Thursday, January 9, 2014

Diversity in a New Paradigm: Economic Inclusion

Creating a workforce diversity and sustaining an environment of diverity and inclusion begins with a clear understanding of what diversity means as well as the business rationale behind it. See 5 SMART Diversity Recruitment Strategies

In a recent article she did for the National Journal, Anise Wiley-Little, a human-resources and diversity specialist, presents new ways of thinking of diversity, which she also wrote in her 2013 book, Profitable Diversity: How Economic Inclusion Can Lead to Success, called "Class, Economics, Race, and Gender." Her analysis on how to re-think diversity on a higher level than equity in race and gender, and shift to a new understanding within the context of poverty and class is worth pondering on. This means recognizing the role of social challenges plays in hampering real diversity, fairness and economic success.

According to Wiley-Little, "Diversity had an early foundation in equity in regard to race and gender. As progress with diversity is elevated, keep an open mind by looking for greater advancements in the field because a clear vision of what is really happening around us is necessary." Thus, she poses:  Is it time to think about diversity in a new paradigm?

Highlights of Wiley-Little's analysis:

  •  The recognition of poverty and class leads us to the next level of discussion, which is to ask who is focusing on these broader issues.
  •  When we have to continually justify the existence of diversity and its advantages or disadvantages, the business case development, which may be clear to some, continues to hold an elusive promise for others.
  • Lack of Opportunity -  To affect this lack, it must start early, much earlier than college or upon entry to the workplace, which is where most organizations want to spend their time and money. The only place that touches most children consistently is school, which is where change begins. 
  • Social Justice -  Profitable diversity can be seen as a measure of success that provides an advantage (...) In order to move closer to any of these benefits of diversity, we must fully explore the tenets that may impact how we think about it, including the economics.
  • Access -  Institutional barriers still exist, although circumstances can and do have an impact on the long-term effects of one's success. 
  • The Economics - The premise of socioeconomic issues being a level of diversity does not ignore the complex history of the United States or the current issues of immigration affecting more than simply those crossing the borders of Texas, California, or Arizona.
  • Sponsorship - In most programs that want to see the advancement of the diverse population, participants tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored based upon access.
In conclusion, Wiley-Little writes our socio-economic class is also a necessary part of what we bring to the table that defines how and who we are.

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