Studies published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Business Review, and numerous others during the past decade have consistently concluded that diverse teams – and diverse companies – have stronger financial performance.   With that backdrop, Forbes worked with research firm Statista to compile a list of the best employers for diversity in America.

Two Connecticut-based companies, ESPN and Stanley Black and Decker made the top 100 list; ESPN at number 36, Stanley Black & Decker at number 67.  They were the only Connecticut companies to do so. The LEGO Group, with U.S. headquarters in Enfield, was ranked number 169.  Starwood Hotels and Resorts, headquartered in Stamford, was number 197 in the rankings.  Yale New Haven Health was just outside the top 200, at number 208.  Yale University also made the Forbes ranking, at number 242.

Statista surveyed 30,000 U.S. employees in August 2017 to inform the list, asking questions about diversity, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and disability, according to Forbes. Responses among underrepresented ethnic minorities, women and people aged 50 and older received greater weight in the ranking.

Bristol-based ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, launched in 1979 as 30,000 viewers tuned in to watch the premier episode of SportsCenter. ESPN aired its 50,000th episode of SportsCenter in 2012 and the channel is has been the main attraction for sports coverage despite challenges through the years.  A 2013 study by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports concluded that when it comes to diversity, the Worldwide Leader is leading the way.

Reporting on the study, the publication Think Progress indicated that “ESPN has a strong diversity hiring policy outlined on its web site and it has won numerous awards for hiring a diverse cast writers, editors, and columnists. It regularly features minority and female hosts, analysts, announcers, and journalists on both its scheduled programming and its live broadcasts. ESPN is proof that there are qualified minority and female reporters and editors out there, and it is also proof that the rest of the sports world needs to do a better job finding them.”

Other factors Statista incorporated, according to Forbes, were the gender split of companies’ management teams and boards, and whether a company proactively communicates about diversity. It also looked at the gap in diversity perceptions at a given organization. For example, if women, older employees and underrepresented minorities rated an employer poorly on diversity, but everyone else rated it highly, Statista considered that a negative indicator and adjusted the score downward. Only companies with 1,000 or more workers were eligible to qualify for the list.

Last summer, Stanley Black & Decker held its first-ever Global Diversity & Inclusion conference, joining together established affinity networks from around the company.  Affinity networks – voluntary, employee-driven groups – have been established throughout the company’s business and regions to “provide an environment where employees can engage around a particular shared interest or experience,” the company’s website explains.

“The objective of the groups is to engage, enable, and empower by providing networking opportunities, improve representation across the business and promote career advancement.  We embrace and respect differences – and diversity and inclusion are embedded into our company values and purpose,” the website points out.

The top 10 included:

  1. Northern Trust, Chicago
  2. The Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C.
  3. Levy, Chicago
  4. Intuit, Mountain View, California
  5. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  6. Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
  7. Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia
  8. Wegmans Food Markets, Austin, Texas
  9. Keller Williams Realty, Austin, Texas
  10. AbbVie, North Chicago

In addition to the Connecticut-based organizations named in the top 250, New York City-based NBC Universal Media, with a strong presence in Stamford, placed at number 42.  TIAA-CREF, which coordinates the state’s college savings program for the State Treasurer’s Office, was ranked at number 59.  GE, which departed Fairfield for Boston, also made the top 100 at number 85.

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