Diversity Initiatives: Speaking the Wrong Language

DiversityInc.

A factor that often gets overlooked in the discussion regarding diversity in organizations is how it impacts the “bottom line.”  While there is no shortage of companies “investing” in diversity initiatives, these efforts are either limited or negligible as compared to the missed market opportunities.  Additionally, they tend to focus on demographic numbers rather than economic impact or market realities. Given that so called diversity initiatives have been in place at most Fortune 500 organizations for at least two decades, the representation of Latinos, women, and other people of color in their workforce is dismal.

Consider these Latino economic factors: Latinos on average spend more money on a daily basis than the typical adult population in the United States, $96 vs. $90; the number of affluent Latino households, those earning over $100K, is growing; Latinos spend over $90 billion annually on groceries; Latinos will represent more than half of all new home buyers by 2020; and more than 83K, mostly tech savvy Latinos, will turn 18 each month during 2015. The list of statistics can go on and on.

The trouble with most diversity initiatives isn’t the goals – it’s the means. Diversity professionals aren’t speaking the right language – the language of business: profit, marketing, consumption, spending, demand, human capital, income, specialization, trade, and employment. Diversity programs need to be reframed to reflect the priorities of business.  Some organizations understand this reality and are adjusting to capture a changing market, others don’t know how.