By Polo Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
Achieving diversity has been a “challenge” for all corporations because they do not see the value of including the perspective of the “others” and their deeply embedded beliefs that their primary “customers” will not accept the vision and guidance of those that do not look like them. Or the founders were racists, and were accepted as quirky because they launched a product that sold successfully. Most importantly, they feel that their target customers are enough to make them financially profitable and will sustain that profitability. A guiding principle in businesses is to know who your product or service is targeting, and in the clash between financial goals and human rights, human rights will be included only if it increases sales or mitigates a possible sales slump. The NFL is not changing because it changed its mind and heart; it is changing because they saw their target demographic marching against injustice.
Most corporations bet on the targeted approach process, the focus on a group they feel they can serve, not as a risk of alienating others, but as a choice to create specialized services for the chosen clientele. When the focus is to sell product, then the larger more humane challenge of being inclusive is easily ignored and purposefully thrown by the way side. Unless that diversity opens a new market that they do not have assets for. Want to open up the African – American market, well you need to look for someone who understands that demographic.
When people are hired into a company, they are expected to present themselves as close to the folks that are hiring them as possible because those folks believe that the success of the company has a lot to do with the choices they are making, even if they are wrong. Most corporations allow change only in time of crisis, those “what have we got to lose” moments can be opportunities for real change, but it creates a lot of stress for the new employees to execute immediately or else.
For an organization to be open to diversity, its founders must set a vision for that company from the start that includes a platform of inclusiveness and diversity as a tool for its growth and governance. The moral imperative that needs to drive that decision is a believe that everyone is important and that the skills necessary for the success of the enterprise is available in all communities, and is also willing to develop those skills in a diverse population so as to represent all visions and voices in its businesses.
The cost of not doing this development work can be seen in all of the inequities in the business world, and in the communities that suffer because of the lack of vision and courage and biases held by people in power; those that have the ability to make fiscal changes.