things that affirmative action never
touched,” Anderson says. “Diversity is
now the mechanism that, in addition
to broadening opportunities to groups
previously excluded, also helps the
firms be more financially successful.”
DiversityInc Top 50 research supports—that more than 80 percent of
U.S. corporations don’t have diversity initiatives, but most of those that
do are Fortune 500 companies. At
the same time, Anderson, a self-described “voracious” critic of U.S.
corporations, says “there is not a
country in this world” that offers
the same opportunities for people of
color and women as the United
States. But Anderson is
doubtful that many large
corporations that also
operate globally can ensure
their proactive diversity
practices are followed outside the United States.
“What they do overseas will depend entirely
upon national policies of
countries they are operating in regarding equal-employment
opportunities,” he says.
With the exception of a few
countries, including South Africa
and some Scandinavian countries,
most foreign governments have not
mandated laws that create a solid
foundation for diversity initiatives to
thrive. U.S. corporations with strong
diversity programs that give them a
competitive advantage at home may
not see the same results overseas.
Anderson also advised the Rev.
Leon Sullivan on the Sullivan
Principles he developed in 1977. These principles
pushed for companies operating in South Africa under
apartheid to honor human rights and equal opportunity in their businesses. While a number of U.S. companies signed on during apartheid, Sullivan could not
find any Western European company that would do
the same, Anderson says.
That lack of comprehension of the value of diversity
remains. In France today, he notes it is difficult for
women to gain employment in certain occupations,
such as construction and manufacturing.
“Unless the cultural and moralistic values of that
country support equal employment … an American
company attempting to operate diversity programs
overseas might operate at a competitive disadvantage in
that market,” Anderson says.
The Global Success Stories
Global diversity at HSBC is embodied in its description as the “The World’s Local Bank,” encompassing
284,000 employees in 76 countries and territories.
These employees also serve more than 125 million customers. HSBC’s U.S. operation is No. 13 on The 2006
DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.
In 2005, the London-based financial-services organization counted one-third of its pretax profits from
North America, another third from Europe and two-
“In France … you can’t identity people by ethnicity or race. All you can do is collect gender information, so it becomes extremely challenging if you
don’t know what the numbers and percentages are
in your work force to establish any target. Rohini Anand, ”Sodexho
thirds from the Asia Pacific region, according to
Michael Shearer, senior manager, global diversity. On a
global level, diversity is not just about “visible difference such as gender, ethnicity, disability or age,”
Shearer says. “It is also about different perspectives on
working and leadership style, problem solving, managing relationships, creativity and business growth. Put
simply, we see this as [an] important and growing focus
because, by drawing on local knowledge and different
perspectives of colleagues around the world, [it] enables
us [to] serve our customers better.”
In Australia, Sodexho partners with organizations in
developing strategies to better recruit and retain employees from the indigenous aboriginal population. But