The 40 Best Companies For Diversity

In the midst of marches, protests, and battles for equality, in 1969, D. Parke Gibson’s The $30 Billion Negro was published. It was a book that presented African Americans as a viable consumer market — a $30 billion market that had been ignored by Wall Street and Madison Avenue. “In those days, [the book] was just getting them to recognize us,” offers Herb Kemp, a former advertising executive and co-author of the book What’s Black About It? Insights to Increase Your Share of the Changing African American Market. “Almost 40 years later, and with the African American market at almost $800 billion, we’re still dealing with some of the same issues.” It is why, as we present our second annual Best Companies for Diversity list, we are focused this year not only on senior management, workforce, corporate board, and supplier diversity as a set of criteria to measure these companies’ efforts.

We also looked at marketing diversity — how companies spend their marketing and advertising dollars in outreach efforts to the black community, whose projected spending power will be $965 billion by 2010. To arrive at this list, we evaluated diversity programs, consulted with diversity experts and corporate diversity officers, and conducted an extensive survey of more than 1,000 of America’s largest publicly traded companies and 50 leading global companies with significant U.S. operations.

To make the BE Best Companies for Diversity list, a company must demonstrate significant representation of African Americans and other ethnic minorities in four key areas: corporate procurement, corporate boards, senior management, and total workforce.

In the list’s second year, more companies made their consideration for the list a priority, with response to our survey increasing by nearly 42%. As a result, a total of 40 companies were identified by our editors as worthy of recognition among the BE Best Companies for Diversity. There are 13 newcomers to our 2006 list, while three companies from the 2005 list failed to make it this year.

In our effort to measure marketing diversity, we wanted to examine which companies are actually hiring African Americans and other ethnic minorities to craft brand images, create messages, and deliver those messages and images to the consumers who are vitally important to their survival and growth. To what extent are corporations contracting black advertising agencies or general-market agencies with truly diverse creative and management teams? And to what extent are they using black-owned media to carry the message? Using independent industry analysis from sources such as TNS Media Intelligence, as well as data provided by the companies surveyed for our diversity list, we identify the 10 companies that are doing the most to target dollars to black consumers and other ethnic markets through black and ethnic media (see “10 Best in Marketing Diversity”). We also assigned each company on the list a five-star Advertising Diversity Rating.

Whereas a variety of companies have made important strides in contracting in the area of supplier diversity, those considerations and partnerships just don’t exist in advertising. In fact, the advertising industry as