by Andrés T. Tapia –
Why is diversity upside-down and how do we with what that means for our lives and our companies? Check out my recent TEDx Talk in Indianapolis, IN. I explore just how much our world’s hyper-diversity has affected practically every aspect of our lives – in our personal relationships, in our communities, and in our companies.
by Andrés T. Tapia —
With Barack Obama in the White House, it seems like race would no longer hinder African-Americans who are on the job market. But according to The New York Times, there is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to hiring.
Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. But strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of 2009, as the recession dragged on, was even more pronounced for those with college degrees than those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.
According to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 was nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4% compared with 4.4%.
Various academic studies have confirmed that black job seekers continue to have a harder time than whites. A study published several years ago in The American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with black-sounding names received 50% fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names. A more recent study, published this year in The Journal of Labor Economics found white, Asian, and Hispanic managers tended to hire more whites and fewer blacks than black managers did.
Black job seekers interviewed by the Times conceded that race can be beneficial in some cases, particularly with companies that have diversity programs. But many said they sensed that such opportunities had been cut back over the years and even more during the downturn. Others speculated there was now more of a tendency to deem diversity efforts unnecessary after Barack Obama’s triumph.
A Fresh Voice in an Ancient Land: Take Five with Yvette Jarvis, First Black Public Official in Greece
To meet Yvette Jarvis is a happening. I first met this multifaceted, talented, committed, and passionate person at the European Union World Diversity Leadership Summit in Vienna, Austria this past March. The hours we spent talking, debating, and strategizing only scratched the surface of how much she has to offer. Brooklyn-born Yvette came to Greece in 1982, the first Black to play in the Greek Women’s Basketball League, as well as the first salaried female athlete in the league. She simultaneously launched a professional career that spanned more than a decade in modeling and television. In 1989 she embarked on a flourishing career as a vocal artist, which she continues to this day (hear her vocals in her video biography).
As a human rights activist, Yvette participated in many Greek NGOs and helped establish many other organizations that emphasize the rights of immigrants, women, and people with special needs. As a result of her political involvement, in October 2002, Yvette became the first Black to be elected to the City Council of Athens, Greece. During her four-year tenure on the Athens City Council, she focused primarily on women’s rights and domestic violence, immigrants’ rights, assistance for people with special needs, and important initiatives in youth and sports. Her important achievements include being instrumental in implementing a directive to increase the municipal hiring of people with disabilities by 5%, organizing a Greek language school for immigrants, establishing a domestic violence hotline, and spearheading the Football Against Racism Campaign. Currently Yvette serves as Special Advisor on Immigration Issues to the Mayor of Athens.
With so much to say, this really was a Take 200. But here, for your enjoyment and learning, we give you a taste as we Take 5 with Yvette Jarvis.
Take 1: You are the first Black person to be elected to public office in Greece. How has your presence on the Athens City Council changed the dynamics of politics and governance there?
YJ: Yes, I am the first Black to be elected to public office in Greece. Unfortunately, eight years later I remain the ONLY one! Having said that, I can affirm that my presence has opened the eyes of many to the fact that Greece is no longer only inhabited by ethnic Greeks. Finally, immigrants and people of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds have had a voice in public office, and a very loud one at that!
From my first council session to my last, issues concerning immigrants have been a focal point. Incidents of blatant racism–neighborhood councils that denied granting store or residency permits to immigrants, public facilities restricting access to immigrants, and many other situations–became issues for vote in the council because I raised them as problems. As a result of my initiatives, immigrants now benefit from athletic, cultural and language learning programs. After years of lobbying, the government has finally passed a law solidifying citizenship rights of second generation immigrants born or educated in the country; so for the first time, immigrants may play a vital role in this year’s municipal elections. I cannot take full credit for these changes, but I have influenced the decision makers at the party level and in the government by heading up committees on immigration and by participating in municipal government. Hopefully with the new immigration laws, the balance of power will swing in favor of immigrant participation in local elections, thus assuring that issues especially relevant to them remain in the forefront.
Take 2: Like the rest of Europe, Greece has become much more ethnically diverse in recent years due to immigration. How is this affecting what it means to be “Greek”?
There has been an ongoing discussion for the past few months about precisely that: “What does it mean to be Greek?” The newly elected PASOK party and our new prime minister George Papandreou ran on a platform that supported giving second generation immigrants citizenship rights at birth. When the campaign rhetoric took legal form, it became apparent that what was seemingly a tolerant society was not so tolerant of difference. Fear of diluting Greek bloodlines, expressed in chants of “you are born a Greek, not made a Greek,” were heard at demonstrations, and many expressed the belief that children who were born and raised in Greece of immigrant parents should have rights, but not citizenship! Of course this is not the opinion of all Greeks, but those who opposed the new law were the most vocal.
Greece has a tremendously long uphill battle to fight for diversity issues. As of yet the term “diversity” is not in Greece’s political vocabulary. Once the new law takes effect, it will become increasingly apparent that Greeks will have to deal with non-ethnic Greeks integrating into society as they apply for civil service jobs as police officers, fire fighters and teachers. The fact is, however, that there are more and more nontraditional looking Greeks, in part because of mixed marriages, and the challenge will be how we begin to understand that.
Take 3: Although you are native to the U.S., you have lived outside of the country for a long time. From your perspective, what seems significant about how diversity issues have been unfolding in the States?
I find it very significant that most companies are now actively involved in diversity issues and that diversity has become the topic of the day in the U.S. A niche has been created and a new job market: diversity specialists and conferences are increasing in number as more and more organizations respond to an increasingly diverse global market. It’s an exciting time, actually–especially for someone like me who lives outside of the U.S. With Obama as president, I think we may have the most diverse cabinet in the history of the United States. Women, African-Americans and other minorities have catapulted to the upper echelons of the highest offices in the country. Very exciting indeed.
Take 4: In Greece and/or Europe as a whole, how are women advancing in terms of leadership, and how are women being held back?
I think there is no doubt that women are advancing in politics. Around Europe for the first time ever, many women have been elevated to the posts of president or prime minister. But even so, women still remain underrepresented within governing bodies. In business the picture is even more bleak. The percentages of female CEO’s is disproportionately low in Europe, and many women cannot claim equal pay for equal work. The glass ceiling may certainly have a million cracks today, but it has not shattered by any means!
Take 5: In the U.S., much has been written about the generation of Millennials who are just beginning to enter the workforce. In your experience, how are Greek Millennials similar to or different from their counterparts in the U.S. or other parts of the world?
I think youth around the world possess some basic shared desires–to get the job of their choice in their field of study, to make money, to be independent, and to make their mark on society. Where Greek Millennials may most differ from U.S. Millennials is in how possible it is for them to realize those hopes and dreams.
For the past few years unemployment among Greek youth has been steadily rising, and it has become increasingly difficult for Millennials to find jobs in their field of study. The riots in Athens in 2008 were a clear message to the establishment that hope for the future was dismal for Greek youth. In 2007 we began hearing the phrase “Generation 700.” Generation 700 refers to the employment conditions of college graduates who, although possessing multiple degrees, are condemned to a salary ceiling of 700 euro monthly. These jobs were also often contractual and not permanent, creating a very unstable outlook for their future. As a result, more and more 20- to 30-year-olds are still living with their parents and have no plans for marriage or family in the near future.
The recent financial crisis has made the situation worse. The austerity measures which Greece has taken in order to satisfy the EU and the IMF will take a tremendous toll on the average worker and the retiree. The average wage in Greece is one of the lowest of the EU member states. Workers already burdened with a soaring inflation rate and increasing costs for utilities are finding themselves having to cut back on even the bare essentials. Generation 700 has now become Generation 500! Pundits exclaim that Greece may see its first wave of 21st century immigration out of the country, and consequently experience an enormous brain drain that will worsen the deficit of an already overburdened social security system. I remain optimistic, however, that the cycle of depression will come to an end, leaving behind a more resilient and resourceful society. After all we are Greeks and through the thousands of years of the existence of this great nation it has stayed the test of time!
Recession Affects All Generations Economically; While Impact Varies, It Heightens Intergenerational Tension
by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research
Negotiating generational differences in the workplace can be tough. Today’s economic recession makes relationships between generational groups even more complicated.
Many Boomers feel like they have had the rug snatched out from under them. Their home equity values have plummeted, and their retirement savings have dwindled. Now, many remain in the workforce not because they can, but because they must. A significant number who have left the workforce are seeking their way back. “Middle Boomers,” those between the ages of 52 and 58, face the biggest difficulties. According to a Walletpop article, many of these Boomers are delaying retirement from age 65 to age 70—and 85% of those planning to delay retirement have been hurt financially in the recession. The biggest pain for Boomers is not necessarily the rate of unemployment, but the length of time unemployed. Members of this generation take on average 22 weeks to find a new job, compared to only 15 weeks for those aged 20 to 24, according to USA Today.
Although they spend less time in the unemployment line, many more Millennials are also finding themselves there these days. According to U.S. News and World Report, unemployment hovers at 10% for the general population, but averages a whopping 20% for those between 16 and 19 years old. Unpaid internships are on the rise. College graduates are waiting tables. The same report cites evidence that a low starting salary can follow someone throughout the early portion of his or her career. During the 1981-82 recession, graduates who found employment earned an average of 25% less than those who began work during good economic times. The earnings gap often persisted up to 15 years later.
Millennials enter the workforce with more economic pressures than preceding generations, particularly because of the debt they’ve incurred. According to an article in USA Today, two-thirds of young adults in their 20s carry some debt; this same age group tends to be late to pay off loans, too. While credit cards are part of the problem, the fastest growing group of debtors are those owing $20,000 or more in student loan payments.
With the relative lack of media coverage about them, one might assume Generation X is weathering the recession just fine. In fact, however, Gen Xers are suffering for the second time. Many of them first entered the job market during the dot.com era, when jobs were plentiful—but then suddenly vanished. Now, just as they’ve settled into homes and established their families, they are hit hard by the current recession. According to MSNBC, this generation is the first to go largely without pensions and other job securities long enjoyed by Boomers.
Given economic insecurities, employees of all ages are tense, frustrated, on edge. When they begin to think the younger generation is hot on their heels, older workers become tense. When they and their friends fail to find summer jobs because post-retirees have taken them, younger workers become tense. When they can’t visualize career growth because they know the people above them are delaying retirement, middle-aged workers become tense. Employers can address these economy-based concerns by approaching hard decisions with compassion. When workers must be let go, employers need to show as much compassion for remaining workers as is practical—remembering that top talent can and will leave if dissatisfaction is allowed to fester. Finding flexible solutions, such as across-the-board pay reductions in lieu of layoffs, demonstrates that employers care and are willing to share economic pain.
In his Harvard Business Review blog, Vijay Govindarajan makes a fascinating link between the Hindu worldview and successful long-term business strategies.
Though the Hindu religion recognizes millions of gods, he writes, there are three main Hindu deities: Vishnu, the god of preservation; Shiva, the god of destruction; and Brahma, the god of creation. According to Hindu philosophy, preservation-destruction-creation is a continuous cycle without a beginning or an end.Too often, he argues, companies go wrong by concentrating solely on preservation–that is, on managing costs and meeting the demands of the current moment. Companies that grow give as much attention to the other two phases of the life cycle: destroying or selectively abandoning past strategies, and creating wholly new ones attuned to global, nonlinear shifts.
This is the challenge for large companies, especially in an economic downturn: to create their future while managing their present. How good is your organization, Govindarajan asks, in managing the preservation-destruction-creation cycle?
When It Comes to 21st Century Families, Individualistic American Worldview Bending Toward Communal: Multi-Generational Homes Make a Comeback
by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research —
The “traditional” nuclear family may seem like an American ideal. Indeed, starting just after World War II and continuing to its peak in the 1980s, the nuclear family was the norm. But an early 1940s trend that faded, yet started a slow resurgence in the late 1990s, is gaining steam: multi-generational families.
Increasingly, two generations of adult family members are sharing a roof. Some of you may say this reflects an increase in elderly parents moving in with their adult children, where they are poised to help raise grandchildren and even contribute financially to the household. Some of you will attribute the trend to an increase in young, unwed mothers whose parents are willing and able to help raise their grandchildren as part of their household. Others will point to “Boomerang” Millennials, who return to their parents’ home to take up residence, often due to economic struggles particularly during this Great Recession. And still others of you will note that rising rates of immigration—particularly among Latinos and Asians, who highly value families and respect their elders—are responsible for this trend.
All of you are correct.
The trend toward multi-generational households is multi-faceted, and shows several social trends converging. A difficult economy, increased immigration, greater longevity, delayed marriage, and even work-life struggles (working moms seeking reliable care may prefer a parent to a day care center) are all factors in the rise of many-generation families.
According to this Pew Research Center report, Boomerang adults are most responsible for the rapid increase in multi-generational households. In 1980, 11 percent of young adults (between the ages of 24 to 35) returned home to live with their parents. By 2008, 20 percent of young adults returned home. Interestingly, this age group is the only one in which men make up the greater share. Among the elderly, the reverse is true: Women are a larger portion of those in multi-generational homes. Overall among the elderly, the same percentage as young adults (20 percent) enjoy a multi-generational home, up from 17 percent in the 1980s.
Culture and ethnicity contribute to the trend. According to Pew, “Hispanics (22%), blacks (23%), and Asians (25%) are all significantly more likely than whites (13%) to live in a multi-generational household.” This is a natural behavioral interpretation of the communal worldview of these racial/ethnic groups. Even so, multi-generational households increased across all populationsbetween 2006 and 2008. Why may this be for European Americans? As we indicate in our Hewitt crosscultural training, worldviews are significantly influenced by what is required for a community to survive and thrive. And changing conditions for European Americans plus the influence of a greater number of communal diverse groups in American society, are leading to new interpretations of family that bend somewhat away from an exceptionally strong individualistic bent to a more communal one.
The lifestyle implications of multi-generational households are abundant, ranging from increased grandchild/grandparent interaction to increased strife among in-laws. But these lifestyle changes also make themselves felt in the workforce, where they are less likely to be acknowledged or addressed. For example:
- Women—and men—who are sandwiched between caring for their children and their older, in-residence parent, often struggle with work-life balance.
- According to this PBS article, they also may need health care emphasizing stress relief.
- Older, but still working-age, women—and men–who are rearing their grandchildren may need increased health care for themselves, and also may struggle to secure health care for those grandkids (particularly when the parent is unemployed).
- These same grandparents may require legal support to ensure guardianship of their grandchildren if needed.
The benefits of multi-generational households can greatly outweigh its challenges. Employers savvy about this trend can look for creative ways to support members of multi-generational households, thus helping preserve a strong and growing kind of family unit.
by Andrés T. Tapia; Research by Susan Welch and Leonardo Sforza, Hewitt Research in US and Europe —
A massive demographic tectonic shift is rattling Europe — its unsettling tremors reshaping the European Union’s human geography; the aftershocks splintering European notions of egalité, fairness, and nationality; the fear of a cataclysmic population earthquake polarizing the citizenry.
The first set of waves of a tsunami of change crashing against Europe’s shores looks like this: while the European population, due to is rapidly aging workforce is declining, 80% of its population growth in the past decade has been due to immigration which slowed down but not stopped the population slide. The Telegraph reports that 0ver the past 30 years, Europe’s Muslim population has doubled; it is expected to double again by 2015. By 2050, 20% of Europeans will be Muslim. Eastern Europeans have flooded Western Europe as the EU has reduced restrictions on the flow of labor within the Continent.
While Academic research suggests immigration’s net effect on the economies of EU countries has been positive, immigrants arriving in search of work are triggering a polarization of attitudes by the native born. They now often find themselves the targets of a new wave of resentment that threatens to derail the self image many Europeans have of being grounded in the soil of the Enlightenment.
As I prepared through research and interveiws for the keynote address I delivered at the World Diversity Leadership Summit-Europe in Vienna earlier in March, it was clear that a perfect storm of rising immigration rates and declining economies brews throughout the European Union. Overall, unemployment in the EU has risen steadily, from 7.5% in 2008 to 9.5% in 2009. Latvia and Spain have been the hardest hit, with unemployment reaching 22% and 19% respectively.
The counterwave to the rising tide of outsiders is showing up in various forms. The BBC News reports that tensions between native-born workers and immigrants have steadily grown.
Statistics published by the Italian government blame immigrants for rising unemployment. Spain recently launched a program to encourage unemployed immigrants to return home. Polls show British citizens cite an influx of immigrants as a leading cause of unemployment. In Germany, a new citizenship application has been denounced as a “Muslim test,” designed to keep that immigrant group from growing further. In 2005 Paris experienced rioting by its Muslim-based immigrant population; today, France, 9% Muslim, is seeking to ban headscarves in various public venues. Switzerland, currently 4% Muslim, has banned minarets on all new construction. In the Netherlands, nearly 5.8% Muslim, the murder of a Dutch filmmaker by a Muslim in 2004 is still a rallying point for anti-Muslim feeling.
The EU has taken steps to help ease the situation, issuing both the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive, adopted in 2000. The directives require member countries to build support structures that allow legal support against discrimination. These regulations not only serve to offer protections but they also have become a rallying cry for the many, many Europeans who despite changes all around them, are committed to diversity and inclusion.
Employers who do buck current scapegoating trends to pursue business savvy diversity and inclusion efforts find themselves in good company–successful European companies such as Danone, Sodexo and Accor have been leading the way in recent years. In 2008 anticipating this time, Siemens CEO told the Financial Times that the management in his German-based company was “too German, white, and male.” They and other leading companies see that their futures lies in being able to embrace and practice a much fuller and complex diversity and inclusion approach.
The World Diversity Leadership Summitconference, hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Finance and attended by 300 leaders from corporations, government, and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and which at one point had 30,000 hits on its live video web stream, had the stated goal of “Leveraging Global and European Diversity in 2020.”
The tsunami of change is inevitable. Which are the companies and countries that do what it takes to ride it rather than be swept by it?
by Andrés T. Tapia; research by Susan Welch and Leonardo Sforza —
VIENNA — “Pressure is building against the glass ceilings, glass cliffs, and career labyrinths that women in Europe continue to face,” says Dr. Elisabeth Kelan, Assistant Professor at King’s College in London and a leading scholar and author on gender and generations. At this past week’s World Diversity Leadership Summit hosted by the Austrian Ministry of Finance and where I met Dr. Kelan, several of the speakers and many of the attendees, three-fourths of whom were women, echoed the sentiment.
When it comes to eliminating gender inequalities, Europe’s record is as varied as the people groups who live there. Back in the 1970s, it was Sweden who pioneered the “equality in government” movement, requiring at least 40 percent of its MPs to be women. Similar laws followed in Norway, Denmark and Finland. Once Scandinavian women began assuming more positions of leadership, a ripple effect began to be felt elsewhere. In Austria today, more than half of the country’s senior ministers are women and women outnumber men in the Spanish Cabinet.
Despite these advances, I personally have witnessed many situations where the dearth of the presence of women in leadership forums has a distinct retro feel. Did I just step into the 1950s? The women I talked to at and outside the conference concur but many sense that the moment to demand change has come. The contradictions have become more blatant and the pipeline of highly educated and career experienced women is as strong and robust as it has ever been.
The clamor is rising that despite more college-aged women than men complete upper and postsecondary education European women , on average still earn 15-18% less than men in comparable jobs. The gap is widest in Estonia and Cyprus, where men earn 25 percent more than their female counterparts. Furthermore, in every age group more men than women are employed, and women are more likely to be employed part-time.
As is always the case, women’s disadvantages in the workplace are linked to other disadvantages. Women spend less time pursuing leisure activities than men, and more time doing household chores. They stand a greater chance of living in poverty. And although women in Europe tend to outlive men, they also report more longstanding health concerns.
The mood at the World Diversity Leadership Summit in Vienna, was one of, how shall I say it, cynical hope. Cynical about the men in power being willing to do much about the gap, but hope that a growing diversity movement fueled by the rise of highly educated and ambitious women and supported by a growing body of legislation can close the gap.
As a keynote speaker, I joined in with 200+ participants in brainstorming stategies to most effectively “recruit and manage diverse talent by 2020.” Some European employers are coming to understand that they can do more to close the gender gap, and that they will benefit significantly if they do. A recent study by the European Commission found that Europe would see a 30 percent increase in GDP if the employment gender gap can be eliminated.
Consider these encouraging signs:
- The European Union’s “European Strategy for Jobs Growth” set a goal of 60% employment for women by 2010; as of 2008, 59.1% of women were employed.
- In 2006, Norway passed legislation requiring the boards of all public companies to include at least 40 percent women by 2008, which has resulted in revitalized and more cosmopolitan leadership. At least half a dozen other EU countries are considering similar measures.
- Successful companies in Europe are promoting women in leadership. Sodexo, Deutsche Bank, and Novartis are all examples of corporations who have become convinced of the business benefits of women in leadership and increased their already existing commitments to help more women enter positions of power. Recently, Paris-headquartered Sodexo CEO Michel Landel declared publicly at an event I attended in New York City that 25% of executives’ bonuses are tied to achieving diversity goals especially one that states that 24% of the top 300 leaders will be women within the next few years. Currently 19% are. In defending against accusations of using quotas in setting gender representation goals, he replied, “We set goals for every business objective. This is no different.”
- There is a current campaign “Close the Gender Gap Campaign” by the European Commission’s Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities entity. Here’s an ad from the European edition of Newsweek. It contains a link to the Commission’s web page dedicated to the cause: http://ec.europa.eu/equalpay
Despite these good news of these advances, the economic crisis of the last two years threatens to slow down progress. According to the European Commission:
“Recent analysis of national responses to the crisis confirms the risk of downgrading the status of equality policies or reducing budgets allocated to these policies. Some gender equality measures have been cancelled or delayed and possible future cuts in public budgets may have a negative effect on female employment and on the promotion of equality.”
Despite this warning, given the energy at the WDLS conference and the various legislative initiatives the push for closing the pay gap should yield results. At Hewitt offices in Europe we see increased requests from companies for help with assessing if they have gaps and, if so, how to close them.
The bigger challenge lies in seeing greater promotions of women into managerial and leadership positions. “Until the profile of the ‘ideal worker’ is named and challenged for being based on the preferred characteristics of white males,” says Dr. Kelan from King’s College, “women as well as people with different racial backgrounds will continue to fall short of being considered.”
In my last post I offered five ways businesses are finding that the world is upside down. Here are five more changes of historic proportions transforming the economic, political and social landscapes in which we do business:
#6 To have a disability is to be differently abled. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five Americans (54 million) has some form of disability, making this the largest minority group, and an increasingly vital sector of the workforce. As I discuss in The Inclusion Paradox, the U.S. Department of Labor has found that more young people with disabilities are graduating from high school and college. And according to the Job Accommodation Network, workers with disabilities have performance and retention ratings comparable to those without disabilities.
#7 Women are losing fewer jobs than men in the recession. According to USA TODAY, men lost 74% of the 6.4 million jobs erased between December 2007 and June 2009. Partly as a result of the shrinking male-dominated construction and manufacturing markets, women became a majority in the U.S. workforce for the first time in 2009.
#8 Corporate Social Responsibility is about giving AND receiving. Companies around the globe are recognizing that diversity and inclusion are not only social values, but business values–vital to sustained, long-term profitability. Case studies of Bank of America, IBM, Allstate, Sodexo and other corporations tell this story again and again.
#9 White men must be included in diversity efforts. Businesses who successfully leverage diversity as part of their strategy to remain profitable have come to understand that white men are also members of a nuanced cultural group, and that they are integral to helping diversity efforts succeed. Consulting firms such as White Men as Full Diversity Partners, as well as the successful diversity efforts of companies such as Georgia Power and Coca-Cola bear witness to this trend.
#10 Green is the new black. As consumer attention begins to shift more toward environmental concerns, companies are increasingly “going green”. Even more significant, many companies have discovered that there are solid economic incentives for reducing waste and moving toward more sustainable business measures. By “going green” companies have already succeeded in reducing costs and increasing sales.
How is your company responding to these monumental changes? I invite you to respond on this blog with your comments and questions. And if these topics interest you, follow me on Twitter as well, where this list first appeared in abbreviated form.
by Andrés T. Tapia —
Though the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman argues that the world is flat, I say the world is not flat–it’s upside down. Daily, even hourly, we feel the aftershocks at work. Changes of historic proportions are transforming the economic, political and social landscapes in which we do business. Here are five of the Top Ten transformations:
#1 In many parts of the US, to be a minority is to be a majority. Texas, California, New Mexico, Hawaii and the District of Columbia are all now what census experts call “minority-majority,” a term used to describe an area whose composition is less than 50% Caucasian. In addition, the percentage of non-Hispanic white residents has fallen below 60% in Maryland, Georgia, Nevada, Arizona, New York and Mississippi.
#2 To be an economic superpower is to be a declining power. The US is still the world’s only economic superpower–but it is a superpower in decline. In World War for Wealth: The Global Grab for Power and Prosperity, Gabor Steingart discusses how the rise of developing countries, especially in Asia, has led to a decline of the US national economy that many blue- and white-collar workers experience as absolute. They possess less money, they are shown less respect in society and their chances for climbing up the social ladder have deteriorated dramatically.
#3 To be a developing country is to be an ascending country. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, the fastest growing economies in the world are located in developing countries–mainly in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
#4 To be young is to be experienced. As I discuss in The Inclusion Paradox, for Millennials the upside-down world is right-side-up because it’s what they grew up with. Experience and knowledge are no longer correlated with age; they show up to work iPoded, cell-phoned, globally traveled, socially networked and ready to multi-task–often more technically equipped for today’s workplace than people twice their age.
#5 The US has an African American president. The election of Barack Obama was a defining moment that captured both metaphorically and literally the zeitgeist of the times. That’s why my book, subtitled The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity, uses Obama’s statements and election as a canvas for exploring our current cultural change.
Later this week I’ll be offering five more ways businesses are finding that the world is upside down. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter, where this countdown first appeared in abbreviated form.
Tap the Power of Global Diversity to Reinvent Yourselves, Economy — Urgent Message to Graduating Students
by Andrés T. Tapia —
I recently joined diversity executives from IBM, PepsiCo and Wal-Mart on a panel at Wake Forest University’s Schools of Business. The message to students at the 2010 Marketing Summit was clear: As globalization advances, the old rules in business don’t apply. Your biggest challenge is going to be pushing yourself to see things anew–again and again and again. And that means knowing how to see and capitalize on diversity.
“Diversity goes beyond race and gender,” said PepsiCo’s Chief Global Diversity and Inclusion Officer Ronald C. Parker. “It’s about innovation, collaboration and agility. In our careers we need to press the reset button regularly. Reinvent ourselves every 3 years.” Ronald C. Glover, IBM’s vice president of diversity and workforce programs for IBM took the metaphor even further, telling students to “hit the reset button every 18 months. Maybe every day.”
Esther Silver-Parker, senior vice president of corporate affairs for Wal-Mart, urged students not to make the mistake of staying in a “mirror image” mindset, assuming they can get the job done by gravitating toward those who look like they look and think like they think. Glover agreed: “The talent the world needs is everywhere now,” he said. “The world is less forgiving of those of you who can’t keep up.”
Perhaps one of the most provocative insights business students heard was Ron Parker’s idea that recessions are the economy’s reset buttons–pushed when a stagnant “system mired in excesses, inefficiencies and misaligned priorities” needs to be purged. Visionary business leaders who see and think diversely–who are willing to press their own reset buttons–are needed to help restart the economy and keep it fresh.
The panel was moderated by Wake Forest’s Dean of Business Steve Reinemund, the only former Fortune 100 CEO who currently heads a top business school. During his six years as Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, Reinemund implemented a broad range of business strategies that analysts credit for much of the company’s financial success — as exemplified by a 50% increase in Pepsico’s share price during his six-year tenure. But Reinemund, who made diversity and inclusion a key business imperative at Pepsico while CEO, believes that economic success did not just come from the financial and product strategies he implemented. In his final press conference as he retired from Pepsico he answered the question of what he felt would be his greatest legacy for the company: creating a culture of inclusion he answered without skipping a beat. Now he is bringing both his keen business mind and passion for diversity to attract a more diverse body of business students.
Reinemund’s success, as well as the panelists’ insights, underscores the message of The Inclusion Paradox that I shared with students: The world is not flat; it’s upside down. Celebrating and understanding differences is no longer enough. You have to know how to leverage those differences.And in upside down world, where the old rules don’t work anymore, what new solutions can you offer that will hit the reset button in how we do business and engage our talent?
by Andrés T. Tapia — Race relations continue to undergo profound shifts as the first ever African American US president is about to complete one year in office. Are things better or worse? The answer is both. Understanding this is essential to be able to better manage diversity in these transformational times.
Evidence of better is fueled both by the powerful imagery of a black commander-in-chief showing up daily in the news and by shared difficult economic times. Worse is evidenced by the rise in hate crimes, a significantly polarized political environment with racial undertones, and the fact that for many minorities many things don’t seem to have changed much.
Let’s just take a look at a couple of recent news stories telling these two diverging tales. Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times’ “A Racial Divide Is Bridged by Recession.”
During the housing boom, Henry County, a suburb of Atlanta, had its share of racial tension as more and more blacks joined the tens of thousands of others pouring in, creating a standoffish gap between the newcomers and the county’s oldtimers.
But the recession has begun to erase those differences.
Blacks and whites have encountered one another in increasing numbers recently in the crowded waiting rooms of the welfare office and at the food pantry, where many of both races have ventured for the first time. Struggling black-owned businesses are attracting the attention of white patrons. Neighbors are commiserating across racial lines.
… “There used to be a lot of racial tension here, but everybody knows that we need each other to survive this recession,” said Eugene Edwards, the president of the Henry County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “People now, they seem to be starting to care for one another.”
But on the other hand, here’s another recent New York Times story that shows that little seems to have changed, “In Job Hunt, Even a College Degree Can’t Close the Racial Gap.”
There is ample evidence that racial inequities remain when it comes to employment. Black joblessness has long far outstripped that of whites. And strikingly, the disparity for the first 10 months of this year, as the recession has dragged on, has been even more pronounced for those with college degrees, compared with those without. Education, it seems, does not level the playing field — in fact, it appears to have made it more uneven.
College-educated black men, especially, have struggled relative to their white counterparts in this downturn, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate for black male college graduates 25 and older in 2009 has been nearly twice that of white male college graduates — 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent.
…A study published several years ago in The American Economic Review titled “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal?” found that applicants with black-sounding names received 50 percent fewer callbacks than those with white-sounding names.
These two articles pull us in different directions in terms of whether race relations have improved. They are further evidence that in these upside-down times we’d better get better at Both/And Thinking and analysis and less trapped in the current either/or mindset dominating the airwaves and blogosphere. Not only is it less polarizing, it is also more helpful in determining what is going on and in so doing be better able to develop solutions that more realistically take into account paradox rather than submerging one truth to prove the other.
A good place to explore this issue and make the discussion on inclusion relevant is through diversity training. How are you applying Both/And Thinking in your organization?
In the midst of the lingering economic crisis, we should not just look at how many people are not working who want to, but we also need to look at the quality of the jobs. The Economic Policy Institute just released a study on how people of color fare in accessing good jobs. The answer is not pretty. Here’s their paper’s opening statement:
“The lack of “good” jobs is a serious problem for all Americans and an especially dire problem for America’s people of color. The current recession has highlighted overall job loss and the need for robust job creation; however, we must also look at the quality of those jobs. The United States has too few good jobs, and the share has been declining over time. A recovery that creates millions of low-wage, no-benefit jobs is not a real recovery at all.
“This Briefing Paper uses a minimal definition of a “good” job. It defines a good job as one that pays a wage that can support a family and that provides health care and retirement benefits. Using this minimal standard, the paper shows that Hispanics are less than half as likely as whites to have good jobs, and African Americans are about two-thirds as likely. When comparing workers of the same educational level, whites are also more likely to have good jobs than Asian Americans. The large share of college graduates among Asian Americans, however, hides their disadvantage when one examines the group as a whole. Generally, people of color have less access than whites to quality jobs.”