Workforce Trends: The Importance of Diversity–The Old Minority Will Become the New Majority

There are several major demographic trends in today’s workplace, such as Baby Boomer retirement, companies losing female talent and the increasing need for workplace flexibility.

Perhaps the most profound trend, however, is the fact that the United States is transitioning from a nation whose majority population is white to a nation in which the majority of the population will soon be people of color.

So-called minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth in the last decade. They are now the majority of residents in four states, 348 counties, the District of Columbia, and a growing number of major metropolitan areas like New York, Las Vegas, and Memphis.

And, in case you think this is just a blip on the screen, you should know that, as of July 2011, the majority of new babies born in this country are now children of color.

That is only going to increase, because Latinos, on average, are in their prime childbearing years, while the average white woman, at 42, is probably done having children.

In fact, because the majority of older people are white, and the majority of younger people are not, we’re looking at a very new kind of divide that’s both racial and generational.

And here’s another issue: Right now, Hispanic and black youth are graduating from college at far lower rates than their white peers: 13% and 18%, versus 31% for whites.

That’s why I said that this is the most profound of the three demographic trends. Because if the majority of young Americans are not educated and prepared to take their place in the workforce of tomorrow, that will be a true disaster for your organizations and our economy.

Solution

You hear so much about how manufacturing has left the U.S. But what you don’t hear is that the manufacturing jobs we still have can be hard to fill, because young workers aren’t really interested.

And it’s not just that Gen Y doesn’t want to work an assembly line. They also don’t want to be manufacturing executives. They’d rather work for a tech start-up. So what do you do if you’re a manufacturing company that has to replace its retiring workers with a diverse workforce?

I’m helping this client create a Strategic Workforce Planning Tool that will help my client track birth and education rates, education rates, and other key data on a country-by-county basis, so that they’ll know where to expand, consolidate, or even close a plant.

Ideally, you want to be proactive, and educate new workers. But the first step in that process is knowing where you’re most at risk, and that’s what my client is focused on right now, in order to increase diversity.

Note: Many of the statistics presented in this blog series have been pulled from Deloitte’s Human Capital consulting resources and The Gender Dividend report.

Let’s share experiences. Leave a comment below, send me an email, or find me on Twitter.

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CHCI believes that the skills, capabilities, and well-being of employees are the most integral parts of any organization’s path to long-term success.