Study: African-American Men Gain Less From Mentoring Than Whites

University of Georgia study says career success comes down to whom you chose to let into your professional circle.

Posted: 12/20/2011 08:27 PM EST

Are you getting the most from your mentorship or professional networking group? Researchers in a new study found that African-American men aren’t reaping the same amount of success as whites who do the same.

 

The study, performed by the University of Georgia and published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, suggests that African-American men would get more career benefits by choosing a mentor who ranks higher in their respective organization.

 

"If African-American men are picking mentors who are like them, then they're more likely to be networking with people who have less power and influence within an organization, which may be why mentoring is not predicting career success for them," said study co-author Lillian Eby, a professor in the Industrial-Organizational Psychology Program in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.

 

The researchers studied responses from nearly 250 college-educated African-American men to determine which factors were most closely related to their career success—defined by measures such as annual compensation, number of promotions in one's career and managerial level.

 

For both Blacks and whites, investing in education, training and willingness to travel were factors that yielded the most career success, researchers said.

 

Looking for ways to kick start your career?

 

The report suggests seeking multiple mentors to help make both objective and subjective career gains.

 

They also suggest that people should research professional groups outside of those that attract individuals solely based on race, ethnicity or gender—such as exclusively Black or women’s associations— “since they can be viewed as favoritism and perpetuate stereotypes that those individuals need extra help to succeed,” Eby says.

 

"Especially in a bad economy, having a climate that encourages learning and development is probably a better strategy than programs that are targeted toward a particular group," she said.

 

 

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