Citigroup Tops on Diversity as Berkshire Lags Field, Report Says

Citigroup Inc. and Merck & Co. are among the most inclusive U.S. companies for women and minorities while Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has made less progress, according to a report by Calvert Investments Inc.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Coca-Cola Co. also received high marks based on an analysis of diversity practices at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 100 Index, the Bethesda, Maryland-based mutual fund said today in a statement. Berkshire was among the lowest-rated partly because it doesn’t consider diversity when selecting board members, according to the report.

While corporations have become more diverse over the past two years, women and minorities still hold relatively few leadership roles, Calvert said. Women made up 19 percent of director positions last year, up from 18 percent in 2010, and represented 8 percent of the highest-paid executives, according to the report.

“It is important to recognize that much hard work remains to be done,” Barbara J. Krumsiek, Calvert’s chief executive officer, said in the a statement. “Absent a real push to put more women on boards and into executive suites, the progress on diversity will end up falling far short of what needs to be done.”

The report used 10 criteria to rank companies, including the number of diversity programs, prevalence of women and minorities in the highest-paid roles, how firms disclose employee demographic information and whether they have family-friendly benefit programs.

‘Wasted’ Talent

Berkshire Hathaway, an Omaha, Nebraska-based holding company with more than 70 operating subsidiaries, has two female directors on its 12-member board, according to its 2012 annual report. Christine De Groot, associate sustainability analyst at Calvert and one of the report’s authors, said in a conference call today that “there’s no evidence that diversity is a priority for the company at all. In fact, the company takes an active stance against diversity in the board room.”

Berkshire Hathaway didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the report.

Buffett, 82, Berkshire’s CEO, has been outspoken in support of advancing women’s role in the workplace. At a 2011 conference, Buffett said that for most of its history the U.S. wasted women’s talents by restricting their career opportunities and failing to take advantage of their abilities.

“It’s incredible what happened,” Buffett said Oct. 4, 2011, at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit in Laguna Niguel, California. “We wasted half our talent.”

More than half of S&P 100 companies had no women or minorities among their highest-paid senior executives last year, according to Calvert. Ninety-eight companies had females on their boards and 86 had minority directors, according to the report.

Calvert used publicly available information, including regulatory filings and company websites, to evaluate diversity at each company, according to the report. It also contacted corporations for information on their diversity initiatives.

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