Diversity of Thought

Reported by Sue Weston

On March 28, 2019, Cheryl Rosario, former Vice President of Social Responsibility at Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, engaged a packed room at McCarter & English in Newark to explore the value of diversity. She began by providing context. Diversity encompasses all the ways we are different, while equity reflects fair treatment, access, and opportunities for all people. By removing the existing barriers, companies can increase their market share, create more impact and serve their customers more effectively.

The United Nations established 17 sustainable development goals for 2030 which include creating a socially fair and inclusive society, where workplace diversity is one of the cornerstones. This is particularly important to us, as discrimination has a considerable impact in the US. In 2012 the Center for American Progress found that workplace discrimination costs approximately $64 billion annually, and causes of over 2 million Americans to change jobs. This is an avoidable expense. Companies need to recognize the impact that creating an inclusive work environment can have on their business’s bottom line, and to understand that having a diverse workforce will help them attract and retain a comparatively larger customer base. The economic benefit of diversity is a compelling story, which supports a sustainable future, with increased revenues. For instance, the black community alone is expected to contribute $1.5 Trillion by 2021.

Cheryl provided a broader definition of inclusion based which transcends demographics and embraces global thinking to create an atmosphere where all voices are heard. One of the major benefits includes improved problem solving by providing different perspectives.

When we think diversity, we need to include people with disabilities and veterans. We must remember that not all diversity attributes are visible. The US Census Bureau estimated that 1 out of 5 people have a disability, and this group has a spending power of $490 Billion. Supporting this underserved population provides companies with substantial benefits including lower turnover and recruiting costs. Companies employing this group should consider providing sensitivity training for existing employees as well as educating new hires during the on-boarding process. There are additional challenges that transpire with the reluctance or people with disabilities or veteran status to self-identify. The speaker stressed the importance of using unconscious bias training and aiding those individuals to create a new reality of awareness and acceptance.

Employee Network or Resource Groups, as well as Learning Circles, provide one way to begin building bridges which deepen the relationships and creates new synergies across different employee segments and functions. There is immeasurable value in hosting joint events with affinity groups to continue these conversations, build common experiences and foster understanding.

To attend an event in the Tri-State area, visit www.tristatediversitycouncil.org/events.

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