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Changing the Landscape of Corporate Leadership: “Know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em.”

April 29th, 2013 No comments

By: Marcia Leach

Blog Category: Minorities in the Corporate World

Changing the Landscape of Corporate Leadership: “Know when to hold ‘em, Know when to fold ‘em.”[1]

In May of 2011, the Alliance for Board Diversity (“ABD”) Census reported that between 2004 and 2010, Caucasian men in the Fortune 100 corporations gained 32 corporate board seats while African American men lost 42, and women, particularly minority women, had no appreciable increase in corporate board seats.[2] The census also found that Fortune 500 boards were even less diverse than the Fortune 100 boards.[3] Ilene H. Lang, Chair of ABD and President and CEO of Catlyst, called the results “staggering”, in light of today’s labor market having “. . . so many qualified women and minority candidates available for board service.”[4] Thus, the results confirm that in order to change the landscape of corporate leadership, proponents for the diversification of corporate boards need to change their strategic approach by shifting away from arguments “based on social and moral grounds” to “market-based” arguments supporting diversity on corporate boards.”[5]

Evan Roberts in his law review article, Corporate Leadership and the Unfinished Diversity Movement, found that “[D]espite their symbolic rhetoric, these rationales [social and moral grounds] do not appear to energize the business community enough to inspire broad changes in policy.”[6] In response to the judicial opinions in Bakke and Grutter where the majority of the Supreme Court justices “indicated skepticism over arguments for affirmative action based on the need to remedy past (or even present) societal discrimination,” market based arguments offer a way for advocates to utilize the broad ‘diversity’ rationale that eliminated strict consideration of race.”[7] According to Roberts, the “business case for diversity” makes sense in the present social and legal climate and is increasingly playing “a major role in the debate over why firms should seek to accelerate racial and gender integration.” [8]

One study by The Council of Institutional Investors (“CII”) offers “two sale-related” arguments for corporate boards to diversify.[9] First, diverse boards have a “deeper understanding of minority purchasing priorities and better connections to various minority communities” where there has been new growth in marketing opportunities.[10] Second, diverse boards have a better understanding of cultural differences in the global marketplace.[11] “Talented minority candidates can more easily plug themselves into markets where they have an understanding of the cultural differences of the market, relative to their white peers.”[12]

For diversity advocates, surely the time has come “to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em” if they are going to change the corporate landscape.[13]

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Marcia Leach is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Marcia, click here to view her page.

[1] Kenny Rodgers,The Gambler,(Dream Catcher 1978)

[2] Women and Minorities lose Ground on Fortune 500 Corporate Boards, Diversity Employers, © 2011 by IMDiversity, Inc. http://www.diversityemployers.com/index.php/career-news/137-board-diversity, accessed 3/3/2013.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Evan Roberts, Corporate Leadership and the Unfinished Diversity Movement, 14 Duq. Bus. L.J. 277, 280-81 (Summer 2012).

[6] Id. at 280-81.

[7] Id. at 281

[8] Id.

[9] Id. at 282.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Rodgers, supra note 1.

WJLER Symposium: “Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 22nd, 2013 No comments

Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race Upcoming Symposium:

“Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 25, 2013, 6-9:15 pm

Widener Law Delaware Campus (Vale)

Widener Law Harrisburg Campus (Televised in A180)

Click on the Flyers below to learn more information on the upcoming symposium.

Harrisburg Flyer (Larger View)                                                         Delaware Flyer (Larger View)

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Shattering the Glass Ceiling Through the Entrepreneurial Spirit

April 22nd, 2013 No comments

By: *Carla Arias

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

Shattering the Glass Ceiling Through the Entrepreneurial Spirit

American society has vastly changed in recent decades. When glancing over our political and corporate structure one may assume that the idea of a “glass ceiling” has faded into obscurity. Currently, we have an African American president, a Hispanic American woman on the Supreme Court and minorities holding powerful positions all over the corporate and political arenas. However, it must be understood that although racial lines in our country have been blurred, advancements such as these are typically the exception not the rule.

To better understand the difficulties faced by women and minorities in the workforce we must first define the term “glass ceiling”. Webster’s dictionary has defined it as “an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper level positions.”[1]   This invisible barrier has created a political and corporate society, which hinders the advancement of minorities and woman, thus preventing them from reaching their full potential in their respective fields. A 2010 Board Diversity Census found that Caucasian men hold the majority of high-ranking positions on corporate boards for fortune 500 companies throughout our entire country.[2]  The study also stated that the number of positions held by women and minorities is at a standstill, with no steady advancement, although they are extremely qualified to hold superior titles.[3]

The primary question then becomes, how can minorities or women break through this invisible barrier? As stated above, studies have shown that minorities and women being affected by this barrier do not lack the educational background and drive to advance.[4]  Therefore, one must find another route to combat the glass ceiling. It is my opinion that this can be done through the use of the entrepreneurial spirit that has helped our country succeed since the founding of the thirteen colonies. We are a country created by the ability to look past any barrier, which may stand in the way of formulating a governmental system, innovation or societal advancement.  From the settlers to the trailblazers to the huddled masses, the new American pioneer continues the legacy of the entrepreneurial spirit. This same method of thinking is being used today to further the roles of minorities and woman in all branches of government and the corporate world.

When looking at some of the most powerful companies throughout our country, it becomes evident that immigrants and minorities have been able to break through any invisible barrier to formulate fortune 500 corporations, which greatly impact our economy. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, has made tremendous contributions to the music and entertainment world and has become one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the world.[5]  One cannot lose sight of the fact that he is an African American man. He falls directly into a group impacted by the glass ceiling. However, through entrepreneurial drive, he shattered through that invisible barrier and was able to run a business in which he held the most powerful position. This route used to combat any sort of limitations based on race and gender can be seen time and time again. Jerry Yang, the co-founder and former CEO of Yahoo! Inc. is a Taiwanese born American[6]  who in theory should have been hindered by the glass ceiling but was not. He was able to use his ideas and drive to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world.

The idea of using the entrepreneurial spirit to go around the glass ceiling is not a novel one, but one needs to understand that it is not strictly geared towards those wanting to engage in fortune 500 companies. This is an idea that every American, male, female, or minority can grab on to as a way to reach their full potential. I am a Hispanic American female; some may say I fall into both groups of people who are affected by the glass ceiling; but I am not afraid. I have seen individuals from all walks of life come up with an idea that has potential. They then take that idea and develop it into a business, whether it is a restaurant, a store, a daycare, a medical practice, or even a television show, which might eventually lead to owning their own television network. Although the glass ceiling may still exist, but just as the oceans and the dense wilderness are inadequate to hinder the entrepreneurial spirit, the glass ceiling also cannot hinder the entrepreneurial spirit and it will not prevent women and minorities from reaching their goals. The sky is the limit!

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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* Carla Arias is a staff member on the Widener Journal, Economics & Race. To learn more about Carla click here to visit her page
[1] “Glass Ceiling.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2013. http://www.merriam-webster.com (4 March 2013).
[2]  Alliance for Board Diversity, Women and Minorities Lose Ground on Fortune 500 Corporate Boards, IMDiversity, (March 4, 2013); http://imdiversity.com/villages/women/women-and-minorities-lose-ground-on-fortune-500-corporate-boards/.
[3] Id.
[4]  Id.
[5]See generally Motown Museum, http://www.motownmuseum.org/story/berry-gordy/ (for a biography on the life and works of Barry Gordy throughout his career as the chairman of Motown Records.)
[6] See generally Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/profile/jerry-yang/ (for a biography on the works of Jerry Yang as the co-founder of Yahoo!,Inc.)

The Color Barrier to the Ownership Box

April 22nd, 2013 No comments

By: *Christopher King

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

The Color Barrier to the Ownership Box

There are 122 teams across the four major sports (32 NFL teams, 30 MLB teams, 30 NBA teams, and 30 NHL teams), but only one has an African American majority owner; the NBA’s Charlotte Bobcats, owned by Michael Jordan;[1]  yes, that Michael Jordan![2]

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, becoming the first African American player at the top level of professional sports in America.[3]   It was not, however, until December of 2002, when Robert Johnson was awarded the NBA’s new Charlotte franchise that the ownership ranks of the four major sports came to include an African American majority owner for the first time.[4]  In 2010, Johnson sold his controlling interest in the team to current owner, Michael Jordan.[5]

While Jordan remains the only African American majority owner of a major sports team, there are three other professional teams whose controlling interest is owned by a member of a minority group.  In the MLB, Arte Moreno, who is Mexican American, has been the majority owner of the Los Angeles Anaheim Angels since May of 2003.[6]   The New York Islanders of the NHL have been majority owned by Charles Wang since 2004.[7]   Wang was born in Shanghai, China and immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of eight.[8]  At the beginning of 2012, the Jacksonville Jaguars of the NFL was purchased by Shahid Khan, a Pakistani-born American.[9]   That’s a grand total of four teams, one in each of the four major sports with a majority owner who is member of a minority group.

The percentage of majority owners who are persons of color pales in comparison to the percentage of the players in those sports who are persons of color.  According to the latest data compiled by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, at the start of the 2012 season, the total percentage of players of color in the MLB was 38.2 percent, including 8.8 percent who were African American.[10]   In the NFL, the total percentage of players of color was 72 percent, with 67 percent of all NFL players being African American.[11]   The NBA continued to have the most racially diverse group of players of the major professional sports.  People of color represented 82 percent of all players in the NBA, and 78 percent of all players were African American.[12]   Statistics were unavailable for players in the NHL.

It is evident that while minorities are leading the way in terms of numbers on the playing field, there is still a long way to go in terms of equality in the ownership box.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Christopher King is a member of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Christopher  click here to visit his page.
[1] Jordan Purchase of Bobcats Approved, ESPN (March 17, 2010, 11:13 PM), http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5003048.
[2] Bobcats Executive Staff Bios, Michael Jordan, NBA.COM, http://www.nba.com/bobcats/executive-bios (last visited Mar. 23, 2013).
[3] Jackie Robinson Breaks Color Barrier, HISTORY, http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/jackie-robinson-breaks-color-barrier (last visited Mar. 23, 2013).
[4] Johnson to be Named Owner of Expansion Charlotte Club, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (Dec. 17, 2002, 8:56 PM), http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/basketball/news/2002/12/17/johnson_charlotte_ap/.
[5] MJ to Buy Controlling Stake in Bobcats, ESPN (Feb. 27, 2010, 11:20 AM), http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=4951410.
[6] Mark Saxson, Arte Moreno a Reluctant Pioneer, ESPN (Jan. 16, 2012 12:24 PM), http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/mlb/story/_/page/losangelesmlk/los-angeles-angels-arte-moreno-reluctant-pioneer.
[7] Brain Stubits, NHL Rumors: Charles Wang Looking to Sell Islanders, CBSSPORTS (Feb. 17, 2013), http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/blog/eye-on-hockey/21721586/nhl-rumors-charles-wang-looking-to-sell-islanders.
[8] Anthony Bianco et al., Software’s Tough Guy, BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK (Mar. 6, 2000), http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_10/b3671001.htm.
[9] Brian Soloman, Shahid Khan: The New Face of the NFL and the American Dream, FORBES (Sept. 5, 2012), http://www.forbes.com/sites/briansolomon/2012/09/05/shahid-khan-the-new-face-of-the-nfl-and-the-american-dream/.
[10] RICHARD LAPCHICK ET AL., THE 2012 RACIAL AND GENDER REPORT CARD: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL 3, (Univ. Cent. Fla. Inst. for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, 2012), available at http://www.tidesport.org/RGRC/2012/2012%20MLB%20RGRC.pdf
[11] RICHARD LAPCHICK ET AL., THE 2012 RACIAL AND GENDER REPORT CARD: NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE 4, (Univ. Cent. Fla. Inst. for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, 2012), available at http://www.tidesport.org/RGRC/2012/2012%20NFL%20RGRC.pdf.
[12] RICHARD LAPCHICK ET AL., THE 2012 RACIAL AND GENDER REPORT CARD: NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION 2, (Univ. Cent. Fla. Inst. for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, 2012), available at http://www.tidesport.org/RGRC/2012/2012_NBA_RGRC[1].pdf

 

 

WJLER Symposium: “Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 15th, 2013 No comments

Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race Upcoming Symposium:

“Diversity in the Legal Profession”

April 25, 2013, 6-9:15 pm

Widener Law Delaware Campus (Vale)

Widener Law Harrisburg Campus (Televised in A180)

Click on the Flyers below to learn more information on the upcoming symposium.

Harrisburg Flyer (larger view)                                            Delaware Flyer (larger view)

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A Call for Change in Corporate Diversity Programs

April 15th, 2013 No comments

By: *Melissa Chapaska

Blog Topic: Minorities in the Corporate World

A Call for Change in Corporate Diversity Programs

Diversity is essential to a corporation’s ability to compete in today’s economy. While corporations seem to have acknowledged the importance of diversity with “diversity days” and other programs intended to promote racial diversity, these programs have failed to create an increase in diversity among corporate leadership positions. For instance, as noted in a recent MSNBC blog, despite the Hispanic population’s growth in number and influence, Hispanics comprise only about 3% of corporate board members and 1.2% of Fortune’s 500 CEOs.

Furthermore, according to an article by the Center for American Progress, African Americans and Asians are also extremely underrepresented in corporate leadership positions (constituting only 0.8% and 1.8% of Fortune’s 500 CEOs, respectively). These startling low numbers suggest that despite corporations’ best intentions, corporate diversity programs provide the appearance of corporate diversity without actually promoting diversity in the leadership of these corporations. As a result, it would be prudent for corporations to reconsider the effectiveness of their ongoing diversity programs and take more proactive steps in recruiting and promoting minority workers from within, in order to best compete in today’s diverse economy.

The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race.

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*Melissa Chapaska is a staff member on the Widener Journal of Law, Economics & Race. To learn more about Melissa, click here to visit her page.
References
Lili Gil Valletta, Pope Francis: A reminder of Latino priority for corporate America and the GOP, MSNBC (March 14, 2013), http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/03/14/pope-francis-a-reminder-of-latino-priority-for-corporate-america-and-the-gop/.
Crosby Burns, Kimberly Barton & Sophia Kerby, The State of Diversity in Today’s Workforce, Center for American Progress (July 12, 2012), http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/labor/report/2012/07/12/11938/the-state-of-diversity-in-todays-workforce/.