Are North America’s employee diversity ratios backward?

Are North America’s employee diversity ratios backward?

What’s your diversity ratio?

Most of America’s employee diversity ratios are backwards. As I talk with clients all over the Americas, one of the most frequently 2509734mentioned challenges I hear is “how do I find and secure diverse talent?” This is a very complex and challenging area so don’t feel alone if you too are struggling with this dilemma. Before going too far, I did want to acknowledge that the term “diversity” is often used to mean multiple things today, whether referring to having gender balance in an organization, or having a policy committed to LGBT, or a commitment to employing people with disabilities. For the purpose of this article I want to focus on diversity of gender and ethnicity, but I’m more than happy to discuss any other elements with you if interested.

When will we move from diverse to universal employers?

Given the scope of the challenge presented above, it’s no surprise to read comments from people like Google Senior VP of People Operations, Lazslo Bock, admitting that, “Google is not where we want to be when it comes to diversity…” This raises the obvious question: if Google, one of the most cutting edge companies on the planet concedes it has not yet met its own diversity expectations- who can? Well, it turns out some companies are very successfully finding, attracting and recruiting diverse talent to their organizations. For example, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (NPC), ranked #1 in the 14th edition of DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity report here in the US, while in Canada, companies have been very progressive in how they create diverse and inclusive workplaces.

The future talent pipeline expects a diverse world!

So let’s first get some perspective: in 2012 1,793,226 degrees were awarded in the U.S. Thirty seven percent of these were awarded to ethnically diverse populations and 43% were awarded to women, so you could reasonably argue that if your organization does not meet a 60:40 ratio of Caucasian to other ethnicities, or a 60:40 ratio of males to females, then your staff are not reflective of the student population, and therefore the future professional population. So the key questions to ask ourselves as people leaders and talent leaders are: why is this and what can we do to change it?

What can you do now to move the diversity needle?

There can be no doubt that getting a firm understanding of your organization’s diversity ratio is a critical first step, but more important than that is asking yourself the following questions. Why do we have this ratio in my organization? What has led to this and how can we learn, adapt to and change it? In the case of Novartis mentioned above, their drive for change stemmed from an unfortunate crisis. But what was inspiring about this story was how from that day forward ownership of diversity sat with the CEO. Is this true in your organization?

There are many other key strategies that can help a company transform its capability and success in this area. Undoubtedly a root cause analysis is a great place to start, as in most cases historical practices are the reason most companies are where they are today.

Please don’t feel alone in this journey – feel free to reach out for guidance or advice as we are here to help you. If you would like to discuss your diversity challenges I would be happy to set up time to talk through your challenges and how we could help you beat the diversity dilemma.


If you are interested to learn more then please join me and my guests in an upcoming Universum webinar – Managing for Diversity – 3 key learnings on Sept 15 2014 –Click here to register


About the author

Paul O’Shea

Paul is Head of Consulting of Universum Americas

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