In Oak Brook, there’s a conference going on celebrating diversity in corporate leadership, and hand-wringing that there isn’t more of it. These days, the Fortune 500 all think it’s a good idea to have an executive office that looks like its customer base, says Pamela McElvane, organizer of the Diversity MBA Leadership Conference. But, she says, it takes effort.
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“Because you have to spend the time learning your people, helping your people, you have to invest in your people, and some companies have to make the decision, are we gonna do that when the marketplace is tough and challenging and very competitive, and so sometimes, diversifying the ranks is not necessarily a priority,” she said in an interview.
Illinois firms that have been recognized for promoting the advancement of women and minorities in executive positions are Allstate, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois, Kraft Foods and Northern Trust. McElvane says other big Illinois firms – ADM, Caterpillar, John Deere and State Farm – have not taken her organization’s survey. That does not mean they do not have diversity in their executive ranks.