Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How Strategic is Diversity Management?

Most large corporations view diversity management as a strategic initiative. Companies have separated this function within human resources and some even have a senior executive (Chief Diversity Officer) focused on creating a diverse workforce. The efforts are commendable at a macro level however to make diversity management more effective at a micro level companies have to look at the specific growth sectors and skills needed to bring a diverse employee population into these sectors. 

Business and Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) are sectors needing particular attention. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Professional and Business Services (high-skill) related jobs will grow by almost 13% over the next twenty years. However when you look at business and STEM careers today, minorities, particularly African-Americans and Latinos, are extremely under-represented across the sector. Digging a bit deeper the amount of minority students majoring in STEM related disciplines are extremely low. As a result, when rightsizing happens due to changes in business conditions or technologies and/or the job market is tight, minorities are normally left out because their skills do not translate into the jobs of the future. So although there's an overall focus on diversity management, when considering specific growth sectors like business and STEM minorities will continue to be under-represented if changes aren't made. 

These changes need to start earlier in the education process.  Companies should partner with K-12 schools to help train and attract more teachers with specialties in these fields and develop more programs that specifically focus on business and STEM. Additionally more effective and useful high school counseling around college majors, career opportunities and employment growth sectors would also be very beneficial. There is a direct correlation between college major and career opportunities (assuming degree completion). This can have a significant impact on income growth over a career and more importantly, income equality. Clearly counseling, tutoring and mentoring resources are needed once students get in college to ensure they actually complete their degree. Companies can also focus their educational benefits on those degrees or certificates that will translate into opportunities within growing sectors.  

More needs to be done than just getting minorities to college or making sure a certain number of minorities are interviewed for jobs. If diversity is truly a strategic initiative then there needs to be a focus on developing skills and expertise in those disciplines that are specific to growth sectors. 

Rodney Brown 

The views and opinions on this blog are my own.

Labor, U. D. (2012, February 1). Employment by major industry sector, 2000, 2010, and projected 2020. Retrieved from Bureau of Labor Statistics: 

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