CHICAGO, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Chicago United today reported mixed progress in the local business sector's efforts to achieve greater racial diversity in corporate leadership ranks as it released the findings of its 2008 Corporate Diversity Profile. According to the Corporate Diversity Profile -- a bi-annual survey that measures racial diversity specifically in the leadership ranks of large corporations, on corporate boards and in executive level management -- the population of senior executives of color in Chicago's corporate community is comparable to that of the nation's top cities. Yet, even with a focus on corporate diversity over the past 30 years, progress is startlingly slow, survey results found. If the growth rate of minority representation in the corporate leadership ranks maintained its 2000-2004 pace, when it increased by 1.1 percent annually, then it would take 89 years for minorities to achieve equal representation in executive/managerial ranks compared to workforce representation -- despite the fact that people of color comprise the majority of Chicago's population -- according to Chicago United. "Our newest Corporate Diversity Profile found that Chicago's corporate sector does not boast enough about its accomplishments, but, simultaneously, it's making terribly slow progress in growing more executives of color," said Gloria Castillo, president of Chicago United. "Such slow progress would be unacceptable in any other area of business. Product development or new service offerings would not be considered successful without meeting critical timelines. Diversity and inclusion, key business imperatives that the best-performing companies optimize, should be no different." Among the key findings of the Profile: -- The number of minority directors has not increased since the 2006 Profile, even though the total number of board director seats increased to 330 in 2007 from 320 in 2005. In 2005, 88% of local board directors were white, and 87% were white in 2007. In 2005 and 2007, 13% of local board directors were of color. (Percentage totals may not equal 100% due to rounding.) -- There has been no increase in minority representation at the CEO level, though two new CEOs have joined the local ranks. In 2005, about 85% of all CEOs where white compared to 86% in 2007, according to the Profile. In 2005, 15% of all CEOs were people of color and 14% were of color in 2007. -- The good news is that there is some improvement in the "pipeline." There was a slight increase in minority representation at the vice president level from 2005-2007, and there is stronger representation at the director and senior manager levels. The fifth edition of the Profile surveyed 21 large companies. Eighteen of those are in Chicago's top 50 companies in terms of revenue. In addition to a census survey, Chicago United added qualitative questions to the new Profile to increase its relevance to the corporate community. The 2008 Profile provides a measure of companies' intent to advance diversity and inclusion strategies and the impact of diversity and inclusion as it relates to retention policies. A committee of corporate executives and business leaders provided guidance to Chicago United to ensure that the Profile was more robust and offered a roadmap for improved diversity and inclusion. While no city has reached parity in the top executive ranks, Chicago fares equal to or better than its peers, according to the Profile. The corporate community deserves recognition and must heighten its profile as a strong competitor for corporate headquarters and senior leaders of all cultures, according to the survey. Furthermore, the Profile indicates that there is a large opportunity for local enterprises to achieve greater cost efficiencies. There is a significant gap in retention levels for diverse executive-level talent. The turnover for diverse executives is 5% more than it is for non-minority executives. This gap has a direct impact on corporate expenses especially considering that the estimated replacement cost of turnover for an employee can be as much as 50% of annual total compensation. The latest Profile prescribes specific courses of action to increase the ranks of people of color in corporate leadership: -- Corporations must engage and embrace different management styles while also articulating the competencies required to compete in the workplace. -- Take measurement seriously: About 65% of Chicago corporations surveyed in the Profile have implemented diversity and inclusion strategies and programs, but fewer than 29% have implemented measurements to determine the strategies' impact on the bottom-line. -- Senior management must articulate the business rationale, implications and action plan from the top down to establish credibility for diversity-based efforts. -- Beyond articulation, the commitment to diversity must be clearly demonstrated at the highest levels of the corporation. "By focusing on talent management, retention and accountability when implementing strong diversity and inclusion initiatives, Chicago's corporate community can accelerate equal representation in business leadership and maintain a competitive advantage in the global war for talent," said Kevin Connelly, chairman of Chicago United's Corporate Diversity Profile committee and chairman of Spencer Stuart. "I extend my sincere thanks to the companies that participated in the Corporate Diversity Profile and to those who have worked to make it a valuable tool and reference point for our business community." The Corporate Diversity Profile, among other programs, continues to advance Chicago United's mission of driving diversity and inclusion in order to promote business competitiveness. Over the years, Chicago United has spearheaded reforms and diversity initiatives to transform the city. This year marks Chicago United's 40th Anniversary. Under the theme, "Torchbearers of the Dream: Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future," Chicago United continues its commitment to strengthen Chicago by closing the gap between race and business. About Chicago United Chicago United is the catalyst driving business leaders to maximize economic impact for all races. Created in 1968, Chicago United was the first group to bring together racially diverse CEOs with a common goal of creating a stronger social and economic climate for everyone in Chicago. To achieve sustainable impact, members focus on multiracial leadership development in corporate governance and executive level management; developing a pipeline of future multiracial executive leaders; and cultivating multiracial business partnerships. Through a fierce brand of constructive conversation, Chicago United fosters inclusion and provides an opportunity for senior executives from all racial and ethnic groups to learn from one another, confront and break down racial barriers and achieve shared objectives.
SOURCE Chicago United