A diverse workforce makes good business sense
Carlotta Daniels-Randolph | 5/30/2016, 8:13 p.m.
To survive in a highly competitive global market most businesses recognize the need to stay competitive and relevant. This requires a workforce that can provide creative ideas, meaningful insight and a diverse perspective.
Over the last three decades the spectrum of the U.S. workforce has broaden and today diversity is about inclusion of all available qualified workers that are a part of our society. Once the emphasis was on the inclusion of workers regardless of race, color, sex, social and economic class, and nation of origin. Today, age, religious affiliation, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation are major considerations that organizations must give attention to ensure that all qualified applicants have an equal chance to secure employment with them. According to the U.S. Census data, our nation’s population grew from 240,000, 000 in 1986 to almost 323,000,000 in early 2016. With that growth came an even more varied cultural, ethnic, racial, religious and gender identity that make-up our society.
Recently age diversity has been particularly central in the call for inclusion in the workplace as is evidenced by the number of age discrimination cases being filed in the United States. For example, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that in 1997 there were 15,785 age discrimination charges filed and that number peaked at 24,582 in 2008 when the economy collapsed. The 20,144 age discrimination charges filed in 2015 indicated a shift in the right direction, though with much room for improvement.
Why is it such a concern that all qualified workers have a fair chance to secure employment opportunities? Because it makes good business sense. If your company is marketing a product or service and is attempting to grow into new markets, input from those representing that market would be essential to crafting the right message. While good market research will tell the taste and buying power of a particular market segment, it would be valuable to get perspective and input from individuals who are actually a part of that demographic.
Also, giving all qualified workers a fair chance produces more people who are gainfully employed, need fewer social services and contribute to the tax base. Families are stronger, crime is lower and neighborhoods are stabilized.
The biggest equalizer in employment tends to be skills and work ethic. If you have the skills and attitude that will help an organization reach its goals you have a greater chance of landing a position and being promoted. Most successful organizations give individuals a chance to add value to their company. But there are exceptions. Unfortunately, some individuals are uncomfortable with difference and are reluctant to hire outside the familiar. That is why laws are in place to guide employers and protect job seekers.
A truly diverse workplace ultimately benefits everyone.
Carlotta Daniels-Randolph, M.Ed. is a workforce development professional with 20 years’ experience in the public and private sector and an administrator and adjunct instructor at Delaware County Community College.