Corporate Diversity Survey Shows Slow, Steady Progress

A D&I expert sifts through the results of a recent corporate inclusion survey to make sense of the findings and offer some best practice tips for associations.

Organizations have heard it over and over: There’s a serious business case to be made for implementing a meaningful diversity and inclusion strategy.

But organizations are still struggling to do that effectively, according to the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility’s 2013 Corporate Inclusion Index.

To make meaningful D&I progress, “it has to be more than just because the population is increasingly diverse, even though that’s part of it.”

In its fifth year, the survey measures Hispanic inclusion among Fortune 100 and HACR member companies “by focusing on HACR’s four pillars of corporate social responsibility and market reciprocity”—employment, procurement, philanthrophy, and government, according to an HACR statement. The 2013 survey saw a number of positive trends continue—including an increase in participation among Fortune 100 companies (39 percent answered the survey) and in the number of Hispanics who make up the for-profit employment population (13 percent)—but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

“Though there is still much work to be done, the significance of the trends we have seen show us that the strength of the Hispanic consumer continues to grow and Corporate America must recognize that the Hispanic population is the key to renewing an aging labor force and essential to preserving market position,” said Dr. Lisette M. Garcia, director of the HACR Research Institute.

Andrés Tapia, a senior partner at leadership and talent consulting firm Korn Ferry, said the survey shows that D&I success is a focus for many companies, but “the question is, how effective is that focus and that attention to it?  The answer there depends on the company, the executive leaders, and the resources available to drive the work of diversity forward.”

To make meaningful progress, organizations first need to understand why D&I is important to their organization, Tapia said. “It has to be more than just because the population is increasingly diverse, even though that’s part of it. What do the minority communities bring to the table in terms of the skills and capabilities and education? You need to know what the available talent pool looks like in whatever industry you’re in.”

Then, in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, organizations need to know the marketplace, what types of products and services people from those communities seek out, and how the organization can help them, said Tapia.

“Answering those questions will inform your business strategies about Latinos or any other community, and that will help you understand why you need more diverse talent, not only at the entry level, but at every level of the organization,” he said. “You need people in decision-making positions that can really bring to bear the knowledge of the marketplace.”

Once those questions are answered, then an organization can begin to address how to make their workforce more diverse.

“What are these communities looking for in terms of a job, in terms of environment, in terms of workplace culture, in terms of the community, and how well does your organization reflect some of those cultural aspirations?” Tapia said. “Reflect on whether you are attractive from that perspective. You might offer a good job and good pay, but what’s the environmental situation?”

While corporate America has improved steadily toward building a diverse workforce, according to HACR’s survey, many companies still lack diverse representation at the board level: Only 5 percent of corporate board members are Hispanic, and just 1 percent are Latino.

“Too many groups focus on representation by just saying, ‘Oh, we only have 1 percent of people on the board who are Latino or 5 percent who are diverse,’ and that’s a good worry, but then they zero in on the hiring and think that they can just hire their way into a more diverse situation,” Tapia said. “The real issue is, are you building a true pipeline of talent? There’s a lack of understanding about how to advance these people up the ladder from entry-level and hourly positions. If groups start to build their talent from the middle up—hire Latino senior leaders and managers—that’ll be a much more sustainable approach.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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