Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hispanic Heritage Month Facts & Figures

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed National Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968. The commemoration was expanded to a month in 1988. September 15 is the first day because it marks the anniversary of Independence for five Latin American countries.

Latinos are the fastest growing “minority” group in the United States. Their population increased 107 percent from 1998 to 2008, compared with 14 percent for the non-Latino population and 22 percent for the total population. Only Mexico has a Latino population larger than the United States. The buying power of Latinos in the United States, a $1 trillion in 2010, is larger than the entire economies of all but 14 countries in the world. It’s projected to increase 50 percent by 2015, almost double the 27 percent national projected growth rate.

 
Courtesy of: Diversity Inc.

Creating an Inclusive Environment for All Religions

By Sam Ali

Is your company able to deal with religious bias, such as the current anti-Muslim rhetoric? Progressive companies with clearly stated values that hold people accountable for their actions offer valuable lessons. Get advice from companies such as IBM and American Express about how they handle these situations, and how employee-resource groups in particular can help them create inclusive workplaces.

Companies such as IBM Corp., No. 7 in The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®, and American Express, No. 13, say that sensitivity, training and flexibility can go a long way in creating a culture of inclusion and religious accommodation. In an article on DiversityInc.com, Kerrie Peraino, senior vice president, international human resources and global employee relations at American Express, discussed the importance of aligning employee-resource groups with corporate values.

“Before you plant any seed, you need a culture where people are encouraged to work together and respect one another,” Peraino said. “There must be an environment where personal accountability and integrity permeate through every action and transaction. When you start with a work culture that is inquisitive and [has] values alignment, there’s more room for various beliefs to be expressed and constructively contribute to employee and business success.”

So how do you ensure your workplace is inclusive for everyone, including those of minority religious faiths? What steps should employers take to steer their organizations toward a healthier, more diverse workplace?

  • Deep-rooted organizational values that respect customers, communities and employees are essential to an inclusive culture and a successful diversity initiative.

The companies that demonstrate long-term diversity success, such as IBM, for example, have intrinsic, strong moral codes that are at the backbone of every business decision they make.

“If you think about IBM’s values, at the end, it comes down to a single word in my mind, and that’s ‘relationships,'” says Ron Glover, vice president, diversity and workforce programs, human resources. “We do things that really bring value to and enable people and communities around the world to be successful and to take on the toughest problems they have. Then we look at trust and personal responsibility. All of those come down to a notion of enabling us to build relationships. That work formed a basis in our work in diversity as a way to bring different voices to the table and to build an environment within our company first and then across the organizations around the world.”

  • Companies that value diversity and inclusion often have strong employee-resource groups that are encouraged to cross-collaborate and to focus on education, awareness and inclusion.

American Express has a total of 14 ERGs, including three faith-based networks: SALT, the Christian network; CHAI, the Jewish network; and PEACE, the Muslim network. The groups are open to everyone and have senior-level sponsors.

“Although religious networks may seem complicated, at American Express, they’ve provided a very productive outlet for employees to fully engage at work, to learn more about themselves and each other and to build bridges to understanding,” Peraino said.

Twenty-eight percent of The 2011 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity report having faith-based ERGs, up from 10 percent in 2006.

A number of DiversityInc Top 50 companies have also started Middle East/North African ERGs, including Booz Allen Hamilton, No. 32; Cummins, No. 18; Eli Lilly, No. 39; Ford Motor Co., No. 47; General Mills, No. 27;Johnson & Johnson, No. 6; and Wells Fargo, No. 40.

  • Strong mentoring programs should have a cross-cultural component.

Almost all DiversityInc Top 50 companies encourage participants to findmentors who are both from their group (whether that’s defined by race, ethnicity, religion, age, orientation or ability) and not from their group. Employee-resource groups are often used to give employees access to mentors within their own groups and across groups. These mentoring programs must have structure, formal follow-up and measurable results.

  • Don’t just deliver the employee handbook and walk away. Continuously communicate. Make sure everyone is clear on your HR policies, and encourage discussion.

“Religious policies should also be backed up with training,” said Dr. Georgette F. Bennett, president of the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, in an article for DiversityInc. “An organization cannot assume that its policies and rationales are understood the same way by every employee, so an orientation of clear do’s and don’ts with periodic follow-up training ensures all employees are on the same page. This way, if an employee violates company policy, managers have clear guidelines upon which to fall back. When this happens, it also gives the employer an opportunity to see whether its policies or training protocol were unclear, while further teaching the employee about the organization’s expectations.”

Other steps organizations can take to create an inclusive workplace culture:

  • Schedule sensitively.

Keep a calendar of religious holidays handy, and be sure it’s available to managers and supervisors, Bennett said. When scheduling important meetings or celebrations, make sure they’re during a time when everyone necessary can attend.

  • Handle the holidays.

Official holidays in the United States are predominantly Christian, often forcing employees of other faiths to use vacation days to observe their holy days, she said. Implement flexible holiday policies such as holiday-swapping or floating personal days to give all employees an equal opportunity to observe.

Ushering In the ‘Re-Generation’

By W. Stanton Smith

Overheard while waiting for an elevator: An executive was invited to talk to some ninth-graders. He spoke of the journey through various jobs that built a successful business career. As he concluded his remarks, he opened up for questions. The students seemed a bit reluctant to speak. So he primed the discussion by saying, “Think about the future and tell me what you see yourself doing once you get your college degree.”

The ensuing silence was getting uncomfortable for the executive. In due course, the silence was broken by a student who said, “It’s simple. I’ll be doing what everyone else in this room will be doing … digging out from the hole your generation has put us in.” Others in the class nodded their heads in agreement.

The executive said, “How could they be so rude?” At this point his narrative was interrupted by the arrival of the elevator. The conversation picked up as the executive and his colleagues left the elevator. I heard no further details as they went in a different direction than I did.

The executive was clearly surprised and annoyed. But would he have been had he known about the latest research on generational attitudes? He still might not have appreciated the in-your-face attitude shown by the student, but he might have understood what was going on a bit better.

Valuing differing points of view is a part of the diversity discussion that needs to receive more emphasis. The mindset that accepts learning from differing viewpoints as a normal part of life is what is needed in these tumultuous times.

I’ve been in conversations where businesspeople have expressed the thought that views of young people are not to be taken all that seriously as they are still maturing and will, ultimately, change their minds about things many times. My response is that this may well be, but we in business and society will pay a price for this dismissive attitude in terms of a potentially disengaged, suspicious workforce that will not be as productive as it could be.

A New Generation Approaching

You may ask: “Aren’t these ninth-graders in the anecdote just the youngest of Generation Y?” The answer is: not really. There is a now successor generation to Gen Y, and they’ve had some very different life experiences. Tamara Erickson in her book “What’s Next Gen X?” has dubbed them the re-generation, and this is the term that will be used here.

I like this nomenclature because this successor generation will likely be about re-evaluating, re-thinking and re-generating what they will be inheriting. They are aware of the economic crisis and how it affects them. They have firsthand knowledge of foreclosures and losing jobs and homes. They have lived most, if not all, of their lives under terrorist alerts, financial concerns and now environmental disasters. As a consequence, re-gen will most likely be quite pragmatic, cautious and very concerned with stewardship of resources. They will be seeking a better way in all aspects of life. However, there also may be another “re” in store for us and that may be represented in the words “resentment of” or resenting the position they perceive that they’ve been put in.

If there was a mantra for re-gen, it might be: “Work, work and work some more. We don’t have much choice. It’s not as clear as it was for previous generations in the United States that we’re going to have as good—much less better—a life than they did. We don’t appreciate the hole that others have put us in. We’ve got to learn to cooperate, not just compete, all the time. Adults, are you listening?”

Selected Survey Results

To begin tracking the attitudes of these re-gen young people, I teamed up with Node Research to ask a series of questions about their thoughts on the future, who they view as valued sources of information and their political views. The survey was conducted in April. Results are based on Internet surveys with a nationally representative sample of 500 10- to 24-year-old males and females from different racial/ethnic groups (Black, Latino, Asian and white). For ease of analysis, the group was subdivided into 10- to 17-year-olds (re-gen) and 18- to 24-year-olds (Gen Y). I will focus on re-gen unless there is a notable difference between re-gen and Gen Y.

We asked the young people to rate statements on a scale of strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree and don’t know/need more information. Here are highlights.

Thoughts About the Future

“Because of the current financial crisis, I believe that ultimately I will not do as well financially as my parents have done.”

Forty-one percent of re-gens agree with this statement; 48 percent disagree; 11 percent don’t know/need more information. The only gender difference worth noting is that re-gen boys are slightly more optimistic than re-gen girls (52 percent of boys selected disagree versus 44 percent of the girls).

There are some ethnic differences: Latinos had the highest agreement percentages at 51 percent (i.e., least optimistic). The others are clustered near the average of 41 percent.

Taking a very broad look, it appears that re-gen is more or less equally divided between pessimists and optimists.

To give balance to the questions about the future, we asked the following:

“Financial crises come and go. I believe that ultimately I will do as well as, if not better than, my parents financially.”

Asked this way, the responses are more positive, with 67 percent agreeing, 23 percent disagreeing and 10 percent choosing don’t know/need more information.

Worth noting is that Asians (87 percent), Blacks (75 percent) and Latinos (86 percent) are well above their white counterparts (54 percent) in being positive about their futures. Surprisingly, the population’s majority group appears least positive about its future.

What do these seemingly conflicting results tell us? Without further research and analysis, it is difficult to know what is meant. It may show that where there is optimism, it is tentative. But we know for sure that, however we cut the results, white re-gens are the least optimistic, and this is a concern.

Valued Sources of Advice

We also wanted to understand who these young people depended upon to ask questions about the world around them. We asked respondents to rank-order eight sources of advice according to their value. Here is the ranking, from most valuable to least:

  • Parents/care providers
  • Other family members/adult friends
  • Teachers
  • Colleagues (classmates, coworkers, etc.)
  • TV news people
  • Internet (blogs et. al.)
  • Print publications
  • Religious leaders

Respondents cite parents/caregivers as No. 1 in value 58 percent of the time. All the other choices range between 5 percent and 8 percent in the percentage of times each was cited as No. 1 in value. In other words, despite the appearances to the contrary, youth want parents to engage them in discussion, and they value it highly. And if you are an adult friend, teacher, work colleague or religious leader, you are still valued as No. 1 about 24 percent of the time.

The media is well down the list of valued sources, but we didn’t know that at the time we developed the questions for the survey. Curious to gather perceptions of youth on media, we did so by asking them to respond to a statement I have heard from some young people:

“There is no real discussion of issues on TV, just people yelling at each other.”

The re-gen response is different from that of Gen Y. Forty-three percent of re-gen agree with the statement; 45 percent disagree; 12 percent chose “don’t know/need more information.” In contrast, 54 percent of Gen Y agree, while 36 percent disagree, with 10 percent selecting “don’t know/need more information.” This response fits with a pattern in some other research we’ve done that shows the closer youth get to graduating high school and getting out into the world, the more skeptical they appear to become.

Further evidence supporting this increasing skepticism is the fact that 62 percent of Gen Y boys agree with the survey statement versus only 41 percent of re-gen boys. Interestingly, there is no real difference between the views of Gen Y and re-gen girls (47 percent versus 46 percent).

Much more work needs to be done on media skepticism, but it is reasonable to conclude that about half of our youth (between the ages of 10 and 24) don’t see television as promoting responsible discussion of important issues.

Incipient Political Views

Just as we sought to collect views on the media, we added a survey statement concerning the Obama administration and how it is viewed by Gen Y and re-gen. On a four-point scale, ranging from very optimistic, somewhat optimistic, not very optimistic and not at all optimistic, this is the statement posed and the responses:

“How optimistic are you that President Obama and his administration will be able to solve the current economic problems?”

Sixty-one percent of re-gen is very/somewhat optimistic, while 39 percent is not very/not at all optimistic. The results for Gen Y are almost identical: 60 percent are very/somewhat optimistic and 40 percent are not very/not at all optimistic.

Re-gen boys are slightly more optimistic (64 percent) than re-gen girls (56 percent). The Gen Y results by gender are virtually the same: 63 percent of boys are slightly more optimistic versus 57 percent of girls.

But there are major differences among the four racial/ethnic groups. Again, white youth are far less optimistic than the other racial/ethnic groups: 51 percent of whites are very/somewhat optimistic and 49 percent are not very/not at all optimistic. By contrast, 81 percent of Blacks, 74 percent of Latinos and 70 percent of Asians are very/somewhat optimistic.

Where Does This Leave Us?

I hope that some of these findings will be surprising enough that researchers will start studying re-gens in earnest. The optimism-level gap between white and Asian, Black and Latino youth is worth immediate attention. Adults need to actively communicate with young people. However, a condescending manner that doesn’t appear to value their opinions and concerns is not the ticket.

Young people want an adult they respect to explain what’s going on and help them make sense of the world. In the absence of this kind of transparency, they are going to believe the worst. Let’s treat generational differences with respect and engage youth in discussions where they feel they are being heard.

Who knows? We might learn something too!

 

W. Stanton Smith is an author, featured speaker and recognized expert in generational issues in the workplace. Over his career, Smith has held a variety of senior HR positions in public accounting, executive search and the energy business. Smith recently retired from Deloitte LLP (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list) as a principal in human resources after more than 36 years in the business world. He continues his research, writing and speaking on the topic of generational differences. In addition, he is actively working to improve the treatment and care of people with Parkinson’s disease.

There’s Nothing Just or Fair About “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Imagine the following dialogue: “Dad, I want to serve my country just like you and your father did before me.”

“That’s wonderful, son. Only you will have to hide your sexual orientation in order to do so, but that’s OK. If you end up dying while serving, since you will now be out of the military, we will let everyone know who you really were.”

This is essentially the stance of the U.S. government with its “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

If you believe, like I do, and as current science tells us, that one’s sexual orientation, like one’s gender, race and eye color, is a genetically determined part of who we are, then you will find this policy outrageous in a civilized enlightened society.

John Rawls, the great 20th century philosopher, has argued that justice is fairness. Justice is giving each his or her due. Can we rationally say it is just and fair to have people serve their country, perhaps die in the process, not be able to be proud of who they are and be forced to hide their identities?

Surely, any argument that uses personal disapproval to legitimize unequal treatment cannot stand, and such bigotry should not be enforced by a government whose founding documents state that “all men are created equal,” and all people have the right to “the pursuit of happiness.”

An analogy might be as follows: “You can serve in the military if you are black, as long as you are fair skinned and no one knows you are black.”

Would we tolerate this?

Arguably, today’s most explicitly targeted groups are Muslims and homosexuals. We already have learned that the belief that white-skinned people are superior to black-skinned people, or a dislike for someone’s color, are not legitimate reasons to legally discriminate. Some of you will remember when blacks were considered “dirty” by whites, deprived of opportunities and presumed guilty in court cases when charges were brought up by a white person.

Bigots ignore rational arguments and rely on their disapproval and dislike to justify ignoring the Constitution and the principle of law.

It is time for citizens to stop and think when the flag of “national security” is waved about whether the suggested course of action is consonant with our American constitutional values. It is time to stop being mean-spirited and abusive to any group of people.

It is time to get rid of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Women Still Not Getting to the Top Levels

Even though women make up more than half the workforce, they are still significantly underrepresented on corporate boards and in C-level executive positions, according to a new study released by Calvert Investments.

The study, “Examining the Cracks in the Ceiling: A Survey of Corporate Diversity Practices of the S&P 100,” shows that 92 of 100 CEOs represented in the survey are white men.

Other key findings from the S&P 100 report:

  • Women make up only 18 percent of director positions within the S&P 100 and only 8.4 percent of the highest-paid executive positions within the same group of companies
  • More than half—56 companies—in the S&P 100 have no women and/or Black, Latino, Asian or American Indian representation in their highest-paid executive positions, and only 14 companies have two or more diverse officers in these positions

By way of contrast, The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Executive Women have a far better track record when it comes to employing and retaining women in the workplace and moving them up the management ranks. For example, these companies tie senior leaders’ compensation to diversity initiatives, as do 76 percent of The 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®.

Additionally, their boards of directors are 24 percent women, compared with 15 percent as the national average (Catalyst). And senior management (CEO and direct reports and direct reports to those direct reports) are 36 percent women, compared with a national average of 13.5 percent (Catalyst).

The Calvert study evaluated S&P 100 companies according to 10 indicators: EEO Policy, Internal Diversity Initiatives, External Diversity Initiatives, Scope of Diversity Initiatives, Family-Friendly Benefits, EEO-1 Disclosure, Highest Paid Executives, Board Representation, Director Selection Criteria and Overall Corporate Commitment. 

“We are very concerned about the fact that women and minorities continue to be underrepresented at the highest levels of management,” says Calvert Group President and CEO Barbara J. Krumsiek of the study. “Without a pipeline of female and minority executives in highly paid, highly responsible positions, it will be very difficult to achieve board diversity, which is critical to strong governance and good management.”

Among some of the other findings in the S&P 100 study:

No disclosure = No accountability

  • The report found that 37 percent of the S&P 100 companies disclose no demographic data on employees, such as race, ethnicity and gender. Only eight companies disclose full EEO-1 data—that is, a full breakdown of the workforce by race and gender across employment categories

Integration and innovation abound

  • According to the report, 30 percent of the S&P 100 companies include some oversight of diversity issues at the board level, and 34 percent of companies include diversity measures within their compensation plans

Corporate commitment remains the “X” factor

  • Overall, 38 percent of the S&P 100 companies demonstrate a robust commitment to diversity, both internally and externally

The DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Blacks

What makes a company an inclusive place where Black employees feel they can flourish and reach their highest potential? We looked at submissions from the 449 participants in The 2010 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity® list and found the companies with the best outreach, talent development and demographic results.