As Diversity Management Evolves,
So Does Top 50 Methodology
This is the seventh year for The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®. The evolution of
this survey has paralleled our increasingly sophisticated knowledge of this subject matter—and
the very evolution of diversity management itself.
When we started the Top 50 survey in 2001, there were only a handful of companies that were
players in the diversity-management arena. To come up with the Top 50, we surveyed our staff and a panel
of experts from nonprofits related to diversity issues.
It was tough finding 50 companies that actually
deserved being on the list. The No. 1 company that
year: SBC Communications (now AT&T), which
had a well-deserved reputation as an innovator in
The next year, 2002, was the first in which we
actually surveyed the companies. Like most corpo-rate-diversity efforts, we began with the easiest
areas to quantify. Our survey at the time, like most
magazine “diversity-awards” surveys to this day,
was almost entirely based on demographics by
race/ethnicity and gender. We introduced our first
specialty lists—Recruitment & Retention and
Supplier Diversity. We continued to use a panel of
experts and polled our readers. The No. 1 company that year: JPMorgan Chase, one of the earliest
companies to promote women and people of color.
In 2003, our survey, like diversity management
at the most progressive companies, was headed
toward empirical methods of measuring success,
but we weren’t there yet. We added specialty lists
for African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans,
executive women and GLBT employees. The No. 1
company that year: Ford, which always has been at
the forefront of work-force and supplier diversity.
The next year, 2004, was a major year for the
Top 50—and for diversity management, which
increasingly was viewed as a vital strategy essential
to all lines of business. This was demonstrated by a
34 percent increase in our number of participants,
to 178. We divided the Top 50 into the four key
areas of diversity management: CEO
Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate
Communications and Supplier Diversity. We more
than doubled the number of questions, to 122,
and ended the panel of experts and the reader poll
so our list could be solely based on empirical data.
We also introduced the Noteworthy Companies
list, companies we deemed almost ready for the
Top 50. The No. 1 company that year: Pitney
Bowes, whose CEO and chairman, Michael
Critelli, was an outspoken diversity advocate.
In 2005, as the number of participants increased
to 203 and the number of questions to 230, we
introduced a specialty list for people with disabilities. The No. 1 company that year: Altria, which
had a long history as a national diversity leader.
Last year, with 256 participants, we evaluated
companies based on their industries, geographic
locations and skill sets. For the first time, we
required companies making the Top 50 to demonstrate strength in all four areas measured and we
gave the heaviest weighting to the CEO
Commitment questions. The No. 1 company that
year: Verizon Communications, which was in the
top levels in every area we measured.
This year, with 317 participants, we further
refined the survey and asked our first questions on
global diversity. We determined that any company
that didn’t offer domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples would be ineligible. The No. 1 company this year: Bank of America, whose diversity
strengths have increased dramatically every year,
across the board.
In 2008, the questions will continue to become
more sophisticated and more focused on what’s
directly relevant to business growth. As diversity
management matures and deepens its relationship
to the bottom line, so does the Top 50.
Senior Vice President, Executive Editor