Racial Integration in Corporate America, 1940-1990 / Edition 1

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In the space of about thirty years – from 1964 to 1994 – American corporations abandoned racially exclusionary employment policies and embraced some form of affirmative action to diversify their workforces. It was an extraordinary transformation, which most historians attribute to civil rights activists, federal legislation, and labor unions. This is the first book to examine the role of corporations in that transformation. Whereas others emphasize corporate obstruction, this book argues that there were corporate executives and managers who promoted fair employment and equal employment opportunity long before the federal government required it, and who thereby helped prepare the corporate world for racial integration. The book examines the pioneering corporations that experimented with integration in the 1940s and 1950s, as well as corporate responses to the civil rights movement and urban crisis in the 1960s and 1970s and the widespread adoption of affirmative action in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Jennifer Delton has waded boldly into controversial territory with her provocative and important study. Approaching workplace integration from a novel perspective, she breaks new ground, provides much food for thought, and adds considerably to our understanding of civil rights and economics in the twentieth century.” – Eric Arnesen, George Washington University

“In this thoughtful, well-written, and extensively researched study, Jennifer Delton challenges our preconceptions of the attitudes of business toward race in the twentieth century. Delton uncovers prominent examples of how businesses pioneered integration in the workplace. Through innovative hiring, outreach, and training policies, many corporations were instrumental in helping minorities to break into the middle class long before the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The book is an essential source for those who want to fully understand the history of discrimination, affirmative action, and race in American history.” – David Beito, University of Alabama

“Racial Integration in Corporate America, 1940–1990 is a courageous book. Delton’s startling evidence and astute reasoning uncover corporations’ internal goals and methods for workplace integration. Superb history, Delton’s balanced yet provocative scholarship explains why business leaders became powerful advocates for diversity as good business, as well as good citizenship.” – Pamela W. Laird, University of Colorado Denver

"Delton traces corporate efforts to achieve racial integration in the workplace...The situations of specific corporations (e.g., International Harvester, Pitney-Bowes, and Du Pont) are explored thoroughly and against the backgrounds of industrial decline and increasing racial tensions. This volume would serve as an excellent supplementary text for classes in race relations, human resources, or labor relations."
CHOICE, C.J. Munson, Western Technical College

"Racial Integration in Corporate America is a well-researched, valuable, and much needed contribution to an often misunderstood aspect of U.S. history."
Canadian Journal of History, Joshua T. McCabe, State University of New York- Albany

"In her very engagingly written and provocative book, Jennifer Delton presents the often-ignored history of business leaders who helped to desegregate the workplace in the mid-twentieth century United States...[She] has given us a rich historical narrative to draw on in developing and framing such research."
EH.net, Thomas N. Maloney, University of Utah

"Jennifer Delton has produced a thought-provoking depiction of the desegregation of the American workplace during the mid-to late twentieth century." -Robert Weems, The Journal of American History

"..well-researched book..." -Labor Studies Journal

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521730808
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2009
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jennifer Delton received her Ph.D. in History from Princeton University and is currently Associate Professor of History at Skidmore College. She is the author of Making Minnesota Liberal: Civil Rights and the Transformation of the Democratic Party (2002) and several articles on race, politics, and labor. She is a regular contributor to Salmagundi Magazine.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Color-Blind Groundwork, 1940–61: 1. The African American struggle for jobs; 2. Fair employment is good business; 3. Racial liberalism and the mid-twentieth century executive; 4. Human relations in management; 5. Human relations at International Harvester and Pitney-Bowes; Part II. Color-Conscious Ascendancy, 1961–1990: 6. How compliance became voluntarism; 7. The National Association of Manufacturers helps out; 8. Changing hiring criteria; 9. The Du Pont company's affirmative action efforts; Epilogue: from affirmative action to diversity.

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