NAACP Gives Retailers a ‘D’ Grade

Discussion
Jul 18, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Major retailers are just not making the grade when it comes to people of color, says the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


Last week, the NAACP released its 2005 Economic Reciprocity Initiative (ERI) industry report cards with grades given to major corporations in a variety of business categories.


The ERI gauges how companies perform in areas including employment, vendor development, advertising/marketing, charitable giving and investing/ franchising with people of color and minority-owned businesses and other organizations.


In the general merchandise (retailing) category, the companies rated were given an overall grade of D.


Companies chosen for the survey had annual revenues of at least $6 million, 40,000 or more employees and locations that served ethnically diverse neighborhoods


Three companies, Federated Department Stores, Wal-Mart and Sears, were given a grade of C. May Department Stores was given a C-.


Five of the companies asked to reply to the NAACP survey did not respond and the organization is asking supporters to boycott those businesses. The list includes Dillard’s, J.C.
Penney, Inc., Kmart, Saks and Target.


Moderator’s Comment: Is the NAACP’s criticism of retailers’ diversity initiatives and investment justified? Are the company’s that were given grades
better or worse than most retailers when it comes to employing minorities and otherwise engaging in issues and actions important to minority groups within the U.S.?


George Anderson – Moderator

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10 Comments on "NAACP Gives Retailers a ‘D’ Grade"


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Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

The National Retail Federation has a Diversity Committee. Perhaps they could publicize their efforts.

I am surprised that certain large retailers didn’t respond to the NAACP survey. All the non-responders certainly have PR departments. The NAACP assumes that the non-response speaks for itself.

By the way, the NAACP site says that general merchandise retailers with $6 million or sales were surveyed. Since only 11 retailers were surveyed, I believe that the “million” is a typo and that the actual figure is $6 billion.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Sometimes it’s best to avoid responding to surveys from [special interest] groups because any answer will be the wrong answer. They are often just looking for ammunition to attack with. Retailers deal with minority issues that suit themselves in a way that provides the best return for investors. Sometimes it’s worth bragging about and sometimes it’s best kept quiet. Made up “grades” do not translate into profits or stock price increases.

Tom McGoldrick
Guest
Tom McGoldrick
15 years 7 months ago

Diversity is an important topic for all businesses and this is a worthwhile study. However, I hate to see them use a tool as powerful as a boycott to punish organizations that did not want to complete the survey. They are implying that the companies that did not respond refused deliberately because they have something to hide. Broad sweeping assumptions like that are almost never correct.

David Lotterer
Guest
David Lotterer
15 years 7 months ago

I give the NAACP a “D” for its execution of this “Initiative.” Instead of demonstrating that progress is being made, they have resorted to boycotts and veiled threats, in order to push the “standard” higher and higher. The people and organizations I have dealt with, across many industries, go out of their way to seize every opportunity where race relations may be improved.

Perhaps the underlying problem lies in the perpetuation of the belief that there are significant differences between races. The NAACP would be of more service to society if they were dedicated to the advancement of ALL disadvantaged people, regardless of race.

Their focus could then move to the real issues of improving inner city living conditions, education and violence. Press releases like this one do nothing to address the real underlying issues, and only promote band aid solutions that reach no further than the PR department.

Al McClain
Guest
Al McClain
15 years 7 months ago

The thing that strikes me about this whole survey is that the grades, on the whole, are very poor. Companies doing a good job, according to the NAACP, and not just in retail, are few and far between. There is obviously a big problem, either with race relations and diversity at large corporations, or the way the NAACP views things, or both. Either way, the NAACP has taken a hard line approach with its unofficial boycott.

Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Just wondering if it was even possible to get a ‘good grade’ from the NAACP? If so, would they be needed?

Their approach and tactics are disappointing, but yet it’s what has come to be expected. What hasn’t come to be expected is real work to improve race relations on their part. It’s expected of the retailers, corporations and everyone else, but their rhetoric is uninviting to the cause. One might think that real cooperation through involvement and communication with retailers and corporations might have gotten better results. Harsh rhetoric and tactics, including boycotts have never been successful at improving anything – racial or otherwise.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

Sometimes I think the NAACP is an organization that is based on negativity. Seems they always want to point out the shortcomings of everybody else but themselves. Perhaps if they handed out good grades to everyone, spoke positively about retail and corporate America, and went out of their way to praise, rather than criticize, they might find they would be more well received. And perhaps even be taken seriously. I have yet to find any person or any organization that has been able to achieve their goals by criticizing those who have done better. I know personally that I am more willing to work with those who praise me rather than criticize me.

Arlene Jones
Guest
Arlene Jones
15 years 7 months ago
I find it interesting that the curiosity of this board is akin to an amoeba minus 1 cell. African Americans spend billions of dollars annually with these markets. So instead of Target, Kmart and others responding to a survey and taking their lumpsm if any, they choose to ignore it. I’ll give you an example of why I agree with the grade. I live in the Chicagoland area. The only daily Black owned newspaper struggles daily to get ads from those corporations. Yet The Defender, at 100 years, has been serving the Black community. So where do places like Target, Kmart place their ads? In White papers. So the message to me is that I either buy the White-owned paper, which has news that is limited in regards to my community, or I buy the Black-owned paper to get the news but then don’t get access to the ads, nor does the paper get access to the ad revenue to grow its business. The same for the only Black-owned radio station. Now, my catch-22 is… Read more »
Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
15 years 7 months ago
The NAACP is an organization whose time has come and gone. Leadership is minimal and the “political base” they control is diminishing due to the fact that diversity has allowed many to move from the protest line to the job market. You could, in a way, say that the NAACP is a victim of its own success. The progress that has been achieved in the civil rights arena has increased the independence of their constituency. Those who were followers are now too busy living the American dream to have time to protest or boycott. The NAACP’s only means of getting attention is to come up with the “Big Headline.” Sooner or later someone is going to look into the claims made with great detail and determine that they are really “opinions” at best and based on very little fact. I would bet that Albertsons’ Idaho locations are all “below grade” when it comes to hiring minorities. As the black population in Idaho is .04% I don’t think it is really possible to either discriminate against… Read more »
David Livingston
Guest
15 years 7 months ago

westside2day makes a good point. I think in order for minority owned newspapers to get more advertising from large retailers, they should only write articles praising, thanking, and defending these retailers for what they contribute to their communities, even if it is practically nothing. You attract more flies with sugar than vinegar.

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