2000 CEO Diversity Roundtable.

Position:Diversity management
 
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It was the buzzword of the 90s. Advertisers and marketers realized its formidable impact in the 80s, and the diverse populations and culture that it affected rallied around it in the 70s and 60s. It's diversity management and it has become the most important initiatives in corporate, private and non-profit America.

Top-flight companies know that to maintain a competitive edge today they need to give priority status to their human capital requirements, particularly the need to have a diverse workforce to match the increasingly diversified marketplace. And the time couldn't be better for companies to assess, measure, identify and track diversity in the field with so company budgets allotted and corporate goals focused on this initiative.

It's even gotten the attention of those in the White House.

Last April President Clinton addressed an assembly of top executives, pressing them to diversify their executive and employee ranks. Twenty-five companies, the likes of AOL, American Express, GE, DuPont, AT&T and Lucent agreed to contribute $10 million each to support women and minorities in high-tech careers. Not alone, they are just a few of the nation's leading companies reaching into their coffers in response to President Clinton's One America Initiative.

Sound diversity management also strengthens a corporation's reputation. For example, a recent survey by Environics International, a Toronto, Canada- based global research group, found that 40 percent of consumers responded negatively to corporate actions perceived as socially irresponsible. One in five also reported avoiding a company's product or services due to the perceived infraction - a response that can clearly have detrimental implications for the bottom line.

Another new survey, conducted by the Reputation Institute and Harris Interactive, supports the idea that a visible commitment to communities and employees will pay dividends in consumer loyalty and the public's general opinion. Overall the study found that contrary to popular belief, consumers place more value on a company's emotional appeal and workplace environment that its financial performance, products or services.

Consumers are also putting their money where their mouths are. In 1999, African American spending power hovered around $480 billion, Hispanics' topped $420 billion and Asian Americans wielded $229 billion in financial influence and impact. Include other diverse groups such as gay and lesbian, physically challenged and other groups and you have trillions of spending dollars companies can no longer ignore.

However, despite the diversity management on the inside, diversity sensitivity must also be evident and communicated to those on the outside. One way to do this, is through advertising. Most companies are remembered for their advertising and consumers look to advertising to educate them about the social goals a company is pursuing. Today, less than 2% of the more than $200 billion in media spending targeted the multicultural market - a fraction of what it should be considering the size of America's multicultural population. By narrowing the gap between mainstream and ethnic marketing, advertisers can make great strides in building their businesses.

Indeed, today's robust economic climate has helped to contribute to advances in diversity management as corporate budgets swell. Throughout the workplace and marketplace companies are committed to creating a challenging, satisfying and equitable environment in which employees and vendors alike can reach their full potential and maximize their contributions to the companies goals and objectives. The question remains that if and when the "irrational exuberance" of Wall Street fades, will the corporate focus and attention fade as well? A real commitment to diversity must continue successfully extend to and support the customers, business partners and the communities the firms reach regardless of the good or bad times.

Diversity At The Mony Group

THE MONY GROUP

The MONY Group embraces diversity, not because it is politically correct, but because we genuinely believe that a diverse workforce benefits everyone--customers, employees and the company. We realize that to accomplish our mission of meeting the lifelong financial planning needs of our clients, it is vital that our employment base reflect the communities in which we work and live.

The MONY Group is a financial services company with a 157-year history and a progressive attitude. A trailblazing company, we sold this nation's first mutual life insurance policy in 1842. Then, as now, we believe that our people make the difference. Our company thrives because we are not interested in just selling asset accumulation and financial protection products. Rather, we establish relationships with customers and provide financial advice that helps to guide them through life.

The MONY Group's client base consists of high-income professionals, pre-retirees, retirees, family builders and small business owners--a group that is quickly growing to include more Asians, African Americans and Hispanics. Noticing that trend, we turned our attentions to catering to their needs and ensuring that we had a diverse enough workforce to do so.

In the early 1990s, The MONY Group focused on the African-American community--one that has seen marked increases in incomes, business ownership and purchasing power in the past few decades. We made a concerted effort to recruit, hire and retain highly-skilled African-American financial professionals, while establishing stronger ties to and growing our presence in the African-American community.

That commitment to the African-American community continues. Today, The MONY Group recruits at historically black colleges, and conferences, career fairs and workshops aimed at minorities. We have strong ties with a number of national groups, including the Urban League, The College Fund/UNCF and The National Black MBA Association, Inc. The company offers internships, supports several community groups and community service projects, and now has more than 35 MONY offices located in the top states with the largest African American populations.

The MONY Group's imperative for diversity comes straight from the top, as senior management supports the organization's diversity programs. For example, a group of our most senior corporate officers make up our Diversity Round Table. We also have a corporate officer devoted exclusively to diversity issues and fostering an environment that values them. Finally, we have an active chapter of Minority Interchange, a non-profit nationwide group devoted to the advancement of minorities in the corporate sector.

The MONY Group is a financial services company that understands the value of personal relationships and that a commitment to diversity is our best investment. For more information on the company, please visit us at www.mony.com.

American Home Products

American Home Products Corporation (AHP) is one of the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical and health care products companies. AHP is a leader in the discovery, development manufacturing and marketing of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications and animal health care products. AHP has three business units, Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals, Whitehall-Robins Healthcare and Fort Dodge Animal Health, with 49,500 employees in locations all over the world.

Millions of people benefit from AHP's broad and diverse lines of pharmaceutical products in the areas of women's health care, cardiovascular therapies, central nervous system drugs, anti-inflammatory agents, infectious disease, hemophilia, oncology, vaccines, and generic pharmaceuticals.

AHP recently introduced -in a remarkably short time frame - Sonata, Rapamune, Meningitec, ReFacto and Prevnar. These innovative pharmaceutical and vaccine products target some of the world's most debilitating diseases and challenging health problems. Their introduction underscores the depth and productivity of AHP's pharmaceutical pipeline.

AHP recognizes that a diverse workforce is critical to the success of our business, and that our achievements are only possible through the extraordinary creativity and efforts of our employees.

In support of this philosophy, AHP is also involved with the organizations including Catalyst, INROADS, The College Fund/UNCF and Temple Minority Access to Research Careers.

As we continue to explore new ways to maintain a diverse culture, we look to other companies for ideas and successes to help us continue to learn.

For more information about AHP, visit our website at www.ahp.com.

Mercedes Benz

"Diversity is not an end unto itself. It is a dynamic foundation, a springboard that offers unlimited possibilities for innovation and growth." Paul Halata, president & CEO, Mercedes-Benz USA

For Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), diversity provides a foundation that furthers the company's competitive position in the marketplace and fosters an environment whereby employees can achieve their full potential. To...

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