Companies that do not value a diverse and inclusive approach to business will soon find themselves struggling to stay in business at all. The need is urgent — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s economically pragmatic.
I’ll explain why in a moment. Today’s topic follows from my last post, in which I outlined a paradigm to view the various approaches organizations take to diversity. I outlined six components in that paradigm, ranging from denial — the organization doesn’t believe there’s a problem — to acculturation, when the organization fully embraces diversity in strategy, operations and recruiting.
The urgency in addressing this issue is apparent in the changing demographics of the United States, which, increasingly, is not at the global center of innovation and economic might. As a nation, we could and should strive to be, but that cannot happen without embracing the demographic forces changing the face of our economy.
Consumers who do not see themselves reflected in a business’s goods and services; its marketing; or its workforce will quickly find alternatives. We can start to see the trend in the graph below.
These 1960 numbers, from the U.S. Census Bureau, reflect the “Mad Men” era of yesteryear. On a base of about 180 million people, 80 percent of the U.S. population was Caucasian. Few organizations cared about diversity because there was little to no economic incentive to do so.
Contrast 1960’s numbers with this year, in the graph above. The U.S. population is about 320 million. There are about 18 million more Caucasians in the population than there were 55 years ago. But they make up only 62 percent of the total.
So in 55 years, the percentage of African Americans increased 50 percent, while the Hispanic American population more than doubled. And there’s more, based on U.S. Census Bureau data.
- In 2013, the population of Caucasian Americans actually dropped for the first time in U.S. history. Further, deaths in that demographic now outpace births.
- Nearly half the children under age 5 today are “minorities.”
- By 2019, “minorities” will surpass Caucasians among U.S. residents under age 18. And by 2043, the United States will be a “majority-minority” nation. In other words, Caucasian Americans will make up less than half the population, in contrast to the 62 percent they are today.
These numbers aren’t speculation. They’re real. The change is happening. If we cannot even embrace these changes here at home, how can U.S. businesses hope to compete in a global economy? That’s why businesses must immediately move toward promoting, embracing and valuing inclusiveness and diversity in their operations.
NEXT: What do these trends mean for enrollment in the top 50 MBA programs around the country?