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U.S. Commission Finds Bias Against Jews in ‘executive Suites’ of Major Corporations

Discrimination against Jews at management levels of business and industry and their exclusion from the “executive suite” of giant corporations were charged in a survey made public today by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The commission, under the chairmanship of Clifford L. Alexander, Jr., opened hearings at the United States Court House in Foley Square, New York, today, on discrimination in employment affecting Jews.

A summary of the Commission’s report on aspects of white-collar bias affecting Jews revealed that “under-utilization of Jews at the management level apparently exists throughout New York industry.” The report asserted that “the representation of Jews among corporate executives contrasts sharply with their educational level and share of the city’s population.” It was noted that Jews represent approximately 25 percent of New York’s population, and 50 percent of its college graduates. The Commission cited an Anti-Defamation League report and other studies that revealed that major corporations employed only 4.5 to 8.9 percent Jews among corporation officers.

A 1967 list of officers available for 91 of the 100 major corporations considered in the hearings showed 8.9 percent Jews. This pattern was confirmed by Dr. Philip Harris, of the Baruch School of the City College of New York. He studied six huge companies with headquarters in New York, and found only 198 Jews among 2,216 executives — or 8.9 percent.

The Commission maintained that under-representation of Jews at the executive level is a national as well as city-wide pattern. Study of the insurance industry in Hartford, Conn., where Jews represent an estimated 10 percent of the total population, showed only 1.2 percent Jews among the executives of 10 major companies.

DISCRIMINATIONS FOUND IN AUTO INDUSTRY, AMONG SHIPPING LINES

Among the three largest auto manufacturers in Detroit, where the Jewish population is about 3 percent, only two-thirds of one percent of white-collar employees at all levels were identified as Jews. Fourteen major shipping lines nation-wide had 0.9 percent Jewish officers.

According to the Commission, the extremely limited participation of Jews in industry management cannot be explained by Jewish career preference but must be laid primarily to employer attitudes and practices. Studies at Harvard and Cornell showed little distinction between the goals of Jewish and non-Jewish students. But both the Harvard research and a study at the University of Michigan uncovered attitudes held by recruiters and personnel staff which reflected and influenced company hiring and promotion of Jewish candidates. The companies sought to “minimize risk” by seeking conformist candidates with “undistinctive” social characteristics.

Jewish representation was studied in utility businesses, banking, insurance, transportation, oil, electronics, securities, and other corporate structures. An ADL study showed fewest Jews in oil and most in the securities firms. The Commission made note of the fact that, in using findings obtained by “surname recognition” — as incorporated into the ADL study – the Government did not endorse the validity of this method. But “by the same token, we have no reason to believe that the method produces data that are grossly discrepant from the true state of affairs,” the Commission said.

Reference was made by the Commission also to the American Jewish Committee studies on banks that found only 1.3 percent of bank officers to be Jewish. Discrepancies between various ADL and AJC studies were cited by the Government to show the difficulty of compiling statistics on anti-Semitism. Yet the main point was accepted that the number of Jews in the banking business, for instance was far smaller than their percentage in the population. The Commission cited studies indicating that “although Jews share the same career goals as non-Jews, they encounter employer attitudes that prevent the fulfillment of these goals. The under-utilization of Jews is a reflection of this encounter.”

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