Workplace Diversity: Reality or Still an Ideal?

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Raleigh, NC – September 26, 2012 – Since the Civil Rights Era, diversity in the workforce has been a hot-button issue for American business. There is little debate that private and government-sponsored initiatives aimed at integrating the workforce have succeeded over the past several generations, but does the average employee believe that diversity makes business better? Workplace Options, the world’s leading work-life services provider, and Public Policy Polling recently conducted a survey of American workers to answer that question – and found mixed results. The poll results show:

  • 80 percent of respondents consider their place of employment either very or somewhat diverse
  • 63 percent believe diversity is a value embraced by their employer
  • 46 percent would be more attracted to a future job if an employer promoted a diverse work environment
  • But less than half of respondents (46 percent) believe diversity amongst an organization’s employees or staff makes the employer, its product, or its service any better

“Diversity is an idea that’s often discussed, but rarely explained,” said Dean Debnam, chief executive officer of Workplace Options. “Business success is dependent on new ideas and alternative ways of thinking, regardless of the industry, product or service. This fact is precisely why diversity is so valuable, because it brings new perspectives into an organization.” “Many employers give diversity a great deal of lip service from HR and corporate policy perspectives, but they don’t leverage it effectively once it comes in the door,” Debnam said. “It’s a missed opportunity. Diversity is not just a tool to promote ethnic and cultural equality. It’s good for business.” Diversity as a Recruitment Tool Employers began using diversity to attract the best and brightest talent decades ago. Diverse workplaces are often synonymous with progressive, cutting edge work environments – the kind of places where young individuals want to be employed. Results of this poll show a similar trend:

  • 91 percent of respondents age 18 to 29 are employed at workplaces they consider to be diverse
  • 72 percent of those 30 to 45 years old, and 73 percent of those 46 to 65 years old reported the same

Diversity Training According to the poll, 67 percent of respondents reported that training programs to educate employees about cultural, ethnic and personal privacy issues were either mandatory for their job or available voluntarily through their employer. “A lot of employers educate their staff about cultural sensitivities or ethnic differences, but that is not nearly enough,” Debnam said. “The next frontier for employers is learning to use diversity as more than a recruiting tool.” “Getting diverse perspectives and talent from a variety of backgrounds in the door is a great first step,” he added. “But integrating these ideas and experiences into the fabric of the organization and the products or services a company provides is how diversity translates to better business.” The national survey was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, July 12-16, 2012. The survey polled 427 working Americans and has a margin of error of +/- 4.2 percent. To learn more about the employee solutions provided by Workplace Options, please visit www.workplaceoptions.com. Also, follow us on Twitter at @workplaceoption and visit Workplace Options’ YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/yourworkplaceoptions.