Study Finds Employes Often Circumvent Corporate Anti-discrimination Polices

A University of Michigan study of discrimination in executive selection in large corporations has indicated that liberal hiring and promotion policies of management are often circumvented by key men in their own ranks if top management does not do more than simply announce equal opportunity polices. The study, by the University’s Institute-for Social Research Survey Research Center was announced by Orin Lehman, chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee, which opens its 62nd annual meeting here today.

Mr. Lehman said that “although the study deals specifically with opportunities for Jewish executives, its implications extend to other minority groups.” The four companies chosen for the study are large, diversified manufacturers in the Cleveland-Akron area which all have formal policies of equal employment opportunities calling for hiring and promotion according to ability. All enjoy a reputation of being “open” to Jews and the percentage of Jews in their managerial ranks exceeds what is believed to be the national average. The researchers found that procedures set up by the companies to implement equal employment opportunity policies were going un-noticed by a large proportion of executives. However, even when such measures were noticed, they did not in themselves prove to be a deterrent to discrimination.

“Much of the answer has to do with the manager’s knowledge of other conflicting facts,” the report said. Foremost among the “conflicting facts” was awareness that the company’s actions contradicted its equal employment policies. Executives who saw their companies giving only lip service to these policies were more inclined to discriminate against Jews than those who felt the companies meant what they said, the researchers reported.

The study found that anti-Semitic attitudes were least frequent among managers who were most highly educated and whose original training was oriented toward careers other than industry. It also found that so-called “third-party” pressures entered into discrimination in hiring and promotions. Among such pressures was the belief, often erroneous, that colleagues, superiors, subordinates, customers or executives of other companies would feel uncomfortable with Jewish executives. But of individuals who did feel so pressured, most could not point to a specific stimulus for their concern, the study asserted.

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