Friday, June 8, 2012

More on diversity

I made nine blog entries in March and April on this subject, yet feel a need to once again highlight this issue.

Several things that have happened over the last few weeks to cause me to want to highlight this issue.  First, in mid-May results from the US Census have revealed that for the first time Asian, Hispanic and African American and mixed race children represent the majority of children born in the United States last year.  For the first time in US history Anglo-Europeans produced the minority of live births.  Second, last week there was an article in the Dallas Morning News about the 40,000 ethnic Chinese who have chosen to relocate to the Dallas-Ft Worth metropolitan area.
Then last weekend I went to my nephew's lacrosse game.  There were dozens of teams in multiple age groups from all over Texas and Oklahoma.....that's for a lacrosse tournament in Texas. On the way into the park for the lacrosse games we passed three fields of men playing cricket. In a separate newspaper article they went into some detail about disputes related to the the competition for ice time among youth ice hockey leagues in Dallas. 13 ice rinks and not enough available time to meet the demand..that's for ice hockey in Dallas.
All of these things combined caused me to do a little research.  Surprisingly, the Dallas-Ft Worth area is ranked 5th most racially diverse metro area in the United States...behind San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami and ahead of Chicago, Washington, Atlanta, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.  It may be surprising to some that Houston and Dallas are two of the most racially diverse communities in the United States.  The largest concentration of both Nigerians and Iranians outside their home country is in Houston.
What can be concluded from these observations and data and what do those conclusions mean to leaders?  First, from a strategic, long term standpoint , population demographics are a strong driver.  Certainly birth-rates among different racial groups are important but migration patterns and immigration policies are also important factors.  Ice hockey, lacrosse and cricket were sports rarely played in the southern United States even 20 years ago.  Migrations from the northern states and overseas have driven this interest.  The lesson:  Pay attention to demographics and shifting population patterns.  Second, be careful about regional stereotypes.  This is true for not only the United States but also other countries.  Texas is far more diverse than the stereotype....who would have predicted Dallas as more diverse than Washington, Chicago or New York City?  I've found similar rich racial diversity in Melbourne, Amsterdam, Singapore, Vancouver and  elsewhere.  The lesson:  drive to data to understand the unique qualities of a region/city.  Third, the business case I articulated in the 23 March blog remains strong.  Companies need access to the best talent in the world, they need to create a meritocracy....a work environment where staff can success and progress based on their performance.  Customers and stakeholders want to "see themselves" in the company. Diverse teams can reduce risk and increase innovation.

Mastering leadership of diverse teams is a fundamental leadership competency for the foreseeable future.

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