Diversity in the Workplace, or Lack There Of

Businesses and governments alike are constantly looking for ways to improve their bottom line and to develop a sustainable competitive advantage.  The trade war our president has waged against the world will make the need for all US businesses to seek every advantage they can.  Businesses invest billions of dollars in software, research and development, risk mitigation and even paying lobbyist to get laws passed that are favorable to their industry.  One of the best investments a company can make is to invest in diversity in the workplace.  Many companies and government entities have realized this and have created Chief Diversity Officers.  The CDO is an executive level inclusion strategist.  These positions have been created to build a diverse workforce.  But how effective are they in bringing African Americans to the leadership level?

About one in five Fortune 1000 companies has a CDO.  These positions usually report to the CEO and are in charge of everything it takes to increase the diversity and inclusion within the organization.  Their duties include evaluating recruitment, training and other systems to change policies.   Studies show how a more diverse workforce drives up a company’s revenue.  Many successful companies are linking diversity to their success and are looking at diversity as a way to become innovative as they bring more people in who think differently from each other.  

Unfortunately, just having a chief diversity officer does not do enough to create and foster a truly inclusive workforce.  Google released its fifth annual diversity report.  Although the numbers are not great, I still applaud them for having the guts to acknowledge and publish their findings.  Google is now 2.5% black and 3.6% Latino in its U.S. offices.  This is a slight increase from previous years and Google acknowledges they have a long way to go.  

The rate of African Americans with college degrees have more than doubled since 1990.  In 1990, only 11.3% of African Americans have earned a four-year degree while in 2017 it improved to 24%.  However,  African Americans still represent a very low percentage of the professional white-collar workforce of less than 8% vs the representation in the population.  Consider your current employer.  Do you feel undervalued, underestimated and marginalized?  Is your current employer open to your ideas or do you feel ignored?  How often do you feel your opinions on the job don’t matter?  

Are CDOs effective?  Are they able to bring the value needed to the company or are they just hired to fill a position?  We must demand the companies we support show support to us by hiring more minorities and women in leadership positions.  Frankly, I get nervous when I am in a meeting where everyone looks like me.  I get angry when I see the president’s cabinet as it represents mostly one perspective on the issues.  Meanwhile, just like a business, this country continues to fall further and further behind. 

 If you have ideas on how to do better and capitalize on your opportunities, please feel free to contact me thomsustainableconsulting@gmail.com.  Or you can follow me on Twitter @tcsheff.  #Resist #Wordsactionchange

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