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Diversity: A Smart Business Decision

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The second Hispanic Business Top Companies survey reveals the growing strength of minority groups – Hispanics, specifically – in influencing American corporate culture. Beyond workforce diversity initiatives such as minority recruitment and retention efforts, our top companies are implementing new programs to reach Hispanic consumers and include minority-owned businesses among their suppliers.

Through analysis of company-supplied information, what's becoming clear is that organization-wide diversity is a smart business choice – businesses are incorporating it as a strategy, growing as they adapt practices to changing population segments.

"Diversity is much less about numbers of people or statistics and more about wanting to reflect community," says Alice Cobb, chief administrative officer of PNM Resources. "We get a richer set of business results to the extent that we have a richer set of voices around the table."

This year's list is a little different from last year's debut. For 2006, Hispanic Business expanded the list to include 10 additional companies due to the competitive excellence of this year's entries. Out of the top companies, 30 are making return appearances, albeit with some juggling in the rankings. For example, last year's No. 1, McDonald's Corp., has been supplanted by 2005's bridesmaid, Bank of America.

On average, there were some significant gains in Hispanic outreach and hiring for 2006. This year, 94.0 percent of our respondents reported designating an executive in charge of supplier diversity – up from 2005's 84.0 percent. Listed companies with a procurement goal for minority suppliers rose from 77.5 percent last year to 88.0 percent.

Personnel, whether in the boardroom or the lunchroom, also saw gains. Compared to last year, the percent of Hispanic members on boards of directors jumped from 5.4 percent to 6.9 percent. In addition, the percent of Hispanic new hires rose from 13.8 percent in 2005 to 14.1 percent.

What can be said about our top companies is that they are setting the standard for how to do smart business. Like the early adopters of Web marketing and outreach in the late '90s, these companies are investing in new avenues to attract consumers.

PNM Resources is a first-timer on the list of best companies, making its debut at No. 6. An energy holding company based in New Mexico and expanding into Texas via a 2005 acquisition, PNM stands out specifically for its minority hiring – 43 percent of new employees in 2005 were minorities – and for two Hispanic executives on its board.

Ms.Cobb says that PNM has "diversity profiles at all levels of the company" not only because of New Mexico's rich tapestry of ethnicity, but also because the company of 3,300 employees actively recruits Hispanics through company- and college-sponsored intern programs. "Not all companies in the area have the same profile that we do," she says. "The difference for us is that we would like to reflect the voices of our customers."

PNM is one of four energy companies to make the list; three of them are in the top 10. In conjunction with a big showing by financial companies,a quick examination of the breakdown shows that companies providing services stand out in diversity/business integration. Population and economic indicators support this theory.

According to U.S Census projections tracked by HispanTelligence, the Hispanic population will reach 47.8 million by 2010 – up 20 percent in just seven years – and will account for 15.5 percent of the total U.S. population. As a consequence, Hispanics will represent a larger share of every consumer segment in the U.S. economy, an attractive incentive for businesses.

In other HispanTelligence research, "U.S. Hispanic Purchasing Power: 1978-2010," Hispanic purchasing power reached $768 billion in 2005 and is projected to reach more than $1 trillion by 2010 – a growth rate nearly three times the
overall national rate of the past decade. Other research from such institutions as the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth have made similar projections.

For banks and financial services companies, which account for five of our top 10 and 13 of the total 50, this means broadening services to include Spanish-speaking brokers and easier remittance processes. Further encouragement comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which reports that the Hispanic homeownership rate is steadily increasing – 49.5 percent in 2005 to 50 percent in the second quarter of this year.

Bank of America reached the pinnacle of Hispanic Business's list this year by creating specific community outreach initiatives, including a 10-year $750 billion community development goal. That goal, while not aimed solely at Hispanic borrowers, envisions lending $500 billion on affordable housing, $125 billion on small businesses, $75 billion to consumer borrowers, and the rest to economic development. First-year results netted $85.1 billion in community lending, of which $33.5 billion was for mortgage lending to low- and moderate-income and minority borrowers. The bank also expanded its SafeSend services last year, meaning Bank of America customers could remit money to Mexico at no cost.

The Team Bank of America concept is also unique in that it covers objectives from community involvement to diversity networking and career advancement. Specifically, the company-wide Diversity Network groups work to integrate employees into the company, helping develop professional contacts, and hold regular meetings to discuss timely personal and professional development topics.

Prudential, another financial services company in the top 10, climbed from No. 21 last year to No. 10 this year. With a real emphasis on minority hiring – and accountability – Prudential stresses education and retention at all levels. The company sponsors several intern programs and maintains affiliations with professional organizations like the National Society ofHispanic MBAs and Hispanic CPAs.

"We can't separate our commitment to diversity from our aspirations for business success because the two are so closely linked," says Sharon Taylor, Prudential senior vice-president, corporate human resources.

The company also upped its procurement goals for minority suppliers, using 25 percent of its first-tier MBE (minority business enterprise) spending with Hispanic-owned firms in 2005, up from 20 percent in 2004. Of all MBE firms that Prudential does business, 30 percent were Hispanic, and four Hispanic-owned firms were among the company's top 10 suppliers in both 2004 and 2005.

In a statement echoed by Prudential's credo, PNM's Ms. Cobb says, "Our success is directly linked to the success of the community we serve, so that includes doing business with the businesses in our community."

A big question remains: When will the rest of corporate America catch up? By examining the efforts of our top 50 front-runners, it's clear that marketing to diverse candidates and minority-owned businesses is a lot more successful when companies have the manpower and reputation to support those goals. For those companies that aren't fully embracing diversity as a business principle, playing catch-up is going to cost in both revenues and reputation.

Ms. Cobb stresses the importance of organizations having the diligence to investigate what having a diverse company means:Are organizations really willing to pay the price to establish that level of cooperation? "If they really have a commitment to diversity, they need to set expectations for costs, and commit the resources to set the groundwork," she says. "Then, diversity is attracted to that groundwork."

>>View the 2006 List of Top Companies for Hispanics

METHODOLOGY

The calculus for determining the Best Companies for Hispanics directory involves more than 30 variables that measure a company's commitment to Hispanic hiring, promotion, marketing, philanthropy, and supplier diversity. To compile the list, Hispanic Business contacted all of the Fortune 500 companies, American subsidiaries of Global 500 companies, and scores of large U.S. public and private companies not on those lists. The final directory lists the top 50 companies, based on a weighted processing of company data conducted by HispanTelligence®, the research arm of Hispanic Business Inc.

In accordance with survey methodology and privacy requirements, Hispanic Business does not publish information from a specific company that is not publicly available. Table and charts depicting the cumulative data from all Top 50 companies appear in the directory and accompanying article. Issues addressed by the survey include:

BOARD & LEADERSHIP: Hispanic and other minority representation on the board of directors and at the executive level.

RECRUITMENT: Efforts to hire from minority groups, including Hispanics, and outreach efforts at colleges and universities.

RETENTION & PROMOTION: Efforts to support, retain, and promote Hispanic and other minority employees through incentives, employee support groups, executive training, and diversity awareness and sensitivity training.

MARKETING & COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Marketing and advertising to reach Hispanic consumers, as well as involvement in and expenditures on philanthropic or community services that benefit minority groups.

SUPPLIER DIVERSITY: Support or sponsorship of supplierdevelopment programs, executives involved with supplier diversity, incentives tied to supplier diversity, and procurement goals.

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