Meeting in a Box: Business Case for Diversity

May 29, 2013 5:59 pm

Meeting in a Box: Business Case for Diversity[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and subscribers.]

This month, we are giving you educational information on making the business case for diversity for all employees. Whether your organization is consumer facing, B-to-B, a government supplier or a nonprofit, you will have to convince executives, managers and employees of the necessity of diversity-and-inclusion initiatives.

Here, we identify data that can help convince your employees of the business imperative for D&I, plus how to get visible CEO commitment and how to include white men.

[CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full Meeting in a Box, our diversity-management training and educational tool available only to Benchmarking customers and subscribers.]


As the data illustrate, the population of the United States is changing rapidly, as immigration and birthrate trends dramatically bolster the number of Latinos and Asians.

This is occurring in every region and in almost every state. If you want to best relate to these groups, you need staff that is representative of the population and is culturally competent.

% Change U.S. Asian Population, 2000–2010

% Change U.S. Asian Population by Region, 2000–2010
South 80.4
Midwest 66.3
West 53.7
Northeast 47.8

% Change U.S. Asian Population by State, 2000–2010
Nevada 114.0
Arizona 105.1
Utah 93.9
North Carolina 93.7
Idaho 93.2

% Change U.S. Latino Population, 2000–2010

% Change U.S. Latino Population by Region, 2000–2010
South 57.3
Midwest 49.2
West 34.3
Northeast 33.1

% Change U.S. Latino Population by State, 2000–2010
South Carolina 147.9
Alabama 144.8
Tennessee 134.2
Kentucky 121.6
Arkansas 114.2

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

The value of people from other underrepresented groups (LGBT people, people with disabilities and veterans) being welcomed in the workplace is also critical to reaching today’s marketplace. More and more people, including those in the majority culture, want to work for companies that are inclusive of everyone.

DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees

  1. Wells Fargo
  2. AT&T
  3. Ernst & Young
  4. IBM
  5. Sodexo
  6. Deloitte
  7. Time Warner
  8. Toyota Motor North America
  9. KPMG
  10. PricewaterhouseCoopers

DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for People With Disabilities

  1. Ernst & Young
  2. Procter & Gamble
  3. IBM
  4. KPMG
  5. WellPoint
  6. AT&T
  7. Kaiser Permanente
  8. Prudential Financial
  9. Microsoft
  10. Accenture

DiversityInc Top 10 Companies for Veterans

  1. CSX
  2. Rockwell Collins
  3. WellPoint
  4. CVS Caremark
  5. Northrop Grumman
  6. ADP
  7. North Shore–LIJ Health System
  8. Booz Allen Hamilton
  9. Caterpillar
  10. Lockheed Martin

In obtaining the most talented workforce, it’s essential to get the best talent that colleges and graduate programs are producing. Education levels for women and for those in several of these underrepresented groups are increasing at very rapid rates, making them an increasingly larger source of the talent pool.

% Change Number of Bachelor’s Degrees, 2000–2010
Blacks 52.6
Latinos 86.9
Asians 50.7
Women 33.4
Whites 25.7

% Change Number of Master’s Degrees, 2000–2010
Blacks 108.9
Latinos 124.6
Asians 81.4
Women 56.9
Whites 36.9

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Guided Questions for Employees

What benefits to your business would a more diverse workforce bring? How does this impact your areas of responsibility?
How have other companies, including your competition, used a diverse workforce for a marketplace advantage?

Is your workforce and management representative of the demographics of your organization’s footprint?
If not, how can you encourage your organization to recruit and promote more people who look like your marketplace? How can resource groups help your company look more like the people it is trying to reach?

How can you better recruit an inclusive workforce? And when people come on board, what can you and your organization do to make them feel welcome?
Does your company and/or your resource group have a formal policy for new hires? How can you increase cultural awareness within your company?


Leadership’s consistent acknowledgement of how critical D&I is to the organization’s business goals is an essential way of getting all employees on board. The message should be consistent and with an emphasis on business results—such as how having an inclusive workforce helps with customer service and sales, or how having diverse representation contributes to retention, engagement and innovation.

The messaging mechanisms should be consistent and pervasive. Use the corporate website to prominently feature a quote from the CEO on the business benefits of D&I, avoiding platitudes like “It’s the right thing to do” or “Diversity is in our DNA.” Integrate the CEO’s support of D&I in other internal and external business communications, rather than having one separate “diversity” message.

Make the commitment of the CEO and senior executives personal. Have them discuss why D&I is important to them (use video whenever possible). If the CEO and senior executives are executive sponsors of resource groups, cross-cultural mentors or board members of any multicultural organizations, have them discuss these experiences.

For more on CEO Commitment, go to

Guided Questions for Employees

How can D&I help your organization reach its business goals?
Is the marketplace changing to reflect new demographics? If so, how has your organization been working to understand the new marketplace? What have you personally done to connect with customers/clients from underrepresented groups?

How does your leadership stress the importance of D&I?
What have you heard them say that connects D&I to business goals? Are you satisfied with the messaging on the corporate website about the importance of D&I? What ideas do you have to “spread the word” even more?

Who are the real diversity leaders in your organization and why?
Which executives do you see as real diversity champions? What makes them D&I proponents? How can others be diversity leaders as well?


The buy-in of white men—in senior leadership, middle management and the rank and file—is crucial to the success of D&I in your organization. As DiversityInc’s recent Do White Men Need Diversity Outreach? event ( demonstrated, the best way to get white men involved is to convince them of the business value of D&I; if the workplace is expanded to include more people from underrepresented groups, everyone benefits.

The zero-sum-game attitude can be difficult to overcome, said a panel of chief diversity officers from Altria Group, Cox Communications, Prudential Financial and Toyota Financial Services ( It’s important to shift the conversation away from race and gender to discussions of how inclusion benefits white men.

Do you need a specific outreach program for white men? PricewaterhouseCoopers has pioneered this type of specific outreach (, aimed at listening, discussing and promoting cultural competence. The company is adamant that the initiative is collaborative, not punitive.

Guided Questions for Employees

How do white men in your organization perceive D&I?
Are they encouraged to be members of resource groups? Are they cross-cultural mentors/mentees? What do you hear white men say about D&I at your company, and how should you respond?

Is your diversity training relevant to everyone?
Good training doesn’t put people on the defensive. How do you enhance cultural competence for ALL groups without alienating those in the majority culture?

Should you have separate outreach for white men?
Would this model work in your company? Would white men feel they were being “singled out”? What’s the best way to engage your leadership in outreach to white men?