News Column

Corner Office -- The State of Diversity

September 1, 2010

Jesus Chavarria

"Education is an economic issue." The words are those of President Obama, spoken at the University of Texas, Austin, in early August. One assumes not a single CEO of the best companies listed in this issue featuring, "The State of Diversity," would dispute his point of view.

Indeed, education correlates directly with economic innovation and growth, and lies at the heart of our ability to compete in changing global markets. Who would have thought that diversity, hardly a commanding word, would become such a powerful expression of the changes taking place due to the reintegration of a global economy. Changes, we should realize, which are deeply affecting educational institutions as well.

In this issue we present two sets of stories: best companies and best schools. Both seek to identify institutional leaders in the areas of diversity, both among leading companies and among colleges and universities. We look at schools of business, engineering, law and medicine.

Among global corporations we find intense competition in the arenas of crafting policies, practices, investment and programs pursuing the recruitment, hiring, retention and advancement of peoples of diverse ethnic and gender backgrounds. Indeed, businesses and universities are deploying ever-improving strategies to tap into newly developing pools of diverse human capital. Clearly education is an economic issue as well as an issue of inclusion and equal opportunity.

Our best schools story and data compilations reveal a highly competitive economic environment which, while we would not say it has been unaffected by the great recession, has remained remarkably vibrant and dynamic. Our best companies feature, on the other hand, reveals the lengths to which companies will go to develop binding ties with emerging diversity markets.

Our number-one ranked best company, McDonald's, stands at the cusp of a group of firms ranked according to performance in areas such as recruitment and promotion, supplier development, board leadership and personnel, marketing and community relations, and others. And it obtained that space due to its extraordinary commitment to a highly dynamic and robust diversity supplier development program.

The evolution of diversity programs in major corporations and universities can be traced back to the struggle for ethnic studies, higher college enrollments, the hiring of ethnic faculty and the creation of minority business development policies and programs.

One of the breakthroughs in that movement can, in turn, be followed back to the years of the Nixon Administration, and its embrace of federal affirmative action recruitment and business development programs in the 1970s.

Jesus Chavarria

Editor & Publisher

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