The Case for Diversity: Why Diversity? Why Now?

Changing Demographics Nationwide

  • 18.7% of the total U.S. population speaks a language other than English at home. Over 50% of that population speaks Spanish.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seniors make up the fastest-growing segment of the work force. By 2012, workers 55 and older will make up 19 percent of the labor force, compared with 14 percent in 2002.
  • By the year 2050, the White, non-Hispanic population will comprise only 50% of the population. Hispanic/Latinos will make up 25% of the U.S. population, followed by African Americans with 14.5%, Asian Americans 8%, and all other races at 5%.
  • The 2000 U.S. Census reported over 600,000 gay and lesbian families living in the U.S. The Census also reports that over 15% of gay and lesbian families live outside major metropolitan areas.
  • Persons over the age of 5 with physical and mental challenges comprise the single largest “minority” (over 49 million individuals).

Organizations can no longer afford to ignore the diversity of their workforce and consumer base.

Diversity Promotes Productivity

Research shows that diverse work teams that have received training on managing diversity score six times higher on problem-solving tests than homogenous groups. If you want a high-performance organization in today’s workplace, then you must first ensure that the people in your organization are adequately equipped to work effectively in a diverse environment.

Diversity Impacts the Bottom Line

Diversity work is often assumed to be “too costly.” However, not addressing cultural differences in the workplace can be even more costly. As we know, when employees feel undervalued, millions of dollars are wasted due to absenteeism, lack of commitment and interpersonal conflicts. Furthermore, discrimination suits can tie up the energy and resources of an organization for years.