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Corporate America Grades Its Efforts


Cover Story: BUSINESS WEEK/HARRIS EXECUITVE POLL

CORPORATE AMERICA GRADES ITS EFFORTS

Corporate executives insist they don't need anyone twisting their arms to hire more women and minorities. A hefty 65% of those polled insist that business will open up its hiring and promotion practices without affirmative-action laws. That may be because Corporate America feels that the marketplace is already forcing companies to end discrimination in employment. Executives point to the shifting composition of the labor supply and the benefits of a diverse work force as bigger spurs to affirmative action than fears of government or private lawsuits.

Even so, more than half say their companies need to do a better job of hiring minorities, and 44% aren't satisfied with their progress in hiring women. Another weakness: failure to promote women and minorities into top management.

MORE LEGISLATION PROBABLY ISN'T NEEDED

Do you feel that there should be affirmative-action laws on the hiring of women and minorities, or do you think most companies such as yours would hire and train and give women and minorities the opportunities to get ahead without such laws?

Need affirmative-action laws 31%

Business will do the job itself 65%

Not sure 4%

COMPANIES ARE AGGRESSIVELY RECRUITING MINORITIES

In the hiring of women and minorities, does your company do any of the following, or not?

DOES NOT

Does Not SURE

Set numerical goals but not quotas for hiring them 40% 48% 12%

Make special efforts to recruit them 78% 17% 5%

Use lower hiring standards for them 5% 88% 7%

Offer special in-house training

programs for them 34% 60% 6%

THE DRIVING FORCE? A LABOR SUPPLY IN FLUX

Among companies you know, do you think each of the following is very important, somewhat important, not very important, or not important at all in increasing their hiring of women and minorities?

Very Somewhat Not very Not at Not important important important all sure

The fear of private lawsuits 20% 42% 29% 7% 2% The benefit of having

different types of people

in the work force 50% 36% 9% 2% 3% The worry about government

enforcement action 26% 45% 21% 5% 3% The changing makeup of the

labor supply 52% 36% 6% 2% 4%

BUSINESS COULD BE DOING MORE FOR MINORITIES . . .

Do you feel your company needs to do a better job of hiring, training, and promotion of minorities, or not?

Needs to do a better job 53%

Does not need to do a better job 42%

Not sure 5%

. . . AND COULD IMPROVE ITS TREATMENT OF WOMEN

Do you feel your company needs to do a better job of hiring, training, and promotion of women, or not?

Needs to do a better job 44%

Does not need to do a better job 52%

Not sure 4%

OVERALL, COMPANIES ARE DOING AN O. K. JOB . . .

How would you rate the track record of companies such as yours on each of the following--excellent, pretty good, only fair, or poor?

Pretty Only Not

Excellent good fair Poor sure

Hiring women and minor-

ities into entry-level job 29% 57% 12% 0% 2%

Promoting women and

minorities into middle management 20% 48% 27% 3% 2%

Promoting women and minorities into top

management 8% 22% 44% 23% 3%

Retaining women and

minorities 25% 50% 13% 1% 11%

. . . AND WITHOUT HUGE HEADACHES

How much trouble do you feel this whole area of affirmative action has caused your company--a lot of trouble, some but not a lot, or not much trouble?

A lot of trouble 6%

Some but not a lot 39%

Not much trouble 53%

Not sure 2%

Edited by Mark N. Vamos and Christopher Power

Survey of 404 senior executives at corporations drawn from the BUSINESS WEEK 1000. Interviews were conducted June 10-14, 1991, for BUSINESS WEEK by Louis Harris & Associates Inc.


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