SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
FORT LAUDERDALE – The Florida State Conference of NAACP Branches’ latest Diversity Matters Report Card clearly shows that Florida has work to do when it comes to Black-owned businesses and media outlets.
The report, released Wednesday to media outlets statewide, examined the records of some of Florida’s leading public and private organizations over the last several months.
According to NAACP State President Adora Obi Nweze and State Economic Development Chair Torey Alston, the organization spent months examining the records of public and private organizations.
It included well-known companies like Hertz, ADT and Spirit Airlines, as well as selected cities, county governments, and school districts.
“This year’s report card continues to show cities, counties, school districts and private companies have diversity and inclusion as the last priority,” Alston said in a statement.
“While there are some bright spots, there is still much work to be done ensuring diversity and inclusion is reflected in all aspects of government and the private sector.”
Grades and categories
The report uses population data from the 2010 US Census data as its baseline.
Seventy-five percent of Florida’s population is “White alone,” as the Census describes it.
Twenty-five percent of the state population is non-White, and all fall into other demographic groups: Black/African-American; American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, 2 or more races and some other race alone.
Twenty-five percent non-White participation was the main benchmark. Here’s the grading scale:
•A (Excellent; exceeds diversity and inclusion standards) with 25 percent or above non-White participation;
• B (Above average; meets diversity and inclusion standards) with 20 percent to 24 percent participation;
•C (Average performance on diversity and inclusion standards) with 15 to 19 percent participation;
•D (Below average performance on diversity and inclusion standards) with 14 to 18 percent participation;
•F (Failing-does not meet diversity and inclusion standards with 13 percent and below):
•*F – Did not bother to report.
Three categories were measured: Small, veteran and minority business spending; employment diversity; and small, veteran and minority advertising and marketing.
Didn’t or wouldn’t answer
None of the seven publically traded companies – Hertz, ADT, Spirit Airlines, Capital City Bank Group, NextEra Energy, SteinMart, or World Fuel Service – submitted information to the state NAACP.
Neither did the cities of Crestview, Hialeah, Hollywood, Sanford, Key West, and Palatka.
The report does praise a handful of organizations.
“The City of Fort Walton Beach, Manatee County, Duval County District Schools, Hendry County District Schools and Miami-Dade County District Schools, with an overall grade of ‘B,’ are standouts in this year’s 2017 survey,” it states. “Osceola County should also be commended for an overall grade of ‘C.’”
Miami-Dade County’s expenditures were also highlighted.
“In the category of expenditures with small, veteran and minority businesses, (Miami-Dade County) reported spending more than $748 million ($18 million to African-American firms, $6 million to Asian-American firms, $177 million to Hispanic-American firms, $33 million to women-owned firms, and $200,000 to Native-American firms) which is the highest reported spend of any public agency and private corporation responding to our survey since inception,” the report notes.
“Although the letter grade in this category was not favorable based on the metrics, there appears to be a very strong commitment to diversity and inclusion.”
Advertising ‘a failure’
The report concludes that “advertising and marketing dollars with veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses continues to be a failure.
“Although government entities receive tax dollars from Florida residents, many public agencies still do not track spending by race and ethnicity nor is this data available in a transparent process for public inspection. According to responses in our survey, most public agencies either do not have a dedicated advertising and media budget or spend very little on diverse groups which do not reflect the diversity of the State of Florida.”
The report identifies several bright spots in advertising category: Duval County schools, Hendry County schools, Miami-Dade County schools, Manatee County and the city of Fort Walton Beach, which all earned “A” grades in that category. Osceola County is commended for its efforts.
Sarasota County’s Board of County Commissioners was identified as having “the highest dedicated minority advertising and media budget, although they don’t track expenditures by race and ethnicity, which led to an unfavorable grade,” the report states.
Most of the organizations – including Hardee County schools, the cities of Daytona Beach, Lakeland, Live Oak, Melbourne, and West Palm Beach; and the counties of Bay, Escambia, Miami-Dade, Nassau, and St. Lucie – all got ‘F’ grades for placing little or no advertising with veteran, minority, or women-owned media outlets.
Failure all around
Of all the public-sector organizations – cities, counties, and school districts – that responded, Escambia County (Pensacola) fared the worst. It earned Fs in all three categories for a total grade of F.
“Diversity and inclusion continues to be a challenge in Florida and the NAACP will continue to sound the alarm for equality and fairness for all Floridians,” said Nweze.
Areas for improvement
Identifying what it called “a substantial opportunity,” the report suggests improved tracking of procurement spending, establishing voluntary diverse goals, “and developing partnerships with diverse suppliers to help grow local businesses which can better support local economies and increase local jobs.”
“According to responses in our survey, many public agencies do not have dedicated supplier diversity, equal opportunity or diversity senior leadership to oversee diversity and inclusion programs. This function has been folded into other departments, showing a lack of commitment from elected officials, appointed officials and senior management.
“We recommend all public agencies and private corporations create an office reporting directly to the senior executive, to manage these programs and initiatives.”
The report also listed recommendations on the state level, as follows:
•The state should conduct a statewide disparity study or small business participation study of all state spending, particularly in the executive branch, including all state agencies.
•The state should require all governmental entities to establish race-neutral programs (small business enterprise programs), race-conscious programs (minority business enterprise programs) “or a hybrid approach to enhance economic opportunities for small, women, veteran and minority businesses.”
•The state should require reciprocity by local governments to accept state minority, women and service-disabled veteran certification and other local certifying agencies.
Here are recommendations to local governments and school districts:
•During the vendor registration process, require tracking by race and ethnicity to increase transparency, accountability and ensure accurate reporting of expenditures.
•Establish race-neutral, race-conscious, or hybrid business development programs as suggested to the state.
•Accept the state’s minority, women and service-disabled veteran certification to decrease barriers for local Florida businesses.