Monday, April 30, 2007

Essay 2064

From The Miami Herald…


Minority executives rare in corporate world


A decade ago, female and minority executives in South Florida were surprisingly sparse. Ten years later, has much changed?

Despite the diverse local population, Hispanics and blacks remain rarities in the upper ranks of companies.

In 1997, it wasn’t unusual for major local companies to have no women or minorities on boards or senior executive teams.

In 2007, while there are no all-male, all-white leadership teams at South Florida’s biggest companies, many boards or executive groups contain just one black, Hispanic or female, a Miami Herald survey found.

That’s better than the national average, but experts -- and some locals -- say it’s nothing to be proud of.

“There’s a fundamental question: Do you believe all people are created equal?” says Luke Visconti, co-founder of DiversityInc, who has advised Office Depot, Ryder and AutoNation on diversity issues.

“If you do, then you should believe that 50 percent of the company [should be] run by women. Twenty-eight percent should be run by people of color, maybe more in South Florida especially.”

By those standards, South Florida doesn’t come close.

The largest local companies fare better than the country as a whole in terms of the number of women on boards and as senior executives -- but it’s still about 18 percent.

Among local corporate boards, there’s an average of 20 percent representation by blacks, Hispanics or other minority groups. Among senior executives, which The Miami Herald defined as those with titles of senior or executive vice president or higher, it’s 13 percent.

That’s high compared to national averages, but it’s still not a good number, said Gary Brouse, who for 20 years has studied these issues for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, a group that has used shareholder resolutions to push big companies to diversify their ranks. He thinks the past decade has left companies standing still, not moving forward.

[Click on the essay title above to read the full story, including interactive materials and additional reports.]

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