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Black Enterprise’s Best Company for Diversity Goes Beyond Traditional Dimensions

By Melissa J. Anderson

Last week, Black Enterprise released its list of the top forty companies for diversity. Ranked according to a broad scorecard including the percentage of ethnic minorities included in employee base, senior management, and the board of directors, as well as the percentage of procurement money spent with diverse suppliers, the magazine was proud to note that it was taking the list beyond race and procurement. This year, companies were also ranked on and whether they received a 100% rating on on the HRC’s Best Places to Work list.

In her July Black Enterprise cover article, Black and Gay in Corporate America, writer Carolyn M. Brown explained that in a recent Human Rights Campaign survey of 761 LGBT professionals, only 25% of African American respondents said they revealed their sexual orientation in the workplace. This is significantly lower than the survey’s average of about half. By adding the LGBT dimension to the diversity list, the magazine takes an important step toward recognizing that individuals can have multiple minority identities.

While Black Enterprise praised all forty companies, it recognized four in particular as outstanding: McDonald’s Corp., Fannie Mae, Verizon Communications Inc., and WGL Holdings Inc. scored high marks in each of Black Enterprise’s four areas of diversity. And even among those high scoring companies, only Fannie Mae was the recognized on the HRC list.

Why LGBT Matters for Diversity

In her article, Brown explained that being LGBT and black means being a minority within a minority – and can help explain the low rates of out LGBT black employees. But over the past thirty years, she explains, most companies have worked hard to improve inclusion practices for all dimensions of diversity. One of the key inclusion tactics has been supporting employee resource groups. She writes:

“Today, employee resource groups are used for diversity recruitment, promotion, leadership development, supplier diversity, and increasingly for business development, says Orlan Boston, a principal with Deloitte Consulting L.L.P. and chief diversity officer for Deloitte Consulting. Having such groups not only indicates an investment and commitment to challenges facing LGBT and African American employees, but it also demonstrates a bottom-line impact, adds Boston, who is Hispanic, African American, and gay.”

Brown also pointed out that because most states do not offer LGBT individuals protection from being fired for being gay (but employees are protected from racial discrimination), companies have a responsibility to go the extra mile for their LGBT employees.

Finally, she added, the purchasing power of the LGBT community is estimated to be $835 billion. Companies looking to tap into this market will want their customers to know they treat all of their employees fairly.

What Fannie Mae Does Differently

Fannie Mae was the only company recognized by Black Enterprise for fulfilling high levels of diversity for its employee base, senior management, and board of directors, as well as spending a high percentage of procurement money spent with diverse suppliers. On top of that, the agency received a 100% rating on the Human Rights Council Best Places to Work Index on the most recent list.

According to Fannie Mae’s website, an inclusive culture helps the agency do a better job. It says, “…valuing diversity and inclusion is one component of building a high-performing culture. That culture, enabled by our already rich diversity, provides an array of solutions and strategies to meet real-world challenges. These solutions, which come from fully respecting and engaging every employee, will drive our success as a company.”

Perhaps Fannie Mae’s commitment to next-level diversity can be best explained in a statement within the agency’s most recent Mission Report [PDF]. The report explains that Fannie Mae focuses a lot of effort on supplier diversity – going beyond traditional dimensions of race or gender. It says:

“As part of our commitment to diversity, Fannie Mae also focuses on the consideration of minorities; women; individuals with disabilities; and minority-, women-, and disabled owned businesses in all of our contracting activities. Additionally, Fannie Mae supports increased procurement opportunities for qualified diverse suppliers that are Small Businesses; Veteran-Owned Businesses; HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Businesses; 8(a) Businesses; and Gay-, Lesbian-, Bisexual-, and Transgender- Owned Businesses in our procurement process. We take diversity into account as we make decisions in our evaluation process.”

By going the extra mile to work with diverse businesses of all stripes, Fannie Mae is working to build an award-winning inclusive culture.

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