Everyone knows that good intentions only go so far, and not very far at that.
So it doesn’t sound surprising to learn that executives think having a diverse workforce that is inclusive of people from all ethnicities and cultures is a good idea.
A survey of more than 400 executives shows that 96 percent think diversity is a good thing in the workplace and helps foster employee engagement and improved business performance.
But the survey conducted by the Korn/Ferry Institute – an arm of the executive recruitment, leadership, and training development company – shows that this diversity bent isn’t much supported in practice by the businesses themselves.
Korn/Ferry reports that only 23 percent of firms reward their senior executives for promoting inclusion. And, if it doesn’t get done at the top of these corporate structures, it doesn’t stand much of a chance of filtering down through the companies.
“We are encouraged that nearly all of the executives surveyed recognize having a diverse and inclusive workplace gives them a strategic advantage in the marketplace,” says Oris Stuart of Korn/Ferry. “At the same time, there’s work to do in holding managers and leaders accountable and creating incentives.”
The company reports that 52 percent of executives said their performance appraisals evaluate how well they manage diversity.
But again with only 23 percent offering some sort of financial incentive for that to happen, this becomes a politically correct posture that really is not much more than happy talk to appease someone.
It may be easy to kiss this off by simply looking the other way. That’s a terrible mistake and one that is bound to show up in the company’s bottom line if it is not corrected.
A diverse workforce is necessary to keep up with the changing demographics of the United States. A company that doesn’t make an effort to have a diverse workforce is in danger of becoming too insular and out of touch with its customer base.
The U.S. Census, for instance, reports that whites made up 82 percent of all employed Americans in 1980, but that is expected to shrink to 63 percent by 2020. Meanwhile, all minorities comprised just 18 percent of the workforce in 1980 and by 2020 will have increased to 37 percent.
No matter how much we like to believe that we are inherently fair as humans, it is proven that we often choose to hire people who are like us. That means it’s imperative to promote diversity.
If you don’t believe that, just look at where women stand today in our corporate world. The organization Catalyst reports that women comprise 46.9 percent of the workforce, yet hold only 3.5 percent of the CEO job slots, 14.3 percent of senior management jobs and 16.6 percent of positions on boards of directors in the nation’s 500 largest public companies.
Korn/Ferry’s study and figures such as those from Catalyst tell us that it is not enough to have good intentions when it comes to diversity on the job.