Chicago United Survey Shows Mixed Progress in Local Efforts to Make Business Leadership More Racially Diverse and Inclusive

Results unveiled in new 2008 Corporate Diversity Profile

Sep 29, 2008, 01:00 ET from Chicago United

    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
     -- 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
     -- 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
     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
     -- 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