City Urban Leagues Call for More Diversity at the Top

Madison and Philadelphia leaders speak out about the lack of minorities in corporate positions in their cities.

Posted: 06/07/2011 02:57 PM EDT

Kaleem Claire (Photo: Urban League of Greater Wisconsin)

Urban League leaders in Madison, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia are taking a stand against the lack of diversity in corporate positions and in boardrooms.

 

"Madison is not necessarily a place that's open [to diversity]. But the challenge is that it could be," Kaleem Claire, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Madison, told the Wisconsin State Journal.

 

His comments came during an interview after the Urban League's first Workplace Diversity and Leadership Summit, held Monday.

 

In Wisconsin, there are only seven African-American CEOs, and all but two lead nonprofits. Those two are the only African-American CEOs in Madison at businesses that have more than 10 employees.

 

"In Madison, we have in our midst a number of talented people who come from various diverse backgrounds. We need to see a reflection of that in our businesses, whether they be public, private or nonprofit," Claire continued.

 

In Philadelphia, meanwhile, the Urban League has also gathered local CEOs to talk about the lack of diversity in company board rooms too. In a study the Philadelphia Urban League conducted, only 30 out of the 678 members of 78 of the region’s largest corporations were headed by African-Americans. Paradoxically, 42 percent of the city and 20 percent of the region’s population is African-American.

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