All Together Now: Diversity at Work.By: Les Gore
There was one black governor inaugurated this year--Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, only the second in U.S. history. Women are governors in nine states.
"As Massachusetts is becoming more diverse, its government lags behind, resembling the population of three or four decades ago," a Boston Globe editorial observed. "A new study from UMass-Boston of 163 top positions in state government shows that minorities are underrepresented, and the numbers of Latinos and Asian-Americans in particular are shamefully low,"
The editorial continues: "The government, and especially its leadership, will not reflect the state's full diversity without a concentrated effort to recruit talented people from all segments of the population, and to assure them that their contributions are needed and welcome."
Of the top 100 US cities, the minorities have become the majority. They have enormous purchasing power. They're your customers.
Are they your employees?
Diversity At Work
I read in the New Yorker recently that "in the 'whitest' state in the nation, L.L Bean hires many Somali refugees living 20 miles away in Lewiston, Maine, to work at their giant packing facility in Freeport, during peak holiday rush." Martha Kidd Cyr, L.L. Bean's, VP Human of Resources, told me that many of these seasonal hourly workers become full time, permanent employees.
"As companies do more and more business around the world, diversity isn't simply a matter of doing what is fair or good public relations. It's a business imperative," writes Carol Hymowitz in The Wall Street Journal. "Diversity isn't easy to get right," she adds. "But when a company strives to create a workforce that mirrors the population of a community, one that is as varied as its customer base, the benefits to all are broad and deep. Diverse employees offer an extraordinarily wide range of proficiencies for doing business (or doing good) in any marketplace."
Who Makes Up The Diversity Population?
It is clearly African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics, Disabled, Forty Plus, Gay and Lesbian, Native American, Veterans--and yes, Women. Look more closely, and you'll see:
More Similar Than Different
Last year, Watson Wyatt Worldwide's. WorkUSA research asked 7500 workers at all job levels across diverse industries to respond to 130 statements about their workplaces. Watson Wyatt broke down the responses to look for diversity patterns across demographics including whites versus minorities, men versus women, and people over and under 30 years old.
The research found more similarities than differences, especially in the categories respondents rated as most important to them. People agreed about what inspires their commitment to a particular employer. The following factors were cited as important:
There was also agreement on what specific areas organizations needed to improve. Research clearly showed these areas to be: employee input; promoting the best performers; helping the worst performers get better.
Additionally, the employees want to know how their job affects internal and external customers. They want to understand how their job contributes to the accomplishment of company business goals. They want a safe work environment and highly rated products and services.
Recommendations for Diverse Workplace Success
To help insure success, Watson Wyatt recommends that organizations concentrate on four areas with their employees:
Best Practices Checklist
The Society for Human Resource Management Diversity Initiative, set up in 1993, http://www.shrm.org/diversity has compiled a best practices checklist from observing and participating in the successful implementation of hundreds of inclusivity initiatives.
© Copyright 2007, Les Gore
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