Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has begun an unofficial “diversity survey” of Fortune 500 companies and has told the companies that if they do not participate in the survey, he will make their names public.
The survey has already drawn fire from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as “a fishing expedition” and from legal experts, who say companies may violate federal employment laws by even asking such questions of their employees or suppliers.
Menendez, the only Hispanic in the Senate, wants to find out how many minorities, women and disabled people serve as top executives or members of the firms’ corporate boards, as well as the “demographic makeup of your suppliers.”
If a company responds to Menendez’s request, its information will be kept anonymous, although it will be aggregated in a report Menendez plans to issue later this year.
“Completion of this survey will show your commitment to improving diversity among the highest ranks of your corporation,” Menendez wrote in a March 8 letter sent to the companies.
“I fully intend to have a public presentation of the data compiled from companies that participate, as well as shed light on those that do not. My goal is not to embarrass but instead to work with you to promote our shared goals of diversity.”