Baltimore lags in black executives 4.2% were managers in '88, study shows

September 27, 1991|By Blair S. Walker

If you happen to be black and aim to become a business executive, Baltimore isn't the best place to do it.

Try Philadelphia, Atlanta or St. Louis instead, because your odds of succeeding are better in those cities.

That's one conclusion reached by a one-year study of black participation in private-sector businesses in the Baltimore region. The study will be released today by Investing in Baltimore Committee Inc., a non-profit business organization, and the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a black Washington think tank.

The study indicates 4.2 percent of blacks in the Baltimore area's work force were managers in 1988, despite a regional population that is 26 percent black, IBC President Daniel P. Henson III said.

Atlanta had the highest average of black managers, 5 percent. St. Louis had 4.9 percent and Philadelphia 4.6 percent. The national average was 4.5 percent.

As for blacks holding professional jobs, Baltimore came in at 5.1 percent, compared with 5.8 percent for Philadelphia and St. Louis, while Atlanta showed 3.8 percent. The national average was 5 percent.

"Our intent here was to present a baseline, where we can kind of lay out what the situation is in terms of black participation in the private sector of Baltimore," said Mr. Henson, a vice president with Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse Inc. "And then, to begin to lay out some ideas and concepts on how we can do better in this area."

Mr. Henson said he will suggest that Baltimore run national advertisements touting itself as a good place for blacks to work. He also suggested that regional economic development agencies, such as the Greater Baltimore Committee, work to increase the ranks of black managers and professionals. "We have not had a specific program around this narrow part of the issue," GBC President Robert Keller said. "Whether we will or not is something that's under discussion within the organization. I think the numbers . . . show that there really is a need for special efforts."

Margaret Simms, an economist at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies who directed the study, said it took nearly $100,000 to assemble and relied primarily upon 1988 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission statistics. Baltimore was compared with Atlanta, Philadelphia and St. Louis, based on industrial composition, numbers of blacks in the work force and other factors, she said. Richmond, Va., also was included.

Two years ago, the Johns Hopkins University started a graduate-level program designed to address the problems identified in the report. Known as the Executive Accelerated Leadership Training Program, the two-year program was for promising minority business people who had to be sponsored by their companies.

Hopkins killed the program because only a handful of companies designated employees to participate.

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