Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida on November 24, 1996 · 95
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Tampa Bay Times from St. Petersburg, Florida · 95

St. Petersburg, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 24, 1996
Start Free Trial

BUSINESS ZTO CONTACT US ABOUT BUSINESS NEWS: By phone: (813)893-8160 or (800) 333-7505, ext 8160 By fax: (81 3) 892-2327 By e-mail: biznewssptimes.com SECTION SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 1996 THE TIMES A diverse assault on bias Texaco case sends loud message By ROBERT KEEFE Timei staff writer On paper, Texaco did everything right It had a company policy against discrimination. It sent its employees to diversity training. Its executives said they were committed to diversity. So why didn't all of that keep Texaco from becoming a national, $176.1-million example of how not to handle workplace race relations? Ask the people who are supposed to know the diversity trainers, the employment lawyers, the civil rights activists and they'll say that Texaco's ways of dealing with diversity issues simply didn't go far enough to solve any real problems. They'll also tell you that most big companies across the country handle diversity the same way meaning that others could be headed down the same lonely road Texaco finds itself on today. "Companies think we still do this by having policies and grievances and posters that say 'You have rights,' " said Robert Bickel, who teaches employment discrimination law at Stetson University. Texaco was just a wake-up call . . . that should tell companies thafs not going to do it" The wake-up call was a loud one. Academics and activists have said for years that there is a problem with race relations in the American workplace. But when Texaco chairman Peter I. Bijur said mat the bigotry at his company is just "the tip of the iceberg" in corporate America and backed it up with the $176.1-million settlement of a discrimination lawsuit filed by its black workers it got the attention of many corporate executives as nothing else could. Please see TEXACO 6H Bra 3r I s& Tampa Bay area employers are working to promote diversity in the workplace through committees, ombudsmen, at least one cultural quiz show and by firing people who just don't get it mmm A Times staff report Times art It has been more than 30 1 1 years since tne govern-PYpsjul ment passed the land- IllcUh UUC 11 Ul U1V- Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, gen der or national origin. Yet critics say discrimination in the workplace today is as common as ever. The number of employee lawsuits alleging discrimination grows daily. Complaints against workplace racism are escalating, too. And progress is slow in pushing diversity to the highest ranks of many companies. Minorities and women still hold few seats in executive suites or on corporate boards. "We've had 30 years to work on this, and we've failed," said Robert Bickel, who teaches employment discrimination law at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport The recent scandal surrounding Texaco Inc's treatment of black employees underscored the troubled state of race relations in corporate America. Undoubtedly, the company will have a tough time rebuilding its reputation after reports that senior Texaco executives used racial slurs when talking about black employees. As part of Texaco's $176.1-million settlement of a discrimination lawsuit, the company agreed to invest $35-million in sensitivity and diversity training programs. But Texaco's settlement reaches far beyond the giant oil company. It reminds some companies that they may need to improve their own approaches to diversity or risk ending up like Texaco. Recently, the Times contacted a variety of employers with significant operations in the Tampa Bay area to gauge how they address racial issues and diversity. The findings show that some companies use unique approaches, such as an employee arbiter who can monitor diversity issues and committees that address diversify issues inside and outside companies. Others shun formal programs, leaving race issues up to individuals. Here's a look at some companies and their approaches: Bamett Banks Inc. Like most big companies, Barnett Banks Inc. has anti-discrimination policies and programs. It also has Donald E Minor. Minor, who is based in Tampa but covers the state, is Jacksonville-based Barnetfs in-house ombudsman. Basically, he serves as an independent arbiter to whom employees can bring concerns without fear of retribution from supervisors. As ombudsman, Minor works independently of Barnetfs human resources department and has the authority to take problems directly to Allen Lastinger, the bank's president and chief operating officer. Any communication between an employee and Minor is confidential, unless the employee gives Minor permission to try to solve the problem. Barnett created the ombudsman's post two years ago. Top executives foresaw that dealing with discrimination would be part of the job, said Minor, the first person to hold the post The majority of (discrimination) complaints I deal with can be resolved with open communication" he said. "For example, I had a case recently where an (African-American) employee felt he was being treated differently than several other employees who weren't African-American," Minor said. "But I found that other employees were receiving the same sort of written and verbal warnings. He didn't realize that was the case." Beneficial Corp. When it comes to diversity, executives at consumer finance giant Beneficial Corp. realized something a long time ago. "It isn't only a good, ethical thing to do; it's Please see DIVERSE 6H Diversity and workplace race relations Problems related to diversity in the workplace can be measured in many ways. One is simply by the numbers and not just the $1 76-million settlement Texaco agreed to on Nov. 1 5. Here are some statistics that help put a face on the local and national workplace, and on the diversity problems critics say are inherent throughout working America. Managerial & professional Includes department managers, executives & chief administrators for selected occupations. Black: Hispanic: 7.5 J - 4.4 White & other: 88.1 Specialized professional Includes occupations like engineers, architects, teachers & health care workers. Black: Hispanic: 7.8 -j - 4.0 White & other: 88.2 Percentage of jobs held by race, nationally, as of 1995 Sales Black: 7.8 Hispanic: - 6.9 Administrative support Includes clerks, secretaries, bookeepers. Black: 12.2 1- Hispanic: 7.8 Service occupations Includes janitorial and child care workers, police and firefighters. Black: Hispanic: 17 r White & other: 85.3 White & other: 80 White & other: 70 -13 Percentage of unemployed workers, overall and by race Tampa Bay metro area(i994 figures) Overall White Black Hispanic 6 9 'Includes Pasco, Pinellas, 5.6 coun,ies- F?K 10.6 Florida (1 994 figures) Nationwide (1 993 figures) Overall 6.6 Overall ; 6.8 f White 5.6 H White 6 'V Black 11.7 Black . 12.9 Hispanic 9.2 Hispanic 10.6 Complaints by workers nationally to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging discrimination or harrassment due to their race. (Note: Beginning in 1995, the EEOC started new procedures designed to i:M:nt ir:..ni,lf. arr Ac a racuit crtma numhorc HinneH hflninninn in 1995. ) Ulllllll Idle ll ivuiuuo vi iai yea. a i 6jui i ,w w v.rrv -a a - Tampa Bay Florida Nationwide 400 j 350 y 300 250-- o T i ii I '91 '92 '93 3,000 2,000 1.000 '94 '95 o-i 1 1 1 "I '91 '92 '93 33,500 29.500 ' 25,500 - o- '94 '95 '91 i r '92 '93 '94 '95 Litigation Federal lawsuits by workers alleging civil rights violations based on race, gender, age, disability or other reasons. 1991.531 8,370 1992 3L 10,771 1993 12,962 1994 .JTSl 15,965 1995 Ml 19,059 Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, EEOC, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Cheery forecasts on economy scare some Time art FRANK PETERS Wall Strxt Journal WASHINGTON From boardrooms to living rooms and from government offices to trading floors, a new consensus is emerging: The big, bad business cycle has been tamed. The nation's continuing economic expansion, now 67 months old, has far surpassed the postwar average. And few see the party ending anytime soon. The latest Blue Chip newsletter survey found 51 of 53 top economists predicting the economy will grow at least 1.5 percent next year. More consumers expect five more years of good times than expect bad times, according to a University of Michigan survey. ! And at the semiannual Business Council retreat in Colonial Williamsburg, Va., last month, the mood of the chief executives of America's major corporations was as sunny as the golf-perfect weather. "We are in one of the most extraordinary expansions our country has ever seen," said Arthur C. Martinez, chairman of Sears, Roebuck & Co. There is no natural law that says we have to have a recession." Added H. Laurance Fuller, chief executive of Amoco Corp.: "1 don't see any reason to believe it can't go on until the turn of the century." Could the business cycle be dead? "Pretty much," said Sara Lee Corp. chief executive John H. Bryan. "I'm very optimistic. I don't know what could happen to make a cyclical down- Economic expansions since World War II Oct. 1945 Nov. '48 37 mo. Oct. "49 July '53 45 May '54 Aug. '57 39 April '58 April '60 24 Feb. '61 Dec. '69 106 Nov. 70 Nov. 73 36 March 75 Jan. '80 58 July '80 July '81 12 Nov. '82 July '90 92 March '91 Present 67 Average expansion 50 mo. Average does not include current expansion Source: National Bureau Times art of Economic Research turn." This general optimism largely explains the stock market's ascent to Please see FORECAST 2H Savers savor branchless banks B Despite the inconveniences, longdistance banking is attracting the interest of rate-watchers. Wall StrMt Journal Forget the perky tellers, the marble floors and back room with a giant vault A growing number of companies catering to savers coast-tooast pay fatter interest rates and charge fewer fees than do many local banks. Because the companies typically have no branches, you must bank long distance by phone and mail, sometimes using debit cards, ATMs and direct-deposit services. Their pitch: We pay higher interest on your savings than youll find offered by the bank branches in your neighborhood. Last month, American Express Co. launched nationwide a one-year certificate of deposit that always pays three-quarters of a percentage point more than an average rate as compiled by Bank Rate Monitor newsletter in North Palm Beach. The new CD recently yielded 5.85 percent In July, Cross Country Bank in Newcastle, Del., opened doors to savers everywhere. Several of its CDs are now the highest-yielding of any available nationwide, according to the newsletter. For example, savers can earn 6.25 percent on its one-year CD. Here are a few other long-distance deals to consider when the prices in your neighborhood aren't right CDs by mail. Everyone knows that credit card issuers charge the steepest loan rates around. But when you lend them cash, they often pay handsome yields. Dangling high interest rates as a carrot they hope depositors will give them more cash to fund credit card loans. High-yielding CDs and savings accounts are now available from a slew of card issuers, including the new Cross Country Bank, which specializes in plastic for people with bad credit histories, and American Express Centurion Bank, the Midvale, Utah, issuer of Optima cards and other personal credit lines. A one-year CD from MBNA Corp., Wilmington, Del., recently offered a 6.07 percent annual yield; its five-year CD paid 6.75 percent A six-month CD from Advanta Corp., Springhouse, Pa, paid 5.7 percent A money-market savings account from Cleveland-based Please see SAVERS 2H

Clipped articles people have found on this page

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 23,000+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Tampa Bay Times
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free