I spent the morning today taking a journey through history.
With the recent discussion regarding the lack of diversity in Silicon Valley as well as other industries, I wondered how the discussion about diversity had changed over the last 40 years. What were the key arguments for a diverse workforce during the 1990’s,1980’s, 1970’s, and even the 1960’s? I jumped onto an online library and ran a simple search to find out. Most articles concentrated on the potential business outcomes: increased innovation; added competitive advantage; improved market share; and many other opportunities. There were certainly articles on the associated challenges (legal, policy, change, discrimination, etc.) but for the most part, I found over 40 years of information supporting the “business opportunity” of diversity.
What struck me about my journey, however, is how arguments for diversity haven’t changed, and more importantly, why haven’t they?
Graphic via Catalyst.org
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.
Nice job GM in selecting Mary Barra as your new CEO.
(Graphic via L.A. Times)
Many people would argue yes.
Several Latino thought leaders argue that Latino leaders have innate leadership characteristics which make them effective leaders. In her new book on Latino leadership, Juana Bordas argues Latino leaders are inherently more collaborative, inclusive, and community oriented. Results from my dissertation and article on leadership and emotional intelligence parallel Ms. Bordas’ contention. Why? Many of these leadership traits are cultural. It’s in our DNA.
It’s the same reason you see Latinos over-represented on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Find Ms. Bordas new book, The Power of Latino Leadership, via Amazon (not affiliated).