Archived: Ask the White Guy: Why Do People Get Tired of Diversity

You should read David Brooks‘ recent column “The Great Migration” on the New York Times website. He lays out why and how more accomplished people are moving to places where there are other accomplished people. He describes the ramifications of “positive ecologies” and “negative ecologies.” I believe this is mirrored in corporate “ecologies,” that a company with a negative ecology puts itself in a death spiral—which cannot be reversed without a concerted and overt emphasis on strategic diversity management, reputation and ethics.

Disparities in Income

I think the trend of competitive people clustering will accelerate as global economics continue to evolve. Despite more than one-third of the world living on less than $2 a day, the average wage for every earner on the planet, according to the BBC article “Where are you on the global pay scale,” is $18,000 per year in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) dollars, which expresses what it would cost in the U.S. to get equivalent goods and services in your own country. The growth of the global middle class is accelerating for the same reason that the sorting inside our country is accelerating: technological advances in communication and transfer of money.

What’s the problem The average wage in the United States is $42,980 (compared to $18,000 for the global average, which includes the United States). As economies grow, more people will be able to find work globally and there will be wealth generated, but not enough in the United States to keep up with the global growth rate. That means our average wage will likely continue to shrink as the developing world rises.

Why Top Performers Seek Diverse & Inclusive Workplaces

This tells me that the sorting trend is going to accelerate. The most talented people from around the world will sort themselves out. Many will come to the United States (if our government can get out of their way), since our economy is the largest on the planet. And the folks already here, your potential human capital, will aggressively sort themselves out, with the best and brightest proactively seeking “positive ecologies.”

Which folks are going to be attracted to YOUR company Which business partners

If you are a diversity practitioner and are concerned about “diversity fatigue,” here’s what I suggest you do: Connect the dots between reputation and talent development, philanthropy and supplier diversity. Reach out to your government-relations and marketing people, so they have a coherent understanding of your diversity reputation and how it applies to their roles. I still see many corporate diversity efforts (most not-for-profit and ALL federal-sector efforts) relegated to window dressing. Seen your budget shrink That’s evidence of a sorting process, and you need to focus on getting that reversed. It starts with connecting the dots between your efforts and strategic trends.

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

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