Robert Menendez Poll Draws Scrutiny

John Bresnahan, Politico, March 26, 2010

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.

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Menendez said the survey had nothing to do with being chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, where one of his main roles is raising money and courting wealthy donors. And he rejected any suggestion that a company that did not comply with the survey could be the object of a boycott.

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