This post is authored by John Benberg, Executive Director of The Boys and Girls Club of Green Bay.
For more information on The Boys and Girls Club, visit www.bgcgb.org
A while back our community saw all kinds of ‘diversity’ events and media pieces on point—all fine and some stellar—but it would have been interesting to see an entity/group do something in accordance with the blog title above. Whether people like (or are willing to admit) it, our community profile is changing, so we either harness that phenomenon to raise all ships or watch a painful (and very costly) deterioration. We already know what our country—and to a large extent this community—is going to look like in 5-10-20 years so leaders should plan accordingly.
For example, if a company sells product that most families need and hires a diverse workforce, those individuals will likely influence household purchasing decisions and perhaps have an even broader neighborhood/network reach depending on culture. If customers see others who look like them in a place of business, it would be only human to feel more comfortable coming back. Not rocket science…is it? For the record, this works the other way too, minority owned/focused businesses will rarely be successful (much less grow) if only serving a narrow segment of the overall consumer population.
Let’s assume for a moment that recruiting a diverse talent to our community is indeed unduly challenging. What option(s) do we have then? It takes time and a sustained commitment, but we can grow our own assuming we have the right approach(es) and engage youth early enough. Lest we be accused of preaching without ‘walking the walk’ in this context, the Club is now 60/40 white vs minority staff against an 88/12 percentage just three years ago, and if our Junior Staff (teen employees) are considered that becomes a 45/55 ratio. On a related note, about 85% of Club members in our Teens2Work initiative are racial/ethnic minorities, so we are literally providing the business community with a diverse pool of motivated and qualified part-time workers who are anxious for an opportunity.
We do not need a renewal of affirmative action and quotas. We do not need activists who bellow about ‘social and economic justice’ to the media. We don’t even need to lead with the ‘minority’ word at all when having this kind of conversation. We just need savvy leaders—in all sectors—to make diversity a specific business strategy component and then act accordingly. What gets measured gets done. Simple.