Paradigm Shifts in Diversity: Leading your Business into the Future

Diversity is part of change. The nature of a business and the business industry is full of changes – including the client and the providers who must be at par with such developments.

Diversity has been happening constantly in the business world. However, it wasn’t talked about or considered openly for many years. Today, diversity, innovation and globalization are the bedrock of doing business. As the world changes and new trends come in, the prospects of a change like diversity is discussed and sometimes practiced in its early stages.

Diversity has its own branches. Some of the diversity trends are slow ly but surely penetrating companies and offices for better performance, talent and results. Today, being diverse isn’t exclusive to people in the workplace. Previously, the term ‘diversity’ was confined to hiring and eliminating discrimination regarding employees. These employees are often from different minorities, culture or people of various beliefs in the workplace.

There are now new shifts in diversity and some of them are directed in operating the actual business.

Employer Diversity

Diversity often involves employees in the workplace. Employees come from different backgrounds and the employers/owners have the power to include or exclude a potential employee. Ideally, employees must be hired according to their skills or talents. However, employees are vulnerable to personal or systematic discrimination.

An employee can be discriminated based on their gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, beliefs, age, disability, economic level and education. The law encourages diversity in the workplace but a lot of employers are not bound to follow it.

Although discrimination is still prevalent in hiring (and even firing) employees, diversity puts forward a lot of advantages. One advantage is the pool of knowledge and experience that a diverse staff brings. In addition, employees are more likely to be open to new ideas or methods when they are in a diverse company of people. Diversity also encourages other positive points like creativity, innovation, productivity and effective competition.

Nowadays, hiring managers are looking for talented people from different backgrounds. They do so due to the reasons stated above. In addition, the government grants benefits in form of points for companies who are trying to diversify their people. The shift has been happening for a while but it is slow due to the complex system of business, which is hard to change.

Supplier Diversity

One paradigm shift in practice is supplier diversity. In a nutshell, this practice involves a lot of suppliers coming from different backgrounds. Mostly, these are small businesses that provide a bigger company with services or products. These small businesses are often classified as disadvantaged because the owners do not fit the traditional mold of an owner – white and male. Now, a lot of people are trying their hands at business and they are from different walks of life – some are ethnic minorities of the country, some are black, some are women while others can be veterans or retirees. The diversity in the profile of owners can bring a lot of diversity to the business as well as the products and services that they create.

Apart from the business benefit, there is also an extra benefit advantages in seeking out different small businesses for sourcing. Some services and products can be at reduced priced, made with a particular material or done with exceptional quality or delivery. A company with a supplier diversity program is also earning bonus points from the government especially if the company engages in government procurement activities in local, state and federal levels. Even those who don’t do government procurement can cite their supplier diversity program as a part of their corporate social responsibility. At the same time, small businesses are given the opportunity to earn profit.

Supplier diversity proves to be a win-win situation for large and small companies.

Owner Diversity

As mentioned earlier, the traditional image of a business owner is a white male. Nowadays, that business profile isn’t true anymore.

A lot of people are now becoming entrepreneurs. The access to education and capital are two key reasons why the face of American business owner is changing.

Of course, there are still a lot of entrepreneurs who are male and white. Today, there have been a lot of broken barriers and stereotypes when it comes to business ownership. Anyone can be a business owner. With the right mindset, education and skills, people are given the chance to own and operate their own living. Sometimes, business owners today belong to two distinct categories of under-represented business owners. Some business owners are both women and ethnic minorities (e.g. an African American business women). In similar cases, being a woman and a minority can be a double impediment compared to the traditional male and white.

Age Diversity

Also, development has been made when it comes to age. Usually, business owners are portrayed as middle aged men and women. Sometimes, the elderly are also portrayed in the same light. However, there are also young entrepreneurs. Some young entrepreneurs are fresh graduates or in their young adulthood. A small number of young business owners are even ‘retiring’ at a considerable young age.

Further, diversity in the workplace might also be more apparent. People from different demographics are expected to work together and respect each other inside the workplace. Barriers from being promoted or suffering from abuse is no longer applicable. Those who are abused in any form or shape can recourse for an explanation or a lawsuit.

With the slow economic recovery from current financial crisis, a lot of people who were previously retired might rejoin the workforce due to rising prices of goods and services. This can be beneficial to the company, especially due to experience and skill that these people possess and can pass to younger people in the work place.

Diversity in Funding

Capital is the main pillar of a business. Without capital, a business remains an idea or a dream. Money enables an entrepreneur to build his buildings into a concrete enterprise and fuel the businesses in its operations. An entrepreneur’s first nightmare is getting sufficient funds to make his business a reality.

Traditionally, entrepreneurs borrow money from friends, families and other people in their circle. If this is not possible, an aspiring entrepreneurs engages a financial institution to borrow the capital for the business and while the business is running. Going to a bank or any lending organization is a not a guarantee of a loan. Lenders can approve or disapprove a business loan even if the owner provides sufficient and sound plans.

Today, there is now an alternative method of raising capital: crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the collection of funds to start a venture from different people using social media or a website. Crowdfunding changed the game when it comes to getting capital. It is relatively easily to post the business idea to people and ask them for a small donation. People who are interested can give their money freely without any loan or interest to pay back. From a completely controlled and structured way of getting funds, crowd funding provided a much larger scale and scope. In addition, the raising of funds becomes a genuine grassroots initiative, not a way of passive income via loan interest. Moreover, people funding the business have a genuine concern towards the owner or the proposed businesses. Crowdfunding is a more interactive way to ask for money, if not also support for the proposed businesses.

Mobile and online

Crowdfunding is just one technology that provides entrepreneurs a leg up when starting their business. Today, a lot of technology-based, specifically apparatus-based, relieves a small business owner of unnecessary expenses. For example, desktop computers were seen as staple office equipment. It has been mostly replaced with laptops, tablets and even smart phones. These devices are also mobile, giving the business less costs on space, ability to multi-task and convenience on an offsite location.

With these paradigm shifts, a lot of businesses can slowly catch up and start the path to success. These trends can foster a more enticing environment for entrepreneurs to start businesses and feel a bit more positive about their entrepreneurial journey. Change should not be feared.. With these shifts in diversity, it won’t take long for entrepreneurs to see and reap the benefits.

Diversity in business still has a long way to go. However, these changes are slowly becoming an integral part of business practice, particularly diversity in employee and business owners. Clashes and misunderstandings are expected and should be addressed immediately by the people concerned. This is particularly essential for employees. There is a lesser chance of being discriminated when it comes to business owners but the exclusion is still happening. For businesses and economies to prosper and progress, diversity is an ingredient that can contribute immensely.

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