Staff at Ariel Capital Management Inc., Chicago, are co-recipients of the first Corporate Diversity Award, to be presented annually by the Chicago Council on Urban Affairs. Ariel shares top honors with Motorola Corp., Schaumburg, Ill.
"It's amazing to us that our little money management company ... is being recognized next to Motorola, which is a huge global company. We are so honored," said Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel.
Ms. Hobson noted that while workplace diversity is a fairly common goal for banks, it is far less common in financial services companies.
She added that while many people in the industry think of Ariel as a minority-owned firm, they also "think everyone here is African-American, and we're definitely not. We have people from all walks of life, all educational, cultural and ethnic backgrounds."
The award recognizes Chicago-area companies with high standards of diversity in recruitment, retention and promotion. Companies nominate themselves, and winners are selected based on their demonstrated ability to build and maintain diverse workplaces.
Ariel extends its commitment to diversity beyond its office, Ms. Hobson said. Ariel works hard to make sure that trading and other outsourced services go to companies with diverse work forces. When Ariel employees serve on the boards of community non-profits, they tend to make recommendations about how the organizations can improve workplace diversity. And Ariel portfolio managers aren't afraid to communicate to the companies in which they invest about the advantages of diversity.
"Corporate America still has a long way to go before achieving diversity, but the companies we invest in know that we are serious about this ... They are getting the message, and that's a great thing," Ms. Hobson said.