Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Diversity: BE's 40 Best

Black Enterprise magazine this week announced its top 40 best companies for diversity. Of the 40, 11 were financial institutions or insurance companies. In a financial crisis and severe recession, companies that continue to promote diversity initiatives as rigorously and eagerly as ever ought to be applauded for keeping them a priority.

Especially financial institutions. They have not only had to fight for survival, but are in the middle of an expected long, arduous recovery period to clean up the rubble. Financial institutions have to focus on restructuring, getting new capital, deleveraging, making themselves lean and efficient, managing massive reduction in staff, and dealing with TARP and new regulation.

Yet some have managed to keep diversity near the top of the agenda. Give them a hand. They realize best that diversity programs are effective when they aren't cyclical, when they thrive in tough times. And they realize constituent groups (employees, customers and shareholders) expect consistency and continuity in diversity. Not a part-time effort or in periodic fluctuations.

BE's list is not a ranking of the 40, but an announcement of members of a club that met its criteria even in a downturn. (See http://

Citigroup and Bank of America, two large banks in the middle of the turmoil and in financial headlines daily, still managed to make the list. Citi, whose co-head of investment banking includes Ray McGuire, was cited for having under-represented groups on its board of directors and in senior management. BofA was recognized for its diverse employee base and diverse group of suppliers. (Both, by the way, are important, long-time Consortium sponsors.)

BE evaluated companies based on four criteria: senior management, board of directors, suppliers, and employees.

Other notable financial institutions that made the list include the embattled mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. American Express--with Kenneth Cheneault still its CEO--was recognized for senior management and board of directors.

Regional banks Comerica and Northern Trust are on the list. Insurance companies included Aflac, Aetna and State Farm. TIAA-Cref, headed by Roger Ferguson, also made the list.

BE said its used a quantitative, objective analysis to determine its "club" with heavier weights for senior management and employees.

Tracy Williams

No comments:

Post a Comment