Doing Diversity

By Prince, C. J. | Chief Executive (U.S.), April 2005 | Go to article overview

Doing Diversity


Prince, C. J., Chief Executive (U.S.)


The question isn't why to do it-but how. Here are a few savvy strategies that really work.

To chief executives who "get it," corporate diversity is a no-brainer: Create an organization that respects and welcomes all employees regardless of gender, race, ethnic background and sexual orientation and you win top talent from every group. What's more, you assemble a work force of happy, loyal employees whose diverse perspectives combine to spark innovation and who can market to the spectrum of customer niches from which they hail.

To those who don't get it, the diversity mantra sounds like an ill-conceived liberal notion that hamstrings companies with artificial hiring quotas and costly, touchy-feely programs.

Then there's the group in the middle-the CEOs who kind-of-mostly get it, but are not yet sure how to draw the direct line from diversity to profits. The CEOs in this group have heard the startling projections: According to the most recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2008, women and minorities are expected to make up 70 percent of the new entrants to the work force. If realized, that seismic shift promises to forever change the complexion of U.S. companies, large and small, spawning a host of new challenges for CEOs-and not just those heading up bnsiness-to-consumer companies either. Business-to-busincss companies are already finding homogenous teams are at a disadvantage when they face more diverse groups at the negotiating table or when they pursue government contracts. And then there's the global issue; as more companies spread out across culturally disparate continents, seamless operations depend on the ability to recognize, appreciate and even celebrate difference.

So how do yon "do diversity" without either blowing the budget on wasteful programs that don't show sufficient return, or alternatively implementing one-off solutions that make nary a dent in the company's culture? How, for that matter, do you even know what yon need?

Fortunately, the leaders in diversity, most often in "consumer-facing" industries such as hospitality and consumer products, have paved some of the way with their own trial and error, and have managed to trace some of their initiatives directly back to profits. These best practices involve serious CEO commitment, clearly outlined policies, measurable goals and a compensation system that includes incentives for meeting those goals. As with any other companywide initiative, diversity efforts won't survive a halfhearted attempt.

Finding Out Where You Stand

One of the biggest roadblocks to implementing successful diversity initiatives is a lack of information about where the company is and where it needs to go. Many CEOs aren't aware that they're specifically failing to promote minorities or women, or mat they have a serious discrimination problem brewing, until they're served a subpoena. "They don't know what they don t know," says Mauricio Velasquez, president of the Diversity Training Group, based in Herndon, Va., whose clients include Coming, Merrill Lynch and Sony Pictures. Often, he adds, they don't want to know. "Denial is usually the first reaction of the executive suite," says Velasquez.

That attitude may carry down deeper into the organization, particularly when a work force is homogenous-i.e., white male. "People who have advantage don't like to lose advantage," says Krroll Davis Jr., CEO of energy holding company Alliant Energy, based in Madison, Wis. Davis, himself African-American, says his favorite question from an employee illustrates the point: "He said, 'Why are we hiring all these females and minorities? Why don't we just hire the best people like we always have?'" People have a tendency to "gravitate towards comfort," Davis adds, and that means towards people more like themselves. As a result, they're a lot less likely to be diversity whistle-blowers.

Given that hurdle, CEOs who want to get serious have begun asking diversity experts for organized assessments, also called audits or diagnoses, of their companies, complete with focus groups and employee surveys, as well as retention data analysis to find out who's staying, who's going and why. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Doing Diversity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.