A phenomenological inquiry examining the lived experiences of African-American male senior executive service members in the United States federal government
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Type of Workii, 195 leaves
DepartmentUniversity of Baltimore. College of Public Affairs
ProgramUniversity of Baltimore. Doctor of Public Administration
RightsThis item may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. It is made available by the University of Baltimore for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
U.S. Federal Government
African American government executives
Officials and employees
African American men
Federal agencies have made significant efforts to implement equal employment opportunities and workplace diversity through the development and implementation of diversity programs and policies. However, the evidence indicates that Senior Executive Service (SES) glass ceilings still exist for certain minorities, thereby hindering the overall achievement of workplace diversity. African-American males make up only 5.3% of total employees in the SES, one of the lowest percentage of all racial groups. This suggests that African–American males may be at a disadvantage in evaluations for leadership positions due to their race. However, no previous research has focused on this issue. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore African-American males’ lived experiences of progressing to and holding federal SES positions. It was designed to investigate the organizational and individual-level factors that have shaped these experiences and the strategies used to ascend to and remain relevant in SES roles. A qualitative, phenomenological research design enabled the researcher to achieve deep insights into the lived experiences of a sample of African-American males in SES positions. The findings indicate that the African-American males in this sample have struggled in various ways to achieve and succeed in their roles. This appears to be due to a lack of organizational support in their paths to success, as well as the negative impact of stereotypes and misconceptions relating to African-American men. Despite this, the research participants have successfully overcome the challenges and have drawn on personal strengths and skills as well as specific strategies in achieving success. As a result, they are delivering high levels of value to their respective organizations and positive role models to other African-American males. By providing greater organizational support and enforcing compliance with diversity policies, federal agencies are likely to benefit from a more diverse racial representation in the SES while improving social equity in employment.