Business Case For Diversity

As the demographics of Oregon and Southwest Washington change, businesses will have to transform their organizations to meet the competitive challenges that the new consumers bring with their varying interests and product preferences. The region’s businesses will need to employ individuals who understand how diverse populations thrive and who can provide effective communications, develop strong product lines, actively pursue business relationships with minority- and women-owned firms, and build trust and loyalty in our brands and in our companies.

Likewise, as the customers and communities we serve become increasingly diverse, so should our workforce. Diversity issues in the workplace continue to bring significant opportunities and challenges. The success or failure of businesses depends on employers’ and employees’ making diversity a significant business issue.

According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projection, the total U.S. labor force is expected to increase by 0.5% between 2014 and 2024. Specifically, the African American labor force is expected to increase by 10%; Asian labor force by 23%; Hispanic labor force by 28%; and Multiracial, Native American and Pacific Islander labor force by 22%. In comparison, the White labor force is expected to increase by 2% between 2014 and 2024.

Additionally, Oregon’s buying power is anticipated to grow for people of color. According to Selig Center for Economic Growth, Oregon’s buying power projections for 2016 through 2021 will grow by 30% for African Americans; 40% for Asians; 31% for Hispanic; 35% for Multiracial; and 25% for Native Americans. However, Oregon’s White population buying power is estimated to grow by only 20%.

In light of these figures, effective businesses will embrace the changing economic and demographic environment to maintain a competitive advantage.

Diversity Action Plan

Partners in Diversity has gathered a list of best practices for leaders ready to take the next step forward in creating a culture of workplace diversity, equity and inclusion. The following diversity strategies and practicies offer implementable examples:

1. Ensure that each organization’s vision, mission, values and diversity policy are clearly articulated both internally and externally.

2. Assign the CEO ultimately accountable for diversity and for ensuring that every executive makes diversity a personal priority. Organization should identify an officer with responsibility for diversity and ensure appropriate resources are made available.

3. Integrate measurable diversity objectives for the company with a tie to performance evaluations and management compensation.

4. Senior leaders communicate regularly to internal and eternal stakeholders about diversity priorities and progress.

5.Implement recruitment and retention programs for people of diverse backgrounds.

  • Establish coaching and mentoring programs.
  • Establish funded employee resource groups (ERGs).
  • Ensure a diverse hiring panel for job interviews.
  • Create partnerships with high schools, colleges and universities.
  • Offer scholarships for underrepresented students.
  • Provide workplace internships focused on underrepresented populations.
  • Work with professional and community-based organizations.

6. Establish ongoing diversity or unconscious bias training programs for boards of directors, management and employees.

7. Ensure diverse representation on the organization’s board, advisory groups and committees for better results.

8. Stimulate community and civic leadership through community relations, community service and civil engagement at all levels of the organization.

9. Establish an inclusive and welcoming work environment. Develop policies and practices that address bias, discrimination, harassment, cultural competence, diversity, affirmative action and equal opportunity.

10. Establish baseline metrics for diversity in your organization to create measurable goals.

11. Implement strategies to increase opportunities for contracting for construction, goods and services, professional services, public relations and community affairs.

12. Develop a dialogue with vendors, suppliers, contractors and other stakeholders.

13. Review prior activity and set targets. Establish strategies for achieving advancement.

14. Evaluate results and provide feedback.

15. Invest in culturally specific leadership training.