Businesses and other organizations worldwide have traditionally ignored the importance of workplace diversity. However, modern businesses have recognized that diversity in the workplace can spur innovation, boost productivity, and cultivate loyalty among staff without necessarily compromising service delivery or revenue growth. Due to this, businesses now focus on the competency of job applicants rather than their religion, race, age, physical ability, sexual preferences, and religion. This approach gives businesses a competitive advantage over industry peers.
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Diversity in the Broader U.S. Population
Diversity is a wide-ranging term that covers aspects including gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity and physical ability. With that in mind, the U.S. is probably the perfect diversity mirror due to ethnic, religious and political differences among its citizens. For starters, the population of America currently consist of 61.6 percent Caucasians, 17.6 percent American-Hispanics or Latinos, 13.3 percent African Americans, 5.6 percent Asian-Americans, 1.2 percent American Indians and Alaska Natives and 0.2 percent Native Hawaiians. Out of these, 13.1 percent were born outside the U.S. while 2.6 percent are the offspring of parents from different racial backgrounds. Additionally, over 350 languages are spoken in America with 60.3 million Americans using a language other than English to communicate at home. Apart from English, Spanish or Spanish Creole is the next most common language with a base of 37.4 million speakers. Chinese comes in a distant third with a base of 1.8 million speakers while 1.6 million people speak Tagalog. Vietnamese and French languages boast of 1.3 million and 1.2 million speakers respectively. On the gender front, 49.2 percent Americans are male, whereas 50.8 percent are female. In terms of age, 18- to 64-year-olds account for 62.2 percent of the general population, people under 18 years old make up 22.9 percent of the population, and seniors (65 years or older) account for 14.9 percent of the entire population.
Disability is also a key diversity factor with 64 million Americans or 22 percent of the population living with some form of disability. Due to unparalleled democratic freedom and regulations that ban discrimination, Americans are generally unafraid to express their sexual orientation. For this reason, up to 95.1 percent of men and 92.3 percent of women self-identify as heterosexual. At the same time, 5.5 percent of women and 2 percent of men say they are bisexual while 1.9 percent of men and 1.3 percent of women self-identify as gay. Religion also plays a key role in the lives of Americans with 77 percent identifying with a specific religious belief. In particular, 25.4 percent identify as Evangelical Protestants, 22.8 percent have no religious affiliations, 20.8 percent are Catholic, 14.7 percent are mainline Protestants and 5.9 percent follow non-Christian faiths.
Diversity in the Workplace
The U.S. is home to 27.6 million businesses including 9.8 million owned by women and 7.9 million firms owned by minorities. Slightly more than half (50.8 percent) of the employees in these firms are women. Sadly, women only account for 16 percent of executive teams while 45 percent of companies have no minorities within their executive ranks. Additionally, while the disabled account for 17.5 percent of the labor force, 27.3 percent of American companies are yet to implement diversity initiatives.
The Benefits of Workplace Diversity
For starters, diversity in the workplace usually fosters innovation due to increased exposure to different ideas, cultures and norms. Workplace diversity also boosts productivity because contended employees are likely to put in more effort at work. In the same vein, diversity enhances problem solving due to the wide range of talent, unique skill sets and professional perspectives. Another major diversity benefit is improvement in talent recruitment and retention. Remember professionals are likely to favor employers who can match their expectations.
In the U.S., most employers are aware of these benefits with 90 percent of CEOs saying that workplace diversity was a key factor in attracting new talent while 85 percent reckon it has boosted productivity. Up to 83 percent of executives believe that diversity has enhanced brand reach and reputation. Moreover, 78 percent of CEOs credit workplace diversity with improving both internal and external collaboration as well as enhancing innovation. Finally, 77 percent of CEOs say workplace diversity has improved customer satisfaction while 75 percent credit it with addressing emerging customer needs effectively.
Workplace Diversity and Financial Performance
Companies that adopt diversity usually enjoy significant financial benefits. Firstly, mean sales revenues were 1,367 percent higher at American businesses with racially diverse workforces than at firms where racial diversity is shunned. What’s more, mean annual revenues were 1,325 percent higher at companies that practice gender diversity compared to firms that do not follow the same philosophy. To be precise, mean sales revenue at firms with low racial diversity stood at $51.9 million while firms with high racial diversity posted an average of $761.3 million in mean sales revenue. On the other hand, mean sales revenue at firms that shunned gender diversity stood at an average of $45.2 million while high gender diversity boosted mean sales revenue to $644.3 million.
How to Improve Diversity in Public Administration
Diversity in public administration cannot be wished away because it accounts for 12 percent of content published by the leading 10 public administration journals. At the same time, diversity is one of the topics taught in public administration programs. With that in mind, strategies that could improve organizational diversity include communication, cultural self-awareness, amicable resolution of contentious issues, diversity adaptability and good grasp of different cultural beliefs. In addition, companies should lead efforts to improve diversity. This should be complemented by regular evaluation of all workforce cadres to identify diversity gaps. Employers should also strive to involve their staff in diversity initiatives. Where possible, employers should make diversity part of their core mission.
Marriot International leads the diversity space with a workforce that consists of 64 percent minorities and 54 percent women. Moreover, 92 percent of staff say communication is great, 94 percent praise the welcoming atmosphere accorded new talent and 91 percent say they have great bosses. These gains notwithstanding, Marriot intends to increase the number of hotels owned by women and diverse partners to 1,500 by 2020. Currently, women and diverse partners own about 800 hotels. Marriot also plans to increase the number of women owned supplier businesses to 10 percent within the same period.
To survive in today’s highly competitive environment, American businesses must develop and implement diversity-related initiatives. This includes hiring more women, recruiting talent from diverse racial backgrounds, boosting the percentage of women in executive positions, and championing the hiring of disabled people.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.