Diversity is a word that’s liberally thrown around in today’s world.
Companies and academic institutions often publicly affirm their commitment to making their organizations reflective of the changing demographics of the nation. Diversity is the centerpiece of many public-relations efforts that are meant to send message of inclusiveness and tolerance. Unfortunately, most people don’t understand why diversity is important and why it boosts profitability.
“Diversity is a buzzword that many companies are working to get behind,” said Tani Brown of Jopwell, a digital platform for promoting diversity recruitment. “Companies are trying to come to terms with changing demographics in the country.”
Perhaps some people negatively associate the word with mandatory quotas and the hot-button issue of affirmative action. At its core, diversity transcends these controversial labels and is more about common sense and the bottom line than anything else. Research has suggested that diversity helps companies become more profitable. If a staff doesn’t reflect the population that they’re selling to, they’re likely missing out on potential growth opportunities.
“If your staff doesn’t reflect the consumer base you’re trying to reach, then you’re going to have underdeveloped ideas for reaching that market,” Brown said.
She went on to describe how diversity at Frito-Lay, a food giant based in Plano, Texas, brought about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
“Their executive board said we want to open up ideas from every level, and in the end, a man who had a perspective from the Hispanic community brought those insights,” Brown said.
Demography suggests that the United States will eventually become a minority-majority country. That means non-white Americans will outnumber white Americans in the foreseeable future. Additionally, the United States is becoming a more multiethnic society, where people marry across ethnic and racial groups. The massive changes in our ethnic and racial make-up mean strategies at the corporate level need to change.
“Companies have to prepare to sell to these communities of color, and I think where that starts is including them in the conversation,” Brown said.
Diversity is rapidly influencing our national culture, and our corporate workplaces need to make sure they’re keeping up with these changes.
Diversity isn’t limited to race and ethnicity, as it also includes a wide array of other labels that we carry as individuals including gender, age, sexual orientation, and political beliefs. In an election year with politics as polarized as ever, Brown reminded people and organizations alike of the importance of ideological diversity.
“I think it’s especially important for the media to include opinions that are entirely separate from our own,” Brown said.
As the U.S. population changes and cultural norms shift, diversity in every sense of the world will help companies keep up with an ever-changing world. Those who don’t adapt stand to miss out on tremendous growth opportunities.