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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Zweigenhaft’s book to be released in paperback

While many define the United States as a melting pot of cultures, diversity still eludes the corporate world.

Dana Professor of Psychology Richie Zweigenhaft and his co-author G. William Domhoff investigate this issue in their book, “The New CEOs: Women, African American, Latino, and Asian American Leaders of Fortune 500 Companies,” which is soon to be released in a paperback edition.

The inspiration for the book dates back to a few decades ago when Zweigenhaft and Domhoff first began working together in researching diversity in America’s power structure.

“Professor Zweigenhaft and I had been studying diversity at the top for 30 years by looking at directors of big corporations and government appointees who were not white, Christian-born males, so this project seemed to be natural as soon as there were enough diverse CEOs,” said Domhoff in an email interview.

Initially, they faced difficulties in gathering enough information on such a small group of people.

“Studying corporate elites is conceptually and empirically challenging, especially when trying to discern trends with small numbers and the fact that most elites do not like to be studied,” wrote Rakesh Khurana in “Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews.”

When they began writing their book in 2009, there were only 74 “New CEOs.” In the updated paperback version, the appendix gives profiles of 109 minority CEOs. Despite this increase in numbers, Zweigenhaft suggests in the introduction that the progress has slowed.

“I think what happened was, when the financial crisis of 2008 hit, it was a certain drawing back that took place,” said Zweigenhaft. “In the upper-management level, people on their way to the top got stuck because of financial crunches.”

Both authors hope the book will catalyze progress by empowering minorities aspiring to pursue a job in the corporate world, as well as encourage those hesitant to accept diversity in upper-level management.

“If the United States is to become more diverse, it’s not enough for diversity just to happen in the lower, middle and upper-middle levels of the wealth and income ladders,” said Domhoff. “We need to know if it is happening in the upper 1 to 2 percent as well.”

The book also highlights patterns in the backgrounds of the “New CEOs”. Many have come from the upper 15 percent of society. The only exception is African-Americans, who statistically have made their way to the top through scholarships and other educational programs.

For his next project, Zweigenhaft has been editing a book on the broader topic of collaboration. This project was inspired by his relationship with Domhoff, with whom he has written various books dealing with the integration of different minorities into the American class system.

“Our hope there is to help graduate students and young academics figure out when it will be a good idea to work with other people and when you are better off working alone,” said Zweigenhaft.

Zweigenhaft hopes his research will continue to impact Americans by informing them of a small, but important group of people: “The New CEOs.”

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