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Earth boy - Central AmericaIt is hard to turn on the news without hearing news about diversity combined with racial tensions. The 50th anniversary of the march in Selma was on full display even as the movie “Selma” received a best Oscar nod and not a single actor of color was nominated for a major acting award. And scarcely a day goes by without news from Ferguson. What is going on?

At the Academy Awards this year we heard this:

“There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.”  ~ John Legend
“It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.” ~ Patricia Arquette
“I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage please pass the same message along.” ~ Graham Moore

According to an American Sociological Association study, “for every 1 per cent rise in the rate of gender diversity and ethnic diversity in a workforce there is a 3 and 9 per cent rise in sales revenue, respectively.”

When it hits corporations in the pocketbook, sooner or later, they start listening. A recent survey of executives reported that 70 percent say their organizations have diversity and inclusion programs in place, and the vast majority of respondents (84 percent) say a lack of attention on diversity and inclusion contributes to employee turnover. In addition, nearly half (42 percent) believe there is an element of unconscious bias in their workforce.

Diversity and inclusion is of course, not only about race. It is about religion, gender, age, culture and sexual orientation. And it is about language. The words used in conversations are critical.

In our next posting we will look at how diversity and inclusion promotes a healthier and more profitable company.

Source: Fortune, “Why we need to talk about diversity differently,” Roxane Gray, Feb. 27, 2015
Source: Business Wire, “Executive Survey Finds a Lack of Focus on Diversity and Inclusion Key Factor in Employee Turnover, “March 2, 2015