The Diversity Dilemma

Audrey Weigel, Staff Writer

Are under-qualified minorities being handed jobs solely because of their race or gender? This question has spurred controversy over whether or not companies should embrace diversity in the workplace. But the answer as to what companies should do is clear: instead of viewing the inclusion of minorities as something that companies should be praised for, it should be normalized and already expected.

Diversity is a necessity for every company to have. It is the only way that companies can embrace the representation of various backgrounds, cultures and languages in the workplace. By employing more minorities, businesses have greater insight into how their products will appeal to the global community. For example, if a business has a mostly bilingual employee workforce, it will probably be more appealing to clients who speak those languages and negotiate in them. In this way, a predominantly bilingual workforce would be a competitive edge against other businesses that sell similar products but have limited diversity.

“The more comfortable we become with other cultures, religions, identities and sexualities, the more likely we are to be able to understand each other,” senior Natalie Brenes said. “Companies and businesses shouldn’t want to exclude anyone for the sake of making money, because if you make people feel visible, they’re more likely to support you.”

An economics study titled “Diversity, Social Goods Provision, and Performance in the Firm” was conducted to see how diversity in the workplace influences how an office firm performs, and whether or not is it necessary to have males and females working together. The study found that an office with an equal split in male and female workers would have a revenue gain 41 percent greater than one that is single-gendered.

Due to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for companies to discriminate against minorities when hiring and firing. However, this does not mean that they are required to actively seek out minority employees. Since women were included in the policy in 1967, there has been a dramatic rise in the employment of women in certain technical professions. According to the American Association of University Women, the proportion of women physicians tripled from 7.6 percent to 25.2  from 1967 to 2002. There has also been a significant increase in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded to women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

On the other hand, it is arguable that pressuring employers to hire more minorities will not be beneficial, because the minorities will be victimized. Industries like tech have begun to focus on hiring minorities to avoid a negative public image or legislative prosecution. Additionally, nearly one third of underrepresented women of color were passed over for promotion, more than any other group. This shows that it is possible that employers have been hiring minorities to showcase the company in the best light, while overlooking the necessary skills they could contribute, not seeing them as an asset who can move up within the business.

Diversity inclusion in businesses should be seen as an asset, not an annoyance. When business realizes that a more inclusive workforce means a more receptive customer base, diversity will cease to just be the noble standard to work towards—it will become the norm.