50 Best Companies For Diversity

If you want to find companies that back up their diversity talk, look no further than the 2018 Black Enterprise 50 Best Companies for Diversity list—filled with corporations that have created measurable pathways to ensure African American representation among their workforce, senior management team, board of directors, and pool of suppliers.

Black Enterprise and the Executive Leadership Council have created this roster at a time when a number of corporate chiefs have focused on initiatives to boost the competitive metabolism of their organizations. In fact, more than 400 such leaders have signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge. CEOs of 37 companies on our roster—JPMorgan Chase & Co., ADP, Bank of America, PepsiCo, General Motors, Macy’s, and Xerox Corp. among them—are signatories.

Although a number of D&I proponents applaud efforts to bring women, LGBT communities, and other underrepresented groups under the corporate tent, others like ELC’s CEO Otha “Skip” Spriggs III maintain that African Americans are actually losing ground—especially in the C-suite.

The most noticeable indicator has been the absence of black CEOs operating the nation’s largest publicly traded corporations. Today, there are only three black Fortune 500 CEOs versus seven in 2012. Actually, the trio—Marvin R. Ellison, chairman & CEO of Lowe’s Cos. Inc.; Roger W. Ferguson Jr., president & CEO of TIAA; and Kenneth C. Frazier, chairman & CEO of Merck & Co. Inc.—all manage companies on our Best Companies for Diversity list.

Here’s just one example of why that matters: Lowe’s, a list newcomer, tapped Ellison as its new chief executive in July. In recent months, he’s recruited another African American to its executive management ranks, and now three African Americans sit on its board of directors. And the dedication to building a leadership pipeline is evident: The company sent 22 of its brightest African American talent to ELC leadership training.

The bottom line: Opportunities for African Americans and other ethnic minorities tend to coincide with diverse leadership.

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Black Enterprise’s editorial research team, in partnership with the Executive Leadership Council, sent surveys to the nation’s top 1,000 publicly traded companies to get an in-depth look at the ethnic and gender composition, as well as their programs designed to foster an inclusive working environment.

The annual survey is centered around efforts focused on African Americans but includes other ethnic minority groups as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Any information provided by companies on diversity efforts targeted toward women, LGBT, the disabled, and veterans was used as secondary, supporting data.

BE performed a quantitative and editorial assessment of all corporate respondents and measured each company’s diversity efforts using the following criteria:

  1. BE measured companies on four key categories: employee base, senior management, board of directors, and procurement. Senior management and board of directors’ categories were given a higher weighting based on company impact across the board. Procurement was also a major factor while employee base was given a lower weighting.
  2. We reviewed the status of companies across all BE diversity and corporate leadership lists, including The Top Companies for Supplier Diversity, The 300 Most Powerful Executives, Top Executives in Corporate Diversity, as well as companies who have chief diversity officers and/or designated diversity departments.
  3. We also considered those companies in which the CEO takes an active role in diversity practices.

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On the Move: KPMG’s New Diversity Chief, Michele Meyer-Shipp

In August, Michele Meyer-Shipp was named Chief Diversity Officer at KPMG.

KPMG is one of the world’s largest auditing companies along with Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. The Amsterdam-based company employs 189,000 people and provides professional services in the areas of financial audit, taxes, and advisory.

According to a press release, Meyer-Shipp is an executive and attorney with “significant experience in inclusion strategy and employment law.” She joins KPMG as a partner.

More information on her appointment is included in the press release:

“[Meyer-Shipp] will lead the national Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) team and oversee its strategy and objectives, including growing diverse leaders and collaboration; inspiring broad perspectives and innovative client solutions; and fostering an inclusive, accessible, and vibrant workplace. She will work closely with KPMG’s leadership teams to advance its inclusive and diverse culture, which has earned the firm recognition as a top workplace by FORTUNE magazine, DiversityInc, Working Mother, and The Human Rights Campaign.”

Prior to joining KMPG, she was the chief diversity and inclusion officer at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. She also served as vice president and counsel and then chief diversity officer at Prudential Financial.

Meyer-Shipp holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) degree from Seton Hall University School of Law and a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. She sits on several professional boards and organizations including Twitter’s Inclusion Advisory Council, Working Mother Media’s Multicultural Women’s Advisory Board, the National Organization on Disability Board, and the Center for Talent Innovation Diversity and Inclusion Council.

“Companies with inclusive and diverse cultures are better positioned to adapt, grow, and thrive – and we take great pride in embedding these values into our programs and actions,” said Darren Burton, KPMG’s Vice Chair of Human Resources via a press release. “Our national diversity networks engage nearly half of our 30,000 people in professional development, mentoring relationships, and community service activities. Michele’s skills and experience will help us continue to enhance our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain diverse talent.”




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Rebecca Minkoff and Gary Wassner Talk Sustainability, Diversity, Pop-ups

Designer Rebecca Minkoff and Hillldun Corp. chief executive officer Gary Wassner covered a number of issues weighing on the fashion industry Thursday morning at the 20th New York Fashion and Design Conference. The pair helped kick off the two-day event at the Museum of the City of New York. Here are a few highlights from their discussion.
The Potential of Plus-size
Rebecca Minkoff: We’re seeing a groundswell of an underserved market, especially across sizing. We had larger sizes a few years ago. No one was buying them so we stopped making them. Then someone asked, “Why aren’t you making larger sizes?” So we started making them again. Big brands are taking incredible strides forward like Nordstrom. They won’t buy an apparel brand unless they go up to a size 20. Other companies like Universal Standard are making really incredible, high-quality stylish clothing for plus-size women. It’s just going to become normal. It will just be a size.
Selling in Stores and Online
Gary Wassner: Statistically, 87 percent of all sales are still done at retail…without print advertising and brands having to reach the consumer directly, which is a plus and a minus because of dollars and cents, we have to look to all the

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New California Law Forces Board Diversity, But Is It Right?

In a push to further corporate board diversity, California has enacted new legislation requiring publicly-traded firms in the state to have at least one woman on the board of directors.

Companies have until the end of 2019 to comply or face penalties. The more directors on the board, the more women the companies are required to add. For example, if a business has five directors, the law says it must add two women by 2021—six or more directors, then three women must be added to the board.

According to CNN, it’s the first law of such kind in the United States, but similar legislation exists in Europe.

There has been a recent focus on not just diversifying companies at the executive level, but also in the boardroom.

Keeping Tabs on Board Diversity for Over Half a Decade 

A recent 2017 Deloitte survey revealed “90% of directors indicate that they want greater diversity, approximately half of the surveyed corporations ‘lack a clear process for recruiting candidates with diverse skill sets or new perspectives.’ And despite the fact that more than 90% of the respondents cite that greater board diversity would improve innovation, disruption, and overall business performance, only 16% view lack of diversity among the top challenges in enlisting new board members or succession planning,” writes Black Enterprise SVP/editor-in-chief Derek T. Dingle.

Over the past six years, Black Enterprise has identified African Americans who serve on the boards of America’s largest publicly-traded corporations. As part of our examination, we have, for the second time, reviewed the entire universe of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies to gain a more thorough assessment of boardroom diversity. As such, we have witnessed an expansion in the membership of African American board members who comprise our exclusive Black Enterprise Registry of Corporate Directors.

The latest issue of Black Enterprise magazine profiles two black women corporate directors; Lisa Wardell, is the only black woman to serve as CEO in a Fortune 1000 company, Adtalem Global Education, formerly The DeVry Education Group. She sits on that company’s board and was just appointed to Lowe’s board.

Tracy Travis, chief financial officer of The Estée Lauder Cos., sits on the board of Accenture and previously for Campbell Soup and Jo-Ann Stores.

Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Lisa Wardell, left, an Tracey Travis on the July-August cover of Black Enterprise Magazine

“I had just assumed a corporate CFO role, and I had been working with a headhunting firm to staff my team, and so the headhunter at the time said, “Have you ever thought about being on a board?” Some months went by and I used that opportunity and took some courses from the National Association of Corporate Directors to certify myself in some of the areas of board [service], like compensation committee, strategy, etc.,” Travis said in the article.

While many corporate directors subscribe to the idea of more diverse boards, not everyone agrees mandating companies is the way to go.

Is It Diversity Only for White Women?

The California Chamber of Commerce opposes the law citing it violates “the independent voting rights of corporate boards and force companies to discriminate against qualified men,” The Tribune reports.

Trump-appointed SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce also criticized the law. “Opening such a wide door introduces uncertainty and political influence into corporate operations,” she said at a conference.

And does this law in any way help get more black and brown people onto corporate boards? One of the California Chamber of Commerce’s concerns about this legislation is it prioritizes gender over other aspects of diversity, reports CNBC. Some may feel this will only put more white women on boards.

While there remains a lack of representation of women on boards, the number of black men and women corporate directors are even smaller.

Women’s presence on boards have been increasing albeit progress has been slow and incremental. Women make up about 22% of Fortune 500 boards.

People of color on boards are scarcer. In 2017, African-Americans accounted for 10.9% of new corporate directors.

Part of the problem with getting more people of color on boards is companies often want to appoint those at the c-suite level—preferably CEOs–to boards.

In the last few years, the number of black CEOs of publicly-traded companies has dwindled with several high profile business leaders stepping down from their positions, including Xerox’s Ursula Burns and former AMEX CEO Ken Chenault.

Joseph Grundfest, co-director of the Rock Center on Corporate Governance at Stanford University and a member of Directors & Boards editorial advisory board says the legislation is ‘“well intentioned,” but maintains it “will not achieve its intended effect.” It will, he adds, only lead to a trivial gain of board seats for women, “but increase the risk of judicial rulings inimical to broader affirmative action initiatives.”



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