Racial and Gender Diversity in the Workplace: The Country Needs to do Better

Diverse human hands showing unity

The United States is getting more and more diverse with every year that passes. For the first time in the country’s history, a majority of children (50.2%) under the age of five were classified as being part of a minority ethnic group [1]. As a result of the country undergoing this change, it has led to a more diverse workforce. In fact, according to ArchPoint, the minority working-age portion of the workforce is projected to double from 18% to 37% from 1980 to 2020, while the white population is projected to decline from 82% to 63% during that same period [1].

However, even though there has been an increase of diversity in the workforce, many are still not being treated equally. Resumés submitted by people with African American-sounding names are 14% less likely to get a call back than those with white-sounding names. In addition, an increase of diversity in the workforce has not lead to an increase in more diverse top executives. In fact, only 1% of all Fortune 500 companies have African American CEOs [1].

Women are also trying to change the diversity of the workforce. Hoping to increase their job opportunities, there are now more women than men that are receiving four-year bachelor degrees. Men are 30% more likely to be promoted from an entry level position to a manager position compared to women of equal caliber [1]. Despite this, in 2015 there were still fewer Fortune 500 CEOs who were women (4.1%) than who were named David (4.5%) or John (5.3%) [1]. The fact that two single male names outnumber an entire gender in high positions in companies is a strong indicator of where our country is at in the gender diversity of their companies.

Increasing racial and gender diversity in the workplace has long been a goal of Human Resource departments of companies. However, no matter how much companies claim it is a top priority of theirs, their plans have been ineffective to date. This might be because they have not had the correct mentalities.

The mere idea of increasing diversity is not enough for it to be done. It cannot happen “naturally.” Instead, companies need to create a specific hiring plan that has goals and expectations so when they are in the middle of job interviews for an open position, they can revert back to those goals before they make a final decision. Currently, people of color are not regularly encouraged to apply for job positions, let alone apply for the higher up positions in their companies, even though they are just as qualified, if not more, than their white counterparts. Diversity is created through understanding, recognition, planning and execution of the plan companies create themselves [2].

UPMC’s newest Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer James. E. Taylor.

An example of a company taking the initiative to make their company more diverse through their hiring process can be found close to home. UPMC recently announced James E. Taylor as the new Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. His goal in his new position will be to lead UPMC’s efforts to continue as an employer, provider, and insurer that reflects and embraces the rich diversity of the Pittsburgh region in both employment and in the services they offer to their patients [3].

Making companies more ethnically and gender diverse is a worthy investment for all involved.  Besides the fact that employees are more likely to be happier working under an inclusive company than a non-inclusive company [1], there could also be financial benefits. In fact, ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians. Additionally, gender diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their respective national industry medians. Similarly, companies reporting highest levels of racial diversity in their organizations bring in nearly 15 times more sales revenue than those with lowest levels of racial diversity [1].

Inclusion in the office provides many benefits for businesses and their employees. However, we will continue to see lackluster improvement in diversity of companies in the country until these companies recognize there needs to be a change in the thought process of how they hire.

[1] http://archpointgroup.com/the-state-of-us-workplace-diversity-in-14-statistics/

[2] https://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-cannon/racial-diversity-in-the-w_b_7192414.html

[3] http://www.upmc.com/media/NewsReleases/2016/Pages/james-taylor-cdio.aspx

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