Diversity, Part I: Right Reasons To Do The Right Thing
Everyone talks about diversity. But genuine progress on the advancement of women and people of color in the consumer packaged goods industry has been slow.
Consider these facts reported by the Network of Executive Women: “While women are hired as frequently as men at some of the country’s largest public companies, neither women nor minorities hold any of the highest-paid senior executive positions in more 56 percent of the companies profiled in ‘Examining the Cracks in the Ceiling: A Survey of Corporate Diversity Practices of the S&P 100.’ Women represent only 8 percent of the S&P 100’s highest-paid executives.”
The food production, food wholesaling, and the food and drug store segments all rank below the Fortune 500 average with only 7.1 percent, 11 percent, and 11.7 percent, respectively, of corporate officer positions held by women, NEW reports. Other industry segments perform slightly better on women’s representation in senior management: food/consumer products, at 15.4 percent; general merchandisers, 18.2 percent; beverages, 22.5 percent; and tobacco, 29.7 percent.
“Diversity in hiring is critical to industry competitiveness,” according to Michael Carrillo, president of CPGjobs. “Diverse teams produce diverse thinking, and that makes them better adapted to lead an increasingly diverse workforce and reach today’s diverse consumer markets.”
Gender diversity in management has a direct effect on the bottom line, according to a 2011 survey by industry research group Catalyst. According to their survey of Fortune 500 companies, companies with the most women board directors had a 16 percent higher return on sales and a 26 percent higher return on invested capital.
A report from the Network of Executive Women, an industry association sponsored and supported by CPGjobs, expands on the Catalyst findings. Their report says that “diversity increases company morale, expands your talent pool and helps attract and retain quality workers. It increases productivity by promoting better communication and minimizing conflict.”
“Diversity is valuable externally, as well,” according to NEW. “It helps you better understand today’s diverse consumers and capitalize on new, growing markets. An organization that can speak the language of today’s multicultural and international customers will enjoy a strategic advantage over those that can’t.”
More than black and white
Diversity management has evolved far beyond a black/white, male/female issue. Diversity management encompasses personal factors like gender, ethnicity, race, age, sexual orientation, physical ability, religion, work experience, income, and geographical location, plus company characteristics like job function, job specialty, professional affiliation and location. “There is real strength when you start to put together leadership teams that mix and match these variables,” Carrillo says. “The sum becomes greater than the parts.”
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 84 percent of Fortune 500 HR say their top-level executives think diversity management is important. One reason for executives’ overwhelming support of diversity management is the changing face of American business. “Creating diverse work teams is especially important as corporate structures change,” Carrillo says. “The ranks of middle management have been thinned, and new methods of communicating and executing are required to achieve management goals.”
“My clients are competing for customers worldwide, working with vendors around the world, and managing the most diverse workforce in history,” Carrillo says Diversity management is not just one tool, it is the competitive edge that will mean the difference between companies that survive or fail in the coming years.”
Michael Carrillo is president of CPGjobs, the CPG industry’s leading candidate recruiting service for HR professionals and employers. You may contact him at Michael@CPGjobs.com or call (626) 535-0143.