Diversity in the workplace: It’s time to act

The latest midterm elections were a victory for those belonging to minority groups. The newly elected legislators represent the most racially diverse and most female group ever elected to the House of Representatives in its 116-year history. With more than 23 people of color elected to the House, we would hope for a similar increase in the number of people of color within the business world.

Although we often hear that more and more businesses are making a conscious effort and taking active stances to create a diverse workforce, it seems that their “efforts” are far from adequate. The diversity gap has not decreased over the years as we would have expected  ̶  a quick scan of top corporations indicates that diversity reports remain particularly disturbing. For instance, LinkedIn’s workforce is 5% Latino and 3% black, Google’s is 3% Latino and 2% black, and Intel’s remains 8.05% Latino and 3.67% black.

Problem in Demand and Supply?

According to research from McKinsey, 74% of companies cite gender diversity as a top priority but most have failed to communicate that mission. One would hope that with such a high percentage, the majority of companies would be on the lookout for diverse candidates. However, a consultant at the executive search and leadership advisory firm of Russell Reynolds Associates stated that “[c]ompanies often treat recruiting diverse people as compliance or risk mitigation, rather than a business opportunity,” confirming the possible theory of an underlying lack of demand for diverse candidates among major firms.

Moreover, some companies claim that one reason behind a non-diverse workforce is the lack of individuals of color who are graduating with degrees in the necessary fields. However, this seems not to be the case. In fact, a USA Today study reveals that blacks and Hispanics are graduating with degrees in computer science and computer engineering at twice the rate that they’re being hired.

An article in The Economist states the following possible reasons for the imbalance in the workforce:

  1. Employee referrals
  2. Challenge of appealing to diverse talent without a diverse staff
  3. Unconscious bias and microaggressions
  4. Internal isolation of people of color within the workplace

Are all companies the same?

On the bright side, not all companies are composed of homogeneous individuals.

Fortune took the initiative in collecting information about the diversity and inclusion policies at each company on the Fortune 500 list.  “In aggregate, the data showed that 3% of the companies on this year’s Fortune 500 are fully transparent about the demographics of their workforce  ̶  and 72% of the senior executives at those 16 companies were white men.” The Fortune 500 Diversity Project data are available for download here.

Although 10 firms that make up the Fortune 500 list are noted for having a diverse workforce, several other firms have celebrated diversity among employees and have thus created a balanced and diverse workforce.

The companies doing the most to create inclusive cultures for minorities, LGBTQ employees, and women can be found in 50 Best Places for Diversity.

The top 10 companies listed in 50 Best Places for Diversity are the following:

  1. Comcast NBC Universal
  2. Hyatt Hotels
  3. Ultimate Software
  4. Salesforce
  5. Wegmans Food Markets
  6. Publix Super Markets
  7. Marriott International
  8. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  9. Texas Health Resources
  10. Capital One Financial

 It’s time to act!

While some companies are taking the right steps, there is still a long way to go. Together, we want to get there. Elivade is creating a community of students, young professionals, and employers who want to drive change. So, what can you do? Expand your network beyond your close friends, be proactive in reaching out to people, get to know employers beyond a job posting, and offer your help to others. Your advice or referral can be the start of a career for someone else. Change can only happen if all of us drive it together. When we look at diversity statistics in three to five years, we want to be proud of what we have achieved. Let’s Elivade!