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Why Workforce Diversity Remains Urgent Business Priority

A diverse workforce challenges traditional and antiquated thinking with fresh, out-of-the-box business concepts.

Most savvy employers understand the business case for diversity, which has been well-documented over many years. It should be evident that diverse employees bring new ideas and fresh viewpoints to the table which can promote positive change and spark business innovation. A diverse workforce challenges traditional and antiquated thinking with out-of-the-box business concepts.

This can subsequently improve productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of overall business operations and boost profits. Moreover, embracing diversity in the workplace can help companies expand their consumer base and improve recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented employees.

Fostering a work culture of diversity on a national and international scale means large employers will not miss out on hiring the best available talent in a global marketplace.

That’s because talented job candidates, if passed over for discriminatory reasons, may end up working for the competition — and ultimately costing your company money via lost revenue.

Much Work Remains

Building a successful workplace culture of diversity requires concrete actions rather than empty rhetoric.

Most large employers have adopted workforce diversity to some extent because, as noted, it simply makes good business sense. This is particularly true in an increasingly diverse society undergoing major demographic shifts. However, there remains much work ahead if companies want to be ‘equal opportunity employers’ in more than name only. Building a successful workplace culture of diversity requires concrete actions rather than empty rhetoric. It’s not enough for corporations to simply check off boxes, conduct sporadic training and outreach, and develop diversity management plans just for the sake of it.

Effective diversity management plans must be repeated, updated, and reinforced for a company to make real progress. They must also fully comply with applicable federal, state, and local employment laws. Diversity management plans are not a one-time exercise to be put on a shelf to gather dust. Rather, these plans should be closely incorporated and aligned with an employer’s mission, strategic goals, and key business objectives.

Moreover, diversity management plans should be considered “living documents” which address novel legal theories and changes in the law. And top managers and business leaders, from CEOs on down, need to clearly communicate to all employees that workforce diversity remains an urgent business priority in 2020.

Mid-level and front-line managers and supervisors are much more likely to follow through when an unequivocal and sustained message comes from the very top of the organization, as opposed to just the HR department. It should be noted that Good Men Project recently announced the launch of diversity and inclusion corporate training workshops.

Michael Kasdan, GMP’s Director of Special Projects, wrote the following in May:

Our culture at work informs not only our daily lives as people, but the bottom-line of the businesses we lead. . . Organizations that lead in Diversity & Inclusion have substantially higher profitability, productivity, and customer satisfaction and lower employee turnover. . . We recognize that Diversity & Inclusion requires focus, intentionality, and engagement across a complex set of issues. . . These issues run through every aspect of our corporate function and lives, from hiring and promotion to client delivery to our everyday behaviors in the hallways and conference rooms.

Range of Views

I spoke to a few diversity and inclusion experts, with whom I previously worked, to get their first-hand take on the issues. Their comments represent a range of views. Here’s what they had to say:

Gilbert Casellas chaired the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) during the Administration of President Bill Clinton and also served as General Counsel of the U.S. Air Force. He is a leading expert on workforce diversity and EEO issues. In addition to his public service, Mr. Casellas has held executive management positions in corporate America and sat on several corporate boards. He told me:

The singular greatest strength of the United States is that we are a diverse society, comprised of individuals of many backgrounds, races, languages, ethnicities, religions, and abilities. Smart employers — whether of the public or private sector — can only address and overcome the complex challenges they face each day by drawing broadly on these diverse skills, perspectives, and experiences.

Luke Visconti, the founder, and CEO of DiversityInc, told me:

Every CEO will reflexively tell you they want the best possible talent, yet our data from hundreds of companies shows that there is significant discrimination against women and/or non-white people… Changing the processes that have led to only 5.2% of Fortune 500 CEOs being women — while women have earned over 50% of bachelor’s degrees since the late 1980s — requires discipline. The companies on the ‘DiversityInc Top 50’ are committed to that process.

Cari Dominguez chaired the U.S. EEOC during the Administration of President George W. Bush, in addition to serving as an Assistant Secretary of Labor. She has also held top executive leadership and management positions at Bank of America and Manpower, Inc. She told me:

Statistics and reports serve to inform, but it is leadership that drives results. Developing individuals of all backgrounds into leaders achieves results. Leadership is not rank, privileges, title, or money; it is responsibility and results.

Final Thoughts

While it’s true that corporate America, mid-sized companies and small employers have made important strides in fostering workforce diversity, problems remain. For instance, there are still major disparities within high-level job categories involving leadership and management. There are still too many glass ceilings and sticky floors, so to speak, which hold talented employees back from reaching their full potential.

This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project and is featured here with author permission.

David B. Grinberg
David B. Grinberghttps://www.linkedin.com/in/davidgrinberg-pr/
David is a strategic communications consultant, ghostwriter, and literary PR agent on issues of workforce diversity, equal employment opportunity, race and gender equity, and other social justice causes. He is a former career spokesman for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where he managed media relations for agency headquarters and 50 field offices nationwide for over a decade. Prior to his public service at the EEOC, David was a young political appointee for President Bill Clinton in the White House: Office of Presidential Personnel, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A native New Yorker and University of Maryland graduate, David began his career in journalism. You can find David online via LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, Good Men Project, Thrive Global, BIZCATALYST 360°, and American Diversity Report.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A group made up of experts known for their creativity, but nevertheless homogeneous, may be less creative than a group of “non-creative” people who nevertheless have a varied background in terms of ethnicity, culture, education, gender, ability, affectivity, age, religion and, most of all, personal styles and aspirations. Even randomly put together groups find better solutions than homogeneous groups of experts who share the same background and think alike. Thus, for example, ethnically heterogeneous groups are shown to produce more effective and feasible ideas than those developed by homogeneous groups. The best global companies have measured the strength of working groups that are varied and different from the usual dominant culture when the priorities are to attract new customers, promote innovation practices, generate new energy.
    A diverse and inclusive workforce generates superior results in terms of team collaboration, people productivity, retention.
    The connection between diversity and innovation is therefore the most interesting front for companies: we are talking about both product and service innovation and innovation in management methods.

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