“We believe that the U.S. Supreme Court benefited from hearing many companies emphatically state that individuals educated in a diverse environment are more likely to succeed in today’s global marketplace,” said Wes Coleman, vice president of Nike Inc. Human Resources.
“Even beyond race, diversity of gender, geography, sexual orientation and persons with disabilities are vital to our product development, innovation and marketing. Developing diversity is simply the right thing to do.
Nike was among 65 Fortune 500 companies with combined annual revenues of more than $1 trillion that either filed briefs of their own or signed an amicus brief filed by another organization in support of the University’s race conscious admissions policy.
The briefs stated that the future of American business, itself, was on the line, pending the court’s ruling.
Major corporate hitters such as General Motors, Nike Inc., IBM and Microsoft formulated that a diverse college population was crucial for diversity to make its way to the workplace.
American Airlines Spokesman, Tim Wagner said, “Our company interest in this case stems from our desire to have a workplace that mirrors the diversity in our customer base and in the world.”
“We want the ability to hire highly qualified individuals of all backgrounds and this case ensures that we will be able to do so. We are pleased that Justice O’Conner cited this specific creed in explaining the court’s opinion,” she added.
A number of students at the University were pleased with the support given to minorities in the form of the briefs, given that it is widely recruited by a number of corporate organizations.
“It’s good to know that you have companies taking the initiative of filing or signing onto briefs in support of the University’s affirmative action policy,’ said Engineering senior, Edgar Garza.
“U-M is one of the most highly recruited colleges in the nation, especially for engineering. Not only do students benefit from affirmative action, but by the steps these companies took in filing these briefs, they are showing that they benefit from affirmative action as well.”
A number of the companies stated that a diverse workforce adds to productivity and increased output.
“We depend on schools like the University of Michigan to provide us with the best and most diverse talent, and we will continue to do so,” said Jim Sinocchi, IBM spokesman, and director of Corporate Diversity Communications.
Abbott Laboratories Spokesman, Chris Bomay said, “Abbott’s performance is linked to its ability to attract and retain a diverse population.
As a Chicago-based company, the University of Michigan is nearly in our backyard. It is important that the diversity of our employee base reflects the diversity of our shareholders.”
Though no Fortune 500 corporations went on record as supporting the plaintiffs, Gratz and Grutter, a surprising listing of corporate sponsors that filed briefs in support of the University, including Chevron-Texaco Corp., Pfizer Inc. and the Xerox Corp. have donated funds to the Center for Individual Rights, the conservative public interest law firm that brought suits against the University on behalf of the two rejected white applicants, according to the American Bar Association Journal.
In an area that is dominated by Caucasians, the business world has been a more difficult area for minorities to break into and the active support of the companies sent a clear message to business-bound students.
“I’m assured that somebody is looking out for minorities,” said LSA junior Cassandra Pringle.
“So many times, in business, it seems as if the chips fall against African-Americans. Especially for people like me, who will be entering the workforce relatively soon, its nice to have that support behind you.”
“Where many students end up working is highly contingent on where one goes to school. That really makes you reassess the importance of diversity within the boundaries of higher education,” Pringle added.
Among the amicus briefs filed by the various companies, the strong idea behind them was the staunch support that not only was affirmative action necessary, but it is, in fact, constitutional.
“The DaimlerChrysler Corporation is gratified that the U.S. Supreme Court has held that diversity, properly considered, fulfills a compelling state interest. Efforts like the University of Michigan’s admissions policy are vital to the continued success of diversity initiatives,” said Debra Nelson, spokeswoman for DaimlerChrysler.
“We believe the scope of equality extends beyond the walls in which we do business and we are committed to promoting diversity throughout our entire business enterprise. In the end, diversity makes good business sense.”