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Navigating an Increasingly Diverse Workforce

How do you do, fellow Multigenerationals and Multiminorities?
Navigating an Increasingly Diverse Workforce

At a recent Critical Mass event, Dr. Shawn Andrews gave a presentation and spoke about some astonishing statistics about the changing workforce, mostly regarding generational gaps, minority populations, and gender differences. My goal is to give you the numbers, what I think they mean, and provide insight for getting a diverse workforce to work together.

Generational Gaps
According to Dr. Andrews:

  • In 2020, five generations will be working together: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Y, and Gen Z.
  • 10,000 Baby Boomers turn 65 every day.
  • 50% of Gen Y will be in the workforce in 2020, 75% in 2030.

While five generations working together sounds daunting, the steady rate of Baby Boomers reaching 65 possibly indicates a steady decrease of Baby Boomers from the workforce. As a result, the gap is predicted to shorten within the next ten years as Gen Y continues to move into the workforce.

However, there are steps that can be taken to get people from different generations to work together. Understanding is key, where all groups should know each others’ strengths so that they can be best utilized to accomplish the company’s goals. Let’s focus on the strengths of Millennials, as their strengths are reflected in Gen Y and Gen Z. It also gives older generations an opportunity to get to know the younger generations more. It’s not all hipster coffee shops and avocado toast.

Millennials are ambitious, confident, and possess high self-esteem. Paired with their diversity, social responsibility, global perspective, and ability to multitask, they would thrive in diverse groups since they could make decisions based on multiple perspectives. Their perspective-taking would further compliment their multitasking, allowing them to allocate themselves across different projects with multiple stakeholders. Millennials are also tech-savvy and prefer a flat business structure. As technology evolves, the younger generations will be able to teach older generations how to navigate increasingly complex systems. This process could create a structure where the younger staff members are in direct contact with their superiors, allowing for transparent communication between staff and managers.

Gender Differences and Minority Populations
Dr. Andrews also presented the statistics for the 2016 workforce:

  • 53% Men
  • 47% Women
  • 38% Minority
  • 18.7% Disabled (in 2017)

She also presented statistics on how women are represented in the workforce:

  • 52% of management and professional occupations
  • 50% of US and EU bachelor degrees
  • 21% of all S&P board seats
  • 5% of S&P 500 CEOs

As of 2019, it would be safe to assume that the male-to-female ratios are becoming as balanced as the Force at the end of Return of the Jedi. What does that mean, you ask? Well, when Darth Vader threw the Emperor down that shaft, oh(!), you meant the statistics! Right. In terms of gender, the numbers show that more women are occupying professional occupations and almost makeup half of the workforce. And if the rate continues, minority populations are not far behind.

Closing Remarks (and the Gaps)
The numbers all point to an increasingly diverse workforce. However, they also reveal possible avenues of cooperation between these diverse groups. The goal now is inclusion, where businesses allow each person to be included and to understand the perspectives of each individual across all levels. In the BrightTalk “Building an inclusive company culture (from those who are doing it right),” the speakers discussed different methods to gauge and promote inclusion. Here are three main takeaways:

  1. Have regular reports on company culture - Whether with regular surveys or meetings with line managers, a regular gauge on how company culture changes and how employees feel included.
  2. Implement “Not Required but Highly Recommended” inclusivity programs - Such labeling allows the individual more control over their own behaviors as well as their investment in the program. The speakers also mentioned research where people were more effective when programs were voluntary rather than mandatory.
  3. Work together! - By far the most important point. Promoting inclusivity in an increasingly diverse workforce requires from all levels to effectively communicate with one another to develop mutual respect and to educate each other on our unconscious biases. We’re all in this together, and it shows.

By Matthew Villahermosa
for be the change HR

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