The weeks leading up to the springtime deadlines for this publication were full of notable accomplishments for black Americans. Beyoncé performed at Coachella, making her the first black woman to headline that festival. She and her nearly 100 backup dancers from historically black colleges and universities unofficially renamed the festival — representative of white culture to many — to Beychella. Kendrick Lamar was the first rapper to win a Pulitzer Prize for his double-platinum album, “Damn.” Donald Glover’s Childish Gambino video “This is America” gathered more than 35 million views on YouTube in a matter of two days. Last but certainly not least, Marvel’s superhero success “Black Panther” continued to earn millions, surpassing the Academy Awards’ 1998 Best Picture winner “Titanic” in inflation-adjusted earnings.
People want diversity. What’s taken so long for organizations to notice?
Business leaders must keep up with the times in order to succeed. They should hire the people who are best fit for open roles — race, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability aside. Unfortunately, the motivation to hire a diverse workforce is not only because giving everyone equal opportunity is simply the right thing to do; it’s also because doing so will help earn what business leaders want: money.
By including a diverse group in business decisions, companies can build better products and services to meet the needs of the increasingly diverse population. According to McKinsey & Co.’s “Diversity of thought” report, companies that are highly culturally diverse are 33 percent more likely to have higher average profits than companies with little diversity. Passing those profits on to the workers who help create it will boost not only the company’s profits, but it will also help boost the economy.
America is more diverse today than ever before. Millennials are the most diverse generation yet in America, with 43 percent of 22- to 37-year-olds being nonwhite. The Latino population grew from 9.6 million in 1970 to 57.5 million in 2016. Among babies living with two parents, 5 percent were multiracial or multiethnicin 1980; by 2015, 14 percent were. As these demographics continue to change, the business world should, too.
But why are companies so slow to have staff reflect reality? Only 16 of the Fortune 500 companies released their diversity numbers in 2017, revealing that white men hold 72 percent of these senior leadership roles. In 2017, Google’s workforce was 91 percent white or Asian. Black Americans face twice the unemployment rate of white Americans, leading to an ongoing struggle to gain wealth.
To ignore the experiences of nonwhite workers and not include them in business decisions would be to the detriment of companies. Maybe not today, but into the future.