Economic Progress Through Diversity

For 40 years U.S. corporations pressed by law and conscience have made incremental progress toward integrating their workforces.  Now globalization, a shrinking skilled labor pool, and the evolution of ethnic markets at home have made diversity an urgent strategic issue.

Throughout this decade and beyond, the companies that come out on top will be those that attract and keep the most innovative and diverse workforce.  Often the problem in recruiting employees of color lies in the employer’s limited access to ethnically diverse pools to talent.  The other more uncomfortable reality associated with the lack of proportionate numbers of employees of color in the workforce, or vendors of color in the supply chain when compared to either population or consumption; is simply institutional ignorance and intolerance.  People simply tend to do what is comfortable for them unless they have been exposed or educated to options.

Although things are changins, persons whom are reared in segregated environments like metro-Detroit, tend to remain comfortable in segregated environments as adults.  As a result, Whites, in general remain more comfortable in socializing, working and worshiping with other Whites.  The same generally holds true for African Americans, Hispanics, Arabs, Indians and all ethnic groups.  Thus, it never dawns on the employer who says they cannot attract viable employment candidates of color, that the placement of the employment advertisement in a publication which is principally ready by Whites could only yield that result.

It is simply a misnomer that viable candidates of color are a rarity.  From the professions to the skilled trades, viable candidates of color are not only available and ready to serve, but must be recruited into service if American producers expect to reverse current economic trends and recapture their position in both domestic and foreign markets.  For the first time at many companies, human resources are a strategic issue.

Now more than ever, as a result of our struggling economy, population and workforce shift; American companies must be more aggressive in training employees to be more knowledgeable and tolerant of language and cultural differences.  They must also train them to identify and reverse and racial, religious and sexual prejudices; to be more accommodating to the handicapped, and seek out talent of color that can help manage the current workforce and market place transition.

The term “coined” for this rainbow of transition is “managing diversity”.  Whereas affirmative action programs were once en vogue because of social consciousness and commitment; managing diversity is not something corporations are doing because it is politically or socially correct.  The world’s top corporations are doing because it is politically or socially correct.  The world’s top corporations are doing because it is politically or socially correct.  The world’s top corporations are employing this human resource and supply chain strategy because it is in their best interest to do so.
When affirmative action could not do, changing demographics, a global market and an economy in decline will.  The shrinking of the “traditional” workforce and expanding minority consumer markets gives the diversity issue a level of urgency that affirmative action never had.

“Cultural diversity starts with you the individual.  It is educating yourself to the nature of your existence; family, history, origins, customs, traditions, and beliefs.  It is an understanding of the different groups of people that surround you in your environment.  It also is the beginning of the journey to enlightenment about the world that you are a part of.”

                        Joseph W. Schartz
                        Faith Based Coordinator
                        Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation

“All of us who embrace the concept of diversity must actively work to eliminate stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination based upon race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, physical disability, sexual orientation, or age.  We must develop a mindset that not only accepts the equality of the diversity of peoples in our county, the United States, but also support and encourage the efforts of all people world-wide to obtain those basic human and civil rights that should be accorded them as citizens of the world and members of the human race.”

                        Scott Yamanzaki
                        Detroit Chapter President
                        Japanese American Citizens League

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