WASHINGTON (Jan. 7)
A federal investigation is planned that will include a probe of executive-level anti-Semitic discrimination by oil companies, it was learned today. The investigation would also look into anti-Jewish discrimination in managerial employment by the automotive and electronic industries. Plans are being drawn up by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance of the U.S. Department of Labor.
OFCC Director John L. Wilks has noted studies by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith disclose that Jews represent only 1.5 percent of corporate executives employed by the oil industry in New York. The under-representation of Jews in oil indicated a more extreme discrimination than that practiced by any other major industry. Companies with interests in Arab states have tended to translate Arab prejudices into domestic hiring policies affecting Jews.
The investigation of the oil industry’s executive suite bias would come at a time when top-level oil men have been involved in anti-Israel controversy. Leading executives recently met with President Nixon to urge a more pro-Arab policy.
TIMING OF PROBE COINCIDENTAL
The timing of the probe is obviously coincidental. The OFCC had already embarked on an investigation of insurance companies. Some 20 insurance companies have met with federal investigators to discuss improvement of hiring practices involving Jews and Catholics for managerial jobs. Over 25 additional insurance companies will be investigated this year.
Oil executives are exerting pressure to prevent their industry from becoming the next target of OFCC. The government has made plans to look into oil but this might be deferred and the priority given to the electronics or automotive industry. Experience obtained in the insurance probe would be utilized in investigating other industries. OFCC has solicited advise from the ADL, the American Jewish Committee, and other organizations.
NEW DIRECTIVES DUE ON RELIGIOUS BIAS
The Nixon Administration will issue new directives in the near future on religious bias in executive hiring. It is considering the advisability of requiring firm guidelines. The directive is not expected to go very far beyond the present requirements. Existing rules require that companies trading with the government allow Jews time off on religious holidays and make other such provisions.
OFCC is urging publication of guidelines to enable companies to calculate the percentage of Jews or other religious minorities among executives which would be acceptable to the government. The present investigation and planning is the result of complaints filed by Jewish groups and 1968 hearings held in New York City by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Commission later reported on exclusion of Jews’ and discrimination against Jews on executive levels of certain industries in the New York City area.
In addition to the tiny number of Jews in oil, it was found that only 4.4 percent of bankers on high levels were Jews; 6.9 percent in utilities; 3.7 percent in transportation, 6.2 percent in electronics and 12.1 percent in securities.