Recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse employees are critical to a corporation's success in this evolving marketplace.These efforts must be carefully planned, nurtured, and measured to ensure success. There are few who would argue against positive co-worker relationships and respect for the individual dignity as being helpful in developing a positive workplace environment. Many organizations are proud to display their espoused values like respect, teamwork, individual dignity, and integrity on plagues throughout the workplace. And yet, even in these organizations, people find themselves faced with a range of behaviors and predicaments that “fly in the face” of the well-intended values. Even in workplaces where the intentions are genuine, some people find obstacles to their full engagement based not on issues of qualification and performance, but rather on the visible and invisible group memberships they represent.
The United States as a Case Study
Historically, American workplace has been a bastion of male dominance. The literature is replete with examples of male dominance in the work place with a particular emphasis on the dominance of white men in particular. However, over the past 25 years we have seen a number of changes and trend developments that have had significant impact on business and other organizations who seek to thrive in the modern economic environment. Of particular interest to this topic area are the significant changes and trends in the demography of markets and the talent required for sustainable competitive advantage. Here is a summary of what we know about the current situation for U.S. business enterprise:
• The changing demographics of the United States are transforming the culture and buying habits of this nation. This metamorphosis is occurring more rapidly than anticipated. Companies that intend to be competitive going forward must understand and actively court merging-market customers, including people of color, gays/lesbians and people with disabilities.
• Involvement in emerging-market communities, from supplier-diversity initiatives to philanthropic endeavors, sends a strong signal of support to potential customers and employees within these communities.
• Recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse employees is critical to a corporation's success in this evolving marketplace. These efforts must be carefully planned, nurtured, and measured to ensure success.
• Corporate diversity initiatives must have total buy-in from top management, particularly from the CEO. Without support from the top, integration of diversity, inclusion and engagement strategies into corporate business plans and a company's culture are doomed to fail.
• Corporations must now pay closer attention to the details of quality of life in the communities in which they are embedded as a basis for developing a renewal resource for highly talented associates, suppliers, and distribution partners.
Business Case for Inclusion and Engagement. By Marcus Robinson, Charles Pfeffer, and Joan Buccigrossi, (2003). wetWare, Inc. Rochester, NY.
Taking A Closer Look At the Demographics
According to the editors at Diversity, Inc. (a leading industry publication), “the changing demographics in the United States indicate a definite trend towards the “browning of America.” Whereas in 1980, only 20% of the population in the U.S. was non-white, in 2000 that percentage had increased to 25%. By 2010, 33% of the population will be non-white, and by 2040 half of the population will be made up of groups now considered “minorities.” They say that “the workforce of the present and future is populated by increasing numbers people of color; even more so than we’re traditionally educated to expect and embrace.” Fig. 1
Ratio of Whites to People of Color In Successive Age Groups Ratio 0-9 1.5 : 1
People of color as a segment of the population are comparatively...