Tuesday, July 31, 2007

House Passes Walberg Amendment Ending "Race Preferences" in Transportation Programs

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the Transportation Department's appropriations bill to purportedly end "preferences" in federal contracting. The bill moves to the Senate where it faces an unlikely future. Representative Walberg's statement on the floor of the House follows. The bill language is so broad, it could prohibit regulations that would protect women and minorities from any form of discrimination. It would therefore conflict with the civil rights laws including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended. This action tramples upon the legacy of the late Rep. Parren Mitchell who championed minority business enterprise programs.

[Page: H8359]

Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. Without objection, the Clerk will report the amendment.
There was no objection.
The Clerk read as follows:
Amendment offered by Mr. Walberg:
At the end of the bill (before the short title), insert the following:
Sec. __X. None of the funds made available in this Act may be used by the Department of Transportation to promulgate regulations based on race, ethnicity, or sex.
The Acting CHAIRMAN. Pursuant to the order of the House of today, the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Walberg) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Michigan.
Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Chairman, I come to the floor today to pose an important question to this House, and that question is this: Do we really need race, ethnic or gender-based preferences for roads?
Today I am offering an amendment to the transportation bill we are currently debating that would stipulate no funding in this bill may be used by the Department of Transportation to discriminate based on race, ethnicity or sex.
Though this policy may be motivated by good intention, I agree with Justice Clarence Thomas about the DOT's affirmative action programs where he states, ``The paternalism that appears to lie at the heart of this program is at war with the principle of inherent equality that underlies and infuses our Constitution.''
Last fall in my home State, Michiganders voted overwhelmingly, 58 percent to 42 percent, in favor of amending our State constitution to outlaw racial preferences in public education, employment and contracting. Like my constituents in south-central Michigan, I oppose any and all forms of discrimination. But I also support nondiscrimination, the practice or policy of refraining from discrimination.
My support of nondiscrimination compels me to state on this floor that every American deserves equal treatment when competing for business contracts, and our Federal Government should treat all applicants for such contracts on an equal basis. The Federal Government should never view any American as part of a group, but rather look at them as an individual. By granting the Department of Transportation the ability to discriminate based on race or sex, this House would essentially create affirmative action preferences for our Nation's highways.
I urge my colleagues to support my amendment and ensure that all American businesses competing for public works projects are given a fair, nondiscriminatory opportunity.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time...

House Passes Fair Pay Act

The Gavel - Blog of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House

Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act PassesJuly 31st, 2007 by Karina

The House passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 this afternoon by a vote of 225-199, restoring and clarifying discrimination protections in the Civil Rights Act. Speaker Pelosi released the following statement upon passage:
The New Direction Congress achieved a crucial victory today for justice and equality with the passage of the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. This legislation corrects a recent Supreme Court decision that severely restricted the right of workers to have their day in court when their employers have engaged in pay discrimination.
The Supreme Court’s decision ignored the reality that most workers do not discuss their paychecks with their colleagues, which makes it extremely difficult for employees to know if they have been the victim of pay discrimination. By rectifying the Court’s decision, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores balance in the law and allows victims of wage discrimination to seek justice in the courts.
Lily Ledbetter was a victim of gender discrimination in the workplace and in her paycheck. Women, indeed all workers subject to pay discrimination, need all resources available, especially the protections of civil rights law, to ensure their right to fair pay.
Today, women earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. And women earn less than men in nearly every occupation. The Ledbetter Fair Pay Act restores the ability of women and all workers who are protected by anti-discrimination and civil rights laws access to our judicial system to vindicate their rights when they have been harmed by discrimination.
Equal pay for equal work is a fundamental value. The President should join the House on the side of all American workers in standing for pay equity and against discrimination.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Missouri Civil Rights Initiative group challenges state over ballot language

Inside Higher Education, "Quick Takes" July 30, 2007

The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative, which is organizing a referendum to ban affirmative action in public college admissions and other state activities, is suing state officials over changes in ballot language. Defenders of affirmative action have said that the language used in several successful campaigns against affirmative action isn’t clear on what is being banned, but initiative officials say that state leaders are trying to use the language to make affirmative action look good. http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/07/30/qt

The Missouri Civil Rights Initiative is as follows:
Official Ballot Language
Be it resolved by the people of the State of Missouri that the Constitution be amended:
One new section is adopted to be known as section 34 of Article I, to read as follows:
Section 34. 1. The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
2. This section shall apply only to action taken after the section's effective date. 3. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex that are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting. 4. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as invalidating any court order or consent decree that is in force as of the effective date of this section. 5. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting action that must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, where ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state. 6. For the purposes of this section, "state" shall include, but not be necessarily limited to, the state itself and any of its departments, agencies, commissions, boards, and other units; any political subdivision and any department, agency, commission, board, or other unit of a political subdivision; any public institution of higher education, junior college district, and school district; any municipal corporation; and any public corporation, public entity, or other instrumentality of the state or a political subdivision, irrespective of the capacity in which the state or any such instrumentality or entity of the state shall be acting . 7. The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party's race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of then-existing Missouri antidiscrimination law. 8. This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with federal law or the United State Constitution, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that federal law and the United States Constitution permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

State Official Upholds Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Wisconsin

July 27, 2007
The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog

State Official Upholds Race-Conscious Admissions at U. of Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s attorney general has issued an informal legal opinion to state legislators concluding that a race-conscious freshman-admissions policy adopted by the University of Wisconsin’s Board of Regents for the entire university system does not conflict with a state law intended to prevent the system’s campuses from engaging in discrimination.
Soon after the board adopted the policy, in February, 15 state representatives and four state senators sent Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen a letter challenging the legality of the policy, which calls for system campuses to consider race and ethnicity as part of a comprehensive review of applicants. Specifically, their letter alleged that the new policy conflicted with a 1973 law prohibiting the system from making admissions decisions using “sectarian or partisan tests or any tests based upon race, religion, national origin of U.S. citizens, or sex.”

[For the entire story, go to: http://chronicle.com/news/index.php?id=2757?=atnb&commented=0#txpCommentInputForm ]

Friday, July 27, 2007

Understanding Gaps Among Asian Groups

July 27
Understanding Gaps Among Asian Groups
Inside Higher Ed

Many discussions about affirmative action or demographics in higher education start with the assumption that Asian American students are outperforming everyone else and don’t need any help. That view is frustrating to many Asian Americans and some educators who say that — even if true on average — it results in too little attention being paid to members of some groups that are not doing well at all educationally.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report Thursday that backs up those concerns. The report notes that by most measures Asian Americans have a higher educational attainment than other groups, with almost half of Asian Americans aged 25 or older having a four-year college degree, a percentage far greater than those for white adults (almost one third) or black or Latino adults (less than one fifth). But this overall success, the GAO found, “masks” the realities of many Asian subgroups in educational preparation and attainment.
For example, the report found that half of Southeast Asian high school students are not enrolled in college preparatory programs, more than half of Southeast Asian and Native American and Pacific Islander students are in the lower socioeconomic quartiles, and many Asian groups set aside less money for their children’s college education than do members of other racial and ethnic groups.

[AAAA Note: For the complete story, go to: http://insidehighered.com/layout/set/print/news/2007/07/27/asians

To see the GAO report, "Higher Education: Information Sharing Could Help Institutions Identify and Address Challenges Some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Face" go to: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d07925.pdf ]

Sophisticated New Methods Aid OFCCP Search for Violators

Workforce Management -
Director Michael Sinclair has increased the number of OFCCP agents. In addition, he has developed training initiatives to help them master statistical analysis techniques. By Gina Ruiz

The past several years have ushered in significant changes in the way the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs achieves its primary objective of guarding against workplace discrimination based on race, gender, religion and disability.
Experts say the agency now relies on sophisticated techniques like linear regressions and statistical data analysis to make its auditing capabilities tougher than ever.
"There is no doubt that the OFCCP will become to the HR community what Sarbanes-Oxley was for finance and accounting professionals," says Ted Daywalt, CEO of military job board VetJobs and OFCCP committee chair for the International Association of Employment Websites, a trade organization.
The changes first became evident in 2003, when the OFCCP created the Division of Statistical Analyses, spearheaded by director Michael Sinclair. The division’s goal was to bring a greater level of accuracy to OFCCP investigations, says Michael Biddle, a spokesman for the federal agency.
Since that time, Sinclair has increased the number of OFCCP agents. In addition, he has developed training initiatives to help them master statistical analysis techniques, Biddle explains.
It appears that Sinclair’s efforts are paying off: There has been a sharp spike in settlements derived from systemic discrimination cases. Last year, companies paid more than $51 million in settlements, almost doubling the $26 million from 2003. [AAAA Note: For the complete article, go to: http://www.workforce.com/section/06/feature/25/01/77/250179.html ]

Thursday, July 26, 2007

New OFCCP Regs Have Employers on Guard for Discrimination

The list of employers subject to the agency’s Internet-applicant final rule is diverse and substantive and includes most of the Fortune 500 as well as small and midsize companies from numerous industries. By Gina Ruiz
mployers across the country could receive a troubling piece of news in the mail this summer. The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs started sending audit notifications, kicking off its official probe into companies’ compliance with the Internet-applicant final rule.
The mandate, which went into effect in February 2006, set standards in record-keeping practices for all federal contractors and subcontractors that rely on electronic data technologies to fill vacancies. The list of employers is diverse and substantive and includes most of the Fortune 500 as well as small and midsize companies from numerous industries. According to experts, about the only exception would be a hot dog vendor who doesn’t hire anybody.
Experts also contend that process of online recruiting—not just the end results of who gets hired—will be under the agency’s microscope. The OFCCP’s intent is to discern whether systemic discrimination, whether deliberate or unintended, is unfolding in the workplace. Since electronic data technologies often have powerful filtering tools, such as electronic résumé searches and data screenings that can shape the makeup of an applicant pool, the selection process is a key area of focus for the agency.
"This is not just about who ultimately got hired," says Kurt Ronn, founder of HRworks, a national recruitment firm based in Atlanta. "It is also about the manner in which companies constructed the pools of candidates that they considered for a vacancy."
The fact that audit notifications were sent a year after the ruling was enacted could signal that the OFCCP is serious when it comes to enforcement, industry experts say.
"The notifications came on the early side," Ronn says. "Normally, the OFCCP waits for two years after a ruling has been around so that there is enough rope to hang violators."
Experts encourage employers to prepare for a potential audit by understanding the OFCCP’s three primary focuses.
At the most basic level, the agency will try to determine whether an employer kept a detailed record of the applications they received via electronic data technologies, such as a job board. In addition, the OFCCP will take a critical look at the basic qualifications that a company sets forth for a job vacancy. Finally, the agency will scrutinize the data management technique an employer uses to select the résumés.
Record-keeping requirements One of the most important aspects of the Internet-applicant rule is that it finally establishes a formal definition of an online applicant—something government contractors had requested for several years.
There are several elements that define an online applicant, says Matt Halpern, partner at Jackson Lewis LLP, a national workplace law firm. To begin with, an individual has to express interest in a position using electronic data technologies, such as sending a résumé via the Internet. In addition, a company has to look at the information that was received and evaluate whether the person meets the basic qualifications required for the job. Lastly, the individuals must remain in the running to be considered for the job. If they express any disinterest in the position, they are no longer considered applicants.
Once a government contractor establishes that an individual fits the definition of an applicant, it is required to keep detailed records. Employers will have to elicit key information from online job applicants such as race, gender and ethnicity. This data will play a critical role helping the agency determine how the employer’s pool of candidates compares with the makeup of the broad workforce.
The OFCCP will specifically stack up the proportions of minorities and women applicants to the company against the relevant labor force statistics.
For instance, if an employer has a vacancy for an engineering position and only 2 percent of the total applicant pool is composed of women, the auditor will examine how this figure relates to the broad engineering industry.
There could be a reasonable explanation for the low percentage of female applicants—perhaps engineering is a profession that attracts few women. If through research, however, the auditor finds that women make up a large percentage of the broad engineering population, the investigation will deepen. The auditor’s goal will be to determine whether any steps in a company’s selection process have an adverse impact on female applicants.
Government contractors are not the only group being affected by the OFCCP ruling. Talent management vendors across the country must make significant adjustments as well. SilkRoad Technology has had to update its applicant tracking platform, OpenHire.
"We retooled the system to help recruiters comply with the specific OFCCP reporting requirements," says Peter Hauschild, manager of implementation services for the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based company. "The entire ATS community has had to mobilize for this ruling."
The revisions to OpenHire mean it can now provide more detailed reports about the ethnicity of applicants. Now more than ever, it’s important for employers to become familiar with the reporting capabilities of the ATS providers, Hauschild says.
Employers should also be mindful that online applicants can come from a variety of sources—not just job banks, résumé databases or via e-mail. There are six Internet-related technologies and applications that the OFCCP has identified as recruiting tools for online applicants: job banks, résumé databases, e-mail, electronic scanning technology, applicant screeners and applicant tracking systems.
But this list is bound to change with new technologies coming online. When in doubt, err on the side of caution, Ronn says.
"If contractors review or accept applications electronically, the new rule applies, even if it’s something they don’t think is likely, such as a fax," he notes.
Fax machines can transmit digitized signals that can be sent and received via e-mail, which is why companies need to keep a record of any activity through a fax.
Auditors will investigate not just the pools of external job candidates, but also the list of internal applicants a company evaluates for a vacancy, which is why records need to be kept on both sets of applicants.
Qualified candidates Basic qualifications such as skills, education and experience are the criteria that an employer deems necessary for a candidate to perform a particular job.
Workforce executives must pay close attention to how basic qualifications are worded, as OFCCP auditors will analyze them for signs of potential discrimination.
One of the most important points for employers to remember is that basic requirements must be established before any recruiting efforts begin, Halpern says. In addition, the basic qualification standards must be relevant to a position and be objective.
It is legally acceptable for an employer to request a bachelor’s degree in accounting for a certain position, as it ensures a certain level of education and skills. Making a seemingly innocuous tweak to this wording, however, could draw serious scrutiny from the agency, Ronn explains.
If an employer went beyond requesting a bachelor’s degree in accounting and asked that the diploma come from an Ivy League school, such standards are considered non-objective. More important, as far as the OFCCP would be concerned, is that it could have an adverse impact on the number of women and minorities who apply for the position.
It is the type of basic qualification that could raise a red flag for the OFCCP auditors, particularly if they find that a statistical disparity exists in the percentages of women and minorities within the company’s pool of applicants and those figures found in the relevant labor force.
"Companies are going to have to give some serious consideration to how they word basic qualifications," Ronn says. "It can make or break their fate during the audit process."
Drawing up acceptable basic qualifications, however, will only go so far in keeping a company in compliance. Execution is another key component. Employers must make sure that everyone involved in the recruiting and selection of talent uses the vetted wording for basic qualifications.
"It is critical for everybody to be on the same page when it comes to language," Ronn says. "It gets risky when recruiters begin to deviate from the established definition and introduce concepts that may or may not be acceptable."
Ronn recommends that companies launch formal training campaigns for recruiters and hiring managers, since they are the ones on the front line. First, they should be informed of the agreed-upon basic standards. They should also be instructed on why it is important to stick to those definitions.
It is important that the educational initiative extend beyond internal staffers who are responsible for recruiting and hiring. Under the new rule, employers will also be held accountable for the actions of the external staffing and recruiting agencies that they retain to hire talent.
Besides basic qualification standards, OFCCP auditors will be studying the kinds of online searches that recruiters use to narrow the pool of applicants from the thousands of résumés that they receive. Online searches will be an area of focus because they can shape the composition of an applicant pool.
Training and education programs in this arena will also play a critical role in keeping employers compliant. Recruiters and hiring managers will have to be educated on how to carry out online searches that are objective and relevant, Ronn says.
Inserting words such as "Perez" or "Harvard University" during online searches could include or exclude certain groups of candidates—ultimately spelling trouble for an employer.
Data management technique Keeping up with the tremendous volume of résumés that pour into companies can be a daunting task. As a result, employers have had to develop data management techniques that help them narrow the number of résumés they receive—from the thousands to maybe a few dozen.
OFCCP auditors will be taking a critical look at how companies do this. Here too, employers are required to choose their preferred method of data management before any recruiting efforts take place.
Initially, employers cannot make data management selections by looking at the qualifications of applicants, since that could potentially be considered a biased process. Instead, it will have to be based on other methods, like picking résumés in random order or perhaps by selecting the first 100 résumés that were received. Whatever method they use, it must be race and gender neutral, Ronn explains. After whittling down the stack of résumés to a manageable number, employers can then sift through the applicants’ qualifications to take the necessary next steps.
The important thing for employers to remember is to have a solid understanding of their recruiting process and to develop a well-defined plan to tackle the new ruling.
"It is important to plan ahead," Ronn says. "Being compliant today is trickier than ever."
Workforce Management Online, July 2007 --
Gina Ruiz is a Workforce Management staff writer based in Los Angeles. E-mail editors@workforce.com to comment. http://www.workforce.com/section/06/feature/25/01/77/index.html

Monday, July 23, 2007

UCLA Releases Key Report on Affirmative Action in Higher Education

July 23, 2007 Contact: Kathy Wyer (wyer@gseis.ucla.edu)
UCLA's Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, one of the nation's leading research centers on issues of civil rights and racial inequality, today released a key report examining critical developments in affirmative action in higher education since the Supreme Court's landmark 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision, which upheld affirmative action policies.
The report, "Charting the Future of College Affirmative Action: Legal Victories, Continuing Attacks, and New Research," which is the first to be released since the Civil Rights Project moved from Harvard University to UCLA earlier this year, provides perspectives by leading national researchers on the meaning of the Grutter v. Bollinger decision and cites the active efforts by conservative legal-action groups to interpret the Grutter decision as a limit on affirmative action rather than a victory and to compel colleges to adopt race-blind admissions policies.
The report also cites the Supreme Court's June 2007 decision on two school desegregation cases — Parents v. Seattle School District No.1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County — as a major setback for conservative groups that had urged the court to adopt a sweeping race-blind policy that would have undermined the Grutter decision.
"Even with recognition of the use of affirmative action in higher education admission policies from a more conservative court than Grutter, we can expect ongoing controversy," said the report's editor Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles and a professor of education at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. "It is unreasonable to expect a deeply divided country to come up with a clear and simple, lasting answer."
The decision in Grutter, in which the Supreme Court upheld the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School, was the first major definition of the right of colleges to pursue race-conscious admissions policies since the court's l978 decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.
The report concludes that there have been major conflicts over the meaning of the Grutter decision and the right of colleges and universities to pursue such policies.
"Four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court powerfully recognized the compelling reasons for universities to educate their students with fellow students who bring into the campus the diversity of experiences and perspectives from all parts of American society," Orfield said. "The Court concluded that there were major gains from a diverse student body for students of all races and for society and its major institutions. We urge leaders of higher education to resist threats and intimidation and to expand programs to integrate higher education, programs that are more secure now with the recent 2007 decision of the reconstituted Supreme Court."
The legal and empirical analyses in the report assert that the court's decision in the Grutter case was a major victory that substantially strengthened and extended the rationale for affirmative action in higher education. In addition, the report notes that the court's June 2007 decision in Parents v. Seattle School District No.1 and Meredith v. Jefferson County is highly significant, given the insistence by all of the justices that they had not undermined the rationale of the Grutter decision.
The report's authors, including Orfield and nearly 20 leading scholars from colleges and universities nationwide, indicate that there are a number of issues still not settled by the Supreme Court's June 2007 decision. Controversy will likely continue around financial aid and special programs that prepare underrepresented minority students for the academic year. Issues such as financial aid decisions, which are important questions of both institutional and public policy, are especially critical to beneficiaries of affirmative action, as well as to all low-income families with hopes of accessing U.S. colleges and universities.
The full text of the report and contact information for the report's authors can be found at http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/.
About the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA
Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley Jr., the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, a professor at UCLA's Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has commissioned more than 400 studies, published 13 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter decision, cited the Civil Rights Project's research. http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=8103

[AAAA Note: For the complete report, go to: http://www.civilrightsproject.ucla.edu/research/affirmativeaction/fullreport_charting_aa.php ]

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Do Companies Truly Value Their Diversity Directors?

Do Companies Truly Value Their Diversity Directors?
Vadim Liberman is associate editor of The Conference Board Review.
Who Should Be the CDO?
In scouting diversity candidates, many companies look first to the HR department, which seems a natural. But doing so may be selling the position short. "Probably around 50 percent of HR professionals don't have the business-based background to really understand the language of business," charges Herndon, Va., HR consultant Cornelia Gamlem, who insists that diversity executives have an understanding of marketing and economics. Adds Clayton Osborne of Bausch & Lomb: "There are a lot of diversity directors who did not come to their work having the right knowledge base."
Cheltenham, Md.-based diversity consultant Mary-Frances Winters warns against hiring an attorney for the position. "I don't have anything against lawyers, but when you put someone with a legal background in this job, they're going to come at it from the perspective of keeping the company out of legal trouble." As such, attorneys often err on the side of caution, which can hinder moving forward with open and honest dialogue. On the other hand, CSX Corp. diversity chief Susan Hamilton sees no problem with having an attorney in the position — hardly a surprise since she is one herself. — V.L.
We all know that corporate America has committed itself to diversity, to make the workplace a better place for all. At least we think we all know this. At least we say we all know this. But what if what we say we think we know boils down to some bitter truths that we're simply reluctant to admit: that many companies' commitment to diversity — at least as evidenced by the stature of their diversity directors — is not very deep?
No one would ever admit this, of course, and diversity involves so many variables — geographic, economic, etc. — that it's difficult to categorically determine, rhetoric aside, whether a particular company is taking the issue seriously. Which is why the position of the diversity director is a leading indicator of how diversity itself may be regarded within a company. Is the diversity director respected to the full?
To many observers, the answer is clearly no, despite diversity's entrenchment as a settled issue that no longer draws much grumbling or controversy. For the most part, critics charge, companies still aren't giving their diversity executives the authority they deserve.
And yet we've all heard high-minded CEOs and other senior executives sermonize about diversity as if it had the strength to cure any corporate cancer, and as if that view were both universally held and a top corporate priority. If they are all beginning to sound like broken records, maybe it's because something really is broken.
To be sure, there are a good number of Fortune 500 companies that aggressively practice diversity management. Their diversity executives say they feel valued. But they nonetheless concede that many other companies still fail to appreciate their top diversity executive. Only about 10 percent of diversity chiefs get the recognition they deserve, estimates Susan Hamilton, assistant VP of diversity at CSX Corp.
"I've worked with diversity managers who say they aren't listened to," says consultant Mauricio Velásquez of Herndon, Va.-based Diversity Training Group. "They tell me about their efforts, and I tell senior management, who think that what I've just told them is brilliant! I then tell management that their diversity people have already been telling them the same thing and that they just haven't been listening."
Why aren't diversity heads getting more respect? What are organizations — and even diversity officers themselves — doing wrong? The answers may surprise you, because when it comes to diversity, nothing is black or white.
How Do You Say "Diversity Director"?
In a number of ways, it turns out. Here are the most common titles
to describe a company's top diversity post, according to a 2004 survey of 170 Fortune 500 companies by consultancy Diversity Best Practices. (Some executives have overlapping titles — such as vice president, director of diversity — which is why the total exceeds 100 percent.)
64.7% Vice President23.5% Chief Diversity Officer17.1% Director8.8% Senior Vice President4.7% Manager2.4% Executive Vice President
What Does a CDO Do, Anyway?
It's a little gray, at least when it comes to companies defining the role of the diversity chief. Though many businesses know that they want someone in charge of diversity efforts, they're not necessarily sure what they want her to actually do. Job descriptions often list overly general duties. One diversity executive quoted in The Diversity Executive: Tasks, Competencies, and Strategies for Effective Leadership, a 2001 Conference Board report written by Miami Beach-based HR consultant Michael Wheeler, defines her job as "creating and implementing workplace policies and management practices to maximize talent and productivity for overall organizational effectiveness." Isn't that what most managers do?
Because such job descriptions are so broad, it's also no surprise that companies expect a lot from diversity directors. A lot of what? It's hard to tell. Though the Conference Board report goes on to name ninety-six possible corporate-diversity activities, many businesses find themselves at sea when trying to decide which they expect a chief of diversity to do, much less how they expect her to do them. For instance, the report mentions duties such as evaluating managers' performance and participation in multicultural events. Even after an evaluation is successfully completed, most companies don't know what to do with the resulting information, Wheeler explains.
Without a clear job profile, many companies become disillusioned with those they hire to manage diversity. Granted, companies are often disappointed by people they hire for any department. But when a marketing head fails to live up to expectations, the organization blames only the individual; when it's a diversity director, a company frequently becomes disenchanted not only with the executive but with diversity itself. It becomes difficult to respect someone when she's doing something you don't understand — all of which causes you to question the utility of the position in the first place.
Things were simpler back in the 1980s and early '90s when organizations were hiring diversity directors (though they went by titles such as "compliance officer" or "EEO manager" back then) primarily to handle EEOC, affirmative-action, and compliance issues. Today, diversity is, well, more diverse. Diversity executives must review ads so that they properly target various groups; educate employees about policies such as domestic-partner benefits; meet with community leaders to help decide which nonprofits to fund; scrutinize speeches, surveys, and evaluation forms to ensure that diversity is included; conduct research to guarantee that the company is using suppliers and vendors that are also diverse; help develop budgets that allocate money for diversity-related endeavors; create systems by which to measure diversity's impact on the bottom line; and work on matters related to recruitment, training, and other HR issues.
Yet while the definition of diversity may have evolved, some companies have not. "It's a big mistake when organizations continue to make the diversity manager also in charge of EEO compliance," Mauricio Velásquez argues. Not separating these two jobs implies that the diversity role exists to satisfy legal requirements rather than to serve its real purpose: to manage and exploit the company's diverse talent. Clayton Osborne, Bausch & Lomb's VP of human resources, estimates that almost one-third of companies still view the position primarily in terms of compliance and affirmative action.
[AAAA Note: To view the rest of the story, go to:
http://www.conference-board.org/articles/atb_article.cfm?id=360&pg=1 ]

Friday, July 20, 2007

College Board Issues Report on Implications of Supreme Court Decisions on Higher Ed

The College Board on Thursday issued guidance for member institutions on how to maintain affirmative action the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision last month that rejected two school districts’ use of race in assigning students to schools. The general conclusion of the College Board analysis is that while affirmative action in higher education remains legal, colleges must be sure that their goals are “mission driven and educationally focused,” and are not based on “numbers alone.” The report also advised colleges to be sure that they had considered “race-neutral” alternatives. - Inside Higher Education, 7/20/07 http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/07/20/qt

[ AAAA Note: For a copy of the report " Echoes of Bakke: A Fractured Supreme Court Invalidates Two Race-Conscious K-12 Student Assignment Plans But Affirms the Compelling Interest in the Educational Benefits of Diversity. (.pdf/189KB) by Arthur L. Coleman, Scott R. Palmer, and Steven Y. Winnick from the law firm Holland + Knight, which provides an analysis of the implications of these decisions for higher education, go to: http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/diversitycollaborative/EchoesofBakke.pdf ]

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Thursday, July 12, 2007 Joyce A. Pratt 609-748-0936
The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) mourns the death of Lady Bird Johnson, supporter of civil rights and women’s rights

Washington, D.C. -- The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) mourns the death of Lady Bird Johnson, supporter of civil rights, women’s rights, early childhood learning, and maintaining the country’s natural beauty. AAAA extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Mrs. Johnson. America lost one of the most beneficent women to grace the great State of Texas and, indeed, the entire nation. “Mrs. Lyndon B. (Lady Bird) Johnson’s personal strength in speaking out about racism and advancing the cause of equal educational opportunity contributed tremendously to the social reforms of the 1960s from which we have all benefited,” said ReNee S. Dunman, president of AAAA.

It is appropriate to refer to Lady Bird Johnson as the “voice of conscience on civil rights.” “Her bravery in touring the South in October 1964 to promote the Civil Rights Act illustrates her deep sympathy and understanding of all Americans,” added Ms. Dunman. In Alexandria, Virginia, on October 6, 1964, she told a crowd that “it would be a bottomless tragedy for our country to be racially divided.” Her attempt to convince skeptics to support the bill rested on the premise that “all ships rise on a rising tide.”

“In April, we were honored to have met her daughter, Luci Baines Johnson Turpin, during our 33rd Annual Conference in Austin, Texas. Ms. Turpin gave a stirring presentation to our members at the LBJ Library and Museum,” stated Ms. Dunman. “It is gratifying to know Lady Bird Johnson’s humanity lives on within her family.”

Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is dedicated to the advancement of affirmative action, equal opportunity and the elimination of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, ethnic background or any other criterion that deprives people of opportunities to live and work. The organization’s dedication is realized in its many activities designed to help Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity (EEO/AA) professionals be more successful and productive in their careers. For additional information on the AAAA and its annual conferences, visit the web site at http://www.affirmativeaction.org.


Monday, July 2, 2007

CNN Transcript of AAAA's ReNee Dunman on Affirmative Action

TRANSCRIPT (Excerpt): Major Decision on Affirmative Action, with AAAA President ReNee Dunman and Ward Connerly

Aired July 1, 2007 - 19:00 ET

But next, the Supreme Court strikes down high school affirmative action programs. You'll hear from people on both sides of a divisive issue. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.(COMMERCIAL BREAK)ROESGEN: It is a landmark decision on affirmative action. This week, the Supreme Court ruled that race cannot be a factor in assigning children to public schools. The court has struck down diversity plans in Seattle and Louisville, Kentucky. At the same time an affirmative action ban goes into effect tomorrow in University of Michigan, Michigan State and Wayne State University. Joining us now is Ward Connerly, an outspoken opponent of affirmative action, who led the campaign against it in Michigan. He's chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute. And Renee Dunman, president of the American Association for Affirmative Action. Ward, why have you made it your mission to stamp out affirmative action?WARD CONNERLY, AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS INSTITUTE: Well Susan, I believe, as most people in this country believe, and certainly the majority of those on the Supreme Court, that our country should be blind to the issue of a person's skin color. I think that just as Chief Justice Roberts said it best when he said that the way to get rid of discrimination in race, or race discrimination, is to stop discriminating on the basis of race. ROESGEN: Well, Renee, let's talk about that for a second. That has been the big rap on affirmative action, that these days affirmative action has really become reverse discrimination. Renee, what do you think about that? RENEE DUNMAN, AM. ASSN. FOR AFFIRMATIVE ACTION: Well, first, I'd like to say there's no such animal as reverse discrimination. Either you've been discriminated against or not. To suggest that we should not consider race at all is sticking our heads in the sand. It was Justice Blackmun who said in Bakke that indeed, in order to get beyond racism, you must first take into account race. And that's what these particular plans did. We believe that those plans were effective, that they were moderate and they were a constitutional. ROESGEN: Well, let me loft up something to both of you. If we remove the word "race" and replaced it with "opportunity," or "economic equality," then do we have an affirmative action plan that's OK? If we just take the word race out and we talk about a lot of our population, which is poor, a lot of the population that is economically disadvantaged, isn't that what we're really driving at here, not race, but economic social opportunity? DUNMAN: Yes. We're looking for educational opportunity when you think about this. And certainly, however we cannot ignore that we have to overcome some of our histories, segregation, and the court did in that case recognize it as a compelling governmental interest and said that you can use careful race-conscious means to address these issues. ROESGEN: Well, Ward, let me ask you about that. In the dissenting opinion here from the Supreme Court -- the dissenting opinion from Justice Stephen Breyer, was that, you know, this ruling will obstruct efforts by state and local governments to deal effectively with the growing re-segregation of public schools. Isn't that the danger here? Re-segregation after we've tried to come so far since the civil rights eras of the '50s? CONNERLY: Susan, I was born in Leesville, Louisiana, in 1939. I've lived under segregation. The fact that a certain neighborhood may have more black people or more white people than another group is not segregation. Segregation is by the government. And we're not living in a segregated era now by any stretch of the imagination. I think that the most beneficial part of these court decisions is that they force those who are uttering this, frankly, mindless blather about diversity and opportunity to share the burden, and to, in fact, satisfy the burden...ROESGEN: Hey, wait a minute. Mindless blather about diversity...CONNERLY: Yes, I think so. ROESGEN: Why is that mindless in a country where so many people are disadvantaged, so many minorities are disadvantaged? Renee, jump in here. CONNERLY: But there is a difference here. (CROSSTALK) CONNERLY: You didn't let me finish my point. There is a difference between...DUNMAN: As a beneficiary of affirmative action -- in fact, a proud beneficiary of affirmative action, I can't imagine removing the ladder that I used to climb to educational attainment and employment attainment opportunities, to then look down at a crowd of qualified individuals and say, let me pull this ladder up and say, you have no right to use this same ladder. ROESGEN: Well, Ward -- what I want to ask you, Ward, as a black man yourself, have you never been helped by affirmative action? CONNERLY: Susan, I think I have been helped by affirmative, I think the nation has been helped by affirmative action. But you're playing games with words here. The court didn't strike down affirmative action. The court struck down race preferences in discrimination. You need to be very careful about the language you use. And the court was very clear about that. Even Sandra Day O'Connor was very clear that she was talking about race preferences, not affirmative action, which comes in many forms. ROESGEN: Renee, race preferences, isn't that a form of affirmative action, Renee? DUNMAN: I find it funny that Mr. Connerly would say be careful with the language, because that is part of my unsettling opinion about his views is that he does trickery on the language in order to be successful on the ballots, in that there is a racial divide that he plays on when it's casting fear. It's like this Robin Hood theory that he pitches to white males, to make them believe that in order to have...CONNERLY: Well, that's baloney. DUNMAN: ... in order to have successful affirmative action...CONNERLY: That's just absolute baloney, Renee, and you know it. DUNMAN: ... that indeed you have to take from one to give to another. CONNERLY: There is nothing trickery when saying that everybody should be treated as an equal in this country. That's what the court says. That's what every one of our initiatives says. The way that Renee tries to get around this is by using terms like opportunity, and avoiding the fact that civil rights belong to everybody. Not just to black people. ROESGEN: Well, I think we can say, should and could and would in this country, certainly, we should be color-blind, we should have economic opportunity for all, but the point is, really, both Ward and Renee, that we don't have it. And the question is, how do we get there? And, Renee, you're saying that we should continue with affirmative action policies, certainly in the schools. Ward, you're saying no, we don't need it anymore, right? (CROSSTALK) CONNERLY: I'm saying that the Constitution -- as the court said it, the Constitution should be blind to the color of my skin. ROESGEN: But it isn't. In reality, life is not blind. CONNERLY: Well, but it should be. It should be. ROESGEN: Well, it should be. CONNERLY: And by not practicing that, Susan, we allow these programs to do what I say, and that is, engage in this mindless blather, using terms that are amorphous, that are not precise about their meaning. That's what the court really handed down on Thursday and said, you can't keep doing that anymore. DUNMAN: Actually, the court did say that you can use race- conscious methods to achieve diversity. And some examples they gave is in selecting new sites for schools, that you could consider the composition of neighborhoods, as well as drawing attendance zones and allocating resources and funds and targeting recruitment for faculty and students. So indeed, there is recognition for diversity, and they also endorsed the importance of diversity and inclusion in our nation's classrooms. ROESGEN: Ward, do you agree with that point of the ruling? Do you agree with that?CONNERLY: That's what Justice Kennedy said, Susan. One justice said that. The majority of the justices said that the Constitution is color-blind. And that you can use race-neutral measures, you can use race-conscious measures in the words of Justice Kennedy, as long as you don't discriminate against people by using "crude racial classifications." ROESGEN: OK.DUNMAN: Well, race does matter. ROESGEN: All right, Renee. I think we're finding that it certainly does indeed matter. Doesn't matter which side you fall on. Divided we still stand in this country. Thank you both, Ward Connerly and Renee Dunman, for joining us. CONNERLY: You're welcome.DUNMAN: Thank you.