by Pat Elizondo, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, Transportation & Public Sector, Xerox Services
Native language, race, gender and ethnic identity are just some of the top-of-mind characteristics that factor into a person’s diversity. Our culture and background shape and influence our behavior and ideas. Therefore. who we are and our experiences play a large role in how we do our jobs.
By 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in the United States, and our workforce and boardrooms need to represent these changing demographics. This is true for the public sector as well. Since the populations governments serve are becoming more and more diverse, reflecting that diversity within an agency can result in being able to stay in touch with constituents and customers better.
Studies show that diverse offices are more productive and function more effectively. A diverse organization helps relate to all types of customers and encourages intellectual debate and conflict that leads to innovation, new ideas and gives your agency a competitive advantage. Organizations who recognize the tangible benefits of diversity are making it part of their culture and instituting company goals to ensure it happens.
Building a diverse organization must be treated like any other business objective, with goals and strategies to manage along the way. Three ways organizations can pursue diversity include:
(1) Audit current diversity practices. Organizations can’t change what they don’t understand. By examining the current practices, an organization can develop a baseline on which to establish goals and track program growth.
(2) Review hiring and promotion policies. Having a diverse pool of candidates when hiring for open positions or promoting from within helps attract talent and experience. Recruiting employees with a wide range of expertise and varied experiences will make organizations stronger.
(3) Understand why people leave. Turnover is costly and robs companies of personnel investments. If organizations can understand why people are leaving, changes can be put in place to retain top talent.
Xerox chairman and CEO Ursula Burns recently discussed the company’s new diversity program and its benefits at the fifth annual New York State Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWBEs) forum. For domestic hires of management positions, final-stage candidates must include women and minorities. Burns said diversity is key to innovation because an individual’s background “influences the way we see the world and think about problems.”
Our further commitment to diversity includes support of affinity groups like The Women’s Alliance, which is a catalyst to advance the personal and professional development of women at Xerox. Hundreds of women will be gathering in Plano, Texas, October 16-18 at the International Women’s Conference to share ideas and support one another’s professional growth.