BLACK ENTERPRISE (BE) today announced its second annual list of the best companies for diversity as featured in the July 2006 cover story. In selecting the 40 Best Companies for Diversity, BE evaluated diversity programs, consulted with diversity experts and corporate diversity officers, and conducted an extensive survey of more than 1,000 of the countrys largest publicly traded companies, and more than 50 leading global companies with significant U.S. operations. BE developed a corporate diversity survey that focused primarily on activities related to the participation of African Americans and other ethnic minority groups as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In the lists second year, more companies made a concerted effort to be included. Survey response increased by nearly 42% over 2005. As a result, a total of 40 companies were identified by BE editors as worthy of recognition. To be included among BEs best companies for diversity, a company had to demonstrate significant representation of African Americans and other ethnic minorities in four key areas: corporate procurement, corporate board participation, senior management representation, and total workforce.

Among the top 40, Dennys Corp. was cited for making significant progress in all four key areas. Diversity leaders such as Eastman Kodak Co., PepsiCo, and Bank of America have excelled at seeking out and doing business with black suppliers. FedEx Express, Xerox Corp., and McDonalds are among the very best at bringing talented people of color into the ranks of senior management. Marriott International and PG&E Corp. have solid African American representation on their corporate boards, while Aflac and ARAMARK set the bar in terms of workforce diversity.

With black spending power estimated to reach $965 billion by 2010, BE seized the opportunity within its diversity report to examine companies that are hiring African Americans and other ethnic minorities to craft brand images, and create and deliver those messagesincluding the use of black-owned media. More than 50% of African Americans are under the age of 35 and currently outpacing the growth of the total U.S. population. By the year 2050 African Americans will make up 14.6% of the total population.

At a time when black advertising agencies should be heavily courted by corporate America to reach the black consumer, many have suffered significant declines in billings and revenue. In its folly, Madison Avenue is overlooking significant advertising investment in almost every segment of the black market, says BE Careers/Lifestyle Editor Sonia Alleyne. This is despite the fact that African American buying power is growing faster than that of white consumers and the total buying power of most ethnic groups. It is significant to note that the companies that target black and other minority consumers also exhibit growth in revenues, profits, and market share.

In concluding its diversity report, BE evaluated all of the companies surveyed on the secondary category of marketing and outreach, which included advertising, promotions, community outreach, and scholarships. A large number of corporations would not fully disclose all of their marketing information because of the sensitivity of marketing investments and competitive concerns. Using independent data from sources such as TNS Media Intelligence, as well as the information that the companies did provide, BE developed a ranking of the 10 Best Companies in Marketing Diversity.

The BLACK ENTERPRISE 40 Best Companies for Diversity list includes the following:

Aetna - Hartford, CT
IBM Corp. - Armonk, NY
Aflac Inc. - Columbus, GA
Kellogg Co. - Battle Creek, MI
American Airlines Inc. - Fort Worth, TX
Marriott International, Inc. - Washington, D.C.
American Express Co. - New York, NY
McDonalds Corp. - Oak Brook, IL
ARAMARK- Philadelphia, PA
Merrill Lynch - New York, NY
Bank of America - Charlotte, NC
MGM MIRAGE - Las Vegas, NV
BellSouth - Atlanta, GA
Pepco Holdings, Inc. - Washington, D.C.
Citigroup - New York, NY
PepsiCo - Purchase, NY
The Coca-Cola Co. - Atlanta, GA
PG&E Corp. - San Francisco, CA
Comerica Inc. - Detroit, MI
Pitney Bowes - Stamford, CT
Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. - New York, NY
Procter & Gamble - Cincinnati, OH
DaimlerChrysler Corp. - Auburn Hills, MI
Sprint Nextel Corp. - Overland Park, KS
Darden Restaurants - Orlando, FL
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. - White Plains, NY
Dennys Corp. - Spartanburg, SC
Toyota Motor North America Inc. - New York, NY
Eastman Kodak Co. - Rochester, NY
United Parcel Service Inc. - Atlanta, GA
Fannie Mae - Washington, DC
Verizon Communications Inc. - Basking Ridge, NJ
FedEx Express - Memphis, TN
Wachovia Corp. - Charlotte, NC
Ford Motor Co. - Dearborn, MI
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. - Bentonville, AR
General Electric Co. - Fairfield, CT
Xerox Corp. - Stamford, CT
General Motors - Detroit, MI
Yum! Brands Inc. - Louisville, KY

The BLACK ENTERPRISE 10 Best Companies in Marketing Diversity include the following:

Altria Group - New York, NY
PepsiCo - Purchase, NY
DaimlerChrysler Corp. - Auburn Hills, MI
Procter & Gamble - Cincinnati, OH
Ford Motor Co. - Dearborn, MI
Time Warner Inc. - New York, NY
General Motors Corp. - Detroit, MI
Toyota Motor North America Inc. - New York, NY
McDonalds Corp. - Oak Brook, IL
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. - Bentonville, AR

The complete special report on the best companies for diversity, including methodology and selection criteria, is available in the July 2006 issue of BLACK ENTERPRISE, available on newsstands June 27.