Workplace Diversity Not a Focus at Interior Department

Kathy Gurchiek By Kathy Gurchiek March 27, 2018
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​U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has told employees repeatedly that diversity is not important anymore and it is not something he plans to focus on, according to a CNN report—comments that have some people upset. But Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the department, has denied that Zinke said any such thing, noting that he appointed two women and a black employee to senior leadership roles and "has filled several other senior positions at the career and appointed level with individuals from diverse backgrounds."

The controversy raises the issue of whether a focus on diversity and inclusion in the workforce remains an important business consideration. SHRM Online has collected the following articles from its archives and other respected news sources that look at this issue.  

Across the Economy, Workplaces Are More Segregated Than 40 Years Ago  

While there may be more racial diversity in large, established companies than in decades past, the influx of new companies—which tend to have far less racial diversity—into the U.S. economy has more than offset any gains that U.S. organizations have made overall.

Because of that dynamic—and because some older, more traditional companies are going out of business—racial segregation in U.S. workplaces is greater today than it was in the '70s, according to new research by sociologists from Stanford University and Harvard Business School.
(SHRM Online)    

Diversity Is Under Fire in Charged Political Climate 

A ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. militaryLegislation that would favor English-speaking immigrants who are financially stable. An executive order that would impose a travel ban on people from certain countries from entering the U.S. A review by the U.S. Department of Justice of the affirmative action policies of colleges that are "deemed to discriminate against white applicants."

Actions such as these by the current presidential administration signal a new political era where employees feel emboldened to express exclusionary views about different demographic groups, leading to escalating tensions in the workplace and diversity dilemmas in organizations, said Cindy-Ann Thomas. She is a principal at Littler in Charlotte, N.C., where she co-chairs the firm's Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Practice Group. 
(SHRM Online)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Diversity in the Workplace 

More than 25 million people working in the U.S. are foreign-born, and data suggest that in less than three decades, the country will be a truly pluralistic society with no single group holding a majority. If you expect your company to compete and succeed in this new world order, you need to take a close look at the advantages and disadvantages of diversity in the workplace. 
(Small Business Chronicle)  

Viewpoint: Building a Business Case for Diversity and Inclusion 

The urgency and push for diversity and inclusion reflects demographic changes in the workplace. As more women, racial and ethnic minorities, veterans, people with disabilities and lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer individuals enter the workforce, organizations are challenged to find new ways to create a more dynamic workplace—one that fosters engagement and innovation and drives performance. 
(SHRM Online)   

Why Is Diversity in the Workplace Important to Employees? 

As workforce demographics shift and global markets emerge, workplace diversity inches closer to becoming a business necessity instead of a banner that companies wave to show their commitment to embracing differences and change. Employees reap tangible and intangible benefits from workplace benefits, not the least of which include respect from co-workers and business gains. 
(Small Business Chronicle)  

[SHRM members-only how-to guide: How to Develop a Diversity and Inclusion Initiative]

Why You Need to Focus on Diversity Before It's Too Late  

Failing to prioritize diversity leads to disastrous consequences. Take the recent influx of sexism and discrimination claims at Uber, for example. The backlash centered around a key factor missing from the company's culture: diversity. And while it's easy to point at Uber, a lack of emphasis on diversity causes problems in many other organizations, especially in the tech industry. 
(Entrepreneur)   

How CEOs Can Drive Culture Change and Workplace Diversity 

A workplace that recognizes and respects all employees is widely accepted as crucial to a successful organization. In its "Why Diversity Matters" report, workplace research firm McKinsey documents the higher financial performance by diverse companies across industries.

Yet, despite recent efforts, diversity remains a much-discussed topic — and not because companies are great at it. Take Google's data-driven diversity program. It cost $265 million to implement but still failed to significantly change the composition of its workforce.
(Chief Executive 


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