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Investigating a Company's Commitment to Diversity

By Kate Lorenz

The world today is more diverse than ever, and having a distinct environment, rich with ideas and perspectives, is one key ingredient in a formula for business success. So how can you make sure the companies you are considering have a true commitment to diversity? Like everything else, it all starts with doing your homework.

One of the first places to go to find out what a company is doing to meet the needs of an expanding demographic is its Web site. Many businesses discuss diversity in detail on their sites, and some have even set up entire sections to showcase this. There are a few things to look for when investigating a company's commitment to the changing face of the American worker:

1. Diversity Mission Statement or Formal Diversity Program
Businesses with a strong commitment to inclusiveness often have structured in-house programs, follow formal supplier diversity guidelines, offer employee affinity groups or internal diversity teams, and more. Read through the site and look for indicators for whether the company is committed to a diverse environment.

2. Partnerships and Affiliations
You can learn a lot about anyone by the company they keep. This holds true for corporations. Many company sites provide information about local and national community relations initiatives and partnerships. Review these sections and see if the company has any affiliations with minority professional or social organizations.

3. Press Releases
Read through the past year of press releases and see if the business is actively promoting their community relations initiatives. However, be sure you can tell the difference between companies that are involved and committed to diversity, and those that simply "write a check." Read releases carefully to see if the business and its employees are truly getting involved.

4. Basic Company Facts
You can find out more about the direction in which the company is moving by reading about the company's leaders. Does the business have minorities and women at the executive level? Are leaders involved with minority professional organizations? Does the company offer any statistics about the makeup of its workforce? Does the company spend a significant amount with minority business suppliers?

Aside from researching the company's own Web site, it is also important to conduct independent research of diversity initiatives. Here are a few more strategies:

  • Research recruitment programs. - Does the company recruit at universities with high minority populations? Is the company present at minority job fairs?

  • Check out national media scorecards. - Many media outlets publish reports of the nation?s best employers for minority individuals. Examples include Fortune, Working Mother, Latina Style, and We Magazine, among many others. These rankings can provide you with a look inside the company, both at its programs and the percentage of minority in its workforce.

  • Visit online diversity portals and non-profit Web sites. - There are a wide range of Web sites dedicated to diversity that offer news, opinions and even critiques of the nation's top businesses. You can also visit the Web sites of professional minority organizations for facts, stats and overall career advice.

  • Talk to local affiliates of national minority organizations. - Organizations like the National Urban League, the National Association of Asian American Professionals, the National Council of La Raza, and many more often offer career resources both locally and nationally, and typically have relationships with corporations in their communities.

  • Ask questions. - Just like doing any other kind of research, you can find some of the best information simply by talking to people. From individuals employed at the company to those you are interviewing with, ask about the company's programs in place and commitment to social responsibility.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without prior written authority.

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