I wonder if the need for workplace-diversity initiatives is an indicator of an underlying societal issue? If so, could a more comprehensive approach to diversity serve as a catalyst for social transformation?
Many companies recognize the recruitment and hiring of minority-represented groups as an important aspect of diversity. But could the fact that many blacks and Hispanics live in segregated residential neighborhoods contribute to the lack of qualified applicants?
In a country where the number of racial and ethnic minorities is steadily increasing, serious thought must be given to the lack of access to resources and opportunity created by racial and economic segregation. This is particularly true when it comes to education. In the 60 years since Brown v. Board of Education declared separate was inherently unequal, many black and Hispanic children are finding themselves isolated in segregated neighborhoods by race and poverty.
If these young people are unable to escape the conditions of their communities and life circumstances, it is unlikely they will ever have the chance to compete for those coveted jobs. Although some will achieve and even excel, it has not been the norm. Herein lies the problem. The conditions in these communities have long-lasting negative effects, not just for the individual but also for society.
Companies grappling with how to increase and improve their diversity and workplace environment might be focusing too narrowly. Without systemic cultural changes, increasing the number of qualified blacks and Hispanics in the talent pool may remain elusive.
A more comprehensive approach to diversity is needed to disrupt institutionalized systems of segregation and inequality.