Diversity Training – 10 Numbers that Make the Business Case for Respect, Value, and Care
May 15, 2014 | 1568 Views
Does your hotel or restaurant provide diversity training? Why not? Perhaps you did at one time, but the dropped it during the recession as a cost-saving measure. Perhaps you feel it might be necessary someday, but only after Congress passes a new immigration law. Or perhaps you haven’t even considered it because you don’t think you have a diversity problem in your workplace or don’t see how this type of training could possibly help.
Well, let me give you five numbers that might change your mind: 5, 12.3, 17, 36, and 40.8 million.
- 5 – The number of generations currently in our workforce. Previously, there have been three or four generations working at the same time, but now we are facing the unprecedented challenge of five different generations working side-by-side because people are living longer lives and often need to work longer in those lives (especially after our recent recession). These generations include “Traditionalists” born between 1925 and 1945, “Baby Boomers” born between 1946 and 1964, “Generation X” born between 1965 and 1980, “Generation Y” or “Millennials” born between 1981 and 1996, and “Generation Z,” which started in 1997 and is now just joining the workforce. Due to factors such as their background, experience, and the era in which they were raised, these five sets will have different workplace expectations and values – a younger employee in Generation Z might think that using a smartphone during a meeting is an efficient way to multi-task, for example, but his boss from the Baby Boomer generation might think he is disengaged or, perhaps worse, consider the behavior rude and disrespectful. The chasms that can exist between these differing expectations and values (as well as varied preferences in communication styles, learning methods, feedback, etc.) need to be effectively bridged in the workplace so that the entire team, especially one that comprises all five generations, can work well with one another to accomplish everything that needs to get done during a busy shift.
- 12.3 – The unemployment rate of people with disabilities in the US during the fourth quarter of 2013. Now this number is much higher than the overall unemployment rate for US workers, but it has been shrinking: the rate was 13.4% in 2012, and prior to that, the number of working disabled adults increased almost 4% between 2010 and 2012, which is more than the 3% increase seen by nondisabled people in the same time period. Some of the biggest factors allowing more disabled folks to find jobs, even in the physical world of restaurants and hotels, are the huge technological advances being made. Everything from voice recognition programs, speech synthesizers, hands-free mobile devices, and eyeglass computers “are starting to help level the playing field, opening the door for so many people," said Therese Willkomm of the Institute on Disability at theUniversity ofNew Hampshire in an interview last year. As more disabled people are hired by hospitality companies, diversity training will allow our executives, managers, and employees to be better prepared to treat everyone fairly and respectfully by ensuring they follow equitable recruiting and hiring methods, helping them to sensitively navigate through unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations, and making sure that training and other off-site activities are accessible to all staff members.
- 17 – The number of states in which same-sex marriage is now legal. Ten years ago, this number was only 1. Five years ago it was only 2. Even eighteen months ago it was only 6. And now it’s at 17 and expected climb even higher in 2014. With these new laws, there’s bound to be some changes for our hospitality operations in these states (and theDistrict of Columbia, where it’s also legal). It’s going to mean thousands of wedding ceremonies, receptions, and rehearsal dinners booked in hotels and restaurants by same-sex couples. It’s going to mean two men or two women wanting to reserve the honeymoon suite or asking for a couples-massage in your spa. And it’s going to mean employees who are now married to people of the same gender who will want to take advantage of company benefits that were previously only available to opposite-sex couples. Some of your workers may welcome these changes wholeheartedly, but what if you have more conservative staffers working a gay wedding reception who don’t feel that same-sex marriage is moral even if it is legal? What if it’s the business owner who’s opposed to serving same-sex couples? Negative media coverage and costly lawsuits can certainly result if these situations are not properly addressed.
- 36 – The percentage of the US workforce made up of people of color as of June 2012. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 64% in the labor force are non-Hispanic white, 16% are Hispanic, 12% are African American, 5% are Asian, and 3% do not identify in any of these racial or ethnic categories. The 2012 numbers for Hispanics and Latinos increase quite a bit when focusing on hospitality: 19% of front desk clerks, 27.5% of food prep workers, 30% of cooks, 40% of dishwashers, and 43% of housekeepers identify themselves in this category. As you can see, there’s no need to wait for immigration reform; we already have an incredibly diverse workforce in our hotels and restaurants, and with this diversity bring challenges for both managers and employees due to cultural differences in communication styles, perceptions of time and scheduling, the importance of working together as a team, and religious or holiday observances.
- 40,800,000 – The estimated number of foreign-born people living in the United States. In 1990, this number was only 19.8 million, but between 1990 and 2000, the total increased 57 percent, and between 2000 and 2010, it increased by 28 percent. That’s a staggering upsurge in the number of foreign-born people! This growth has probably already impacted your workplace even without a new immigration reform bill, especially if your hotels or restaurants are located in one of the states with the highest percentage of foreign-born populations:California (27.1 percent),New York (22.6 percent),New Jersey (21.2 percent),Florida (19.4 percent), orHawaii (19.2 percent). Foreign-born employees may bring with them new customs, traditions, and languages for our workplaces, and foreign-born guests may seek out businesses that can cater to the comforts and tastes of their home country. And for franchised companies, you may also want to consider the challenges that might occur when foreign-born people purchase your franchises, as the number of foreign-born small business owners in theUS skyrocketed 149% from 1990 to 2010.
So when budgeting your training initiatives for the coming year, consider the inclusion of diversity training so that everyone in your hotels or restaurants (whether they are managers, employees, guests, or even applicants who have just dropped off a resume) feels valued, cared for, and respected, and that they understand the importance of treating others in that same manner. Doing so will create happier employees who will want to work harder and contribute more to the organization, and it will create happier guests who will want to spend more at your business.
And just in case those first five numbers weren’t enough to convince you, let me give you a few additional numbers to better justify the business case for providing such training:
- 15 – The multiplier of sales that companies reporting the highest levels of racial diversity brought in on average versus those companies with the lowest levels of racial diversity according to the American Sociological Association.
- 22 and 53 – The percentage range of lost productivity caused by workplace conflict according to the University of North Carolina Business School.
- 25 and 40 – The percentage range of workforce attrition attributed to poor diversity management according to the EEOC.
- 84 – The percentage of companies reporting that their diversity programs are at least "somewhat'' effective, citing benefits such as a better public image, lower employee turnover, and improved profitability according to the Society of Human Resource Management.
- 60,000 – The amount in dollars that the average EEO complaint costs for just the administrative process. It can go up to $250,000 when including settlement and damages.
I’ll close with the same two questions I opened with: Does your hotel or restaurant provide diversity training? Why not?