Today, diversity in the workforce is almost a foregone conclusion. With the projected increases in the amount of Hispanic people entering and the decrease in the percentage of white males in the workforce, it is not surprising that the workforce is really becoming the melting pot that Emma Lazarus’ poem, on the statue of liberty, embodies. When I started my career in the early 90’s, I can truly say that the marketing research workforce was not diverse at all. Interestingly enough though, there were a fair amount of women…just no other minorities. And, of course, the people running the place were all white males.
To me, a diverse workforce allows us to not only better understand the world around us, but also makes us better at serving our customers. Case in point, when working at PSE&G (an electric and gas utility in New Jersey), I finally had the opportunity to work directly with Hispanic individuals. What a cultural eye opening experience for me! Based on my interactions with one Hispanic colleague in particular and the stories she told, I got a much better understanding of how I could better craft the satisfaction surveys I was preparing for PSE&G customers. I worked with the survey language to make it easier to understand for people that didn’t speak English very well. I also tried to work with marketing research vendors/suppliers who had Spanish speaking telephone interviewers on their staff.
All-in-all, I think that workplace diversity is necessary if companies want to effectively compete in this globalizing economy.