By Renae Sanders
As the world grows smaller, the opportunity to conduct business with or through culturally diverse individuals increases significantly. The days of homogeneous organizations are dwindling among large organizations, but homogeneity is remains common among small businesses. Organizational makeup with standing, the greatest opportunity to succeed in business is the ability to penetrate diverse markets.
According to the US Census, 52% of the U.S. population will be people of color by 2050, with the Latino population representing 25% of the population. DiversityInc (2007) reported foreign born workers accounted for nearly 100% of the workforce growth between 1990-2005. Layer on generational differences, growth of the women’s workforce, increased cultural and ethnic diversity and organization leaders will find themselves facing, for many, an eye opening demographic shift.
Business leaders are increasingly seeing the benefits of entering specific markets represented by businesses and professionals of diverse cultural backgrounds and ethnic origins. Companies that fail to learn about such markets or who resist the need to hire and retain a diverse workforce miss the extraordinary benefits of doing so.
Organizations skilled at harvesting the knowledge and perspectives of diverse groups (i.e. diverse cultures, religions, age, views and experiences) make better choices than those who are stuck in their homogeneous views; who respond predictably to problems. For instance, PepsiCo Inc.’s Hispanic employees were instrumental in helping the company develop the guacamole chip, which sold $100M of the new chips it first year. It also used their diverse employee base to provide insight into the successful launch of Code Red which sold 100 million cases and grew the Mountain Dew brand by 6% (Standford GSB News, 2004). While the size and scale of these examples are huge, the importance of being open to diversity and inclusion should not be lost on small businesses. Diversity and inclusion can help drive innovation, problem solving, employee retention and open doors to new markets. But don’t be confused. Hiring people of color as a silver bullet for entering new markets is a mistake. If employees of any age, gender, cultural origin, or religion do not feel valued or respected for the skills they bring to the organization the benefits of your efforts to grow or change will be difficult.
I come back to this perspective about diversity, “The power and beauty of diversity is everywhere. The challenge with diversity lies within each of us”.
DiversityInc. (2007). Facts and figures. Impact of immigrants.
Stanford Graduate School of Business. (2004). A more diverse workforce is good for business at Pepisco. Retrieved April 23, 2010 from http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/news/headlines/vftt_reinemund.shtml
U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). Retrieved April 21, 2010 for http://www.census.gov