November 20, 2007

NAACP Economic Reciprocity Initiative Gives F-grade to Target

It is no secret that I think that the NAACP hasn't been relevant in many years. When their national president resigned earlier this year I questioned whether the NAACP, with it's 64-person board of directors, could ever become relevant again. I served as a national president of a large association of Black IT professionals in 2004-2005. I know how difficult it is to move a national organization.

That being said, I was pleased to hear the drumbeats from the Wichita NAACP Blog about the NAACP Economic Reciprocity Initiative (ERI). This is a sustained effort on the part of NAACP to measure Corporate America's financial relationship to the Black community. Our Black spending power is over $700 billion. It is helpful that the NAACP provides a booklet with information that helps us spend more wisely.

One of the outgrowths of this effort is the creation of the NAACP Diversity Best Practice Guide. This guide highlights the diversity and inclusion practices of the highest performing companies in each of the categories noted in the ERI. The Best Practices Guide is meant 1) to provide corporate executives, diversity practitioners, and human resource professionals with information to begin a dialogue about diversity and inclusion in corporate America, and 2) to be used as a mechanism to highlight what works as corporations continue to evaluate their current corporate diversity programs.

There is some good news in terms of advancements in employer diversity and community reinvestment. But, there is still significant ground to cover to advance economic opportunity for African Americans. Here are the specific reports on companies in the following industries:

For the third year in a row, one of the nation's largest retailers, Target, has flat-out refused to participate. What are they hiding? Villagers, my hope is that you will tell Target to take the NAACP Survey. African Americans contribute more than $700 billion a year to the economy--and a substantial amount of those hard earned dollars are spent in stores like Target. We are serious about holding companies accountable for respecting the value of African American consumers.

Economic empowerment isn't just a financial issue, it's a civil rights issue. African American consumers want fairness in the marketplace, just as they do in all other aspects of their lives. We must demand economic diversity and transparency from corporate giants like Target. Tell Target to clarify its position on economic opportunity for African Americans by answering the NAACP's survey and supporting the Economic Reciprocity Initiative.

Villagers, we need to use information such as this to advance our belief in the principle of Ujamaa. We simply must learn how to better use our income and spending power to create wealth. I think that this is an issue that we will address more in the future.


Lionel Carter said...

Dillard's, Kohl's Corp and Sears also did not respond to the survey. The excuse that target gave was that they looked at diversity as a inclusive issue and that the survey "excluded" other ethnicities. The NAACP could kill their excuse next year by including other cultures in the survey. You can also gain a lot of power by helping others. By including other cultures in the survey the NAACP could also find favor with other minority groups that will be willing to help the NAACP achieve its goals and mission.

Villager said...

Lionel - First, my thanx for sharing your village voice with us. I hope you come back often. Second, I would push back on you about opening up the survey. NAACP is designed as a civil rights organization for African Americans. I suggest that it would dilute the potential power of the organization if they tried to be all things to all people.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Villager,

I see that Sears rcvd a bad grade. Isn't the CEO of Sears African American? Not that that means anything, I could use BET as an example of Black people not giving a hoot about Black people.

I wonder if this will carry any weight until there are African American owned shopping alternatives. I’m really kind of tired of asking Mr. Man to treat us right. That's been going on forever. It seems that in 2007 there should be at least one national chain owned by African Americans.

I wish some of the big shots like Oprah and Bill Cosby would put their money together and do something like that, give a few poor people jobs and quit complaining about them.

That's not going to happen.


Villager said...

.02 Cents - I agree with you about the importance of Black folks taking control of our economic destiny.