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Friday, July 21, 2006

NAACP Awards Kudos to BellSouth; Berates Target Stores and Other Top Retailers

BellSouth Corporation has finished first among telecommunications companies as part of the 2006 NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) 2006 Economic Reciprocity Initiative. This is the second year in a row the corporation has received the highest score of all the companies surveyed across five industries.

"It was our goal to better our 2005 score, and I'm pleased that our efforts made a difference and that the NAACP is also acknowledging our progress,"
--BellSouth Chief Diversity Officer Valencia Adams.
This year BellSouth received a score of 3.54 (grade B+) which is an improvement over its 2005 top-finishing score of 3.33 (grade B-).

The NAACP has graded corporations since 1997 on how well they work with blacks in employment, charitable giving, advertising, contracting and community service. This year, the civil rights group looked at the telecommunications, lodging, finance, retail and auto industries.

"They didn't even care to respond to our survey.
Stay out of their stores."
Bruce S. Gordon, President, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, speaking in reference to retail giant Target Stores non-response to the organization's survey.
Despite Target's stated commitment to diversity, the NAACP has repeatedly given Target failing grades on its annual Economic Reciprocity Initiative report card, a measure of the company's "commitment to the African-American citizenry". The NAACP has again rated Target an "F" on this report.

African Americans should not spend money with companies that don't hire them or advertise in their communities, so said NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon this week during the oldest civil rights organization's annual convention in Washington, D.C. According to Gordon even companies that make an effort to work with minority-owned businesses typically spend barely 5 percent of their contracting dollars with them. He says this amount is unacceptable.

"If corporations spend their money on us, we'll spend our money with those corporations. It's real simple."
Bruce Gordon, is a former division president at Verizon, who says directing black consumer dollars will push companies to be more responsive.

Target was one of four retailers that ignored the survey, along with Dillard's, Kohl's and Sears. The NAACP focused on Target because it's one of the nation's most prominent national retail chains, said John White, an NAACP spokesman.

Gordon called on blacks to stop shopping at Target, in particular, until the company answers the NAACP's questions -- though he stopped short of calling the action a boycott.

There are no plans to picket Target or distribute leaflets but the organization will rely on word of mouth, White said.

(SEE NEXT POST for the irony of this proclaimation)

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