NAACP President Kweisi Mfume yesterday called on companies to become more ethnically diverse.
Addressing a group of business people at the Center Club downtown, Mfume said that diversity will help a firm's bottom line, and that too few companies are actively hiring and promoting minorities. "Homogeneous work teams are generally less innovative than those representing diverse viewpoints and diverse backgrounds," he said.
The former congressman decried what he called "a national scourge of insensitivity and intolerance," and said that business and economic topics are central to the quest for greater racial harmony and equality.
"Most issues in this society are work force issues and market issues," he said.
Mfume has tried to focus on these issues in his two years as the leader of the nation's most prominent civil rights group.
Under his leadership, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has surveyed the hiring and business practices of America's hotels, and is now turning its attention to the telecommunications and high-technology industries.
While Mfume challenged business leaders to be more inclusive, he also said African-Americans "need to get beyond blame, get beyond excuses, and start to do it for ourselves."
William Donald Schaefer, the former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor whose law firm, Gordon, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander LLC, sponsored the speech, said afterward, "You look around at the African-American businessmen who are here, they're making a lot of money. If a little more attention were paid to the accomplishments of the black community, maybe it would lessen some of the resentment as far as racism is concerned."
One of the African-American businessmen in attendance was Ray Nelson, vice president of sales and customer service for Yellow Transportation Inc. in Baltimore. He said of Mfume's address, "He spoke very eloquently of what we need to do as empowered businessmen over the long term, of the heritage that we need to leave."
Pub Date: 2/18/98