Key Diversity Ruling. What About the Workplace?

equalityThe Supreme Court today ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal throughout the United States; the recent tragic events in South Carolina have sparked a national discussion on race; and the frontrunner for the presidency is a woman.

Cultural diversity is a key part of our nation’s foundation; and the country is becoming more and more diverse every day. Despite the advances, many find it hard to accept people of other races, religions, genders, sexual orientation, etc. This may be a part of the reason so many employers still find it hard to create diverse workforces.

This is a problem when it comes to an organization’s success because workplaces that are the most diverse tend to do better when it comes to the bottom line.

Facebook realizes this and has publicly made an effort to bring in more diversity last year, but this mission has only had moderate success. This week the social networking giant announced its progress at the 12-month mark.

Our work is producing some positive but modest change and our new hire numbers are trending up. While we have achieved positive movement over the last year, it’s clear to all of us that we still aren’t where we want to be.

Indeed, Facebook has a long way to go.

When it comes to its overall workforce, 55% is White, 36% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 3% two or more races and 2% Black. The numbers when you look at the tech staff is about the same, and top leadership is largely skewed toward Whites with 73%.

Gender diversity doesn’t fair much better. Men make up 68% of the total workforce, 84% of the tech jobs, and, despite the Lean In proponent Sheryl Sandberg in a Facebook corner office, only 23% of the senior leadership roles are held by women.

Smart employers realize they need to help promote an inclusive culture if they’re going to boost diversity and reap the benefits for their bottom lines and for society at large.

Many employers have faced challenges when it comes to diversity and inclusion. Efforts that have been touted by consultants in the field have largely done little to change things. To understand what’s really needed, Northrup Grumman is sponsoring a report on this topic as part of Families and Work Institute’s ongoing comprehensive study of the U.S. workforce—the National Study of the Changing Workforce*—that will be out early next year.

We all hope it will shed light on this important workplace goal.

In the meantime, many of our When Work Works Award winners have been focusing on promoting diversity and inclusion with a multi-pronged approach, since there is no silver bullet.

Here’s a sampling:

  • Bon Secours in Richmond, Virginia, with nearly 15,000 employees, is a hospital network devoted to being a good place to work for people of all nationalities and races. Among many efforts, Bon Secours Virginia Human Resources staff attend career fairs each year for new nursing graduates from historically black colleges and universities within Virginia. Bon Secours offers courses on cultural competence and has active diversity and inclusion committees. Today, the organization’s leaders stress, “Diversity and inclusion continues to evolve as we also seek to be culturally competent.”
  • To ensure that KPMG employees and partners who have a disability or care for someone with a disability can identify a mentor for themselves (or volunteer as a mentor for someone with special needs), KPMG’s Abilities in Motion diversity network has established a mechanism that enables them to find or be a mentor in a confidential and comfortable way. Likewise, the firm’s pride@kpmg diversity network—which serves their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and partners—has also established a confidential process for finding or offering to be a mentor. KPMG’s seven National Diversity Networks—African-American Network (AAN), Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN), Abilities in Motion Network, Hispanic-Latino Network (HLN), Network of Women (KNOW), pride@KPMG (LGBT) Network and the Veterans Network—also support an inclusive workplace, giving partners and employees an avenue for networking, connecting with prospective mentors, and accessing professional development opportunities, programs, resources and information. It’s important to note that more than 40% of KPMG’s partners and employees currently are engaged in one or more of their diversity networks, which currently have more than 140 chapters across the U.S.
  • Cornell University’s historical commitment to diversity and inclusion is based on establishing a climate of respect and trust through its policies and programs. Cornell is making a concerted effort to ensure that their community can identify potential acts of prohibited harassment and discrimination and know who to contact and consult about it. Their aim is to make sure their campus remains a safe and respectful academic and workplace environment focused on education. To help achieve that aim, Cornell has developed a valuable brief online course, Respect@Cornell: Eliminating Harassment and Discrimination. Over 6,400 employees have enrolled and completed this online course since 2012.
  • Health Management Systems of America (HMSA) in Detroit, with 39 employees, strives to continue to improve staff training and education; to promote, encourage and support behavioral health care for all citizens regardless of personal characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, health conditions and or language skills; and to work to reduce stigma and promote access. HMSA continues to expand and develop community contacts and outreach and increase staff awareness to utilize community resources addressing the varied needs of a diverse population. HMSA increases diversity throughout the organization—Leadership, Management, Direct Service and Support Staff—to ensures that the workforce reflects the cultural diversity of the community it serves, and to actively recruit, hire, support and retain a workforce that reflects cultural diversity.


*The ongoing National Study of the Changing Workforce (1992, 1997, 2002, 2008 and 2016) is the largest and most comprehensive ongoing study of the U.S. workforce, a study that is widely used by business to understand and respond to workforce trends as they emerge.


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