If you read USAonRace, you no doubt don’t need to be preached to, however, it may interest you to know that diversity has economic payoffs. According to Sophia Kerby and Crosby Burns, writers for the online publication for the Center for American Progress, “The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace,” July 12, 2012, those businesses with a diverse workforce — one that includes gay and transgender employees — have a stronger marketplace presence than those that don’t.
The authors say that among the top ten reasons is the fact that recruitment efforts that include diversity result in a more qualified workforce. How does a company set about to recruit more women, more racial and ethnic minorities, more people whose lifestyles go beyond traditional definitions? It helps to be informed. Publications like Fortune magazine’s special issue featuring the “50 Best Companies for Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics,” provide details and data showing how such companies continue to outperform the S&T 500.
Being informed means Human Resource (HR) professionals have a special obligation to keep abreast of demographic changes in the country and in the workplace. When they recruit diverse employees, they have another obligation — to ensure that “majority” groups do not feel insignificant or marginalized. And of course, they have to embrace the many meaning of diversity.
Once hired, the employees who fall outside the mainstream must receive ongoing opportunities for inclusion. Organizational leaders have to form teams that include diversity to ensure that all members of the workforce receive equal opportunities, and make the culture diversity-friendly. Further, it’s important that leaders within the organization reach out to women, minorities, and gay/lesbian/transgender employees. Leaders have to make sincere inquiries about the progress they make, and whether, or not they feel welcome.
Maya Angelou’s exhortation to parents — “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength” — applies equally well to workplace employers, who can add a third item to Angelou’s list — i.e., profit.