Date: Feature Week of
March 27, 2005
CORPORATE COMMUNITY AND CONSUMER RELATIONS
What struck me about the Diversity Seminar was conscious connection I got toward the economics of tapping the potential of diverse groups in a city, region or country” - Rajeswary Iruthayanathan, United Nations Development Program
The objective of a business is to market and sell its products or services profitably. To survive and thrive a company’s success is often tied directly to the well-being of its consumer, community and citizen base. A business’ reputation, profitability, and continued existence depend on the degree to which its targeted “publics” support it.
Cases blacks used to experience of “We don’t want your kind around here” are passť in Corporate America. Today, too many top firms still think that buying a table at the NAACP’s Annual Martin Luther King Breakfast is “the thing to do” among America’s blacks and browns. Their annual reports illustrate little of the kind of profitability companies like General Motors accrue having a corps of community relations and/or diversity program personnel. GM, with almost 200 billion in revenues, is a leader in corporate social responsibility initiatives. “At GM, we believe it is critical we achieve success doing things the right way, all around the globe” is what Rod Gillum says about his job as vice president of corporate responsibility and diversity. His team provides GM’s voice of diversity among customers of color, and represents those customers’ issues in corporate feedback, practices and programs.
Corporate diversity programs incorporating community relations and marketing have proven to be assets, GE, Daimler-Chrysler; Coca-Cola, Church’s Chicken, Citigroup and Microsoft. Profit-focused, consumer-oriented corporations recognize the importance of good relations to success in the marketplace. They increased their bottom lines through maintenance of positive relationships with their “publics”.
Experts, like Alan Miller, who’ve made diversity issues and marketing their business, say: “The art of successful diversity programs is: identifying and handling contacts in the media, communities, among consumers and investors, the industry, and governmental policy-makers.” He says such activities help businesses and their publics adapt to each other and induce customer loyalty and community support, minority supplier programs and increased advertising in black-and-brown-owned media. He created a National Diversity Opportunity Council (NDOC) “to promote equal access of opportunity for all and to heightened awareness of the value of diversity initiatives among corporate entities”. He says there still exists “a crucial need for diversity, sales & marketing, public elations and human resources executives to be visionaries, planners and implementers of internal and external corporate diversity programs” We want to help to enhance companies’ bottom lines and shareholders’ value by helping create relationships that tie diverse individuals, communities and corporations together. In doing so, we contribute to understanding diverse cultures and its significance within an all-inclusive society”. Miller says his seminar programs helps to train personnel corporations identify to engage in community relations and public affairs processes. A second-generation corporate multicultural specialist at Daimler-Chrysler, Miller is one of less than a hundred outreach specialists to have worked for Fortune 500 companies over the years.
Citibank gained a reputation as one of the nation’s largest corporate contributors of cash, equipment and people. Now Citigroup, the financial services giant has held a leadership role building communities and emerging markets for the past 30 years. In its third generation addressing needs of underserved communities, Citigroup has become a major player supporting programs to create affordable housing and job opportunities. Executives such as Carl McCall and Earnest Skinner gained national recognition revitalizing neighborhoods and strengthening economies in the Nation’s Capital and Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant community.
“Too many companies still overlook the advantages to be gained from having professionals that can contribute to increased awareness of products and services within multicultural communities, says Miller. To influence the increasing people of color in America’s consumer base, Miller suggests companies wanting improved community and customer impact contact him at: (404) 762-7676 about the “Diversity Events Planning “Best Practices for 2005” Seminar” being held April 25th – 27th, 2005 at the Westin Hotel Atlanta Airport at 4736 Best Road.
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