Diversity Pays Off For Everyone
"In case you haven't noticed, every state in America now
hosts multicultural communities."
Whether you translate diversity into African-American,
Asian-American, disabled, ethnic, female, gay, immigrant, Latino, minority,
Native American, seniors, special needs, urban or any other group besides
so-called mainstream white male, rainbow demographics are a fact of
This is dramatically spelled out in a recent U.S. Department of
Labor report, called Futurework: Trends and
Challenges for Work in the 21st Century. By 2050, the U.S. population is expected to
increase by 50% and minority groups will make up nearly half of the
population. Immigration will account for almost two-thirds of the nation's
population growth. The population of older Americans is expected to more
than double. One-quarter of all Americans will be of Hispanic origin.
Almost one in 10 Americans will be of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.
And more women and people with disabilities will be on the job.What does this mean to you? Any company that wants to stay
competitive must come to terms with diversity — inside and outside the
Of course, the legal and moral arguments for diversity are
unassailable. Discriminatory hiring practices not only demean the human
spirit, they've been against the law for decades. Nonetheless, employers
have been notoriously slow to change.No one thought much about making the business case for diverse
employment until reports of the changing workforce and consumer
demographics added up to a new math as the table below shows.
American Indian, Non-Hispanic
Asian/Pacific Islander, Non-Hispanic
Two or more races - Non-Hispanic
Hispanic / Latino
At the same time, social and political policies like "minority
quotas" and "affirmative action" turned controversial for
advocates and critics alike, and even ran afoul of the law, as with
university admissions polices. Nowadays, global corporations are busy recruiting diverse work
groups because of profit motives. It's good for business. Small and
mid-tier firms would be smart to follow that example.
Five key reasons to hire a diverse staff All business is now international.
There's no such thing as a local company anymore. Every business, whether
small-town retailer or international marketer must be savvy about the
future generations and how we will trade goods and services across national
borders and in multiple languages.
Conflict is a good thing.
Small-business owners may hesitate to hire qualified candidates different
than themselves or the rest of the staff because of worries about resulting
tension. But think about it. New ideas only emerge from friction and need.
Innovation only arises out of conflict. Comfort zones are hardly the
birthplaces of creativity. Plus, a company's values and culture begin at
Small pools run dry.
With competition fierce and markets international, why narrow your search
for skilled help to shallow areas of the talent pool? "We often hire
people because we 'like' them. And we 'like' them because they look like us." Instead,
, take away the screen of
'liking.' Focus on precise skills, competencies and experience to do the
job you need done.
Diversity drives sales.
Nearly 80% of Fortune 500 companies now have some kind of diversity efforts
in place. Increasingly, government and
corporate vendors will contract only with suppliers that can demonstrate
Stable staffs are cost-effective.
Take, for example, a Maids Home Service franchise in Tucson, AZ. Like many home cleaning services, the
staff is all female and more than 50% minority, in this case Hopi Native
American and Hispanic. But unlike many such services, the owners play up
the cultural differences. They credit their hiring and management policies
with low staff turnover and easier recruitment. The
result: A very stable staff, lower hiring costs and higher profits.
Creating an inclusive company culture that
values and respects individual difference is likely to yield tangible,