Categorized | Advice

Expanding Corporate Diversity

Posted on 06 November 2008

Are companies embracing different cultures?

Corporate success may depend upon the acceptance and implementation of a diverse workplace. Multicultural employees may struggle in an environment that, perhaps unintentionally, ignores them. Eliminating qualified people of diverse backgrounds from the corporate talent pool will hurt any business in the long run.

According to Anna Cabral, President of the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility (HACR), Hispanics will be the largest ethnic minority group in the United States by 2002. Today, this minority group makes up approximately 14 percent of the U.S. population. By 2050, that number should rise to 25 percent.

“The minority population is advancing very quickly, so that there will be no majority in any particular community in the very near future,” Cabral says. “There are many different descriptions for what the U.S. will look like, but certainly, what’s very clear is that there will be lots of different kinds of cultural communities existing side by side.”

White males unknowingly–or knowingly–continue to promote their own kind.

The Broad Horizon
The word diversity has limitations, Cabral believes, because it is too narrowly defined. “It should probably be more inclusive than it is today. It should mean people from the South and people from the North; African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics; people who are from big cities and small towns, women, and all sorts of folks.”

Anthony J. Ipsaro, an educator and organizational consultant for Meridian Associates, agrees. “America really needs to go deeper into what we call diversity. The last 50 years have seen great strides in granting equal access to individuals and groups, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, age, or sexual orientation. But there is still more important and sophisticated work to do.”

Corporate Diversity in America
Hispanics have made little progress on the corporate job front, Cabral says, because many corporate diversity programs are designed specifically for the African-American community. “Typically, we find that a lot of corporate diversity programs are focused on the traditional black and white questions. It’s not for malice or anything; it’s probably for lack of exposure or lack of models to find a way to be more inclusive of other communities. In the end,” he asserts, “the solution to our problems is to open our eyes and see that there are many other folks missing in this equation who are important.”

Ipsaro believes that workplace power positions and mentoring opportunities remain closed to women and minorities. White males unknowingly–or knowingly–continue to promote their own kind.

The Big Picture
The workplace seems to be an ideal environment to address diversity needs, Ipsaro says, but diversity is marginal to corporate goals–successful products and increased profitability. Diversity needs to be seen as the business plan, essential to successful products and increased profitability. This is especially true today, as companies go global and interact with different cultures and clients.

If American corporations are to learn the lessons of true diversity, these companies must partner with other cultures at home and abroad. This might produce a “third culture” that brings forth the best of all involved, Ipsaro concludes.

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1 Comments For This Post

  1. Cindy King says:

    Diversity is an important thing to pay attention to, not just in US business. An example, there are now mow Chinese people online than Americans and the Chinese spend 5 times as long online as Americans. Everyone has to know that whoever they are – there is probably another group of people that they don’t belong to that has a greater impact on the business world then they do.
    Stumbled the post and I linked to it from my blog carnival today.

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