By Ellen McGirt
May 4, 2017

On Tuesday, DiversityInc, a wide-reaching publication dedicated to clarifying the business benefits of diversity, announced their 2017 Top 50 Companies for Diversity. It’s a great list to study and discuss, and if your company’s not on it, to print out and leave outside the executive washroom.

Topping the list was EY, who pushed last year’s winner, Kaiser Permanente, to number two, followed by AT&T at number three, PwC in the fourth spot and Johnson & Johnson rounding out the top five.

Click through for the specialty lists like top companies for supplier diversity, LGBT employees, global diversity, executive women, and veterans.

The list also gets a nod from Fortune data journalist Grace Donnelly. “The DiversityInc Top 50 methodology is more data-driven than many similar lists and awards. Companies don’t pay a fee to be evaluated and the ranking process relies on a 200-question survey completed by each participating organization.” In her view, this makes the list more objective than those that rely purely on sentiment or employee feedback. What they are unable to do is share the specific demographic data of any company, since so few make their numbers publicly available. In a world where more transparency is needed, the status quo still has a long way to go. But there is no downside for the companies to participate says Donnelly, and real value in doing so. “DiversityInc gives each company that enters gets a report card, regardless of whether or not they make the list, that uses their data to show how they compare to their competitors and how they could improve their best practices.”

DiversityInc has been issuing the list since 2001, and the business case for inclusion is becoming more tangible with each passing year. CNBC reporter (and dear friend to raceAhead) Bertha Coombs was on hand at the celebration of the list’s unveiling to put the list into Wall-Street speak:

“The companies that compete to earn a spot on the DiversityInc Top 50 – and the specialty lists — understand the importance of diverse workforces and management teams. Research shows that these most diverse companies tend to actually perform better financially than the overall market. The Top 50 stock index, analyzed by CNBC’s market services group, shows that longer term, three to five years, those companies on the DI Top 50 list of the most diverse companies outperform the overall market by a healthy margin.”

Shareholder value may be an old-school metric for some, but it has real meaning. I’ll give Bertha the last word. “[W]hen you look at the data, companies committed to diversity just grow and prosper more on every front. So if you don’t focus on the buying power of Latinos or people of color, if you don’t look at the fact that in the next 30 years or so, the majority of this country — more than 52 percent — will be people of color, then you are really missing the big picture.” Get serious about the pipeline, she says. “You’ve got to develop young people who have a lot of different backgrounds. And in the long term, if you don’t — simply put — you’ll be less successful.”


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