Most people would agree that cultural diversity in the workplace utilizes our country's skills to its fullest, and contributes to our overall growth and prosperity. The reality of the situation is that it hasn't happened and progress remains slow. While we are in the midst of the longest period of economic growth this country has ever seen, the gap between the "haves" and "have nots" continues to widen.
One of the reasons for this has been the lack of diversity in corporate America. By not developing a diverse workforce from the top down, African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans are unfairly relegated to lower-skilled, lower-pay positions and are not able to fulfill their true potential. Many corporations have recognized that diversity contributes to the bottom line by: making it easier to retain good employees, lowering costs by developing skills in-house, and developing a reputation that helps attract new employees. This is especially important with the economy doing so well, and the demand for skilled labor at record levels.
If you are an African, Hispanic (Latino), or Asian American trying to advance your career, working for a company that values workplace diversity is extremely important. This will give you a good indication whether your employer will value your contributions, grant you promotions, train you to take on more responsibility, and pay you accordingly.
What is diversity? Here are some key indicators that help provide a proper definition for diversity:
- Diversity at the Officer, Board of Director, and Senior management levels
- Diversity amongst the highest salaried employees in the company
- Diversity amongst the company's workforce as a whole
- Recruiting for new hires in Ethnic American publications
- Recruiting at Ethnic American cultural or professional events
- Membership in Ethnic American professional organizations
- Charitable contributions to Ethnic American organizations
Workplace Diversity for African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans
The anti-immigration folks are getting what they wished for. According to research conducted by Vivek Wadhwa at Duke and University of California Berkeley funded by the Kauffman Foundation, skilled immigrants are moving back to their home countries in droves. Because there are no statistics covering this issue, the research team conducted a detailed survey of over 1200 Indian and Chinese immigrants who had worked or received education in the U.S. and returned to their home countries, and the results are illuminating.
It’s no surprise that the surveyed immigrants’ initial motivations for coming to the U.S. was for professional and educational opportunities. It’s also not a surprise that many immigrants miss their families and friends, and run into significant language and cultural barriers. And in spite of this America has been the unquestioned land of opportunity by the rest of the world for decades.
What is surprising is how rapidly the opportunity gap between America and the rest of the world is narrowing. According to the survey, 87% of the Chinese and 62% of Indians felt they had better longer-term professional growth opportunities in their home countries than in the U.S. And this wasn’t just because the respondents had overstayed their work visas - 30% of the them were either permanent residents or citizens of the U.S.
Even though immigrants make up 12% of the U.S. population, they make up 24% of the science and engineering bachelor’s degrees, and 47% of the science and engineering workers who have PhDs. They have also co-founded some of our most successful technology firms, such as Google, Intel, eBay, and Yahoo.
This brain drain is significant, especially in light of the worsening economic conditions in the U.S. The long-term solution is a well-educated workforce that can be innovative enough to develop new technologies and rebuild the manufacturing sector.
Too bad so many Americans view immigrants as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
In an ideal world, every person is treated equally when it comes to getting a job, advancing in their career, and being treated fairly in the workplace. In reality, we know this is not the case. Racial discrimination does still exist in hiring, firing, and promotions.
For African, Hispanic (Latino), and Asian Americans to overcome these challenges, they must be able to recognize the problems, understand the remedies, and be willing to take action.
In this section, we cover the most significant factors that affect cultural diversity in the workplace. The most obvious factor is workplace discrimination, which can come in many forms, ranging from subtle preferential treatment to an overtly hostile workplace environment.
A company can have a very diverse workforce in numbers, but still have an impenetrable Glass Ceiling. This will lead to an unhealthy corporate culture where employees know the company's policy for determining promotions is not merit-based, and result in some of the best people leaving.
To their credit, many companies do have corporate diversity programs, which are intended to increase cultural diversity in the workplace. While most of these programs represent a sincere effort to improve corporate culture, many of them are nothing more than a public relations ploy to deflect past controversies or bolster a company's image as a "good corporate citizen".
One effective, but controversial tool to increase workplace diversity is affirmative action. While these programs typically achieve their intended goals, there is a common misconception that they create a quota system that results in the hiring of unqualified minorities over qualified non-minorities.