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Racial barriers and big firms

The most successful, talented, and highly trained women of color in corporate America are the most likely to be disenchanted with their workplace cultures.

A new study of more than 1,500 women of color at Fortune 1000 companies found that lack of advancement opportunities, difficulty balancing work and family, and pressure to play down their race are shortchanging these women.

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The study was conducted by the Center for Women Policy Studies and the Kwasha Lipton Group of Coopers & Lybrand. Among the findings:

*One-third of women surveyed cite unreasonable workplace demands and limited advancement opportunities as reasons for seeking a job with another company.

*Only 30 percent would recommend their company to a friend based on management's commitment to diversity.

*More than 4 in 10 say they face discrimination that prevents them from succeeding professionally. Another 40 percent believe they have less chance for promotion than their nonminority colleagues with similar qualifications.

*Nearly 40 percent believe they must play down their race or ethnicity to succeed; about 30 percent believe they must play down their gender.

*More than 6 in 10 say they hear sexist and sexual jokes in the workplace, and 54 percent hear racial and ethnic jokes.

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