Quantifying the U.S. Opportunity Gap

The EEOC released consolidated EEO-1 representation data on September 29, 2022, spanning levels, industries, and locations across the United States and broken out by gender and race. We analyzed the most recent data (2020) to quantify the opportunity gap, giving you a snapshot of which groups are most affected by opportunity gaps, where, and in what industries. Check out our findings below.

What is the opportunity gap?

In a business context, the opportunity gap is the disproportionate access to opportunities - jobs, promotions, and other forms of advancement - available to certain communities. Opportunity gaps occur when groups such as women and people of color are hired or promoted at lower rates than their white, male counterparts.

Why is the opportunity gap important?

Key takeaways from our analysis

Note: The black hash mark on each semi-circle below marks the percentage of the total employee population that group represents.

White men make up 31%
of all employees, yet:

White men make up 31% of all employees

Black women make up 8.3% of all employees, yet:

Black women make up 8.3% of all employees

Latina women make up 7.5% of all employees, yet:

Latina women make up 7.5% of all employees

White men still dominate management and leadership positions.

White men are still the most overrepresented group in both management and leadership, according to consolidated EEO-1 data released September 29, 2022. They occupy 57% of the top job group and 44% in the mid-level management group, but represent only 31% of all employees. This makes them 1.9 times as likely as white women to be in these top jobs, 3.6 times as likely as men of color, and 6.1 times as likely as women of color.

We call these relative likelihoods the Opportunity Gap. Within each race/ethnicity, a gender opportunity gap exists, meaning women are less likely to be in management and leadership positions.

Black & Latina women face the largest opportunity gaps.

Black and Latina women are the most underrepresented in both leadership and management positions relative to their proportion 
of the private sector labor force. Black women are 8.3% of the workforce represented in the EEO-1 data, but only 4.0% of managers and 1.8% of executives.

Latina women are 7.5% of the workforce but 3.8% of managers and 1.7% of executives. Smaller race/ethnicity groups - such as American Indians and Alaska Natives (AIAN), or Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander (NHOPI) - are also underrepresented, but not as severely.

Forecast closing gap

Opportunity gaps are closing - slowly, but at a slightly increasing pace.

Since the last time we calculated these statistics with 2018 data, the executive opportunity gap went from 6.7 to 6.1 for women of color, 3.8 to 3.6 for men of color, and 2.0 to 1.9 for white women.

For Black and Latina women (the groups most underrepresented in leadership), the gaps fell from 9.2 to 8.4 and 8.5 to 8.0, respectively.* The number of women of color in top jobs increased by 11% and men of color by 5%, while the number of white women held steady and white men decreased by 4%. The gains for women of color were dramatic and faster than they had been in the previous years, causing our forecasted "no-gap" for women of color to close from 2124 to 2095.

The gains for men of color were on-trend, and their forecasted no-gap year remains 2107 - reflecting that, though their executive representation gap is smaller, it is closing more slowly. Mid-management gaps for all groups are closing at roughly the same rates as in prior years, with forecasted no-gap years of 2040 for white women, 2064 for men of color, and 2072 for women of color.

* By nature of the statistic we are using to quantify the opportunity gaps, large gaps will close more slowly than small gaps, because even small gains are a significant increase for groups that are severely underrepresented. Also, we are limited to the demographic categories used by the EEOC, which aggregate racial communities in a way that may obscure differences in outcomes between those communities (e.g., between East Asians and South Asians) and do not reflect nonbinary genders.

How large is the opportunity gap?

Our analysis shows that, after normalizing for available talent, in 2020 white men occupied executive and management positions at higher rates than any other group. But the numbers vary widely depending on the race and gender of those groups.

In the chart below, we quantify the opportunity gaps by calculating the rate at which white men hold executive positions (relative to their overall representation) and then comparing it to the rates of other groups.

A score of 1.9 means the likelihood of white men being executives is 1.9 times larger than the comparison group, as is the case for white women. A score of 8.4 means white men are 8.4 times as likely to be in a leadership position than a member of the comparison group, as is the case for Black women. Scroll to the bottom of this page for a more detailed description of our methodology.

Executive Opportunity Gap - Relative likelihood of being an executive compared to white men

Explore the opportunity gap

The data can be sliced and diced even further than what's represented in the chart above. Use the table below to toggle between the executive and management opportunity gaps and to view gaps by gender, race, and both broad and detailed intersectionality of gender and race.

What does executive representation look like across gender and race?

In the previous charts we showed you the opportunity gap normalized by available talent. In the chart below, we show absolute representation in executive roles. You can see that white men make up 57% of executives, while Black women make up only 1.8% of executives.

What does executive representation look like across gender and race?

When will the opportunity gap close?

Executive opportunity gap forecast

Our analysis shows that, after normalizing for available talent, in 2020 white men occupied executive and management positions at higher rates than any other group. But the numbers vary widely depending on the race and gender of those groups.

In the chart below, we quantify the opportunity gaps by calculating the rate at which white men hold executive positions (relative to their overall representation) and then comparing it to the rates of other groups.

Executive Opportunity Gap Forecast
Manager Opportunity Gap Forecast

Manager opportunity gap forecast

Opportunity gaps also exist at the manager level, though they are smaller. White men are more likely to be managers than any other group, but they are not disproportionately represented at the same level they are among executive ranks. The management opportunity gap is currently 1.3 for white women (forecasted to close in 2040), 1.8 for men of color (forecasted to close in 2064), and 2.4 for women of color (forecasted to close in 2072).

Manager Opportunity Gap Forecast

The aggregation does hide some inequality in the gains, however. Though there are more Black men in executive and management positions than there were in 2010, the gains in management and leadership have barely kept pace with their increasing representation in the labor force. The end result is that the opportunity gap for Black men has held basically steady - they remain as under-represented in executive and management positions in 2020 as they were in 2010.

What is the opportunity gap by state and metro?

By state
Opportunity gaps vary significantly by state. Mississippi and South Carolina have the largest executive opportunity gaps for women and workers of color, with white workers in Mississippi being a staggering 10.2 times as likely as workers of color to occupy executive positions. Alaska and Wyoming have the smallest gender opportunity gaps, and Maine and Wyoming have the smallest racial opportunity gaps. In every state, the racial opportunity gap is larger than the gender opportunity gap. Use the interactive map below to see the opportunity gaps faced by different groups for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Note: The EEOC suppresses small datasets, so intersectional views are not available for some smaller states.

By metro
We can also analyze which metro areas have the smallest and largest opportunity gaps. We included any metro area with at least 100,000 workers reported. In every metro, white men are disproportionately represented among executives. However, the degree of that over-representation varies. For example, white men are 13.6 times more likely to be executives than women of color in Scranton, PA, but 3.4 times more likely in Portland, OR. Among the largest 20 metro areas, Riverside, CA, and Houston, TX, have the largest gaps for women of color (11.6 and 10.7, respectively) and the smallest gaps are in Seattle, WA, and San Jose, CA, (4.2 and 4.5).

What is the opportunity gap by industry?

Opportunity gaps also vary by industry. For example, women make up 78% of the workforce in Healthcare and Social Assistance, whereas white men make up only 13%. Yet, white men represent 36% of executives. The table below shows the opportunity gap by industry.

What is the opportunity gap by industry?

How have demographics changed over time?

The table below shows changes in populations from 2010 and 2020. White workers had the slowest rates of growth, though they remain the largest individual group by a large margin. The biggest change is in workers who identify as multiracial, increasing from 0.9% to 2.3% in the private sector. The Pew Research Center shows this is due to both growth in the multiracial population as well as the likelihood that these individuals identify as multiracial rather than a single race/ethnicity.

How have demographics changed over time?

How are different groups represented in different job groups?

This table shows how specific communities are spread across job groups. For example, executives make up 1.6% of all employees, but 3.0% of white, male employees. The most common job groups are Professionals, Service Workers, and Office and Clerical workers, though this is not true for all groups. Asian workers are much more likely than any other group to be classified as Professionals, appearing in that group at roughly twice the base rate.

How are different groups represented in different job groups?
How are different groups represented in different job groups - mid level officials
How are different groups represented in different job groups - Craft Workers
How are different groups represented in different job groups - Operatives
How are different groups represented in different job groups Sales Workers
How are different groups represented in different job groups1

Definitions and methodology

Below are definitions of many of the terms we used, explanations for where the data were limited, and a description of the methodology we used to calculate the opportunity gap.

What terms and definitions did we use?

We define executives as the EEO Job Group "executive/senior-level officials and managers," and managers as "first/mid-level officials and managers."

We sometimes refer to the EEO-1 data as the Private Sector, though certain groups are excluded: federal contractors with fewer than 50 employees, and non-federal contractors with fewer than 100 employees. Employers need not report leased, seasonal, or contract employees, meaning that the increasingly numerous gig and contract workers are not represented here.

EEO-1 reports require employers to report a binary gender, so any analysis of trans, nonbinary, or otherwise gender nonconforming workers is not possible using these data. The EEO-1 also does not publish data regarding other protected or historically underrepresented groups, such as people with disabilities, veterans, refugees, the LGBTQIA+ community. Certain EEO-1 race/ethnicity categories hide potentially disparate outcomes, such as the inclusion of Middle Eastern & North African workers in the White category, and the extremely broad Asian and Hispanic/Latino categories.

How did we calculate the opportunity gap?

We quantified the opportunity gap by calculating how much a community is over- or under-represented in executive and management job groups by comparing their representation in that job group versus overall. We then compared that rate to the communities most over-represented in those groups: men for gender gaps, white employees for race gaps, and white men for intersectional gaps.

For example, women are 32% of executives but 48% of the workforce, so their relative likelihood of falling in the top job group is 0.67. Men, on the other hand, are 68% of executives and 52% of the workforce, so their relative likelihood is 1.31. We take the ratio of those two relative likelihoods to calculate the opportunity gap for women: 2.0.

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