Speaking at a Local Government Management Board event for top managers, researcher Museji Takolia said evidence clearly showed there were barriers for black managers but councils were still struggling with the basics of equal opportunities policies.
An example was councils' poor ratings on race policies in the last Audit Commission performance indicators. These were criticised by the Commission for Racial Equality.
Mr Takolia said too few chief executives and chief personnel officers had been interested enough to create a focus group for research on black managers.
The full study is due out shortly, but summarised findings published late last year showed black managers felt hampered by discrimination and a lack of resources.
Society of Local Authority Chief Executives director Rose Wheeler said she was not aware of any approach to SOLACE but there were members interested in the issue and a team had been formed to work on the CRE's leadership challenge.
'It's an important issue that none of us do enough about on the ground,' she said.
Mr Takolia said reflecting community needs and achieving best value would be impossible for councils which failed to address internal inequalities.
His comments coincide with a call from councils and unions to build equal opportunities into best value.
The Local Government Information Unit last week said there had been a 'deafening silence' on equality in the best value proposals, but it was essential to the strategy's success.
A submission backed by councils, unions, the CRE and Equal Opportunities Commission to local government minister Hilary Armstrong called for the key principles of best value to be changed to include equal opportunities.
LGIU chair Jean Laurie said if the new approach was only about cost and quality there was little difference from CCT.