Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Sweet Home Alabama II:

On Sept. 13 we posted that Tyson Foods was being sued in a class action by the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights. This action was taken because of alleged discrimination: Tyson's local managers at the Ashland, Al. plant had allegedly posted a "Whites Only" sign on a bathroom, and had padlocked the door.

This got quite a bit of press, including several kind references to us.

We now learn that, astonishingly, Tyson has been honored for supporting minority businesses. From Tyson's Press Release:
Tyson was recently named “Corporation of the Year” by the Arkansas Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (ARMSDC) for exceeding standards for corporate diversity and demonstrating leadership and a genuine commitment to minority businesses. The award was presented to Tyson Foods during ARMSDC’s 19th Annual Business Opportunity Fair.

As someone once said, "Fascinating, Captain."

I'm not one to cast aspersions or dive into tinfoil hat territory, but some strange stuff happened when we tried to verify this. First, we Googled Arkansas Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (ARMSDC), and got lots of interesting hits.

First, we found the actual web site, armsdc.org, which yesterday said this:
Armsdc.org. This Domain has expired. Please contact your provider to renew. Containers · Rifle scabbard · Gun safes · Cartouche · Rifle case ...

but now today says this:
Our mission is to promote the development of business opportunities between minority business enterprises (MBEs), corporations, and government agencies in Arkansas and Mississippi.

Simple oversight, perhaps someone forget to send in the registration fee.

Interestingly, clicking on all available links on the newly refreshed ARMSDC web site, we fing not one reference to Tyson Foods, not even on the Upcoming Events PDF. Also, several places that say "click here for..." have no links attached. Pretty sloppy HTML, or a hastily thrown together web site? In either case, hardly professional.

In fact, here's what the "Awards Dinner" link says when clicked through:
??Need some general verabage on this event.... Such This is a annual event to recognize businesses & corporate sponsors.... This event is held in the fall... check the event calendar for date... yada yada yada??


This is embarrasingly bad for a seeming large entity. So let's look further.

Hola Arkansas has this:
At the CEO Awards luncheon on Wednesday, August 17, Maura Lozano-Yancy, president & group publisher of ¡Hola! Arkansas introduced the keynote speaker, Mr. Anthony Robinson, Executive Director of MBELDEF, Minority Business Enterprise and Education Fund from Washington, DC.

Liz Massey, Today’s THV Channel 11 evening Anchor served as the Master of Ceremony.
Tyson Foods was voted the “Corporation of the Year”, for setting up new standards for corporate diversity, for it’s support to the council and it’s MBE’s. Tyson Foods also received the “Stancil Image Awards” for best booth. Tyson is represented in the Board of the ARMSDC and in all the committees.


So far the Award seems legitimate, although the timing is curious. Keep in mind that ARMSDC lists not only Tyson but WalMart as corporate sponsors. Am I trying to damn by association? Well, in a word, yes. No one can credibly assert any altruism from WalMart toward its suppliers, minority or Martian owned.

Finally, just to cement the oddness of this award, a google search for "armsdc tyson" shows that all the press for the Award was generated by Tyson, either its own press release, or what was fed to other news organs. I couldn't find one link to ARMSDC.ORG that seemed to be from itself, touting the Tyson Award.

Weird.