Diverse by 2025: Why true Diversity is still a Challenge?

Year after year research has indicated a significant increase in workplace diversity. The 2014 and 2016 study by Oxford Economics and SAP found a 67% increase in the general workforce while higher level leadership levels have seen 40% or less increase. It is no secret that significant and lasting changes generally are driven from the top level of an organizations. With the recent media coverage of diversity issues in law enforcement and those with authority, there are growing concerns that are bound to have carry over into the workplace. More importantly in the minds of those in leadership who already challenge the need for further focus on diversity in the workplace.


Community concerns and activities have a direct impact on corporations. Surprise! The same people who live in the community also work in the community or relate to what is happening in other communities. These challenges result in the need for diversity sensitivity and awareness for all employees. The elephant in the room is how diverse employees relate what is happening in the community to what they are experiencing at work. Others try to pretend it does not exist or not true for those they work with in the corporate community. At any rate, there are some challenges that still exist in diversity that seem to be growing.

The Shift

The greatest shift is occurring in generational diversity. Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) were the largest population until they were succumb by the Generation Y/Millennials (born between 1982 – 2002). With more than 30 million of the Baby Boomers retiring and preparing to exit mid-level and senior leadership positions, the opportunity for advancement of Generation X (born between 1965 – 1982) and Generation Y are sure to occur. The question is how diverse will this population of leadership be in the coming years. The research indicates not as diverse as it should be despite statistics showing diversity improves financial performance.  Data suggests the need for diversity and the benefits of diversity. However, there is still a struggle with achieving true diversity as a strategy across the corporate landscape.

What Now?

We have seen how the reaction to the actions of some in law enforcement have created some positive and not so positive responses. Is there something corporations should consider a lesson learn from what is happening in the communities? There is growing tension in the country to support the need for more inclusion racially and corporate is not an exception based on the research. Perhaps the momentum for diversity has to be driven from the bottom up to gain the traction needed to have a major impact and mirror the world we live in. But wait that is already the case. Diverse candidates are largely found in lower level jobs.

Diversity challenges are occurring in pay, promotional opportunities, and lack of diversity at executive levels and on corporate boards. There is a pay gap between men and women. The often overlooked pay gap occurs between the majority and the minority employees. According to PEW Research Center 2015 results, the average hourly wages for black and Hispanic men were $15 and $14, respectively, compared with $21 for white men to be outpaced by only the Asian men ($24). In the same research, it was found that pay for Asian and white women ($18 and $17, respectively) are higher than those of black and Hispanic women ($13 and $12, respectively). Asian and white women were also higher than those of black and Hispanic men. It is safe to say that equal outcomes are not the same as equal opportunity or equal treatment.

Data and analytics is revolutionizing businesses. Why is this data not making an impact in pay disparity and the lack of diversity at all ranks in the workplace? Why are these results being ignored? The answer seems to be diversity and “inclusion” is needed according to Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich. It appears the largest impact of inclusion efforts thus far has been on the LBGT community from businesses to schools. Sexual preference is another aspect of diversity that has its own challenges as well that need to be addressed. Not new to the diversity challenge, sexual orientation appears to be making more advancement in equality than others. Are other aspects of diversity now falling to the sideline while the focus is on LGBT?

Action Taken

Some have responded to the difference in treatment of minorities by law enforcement in ways such as Black Lives Matters. Recently, ColinKaepernick, 49ers quarterback, refused to stand for the national anthem. Rather you agree with these responses are not, being quiet about disparate treatment of minorities is no longer the answer and people with influence are using their voices. Perhaps the most recent actions occurring have been quieter in the media but more impactful long term. This action is the decision to support those who support you. Individuals are deciding to work for those who are letting their diversity results speak and show in their workplace. Secondly, they are spending money with companies that truly support diversity and inclusion. Again I ask, is this approach having an impact across all aspects of diversity (race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, etc.)? Perhaps the data will be available soon to show who the corporations are spending with in every area of diverse suppliers and where all diverse customers are spending as well. What do you think the results will show in 2025?

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