In the last 15 years, as corporate efforts in diversity management have accelerated, there have been various efforts to define and measure “success.” The DiversityInc Top 50, now in its 13th year, has differed from other lists in its reliance entirely on empirical, objective data. Click here to participate in the DiversityInc Top 50 Survey.
The goal of the DiversityInc Top 50 is to create an evolving and accurate database of successful diversity-management best practices and their ensuing results measured in human-capital and procurement demographics. The methodology of the DiversityInc Top 50 has always been transparent and publicly available on DiversityInc.com and DiversityIncBestPractices.com and in DiversityInc magazine.
There are more than 300 fact-based questions in four areas of diversity management: CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate and Organizational Communications, and Supplier Diversity. There is no fee to participate, and all companies that complete the survey receive a free report card assessing their performance overall versus all competitors and in the four areas we measure. Companies do not receive any special treatment for doing business with DiversityInc.
To participate, a company must have at least 1,000 employees. We measure “participation” as starting the process to fill out the survey. Last year, we had 587 participants, up 11 percent from the previous year. We also had 12 percent more companies fill out the entire survey.
We do not publicize the names of companies that participate and don’t make the list as we have no desire to embarrass or coerce any company.
Why the Rankings Matter
Over the years, companies have told us repeatedly that a spot on the list helps them attract and retain top talent (from all groups, including white men) and demonstrate their diversity commitment to customers, suppliers and investors. Several companies, including Sodexo, Kraft Foods and all of the Big Four (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte and KPMG), have given us specific examples of sales they have made because of their known diversity leadership as the differentiating factor with their competition.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the No. 1 company this year, has made the DiversityInc evaluation a key part of its diversity-management strategy for more than a decade. U.S. Chairman and Senior Partner Bob Moritz, who has spoken at our events and attended the last one during the day to take notes on other speakers, said this: “At PwC, we’re investing in inclusion so we can deliver quality, value and innovative solutions to the companies and stakeholders we serve and so we can create sustainable growth for our future.”
The support for the credibility of the list comes not only from “diversity professionals” but from senior line executives and CEOs at many of the companies on the list. More than 20 CEOs have spoken at our diversity events, all of them discussing the importance of diversity and the value of the DiversityInc Top 50 to their company’s success. This includes the CEOs of Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Sodexo, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, KPMG, CSX, Prudential Financial, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Marriott International, Aetna, Cox Communications and Rockwell Collins.
Here are some observations about the value of The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list:
- The survey creates universal data-based definitions of diversity and inclusion best practices and a fact-based methodology for tracking and evaluating them. The metrics are analyzed each year to ensure they are current and that an increasing proportion of companies are using them. We also directly correlate data results (measured in human-capital demographics) with best practices to establish their relevance. David Casey, vice president, Workforce Strategies, and chief diversity officer of CVS Caremark, told us this: “What does the Top 50 really mean? It gives you a data point. It gives you a data set. It’s one thing to go into your board or to your CEO and say, ‘X percent of our workforce is people of color or women, and we’ve spent this much on supplier diversity,’ but unless you give them an anchor and some kind of relative sense of what that means, it doesn’t work, and that’s what DiversityInc provides.”
- The many CEOs we’ve interviewed (including the CEOs of Wells Fargo, Eli Lilly, jcpenney, Toyota Financial Services, KeyCorp and Ameren) all refer to diversity and inclusion specifically as a business driver. They use the DiversityInc Top 50 as the method of quantifying those business goals. Randall Stephenson, chairman, CEO and president of AT&T, said this: “Diversity is a key success driver at AT&T. We work hard to build a strong talent pipeline that includes the rich mix of backgrounds and cultures that make up the communities we serve. When we do that, we’re more responsive, we’re more innovative, and our growth prospects are greatly improved.”
- Our methodology has evolved, but the four areas we measure (CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Supplier Diversity and Communications) have been consistent for a decade, and we feel confident that the changes we make are evolutionary. The rankings can absolutely be trended. DiversityInc does have separate, fee-based benchmarking and consulting practices, but business conducted with our company does not factor into DiversityInc Top 50 rankings at all—it is an editorial process. Several companies in the DiversityInc Top 50 do no (or insignificant) business with us, and companies, such as Cummins and General Mills, actually went up in their rank. We do factor in the one survey we consider objective: the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. No company can earn a spot in the DiversityInc Top 50 if they don’t offer same-sex domestic-partner health benefits. Companies that received less than an 80 percent CEI score last year had points deducted from their DiversityInc Top 50 score.
- While DiversityInc does not disclose the exact weightings we give each question, we are transparent in which areas are important, and we also produce a detailed FAQ with the survey each year explaining exactly what each question means and how it is to be answered. Jim Norman, vice president of Diversity at Kraft Foods, said this: “I know there could be criticism around any survey, and people get confused about why they’re doing it or why they would be involved. We have strategic plans. They’re about creating a better organization. The survey, then, is a tool for me to mark progress against a journey I’m already committed to. It holds me accountable. It’s a very usable tool. It asks questions that are critical to driving the kind of deep, sustainable organization change that I need to drive.”
- There have been questions raised about whether companies ranked on the list actually use the data-collection measures we cite. We do validate through spot checking the way the companies collect the data. For the past two years, DiversityInc has asked the chief diversity officer to sign off on the validity of the data and the data collection. Next year, the CEO, chief operating officer, chief legal officer or chief human-resources officer also will have to sign off on the data.
- We have great volatility on the list, with new companies participating and making the list every year, including some that are new to this type of process. In 2012, two companies made the list for the first time: Lockheed Martin, a first-time participant, and Medtronic, which had participated before but hadn’t earned a spot previously.
- The DiversityInc Top 50 was created and has been run for 12 years with the objectivity and transparency top of mind. When companies submit surveys, their data is checked for accuracy. After that point, they are placed into a computer database where their names are hidden so they may be evaluated based only on their responses, with no subjectivity involved.
- The only people at DiversityInc who have access to the data are CEO Luke Visconti, Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Barbara Frankel, Associate Vice President of Benchmarking C. Craig Jackson, Director of Benchmarking Shane Nelson, and Data Analysis Director Amber Aboshihata. All are long-time employees of DiversityInc.
- DiversityInc fully discloses the separation between its editorial products, including the DiversityInc Top 50 survey, and its fee-based products, including the benchmarking and consulting practices. DiversityInc events are editorial products. Company customers or event sponsors do not receive preferential treatment to speak. At our event last April, 12 corporate leaders spoke on panels. Of the 12, eight were not sponsors of the event.
- As a private company, DiversityInc does not have a board of directors. Our books are fully audited, however, and we are willing to discuss our survey methodology with interested outside sources.
- DiversityInc is fully transparent about its own demographics and data. For more information on that, please see www.DiversityInc.com/aboutus.
- Criticisms of rankings will always exist, especially by those that don’t rank well. DiversityInc has endeavored to set the standard, be objective and empirical in all data collection, and be transparent about the methodology.
David Casey of CVS Caremark summed it up: “Before the DiversityInc Top 50, there were not a lot of robust, true surveys or measurement tools for diversity management. There was just a lot of affirmative action and EEO recognitions and awards. DiversityInc’s Top 50 is by far the most robust analysis of what a company does in diversity management.”