What Workforce Diversity Means

Work place diversity

Building Equity with Improved Diversity Initiatives 

As workforce diversity has become a recognized stepping stone to equity, thought leaders have formed partnerships to develop workforce solutions that contribute to economic and social justice.

Recently, The Ford Foundation with the Treasurer of the State of Connecticut, Shawn Wooden, convened a coalition to “advance racial and economic security and opportunity both within and outside of their companies,” according to a press statement from the treasurer’s office. 

Participating companies include: 

AllianceBernstein L.P. ● Bank of America ● BlackRock ● Bridgewater Associates ● Invesco Ltd. ● Franklin Templeton ● Goldman Sachs ● Schroders PLC ● State Street Global Advisors ● Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America ● The Hartford ● T. Rowe Price Group, Inc. ● UBS Americas Holding LLC ● Vista Equity Partners 

Wooden is calling on corporate America to play a constructive role in building a more equal workforce. And the Ford Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States with a social justice mission, has backed the working group to help move business culture forward. The team is working on a series of tangible, measurable actions for businesses to model. 

Robert F. Smith, the first African American to sign the Giving Pledge and the founding director of a philanthropic organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of African American culture, tasked individual corporate communities this year to find equitable workplace solutions, which he outlined in a Washington Post op-ed.

Robert F. Smith’s Top Solutions on How to Implement Workplace Diversity

Smith, recently named in TIME100’s list of the most influential people, offers a comprehensive list of internal and external corporate solutions to make lasting change and strengthen America’s workforce.

  • Permanent capital. Smith said companies’ commitments need to begin with localized investments in Black communities. Smith’s idea of “permanent capital” starts with private sector investments which are scalable over the long-term.
  • The 2 percent solution. Smith said corporations should invest 2 percent of their profits to capitalize financial institutions, like local banks, that service Black-owned businesses. This in turn would create opportunities and reinforce communities over time.
  • Diversify corporate boards. Private equity firms pledge to address the lack of diversity at the highest level by making five board seats available for minority candidates, including women.

These are only a few of Smith’s recommendations. Read more from Smith on how to eradicate racism. 

Robert F. Smith on the Benefits of Workforce Diversity

“What we’re really looking for are the smartest people on the planet to work for us. The key is to make sure that we go as broad as we can, so we can be reflective of what this planet looks like in the companies we operate,”  Robert F. Smith said in a Business Insider interview.

Smith spoke of diversity as being the key to business strength. The best and brightest people must be drawn from the population as a whole to stay at the forefront of technology and change. Creating opportunities for those dreamers and doers is one part of his plan. Another more immediate need is creating a process and environment that is inclusive.

“You have to create a workforce process and a workforce environment that makes people feel not just invited to the party, but also asked to dance. It’s a matter of necessity more than anything else,” Smith said.