1. Broader competencies

    2. Better decisions based on different perspectives

    3. Better services to diverse populations

    4. Increased ability to recruit excellent talent from the entire labor pool

The following is an excerpt from a May 2000 SHRM White Paper on Diversity by Cornelius Groves and Associates.

Diversity is about intelligent management of people – all people. Diversity is about encouraging and enabling all employees to draw fully on their talents and skills for the benefit of the business.

Diversity is an approach to business that…

  • 1. Regards human differences in the workplace as contributing to the success of the business, and

  • 2. Optimizes the willingness and ability of all employees to contribute to that success.

Worldwide demographic trends have an impact on businesses. Current trends tell us that…

  • 1. Workforce growth in industrialized nations such as the U.S. is very low, while workforce growth in developing nations is quite high. This means (1) that some of the excess workers in developing nations will migrate to industrialized nations such as the U.S., and (2) that markets for goods and services will continue to burgeon throughout the developing regions.

  • 2. Here in the United States, the demand for well educated “knowledge workers” is high . . . and is getting ever higher due to sweeping technological advances in many fields.

  • 3. In worldwide terms, the proportion of U.S. high school and college graduates is dropping while that of developing nations is rising rapidly. By the year 2000, three-fifth of the world’s college students will be from developing nations. A related trend is that the academic performance of American high school students is declining relative to that of youth abroad. (W.B. Johnson, “Global Workforce 2000,” Harvard Business Review, March-April 1991.)

  • 4. If we look at trends within the U.S., we see that native whites have a low birthrate while minorities and immigrants have a high birthrate. Consequently, by 2005 native white males (both well and poorly educated) will make up only 38% of the American workforce, not the current 42.5%. Personal Communication from H. Fullerton, Labor Force Projections Unit, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC.)

Diversity is not the same thing as Affirmative Action, though it addresses similar social concerns and has been nurtured by many of the same advocates. Diversity is different in two significant ways.

First, Affirmative Action sprang into being because of ethical considerations grounded in a vision of the “level playing field.” Attaining EO/AA goals has required legislation and litigation. In contrast, diversity arises from an informed awareness of factors contributing to productivity from the mailroom to the boardroom. Diversity is not mandated. It requires no help from legislators and lawyers.

Second, Affirmative Action compels employers to identify and count people on the basis of gender and heredity: Asian male, white female, etc. Granted, there may be a reason for doing things that way. But this is a narrow approach to the richly textured variety of human beings! Diversity avoids this narrow view. The manager or owner committed to diversity says, “People differ in dozens of ways, and in their differences lie a wide variety of talents and perspectives. The broader the range of talents and the wider the sweep of perspectives among my employees, the better the opportunity for this business to succeed.”

The goal of diversity is not to count people but to benefit from the best mix of people. The goal of diversity is to attract people with an array of talents, experiences, and perspectives, and then to empower them to give everything they’ve got in order to attain business objectives.

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