Workforce Diversity And Why It’s Important To All Of Us

Achieving diversity in the workplace is a great challenge.

That’s what more than 25% of respondents told the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in our advocacy agenda survey taken last year. When we look at the big picture in economic development in Buffalo Niagara, it is clear that diversity and inclusion in the workforce are issues we must address to help sustain economic growth in the region.

The Partnership is making the case for diversity and inclusion in the business community with a new initiative to assist our members in that regard. Before I get into the details, I would like to share some facts and figures we have gathered from various sources and research efforts at the Partnership that demonstrate the importance of the initiative.

Diversity matters.

As a member of the Greater Buffalo Racial Equity Roundtable, I have worked with more than 30 community leaders on ways to advance racial equity so that everyone may take part in the prosperity of our region.

The Roundtable’s recent Dividend Report points out a number of factors that will affect diversity in the region’s workforce and in turn influence local economic growth. These factors include:

  • Regional Population Change – According to the most recent U.S. census, the population change in our Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) from 2000 to 2014 saw the number of white persons drop by 8% while people of color increased 21%.
  • Future Workforce – 33% of students in kindergarten through high school in our region are children of color according to the New York State Department of Education. These students represent our future workforce and will make it more diverse than ever.
  • Promoting growth – The Roundtable Dividend Report cites a study that shows metro areas with high rates of racial diversity and inclusion have positive growth rates in employment and population
  • Holding back growth – On the other hand, the report indicates that people of all races have limited economic opportunity in highly segregated regions.

We must also consider the U.S. Census Bureau’s population projections for our nation from 2010 to 2050 in any discussion about workforce diversity. These growth rate projections include:

  • White, Non-Hispanic = +1%
  • Black = +52%
  • Asian = +142%
  • Hispanic = +167%

Diversity in the workforce makes a difference in the workplace.

Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is not only a reality, it is also good for business. Consider these findings from various studies:

  • Diverse companies are 15% more likely to outperform their peers.
  • Inclusive teams outperform their peers in team-based assessments by 80%.
  • Other reported benefits include improved customer orientation, greater employee satisfaction, and better decision-making and innovation in the workplace.

A new council on diversity.

With a sharpening focus on the importance of workplace diversity, the Partnership is pleased to announce our new Diversity and Inclusion Council to be launched this fall. As we hinted in our annual report, the new dedicated council will better inform the Partnership’s work on behalf of our members and the business community when it comes to workforce diversity and related issues.

More information on the Partnership’s Diversity and Inclusion Council will be coming in the weeks ahead. We are engaging with experts in the field of diversity and inclusion and welcome inquiries from all of our members who may be interested in joining the new council and/or providing support.

As always, I welcome your input, feedback and questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact me at dgc@thepartnership.org.

 

Dottie Gallagher-Cohen Headshot

About Dottie Gallagher-Cohen

President & CEO