Survey finds African Americans in Madison absent from leadership positions

Madison Skyline From Olin Park

MADISON, Wis. — Despite making up about 6.5% of the greater Madison area population, a recent survey found that African Americans are largely absent from higher-level jobs.

The survey, conducted by the African American-Jewish Friendship Group of Madison, garnered responses from over 175 employers and over 75 thousand employees. The group found that about half of Madison employers have hiring plans in place to increase diversity, however, those plans often do not lead to African Americans being hired for leadership roles.

The survey found that, outside of the City of Madison, most area municipalities do not have any African American employees in governmental bodies. For businesses, African American employment is below their percentage of the population.

According to the survey, the state government employs Madison area African Americans at about the rate as the general population, however, half of those employed occupy non-professional positions. That is despite only a quarter of all state job positions in the area being classified as non-professional.

At the federal level, the percentage of Black Madison area employees in professional and administrative positions never exceeds 3%, and 70% of Black federal employees in the area occupy non-professional positions, despite only 40% of positions being classified as non-professional.

The survey found that similar disparities exist in the education field. Five school districts in the area do not have a single Black teacher, two districts have one each, and one district only has two.

Almost 3% of MMSD teachers are Black, however, 18.5% of the district’s students are African American. AA-J FG says that student-teacher ratio is insufficient.

Of the private schools that responded to the survey, the average percentage of African Americans in professional roles, including teachers, was 1%, and only 2% were in administrative roles.

The survey also found that only 2% of UW-Madison professors, and 3% of associate professors, are African American.

Despite these disparities, AA-J FG said that positive strides are being made. The group said that the percentage of African Americans in county leadership roles reflects the population, as well as on non-profit boards and staffs.

6% of assistant professors and 5% of administrators at UW-Madison are African American, the survey found, an increase from 12 years ago. The group also noted the presence of African Americans in top roles such as Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes, Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett and MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins.

A full report from AA-J FG will be released Thursday.