A new university research study finds that African American men do not receive the same benefits from corporate mentoring programs as Whites. The study examined data on 250 college-educated African American men to determine what factors were closely related to their professional success. The results showed that level of education, training, and willingness to move for new opportunities were the main factors leading to career success.
Lillian Eby, a professor of industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Georgia and a co-author of the study, explained that African American men tended to look for mentors who were also African Americans. She says that “if African-American men are picking mentors who are like them, then they are more likely to networking with people who have less power and influence within an organization, which may be why mentoring is not predicting career success for them.”
Co-author C. Douglas Johnson, an associate professor of management at Georgia Gwinnett College, summarizes the results by saying, “If you are willing to put forth the necessary effort and obtain the education and appropriate training, then you can achieve career success.” The authors advise against mentoring programs geared to particular racial or ethnic groups because they believe they tend to stigmatize the people they are trying to help by identifying them as needing extra help in order to succeed.
Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Clemson University. He holds an MBA from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of Georgia.
The study appears in the December issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior.