bicultural. He spent most of each year in the states (he went to the Woodward Academy, a prep school in Atlanta), but he spent every summer from June through August in Costa Rica. After graduating with a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech, Raines embarked upon a corporate career with a variety of companies (L. L. Bean, Home Depot, Advance Auto Parts) that took him to various South American countries, including Costa Rica and Chile. Because of his global experience, and because he had demonstrated his executive skills both in the USA and abroad, he was an especially appealing CEO candidate when Gamestop appointed him in 2010. In 2014, 36% of the company's 6,600 retail stores were outside the USA, and 30% of the company's annual revenues were generated outside the USA (Mooring, 20015).

Ajay Banga, who became the CEO of MasterCard in 2010, provides another example. Banga was born to a Sikh family in India in 1960, where his father was a general in the Indian army. He received a BA from Delhi University, and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management. He worked for Nestle for 13 years, for two years at PepsiCo, where he helped launch the company's fast food franchises in India, and then for Citicorp for 13 years, where he was part of the bank's senior management that oversaw operations in the USA, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He then became the CEO of the company's international global consumer group. In 2009, he joined MasterCard, and a year later, when he became its CEO, he had considerable international experience.

We were surprised when we first saw Banga's photo in the New York Times article that announced his appointment. He was, as far as we knew, the first Fortune 500 CEO to wear a turban. Within a few months of his appointment, however, India announced that it was planning to give identity cards to its 1.2 billion citizens. The next day, Banga arrived in Mumbai to try to secure the contract for this enterprise for Master Card (Bajaj and Martin, 2010). We realized that wearing a turban once might have meant that a corporate executive was an outsider, and not a member of the (white male) club, but now it might signal that he is globally connected, and in an increasingly global world, this might be a key advantage for the individual and for the company.

Some have referred to the advantages of being a "flexible immigrant" (see Ong, 1999). Weis, Cippoloni and Jenkins (2014), in writing about the presence of flexible immigrants in elite boarding schools, note that although they are likely to be outsiders in some ways, "they are fundamentally 'class insiders'" (p. 201-202). So, too, if they move through the global corporate world, by the time they become candidates for the CEO position, they not only bring global understanding and typically the ability to speak languages other than English, many of them also share a class and educational background with the people who select them, the privileged white men who sit on the boards of Fortune 500 companies.

In the 1960s, Ruth Hill Useem, an anthropologist, wrote about those she called "third culture kids" to refer to the children of diplomats, missionaries, men in the military, etc., who spent time in their own home culture but were raised in other cultures because of the nature of their parents' work. Because they were raised in a manner that was multicultural, and often multilingual, third culture kids, like flexible immigrants who are class insiders, may have certain advantages as "bridge figures" (Zuckerman, 2013, pp. 170ff). They may also have certain advantages when it comes to leading Fortune 500 companies as they become more and more global.

These findings and patterns suggest that in the next few years the numbers of Latino and South Asians who become CEOs might rebound as more companies seek to increase their global business by appointing multicultural and multilingual CEOs. For African Americans, however, given the trend, and given what we have found in the pipeline, the situation is less encouraging. In fact, future black Americans who become CEOs might turn out to be immigrants from elite backgrounds in the West Indies or Africa, such as Tidjane Thiam, a multilingual African born in the Ivory Coast to a prominent family with powerful political connections, who in June of 2015 became the CEO of Credit Suisse Group AG, thus becoming the first black chief executive of a European bank (Anderson, 2015).

The data also indicate the importance of intersectionality — that is, when one looks at the patterns based on ethnicity one must also take into account other attributes, such as class or gender. As we have pointed out, there have been 17 African American CEOs, but only one African American female CEO, there have been 30 Asian American CEOs, but only four Asian American female CEOs, and there has yet to be a Latina CEO. Although women are as likely or more likely than men to graduate from college, or to earn MBA degrees, and at some companies just as likely to enter the managerial ranks, by the time one looks at the highest levels, one step from the CEO office or in the CEO office, men far outnumber women. Ethnicity is clearly at play, but so, too, is gender.

It is important to keep in mind just how minimal the diversity is among the Fortune 500 CEOs, even for the women and South Asians who seem to have been the greatest beneficiaries. By far, the large majority of Fortune 500 are still white men — fully 89.2% of the CEOs in 2015 (see Table 2).

Table 2. Fortune 500 CEOs by ethnicity and gender, 2005 & 2015
 All CEOsMenWomen% men
Asian Americans87187.5%
African Americans660100.0%
 All CEOsMenWomen% men
Asian Americans119281.8%
African Americans65183.3%

The 25 white women who made up 5% of the Fortune 500 CEOs in 2015 were outnumbered by white men at a ratio of 18 to 1. Moreover, there has been only one African American woman who has been a Fortune 500 CEO (Ursala Burns of Xerox). Two of the 11 Asian American CEOs in 2015 were women (at 4.5 to 1, the lowest male to female ratio of the four ethnic groups). As has been noted, there has yet to be a Latina Fortune 500 CEO.

Overall, the situation has improved somewhat for women: back in 2005, the ratio of men to women among Fortune 500 CEOs was 44.5 to 1, so the 2015 figure of 18 to 1 is a step in the right direction. In percentage terms, women have gone from being 2.1% of the CEOs in 2005 to 5.3% in 2015.

The biggest breakthrough: an openly gay CEO

Perhaps the most dramatic CEO announcement of the decade came from a white male who was already a CEO. We typically do not include white males in our umbrella term "new CEOs" (they are the "old CEOs"!). However, in late October of 2014, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple (#5 on the both the 2014 and 2015 Fortune lists), wrote an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek in which he came out as a gay person ("I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me"). Although Cook (2014) no doubt thanked God out of sincerity, and perhaps continuing religious belief, invoking the deity could not help but to momentarily freeze many centrists and conservatives, and perhaps even some ultraconservatives.

That Cook is gay was no surprise to some people. As he pointed out in his article, he had been open with many people about his sexual orientation, and many of his colleagues at Apple knew he was gay. He had previously been publicly outed, both by Out magazine, and, in June 2014, on a television talk show on CNBC (Stewart, 2014b). Still, he had not publically acknowledged that he was gay until he wrote the column in late October, and this generated front-page attention in media across the nation and throughout the world (e.g., Stewart, 2014a; Harrell, 2014; Morris, 2014).

That it took so long reveals just how slowly corporate America adjusts to major social trends in the larger culture. As noted at the outset, the first African American Fortune 500 CEO was appointed in 1999, more than thirty years after the height of the Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King gave his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964). So, too, did corporate America lag behind as dramatic changes have taken place in the larger culture's treatment of gay men and lesbians; in July, 2011, the military's policy of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" ended, and over the past decade many states have passed legislation making same-sex marriage legal.

Whether this will open the doors for other gay men and lesbian Fortune 500 CEOs to come out, or for boards of directors to appoint CEOs who are already out, remains to be seen. As noted at the outset, the appointment of the first African American Fortune CEO in 1999 was followed by a flurry of other African Americans appointed as CEOs, but the number of African American Fortune 500 CEOs was the same in 2014 as it was in 2005. Time will tell whether the trajectory for gay men and lesbian CEOs resembles that of white women (that is, one that increases annually, though rather glacially) or that of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans (that is, after a surge, declining).


These current findings on the stagnation or decrease in the number of new CEOs, coupled with our previous findings on the relative dearth of new CEOs in the pipeline as it approaches the CEO office (Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2014, pp. 132-137), are very much in line with the findings of other researchers. Advancement for those who bring diversity to management in corporations has stalled. For example, Tomaskovic-Devey and Stainback (2007) found that the percentage of white men in managerial positions has remained much the same since the 1960s (see, also, Stainback & Tomaskovic-Devey, 2009; and Cook and Glass, 2014).

Moreover, there is some evidence that women who become CEOs are hired to lead companies that face bigger challenges than are the men who become CEOs. One study of 2500 of the world's largest public companies found that more of the women came from the outside the companies to which they were appointed than men (35% vs. 22%), and more women CEOs were forced out of their jobs than men (38% of the women CEOs who left their jobs were forced to go, compared to 27% of the men). (The Economist, 2014). Some have extended the metaphor of "glass ceiling" to that of a "glass cliff" to get at the precarious circumstances and the higher risks that women CEOs face (Ryan and Haslam, 2007; Ryan, Haslam, Hersby, Kulich and Wilson-Kovacs, 2009).

There are also some intriguing parallels in the world of sports. Many journalists and academics have noted that after a relatively small number of blacks and Latinos were hired to manage Major League baseball teams, the number has declined dramatically. In 2009, there were ten black or Latino managers, but as the 2015 Major League baseball season began, there were only two, one Latino and one black (Lapchick, 2015; Rios, 2015a). When the black manager (Lloyd McClendon of Seattle) was fired during the season, the sport was left with the embarrassment of zero black managers (a few months later, in November 2015, Dusty Baker, an African American, was hired to manage the Washington Nationals after their original choice for a new manager turned them down when he saw the short length of the contract that was offered to him; Rios, 2015b).

So, too, are there fewer black football coaches at the college and professional level than there have been in the recent past (Tracy, 2015). There were two black coaches in the NFL in 2001, a number that increased to seven in 2006, and again reached seven in 2011, but at the end of 2015 there were only five (in 2013, 67% of the players in the NFL were African American; Waldstein, 2015; see, also, Rider, Wade, Swaminathan and Schwab, 2016).

And in a detailed study of all of the NCAA Division 1 men's basketball coaches hired and fired over a thirty-year period, Cook and Glass (2013) found that minorities were more likely than whites to be hired to coach losing teams. This, they suggest, is similar to the glass cliff phenomenon that some researchers have applied to female executives -- the black coaches, like women CEOs, have been hired into situations in which the likelihood of failure is higher than those experienced by white coaches and white male CEOs. Moreover, Cook and Glass found that when minority coaches had losing records and were fired, they were likely to be replaced by white coaches.

All in all, our findings on CEOs, and other data on women and men of color in corporate leadership, as well as the various studies of managers and coaches in the world of sports, do not lead to optimistic predictions when it comes to diversity in the corporate elite in the near future. We have argued that the inclusion of non-white males as corporate directors, and then as CEOs, was the result of pressure from the bottom up, not the sudden enlightenment of those at the top (see, for example, Zweigenhaft and Domhoff, 2006, p. 92 and p. 247). Because the pressure from most social movements has declined or been safely routinized, and also because there has been a dollop or two of diversification, the pressure from below has diminished, and so, too, have the number of appointments of African American, Latino and Asian American CEOs. White women, similar in class background to the white men who make up the large majority of the corporate elite, have made small gains over the last decade, and may continue to do so over the next decade, but even they might not see much in the way of advancement without some pressure from below.


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