What They’re Saying: Diversity Strategies to Keep Occupy Wall Street Protesters at Bay

Recent news coverage of the growing OWS/99 Percent movement highlights underlying social inequities and the need for proactive diversity management.

99 percent OWS protestorsOccupy Wall Street (OWS) is rapidly growing. What began last month as a moderately sized gathering of about 2,000 New Yorkers to protest the perceived greed of Wall Street—and its resulting inequities—has since erupted into an international phenomenon, the 99 Percent movement, which currently totals more than 1,500 protests in 82 countries. So how can you keep your company from being an OWS target?

We see this relating back to diversity management in three key areas:

Corporate reputation: The public was up in arms when several Wall Street corporations accepted taxpayer bailouts to avoid bankruptcy and then proceeded to dole out hefty bonuses to its executives. With now-tarnished reputations, these organizations give protesters a key target to blame for continued economic inequity. Keep your executives accountable for achieving individual, non-financial initiatives, such as diversity goals, and publicize these efforts to help avoid attacks from protesters.

Intergenerational communications: A majority of OWS protesters are millennials, a tech-savvy, self-promoting generation of people in their 20s and early 30s whom many employers struggle to understand. (Many are recent college grads who can’t find jobs and have plenty of time to stake it out on the picket lines.) A survey we summarize on BestPractices.DiversityInc.com details how to successfully engage Generation Y workers so they will be peer advocates for your company, while our Generations at Work webinar discusses these strategies further.

Philanthropy: It’s hard to pin a scarlet letter on an organization that has a history of corporate responsibility. Make sure your actions speak louder than words; get involved in your community. Research on employee volunteer programs—such as those at PricewaterhouseCoopers (No. 3 in The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity) and Prudential Financial (No. 16)—shows that 78 percent of employees value a company’s ethical status more than the salary they receive.

Will Occupy Wall Street Occupy Your Front Entrance?

Gain further insight into how the 99 Percent movement is impacting corporate America and why diversity management is key to the solution in DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column on DiversityInc.com, and in the roundup of relevant OWS/99 Percent news coverage below.

What the Occupy Protests Can Do Next
Christian Science Monitor reports that continuing income inequality following the housing bubble will sustain OWS protests.

Cantor Discovers Income Inequality
The House majority leader admits to the existence of economic injustice, calling to solve the disparity with more high-income friendly legislation.

The Fight for Equality from MLK to Occupy Wall Street
Huffington Post blogger makes the case that racial equality is akin to the social and economic justice that OWS supports.

Video: MLK’s Daughter: My Father Would Have Supported The 99 Percent Movement
Rev. Bernice King calls OWS “a freedom explosion” for racial and economic injustice.

Dr. Boyce: Black People Need to ‘Occupy Wall Street’ Too
News One column calls Blacks to the front lines to combat inequality in wealth, homelessness and job distribution.

Protesting for Diversity: Occupy Wall Street Round Table
Latino USA’s roundtable debates how OWS directly links to the prominence of racial injustice and grassroots inequality over the last decade.

Video: Danny Glover’s Inspiring OWS Speech: “You Represent Troy Davis”
Danny Glover asserts to protesters the need to stand together to represent all the non-union workers, people who are homeless and those who are dispossessed to bring about economic change.

From Tahrir to Wall Street: The Role of Religion in Protest Movements
A Huffington Post blog details how the Faith and Spirituality tent at Occupy Boston creates a space for equality and diversity celebration.

Video: Russell Simmons Joins Occupy Wall Street Movement
The hip-hop entrepreneur shares with The Washington Post his support for OWS and its stance on love, justice and unity.

Video: Kanye West Occupying Wall Street
In this BET.com video, R&B artist “silently” supports giving economic power back to the people.

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