Black “Babyface” CEO’s Are More Likely to Succeed?!

- By Bossip Staff

You may have a degree from Harvard, but a new study shows that your potential to become a Black male CEO depends on how high you measure on the “adorable” scale:

Of the 40 CEOs, 10 were black (only 10 blacks have ever led Fortune 500 companies). For every black CEO, a current or former white CEO from the same company was included. Another 10 CEOs were white women, and 10 white male CEOs were chosen at random.

Participants rated each photo on scale of 1-4 for “babyfaceness,” leadership competence and personal warmth.

To account for differences in perceptions about blacks or whites in general, participants gave separate ratings on warmth and competence for “blacks,” “whites” and “women,” which were factored into the results.

The results showed that black CEOs who rated high on the babyface scale worked for companies that ranked higher in the Fortune 500 and had higher annual revenues than blacks with more mature faces. The reverse was true for whites – the more babyfaced CEOs tended to work for companies that ranked lower and had less annual revenue.

Black CEOs also were described as significantly more babyfaced than white CEOs. The female CEOs were rated as having more mature faces than both blacks and whites.

The study was duplicated with 106 student participants, with similar results.

Livingston said the study indicates that “disarming” characteristics, which have been shown to hinder white executives, can help black leaders.

“If you’re a white male, you can exhibit anger, pound your fist, make ultimatums … African-Americans have to adopt a kinder, gentler style of leadership,” Livingston said. “The same sorts of behaviors that are effective for white males can’t be utilized effectively by black males.”

Livingston said his conclusion is not that babyface black CEOs reached the pinnacle of success because of their looks: “I’m saying that African-American leaders have to adopt certain qualities or behaviors that make them appear less threatening … a babyface gives a certain perception that they’re docile.”

Piss on talent, drive and determination. Now, Black businessmen need to make sure that they’re clean-shaven, exfoliated and endowed with high cheekbones? Any little bullsh*t to keep us under…


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  • Wise


  • Mrs. Rance

    This is the dumbest “study” I have ever heard of. Who came up with the “baby face” category and why?

  • kacey

    Well, I’m black and it’s all cool with me! But in reality we all know that determination and/pr intelligence will bring the most success

  • sasha

    That is so dumb!! Lord what is next! A woman that has a mustache is more likley to be promoted- LOL

  • Emmanuel Lewis

    No, a woman that has a mustache is most likely going to be mistaken for Wendy Williams!

  • sasha

    @ Emmanuel Lewis


  • leilei

    So where does this study leave the new black female CEO of Xerox?
    Do a story on her instead!

    “In an unprecedented woman-to-woman transition, Anne Mulcahy passes the baton to Ursula Burns…

    She will head the $17.6-billion, 57,100-employee colossus.

    Google her name!

  • leilei

    Put all the spaces together

    ht tp://ww w.nydaily news.c om/opinions/2009/05/23/ ml

  • Whiteboy

    LOL@Emmanuel Lewis


    What a ridiculous article.

  • Nanaama

    I can believe these findings. A black person with the right qualifications will still be expected to be docile, more accommodating, always in a good mood even when faced with racism, never loosing his/her temper when provoked,then he/she is acceptable in high office. On the other hand a white person with the same qualifications, can scream, get angry and tell his subordinates off, and still get away with it. The babyface symbolizes for the whites even the most qualified black is expected to have less authority and more humility than the whites, man or woman, at the same level.

  • cece

    I think the point is the more docile and less threatening you appear as a black male it may help you more in the workplace. Think about our president he is not perceived as threatening by other races which helped him succeed. Same for other successful african americans like Wil Smith,
    Oprah, Tyra, Halle Berry… All of these people are very well liked by other races and not perceived as a threatening. Look what happened when Michelle Obama tried to speak her mind she was called a ABW (angry black woman). Im not advocating downplaying who you are so others dont feel threatened by you. Its all about how YOU want to play the game to get where you want to be.


    Well it appears to me that Obama read this report a long time ago…He does way more apolgizeing than any other president and he does have to appear very calm and docile…

  • Carver

    Dr. Funk,

    Screaming just makes a lot of people, like me, tune out your posts.

  • Nanaama

    Dr. Funk, I dont know whether you are a real doctor, but I am a doctor and a specialist too in my field. I am not approving of these findings or even condoning them. I am saying it is true.Being at the top of my profession for two decades, and having white people work under me and take instructions from me everyday, I know that.I can hardly consider my achievements as defeatist, then I am damn good at my job, and enjoy the respect of my colleagues. However I try to be more diplomatic more often than not. I doubt that you have any real experience in these matters.Almost all my patients are white, and I always try to put them at ease, then it is easier for white colleagues than it is for a black, and that is the reality. Being polite and tactful is not the same as being defeatist. But then I don’t believe that you have been in a position of responsibility over white people.

  • chaka1

    Nobody wants an ugly CEO.

  • chaka1


    I agree with your position that Blacks often have a defeatist attitude in the workplace.

    I also agree that more Blacks should be owning their own businesses (and reading Black Enterprise magazine).

  • missz87

    I agree that my black people have defeatist attitudes and however you white people are threatened by black people who are vocal and speak their minds; they want ALL

  • 2dimplzs

    My husband is 6’5 278 pounds. No matter what job he has – office, warehouse, sales associate, he constantly finds himself having to put white people at ease because of his height and size. Despite being handsome (and I’m not saying that just because he’s my husband, he really is handsome)and educated and well spoken white people are intimidated and fear him. When he gets on an elevator white women are always clutching their purses and gluing themselves to the far corner of the elevator. It’s hilarious and sad at the same time. He has also lost jobs because of the insecurity of white people. Being a big black man who is also smart and intelligent made them feel he was a threat to them. So it’s not just in the corporate world of CEO’s who face this issue.

    My oldest brother is 5’10 250 lbs. He has dark skin and he looks intimidating even when he’s not trying to be. He’s a stocky man who has always worked in the corporate world. White women and men alike have always accused him of being angry, threatening, etc. whenever he voices his opinion or calls them on their crap. Once again this is a black man who is well educated, well spoken, very professional who constantly has to deal with how he looks instead of his job performance and qualifications.

    I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!!!!! That’s not having a defeatist attitude, that is the reality of what a lot of black people, especially black men have to go through in the work place!! I’ve seen it on a daily basis on my job and I see it with my husband and brother with their jobs.

    @ Dr. Funk and Chaka1:
    Please explain to me how else are black men or black people overall are supposed to be in the work place that are mostly owned and run by WHITE PEOPLE? Do you honestly believe a black man can be up in a place and act like he’s running things and not give two sh*ts as to how their bosses and other higher ups view them? We all know there is a fine line black folks have to walk in the work place PERIOD, especially in corporate America! The only way we can get away that kind of behavior is if we OWN OUR OWN BUSINESSES! So yes, black folks DO need to own their own businesses, but for those of us who do not own their own business we have to play the game to the best of our ability until we get to where we want to go. No one is saying you should compromise your self respect and dance a jig for these white folks either (even though they’d love to see us do that), but don’t knock other people for stating what they personally go through on their jobs and call them defeatists!

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