Recently a Census Bureau Report identified for the population under the age of one, the majority is now minority in regard to race. Basically, Hispanic, Black, Native and Asian Americans have assumed the majority in this youngest of generations and the Hispanic American population is leading the way in terms of growth in population. In the Darden Office of Diversity and Inclusion, we are constantly challenging ourselves to look at ways to impact the future leaders being educated here by influencing the community culture and the academic offerings. We truly believe that the best managers, leaders in business and in society, will be able to adeptly navigate a workforce that is increasingly becoming more diverse at a relatively fast pace. This adeptness requires not only practical intelligence but emotional intelligence as well. Over the next 20-30 years, the workforce will look dramatically different from today. The social, economic and political implications are significant. If MBA students (and academicians) are not preparing for this historical shift, then there will be a real deficit in how well companies and organizations compete.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that by 2020 the percentage of whites in the labor force will shrink as the percentage of minorities and women will grow. That growth racially will be at a much faster pace among Asians and Hispanics and women will outpace men. Corporate leaders will be called upon not only to positively impact the bottom line but to advise, coach, lead a group of professionals who come from a generation that is the most diverse this country has ever seen. If one thinks about the skills needed to effectively manage in this future workforce so that companies can be in the best competitive position, those skills should include a prowess for navigating across diversity, identifying strengths, and leveraging them to the organization’s and employee’s benefit. How mainstream is this notion in business programs today? I really don’t know. I do know that Darden is, and I assume other graduate management programs are, constantly looking for ways to infuse diversity in all of the things we do well. We ask ourselves, is there an opportunity, where is the opportunity, can we create an opportunity and how best do we use that opportunity to help our students, our community gain a better understanding of diversity in this particular context?
A future where the majority is made up of the minority will challenge even the most skilled manager and leader if they are not prepared for the impact on the way business will be conducted. I offer these basic suggestions for starters:
1. Ask the Question – Often a question makes all the difference when looking at a business case/scenario; How is diversity impacting or impacted in this situation? Is there a diversity message we are sending by making this decision?
2. Read Up – there are some great articles addressing the topic of diversity in the workforce beyond 2020 and some futurists out there who have been researching and talking about this phenomenon for years. Check out the 2007 Forbes The Futurists article and The Arrival of the Thrivals, an article written in 2004 by Dr. Nat Irvin, II.
3. Check Your Social Circle – The best place to learn about differing viewpoints and experiences is in your circle of friends. If your circle is a bit homogeneous, that’s ok. Push yourself to meet people and establish relationships with those you perceive to be different from you.
4. Access Your Organization’s Resources – Diversity/Inclusion Offices, Employee Resource Groups, Professors and Libraries are great places to gain recommendations for events, workshops, professional networks and research to help expose yourself to various diversity topics/challenges facing professionals.
Our world is changing. Will we be ready?
Director, Diversity Initiatives and Programming
Associate Director of Admissions