Making Diversity Work
Corporate Culture and Making Diversity Work
Most people would agree that cultural diversity in the workplace utilizes our country's skills to its fullest, and contributes to our overall growth and prosperity. The reality of the situation is that it hasn't happened and progress remains slow. While we are in the midst of the longest period of economic growth this country has ever seen, the gap between the "haves" and "have nots" continues to widen.
One of the reasons for this has been the lack of diversity in corporate America. By not developing a diverse workforce from the top down, African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans are unfairly relegated to lower-skilled, lower-pay positions and are not able to fulfill their true potential. Many corporations have recognized that diversity contributes to the bottom line by: making it easier to retain good employees, lowering costs by developing skills in-house, and developing a reputation that helps attract new employees. This is especially important with the economy doing so well, and the demand for skilled labor at record levels.
If you are an African, Hispanic (Latino), or Asian American trying to advance your career, working for a company that values workplace diversity is extremely important. This will give you a good indication whether your employer will value your contributions, grant you promotions, train you to take on more responsibility, and pay you accordingly.
What is diversity? Here are some key indicators that help provide a proper definition for diversity:
Diversity at the Officer, Board of Director, and Senior management levels
Diversity amongst the highest salaried employees in the company
Diversity amongst the company's workforce as a whole
Recruiting for new hires in Ethnic American publications
Recruiting at Ethnic American cultural or professional events
Membership in Ethnic American professional organizations
Charitable contributions to Ethnic American organizations
Companies are discovering the value in corporate diversity. Historically, most companies instituted diversity programs such as affirmative action to be in compliance with the law, but they have found that there are some good solid business reasons to do so. Our focus is on helping companies incorporate diversity programs into their strategic plans. These plans should address each of the three major areas that impact their business: their customers, employees, and suppliers.
Ethnic marketing became a marketing buzzword in the 1990's. It stemmed out of corporate America's realization that the ethnic communities were already large and continued to increase at a greater rate than the majority population. So why not focus some marketing effort on these consumer groups? Good philosophy. Unfortunately, many companies believe that ethnic marketing means advertising in some of the foreign language trade press. In reality, ethnic marketing is much more than that, and requires more basic infrastructure changes to the company's marketing and customer service organizations in order to maximize its benefits. We can help you develop and implement the kind of ethnic marketing program that strengthens companies and yields both short and long-term returns.
Affirmative action programs emerged from the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and required all large corporations to address potential problems with racial discrimination by attempting to have their workforce reflect the ethnic makeup of the general population. While companies fought against it initially, affirmative action has helped develop strong workforces because it forced employers to create job descriptions and engage in true competition for new hires and promotions instead of using the "old boys network", friends, or relatives. Companies have found that a diverse workforce can take advantage of the experiences and skills people with culturally diverse backgrounds can offer. In spite of the progress that has been made to create a diverse workforce, companies still have difficulty with diversity at the senior levels of management. We strive to help companies improve talent at all levels, and develop strategies to maximize the benefit of diversity in the workforce.
Minority and women business enterprise (MWBE) programs were originally created when major corporations began looking for ways to find qualified MWBE suppliers on government contracts. The federal government and many of the states had passed laws requiring their major contractors to make efforts to subcontract parts of their contracts to small business and MWBEs. What many corporations have found is that MWBEs are in many cases more qualified and cost-effective than their normal suppliers, which has helped them reduce expenses and improve the bottom line. At DSI, we are experts on MWBE programs and know what makes them work and what doesn't. The key is for senior management to believe that their MWBE program can improve their bottom line and to make a commitment of resources and attention to break down the political and bureaucratic barriers that have existed in the past.
The bottom line is that competitive market is changing. In this country, the population growth of the ethnic minorities is skyrocketing. Internationally, we now live in a global market, and any business that wants to do business overseas
must develop the resources in its workforce and suppliers in order to compete. Every company should have a strategic plan for diversity, and we can help you get there.