October 13, 2020
By Jo Burkholder, Forbes
In the midst of ongoing protests across the US, it will come as no surprise to many that forwarding diversity in the workplace has not seen great success. In some sectors, things have slipped from where they were at the turn of the millennium.
With calls for racial justice growing and evidence of progress lacking, what might the future hold?
Where we stand: The good, the bad, and the non-existent.
The reasons for diversity program failure are multitude. The first and foremost of these is the lack of any program or initiative at all. I recently interviewed folks at several small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the sort that Deloitte points out make up 99.7% of U.S. businesses, and almost half of private sector employment.
What I heard in my interviews was, “We don’t have any diversity program here.” The best organizations make concerted efforts around recruiting diverse talent and fully engaging all of their employees. The worst said point-blank, “I can’t be bothered with that,” or “I can’t see where there is a problem with that here.”
Somewhere in the middle was, “We don’t have resources to spare.” How business leaders decide that they cannot spare any resources to invest in something repeatedly tied to innovation and financial success is a mystery to me.
Clearly there is a future in finding an effective budget-friendly solution to this for SMBs (more on this below), as well as a need for more education about the business case for diversity, if nothing else. As consumers make more decisions conscious of a company’s policies and politics, that case may strengthen.