Workplace Diversity In A Down Economy

 In Company Culture/People At Work, Diversity and Inclusion

Workplace Diversity in a Down EconomyWhat is the status of diversity initiatives in an unstable economy?
“This is where the rubber meets the road” said Frank McClosky, vice president of diversity for Georgia Power in a recentlypublished article for SHRM Online.* “It’s amazing how diversity initiatives are so important during good economic times, but drop off during bad times. During the next 18 months we’re all going to have to take an honest look at our diversity initiatives; are they built to last, or are they just nice, but not really required?” In fact, economically challenging times may be the worst possible time to scale back on diversity and inclusion efforts.
In harder times the tendency is to cut back on people oriented services in favor of direct revenue generating activities, but that can be shortsighted. Properly managed, diversity and inclusion initiatives are key to helping companies reach their business objectives, and importantly, make talented employees feel more valued and important.

The SHRM article points out that a shaky economy can actually have a positive impact on diversity, forcing companies to get really succinct and focused on how diversity and inclusion enable them to reach their goals. In tougher times, organizations are most likely to apply funds to services and tools that address specific problem areas and help them meet specific diversity related objectives, for example, targeting groups that are directly responsible for getting more business, driving down costs and minimizing the risk of employee relations problems, (like marketing, customer service, sales and HR.)

SHRM data gathered in October of last year does seem to indicate general reductions in diversity initiatives. 39% of the 450 HR professionals polled said they have cut spending on training not directly related to the core business such as anti-harassment and diversity training, while one in 10 respondents said they had decreased their spending on recruitment initiatives targeted at increasing the diversity of their workforce.

“All organizations have to keep their eyes on the ball and recruit, retain and address the increasingly global world,” according to Elizabeth Moore of the law firm Nixon Peabody, LLP. “It’s not the amount that is spent on diversity that is the real issue, it’s whether the diversity activities support the organization’s ability to compete.”

Throughout 2009, companies will invariably tighten their diversity budgets and be very strategic about their efforts. “It’s a true sign of the commitment of the organization to diversity and inclusion when the economy starts to take a dip,” said Doug Harris, owner of  The Kaleidoscope Group. “Companies will scrutinize the qualifications of their diversity consultants to be sure they have the skills the company needs,” he said.

I watch the trends in diversity recruitment rather closely. From the beginning, CPGjobs has been dedicated to workplace diversity, not only through our support and association with premier organizations like the Network of Executive Women and the California Diversity Council to name a few, but also as a core part of our mission as an employment services organization.

Our recently announced partnership with Lee McDuffey and his company Diversity Search, Inc. further cements our commitment to workplace diversity and allows CPGjobs to provide exceptional diversity recruitment, consulting and training services to our clients through an experienced industry leader. I specifically chose Diversity Search as our partner because they are not only very successful in placing candidates; they also have an exceptional 91% three-year retention rate and nearly 20 years experience developing effective diversity training initiatives for their CPG clients. You can learn more about Diversity Search in our recent media release.

By 2050, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that white, non-Hispanic workers will decrease their presence in the U.S. workforce by nearly 20%, while women will increase their share by 48% and Latinos and African Americans will occupy 24.3% and 14% respectively. These are statistics that world-class organization cannot afford to ignore…especially during these times.

If you are interested in rethinking your existing diversity strategies or creating diversity initiatives custom-built to the specific needs of your organization, I encourage you to give us a call. During good times and not so good times, acquisition and retention of top talent is crucial for success in a global economy – as is building the foundation for an increasingly complex culture and workforce.

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