Diversity the new nine letter word

It seems corporations rise and fall on new buzzwords, reorganization, downsizing, right sizing, TQM and now diversity. In what seems like a flurry, corporate America has embraced this initiative becoming the champion of this good cause. In a country where skepticism is encouraged, the base motivation for this action desires exploration.

Through the advent of technology and deregulation industries find themselves in a battle pitted against each other for consumers as well as skilled workers. In the past, corporations were slow to change to meet their customer\'s needs, lack of competition provided a sense of security to corporations which were largely unchallenged. Change, if any, occurred when the company felt inspired to take the initiative or when threat from a competitor was imminent. In our current environment where telecommunications companies are pitted against one another and cable television companies are feeling the heat from satellite dish networks, competition has become a way of life. The key focus that companies live by today is that change is constant and competition the norm for what you are not willing to do someone else will do, and better.

Numerous studies demonstrate that diversity impacts organizational performance.
As a result, diversity issues have evolved beyond human resources concerns into company-wide priorities. While diversity managers are still involved in activities such as measuring diversity goals and providing awareness training, today\'s managers play an important role in strategic organizational planning. This is due to growing recognition at the executive level of the potential held by a diverse workforce. The potential extends beyond the feel good level and goes straight to the heart of the bottom line.

At IBM commitment to diversity as a business-driven issue has long been a standard. Market trends in computer purchasing have served as a constant reminder that diversity is critical to the bottom line. "In 1998, U.S. businesses owned by women spent $68 billion on technology," says Ted Childs, IBM\'s vice president, global workforce diversity. "Businesses owned by women employ a quarter of the workforce. In 1997, these businesses spent $650 million with IBM, and businesses owned by people of color spent $357 million with us." Childs says by bringing such statistics to the attention of IBM employees and management, the importance of valuing diversity in the workplace and in customer interactions becomes clear.

Companies today are initiating many diversity initiates from marketing efforts to team leadership programs with a host of other programs falling in between. Mentoring programs have also gained a new breath as top companies try to develop and retain their employees and curtail the expense of the cyclical re-hiring and re-training. The skilled employees of today are not only a resource scarcity but also a substantial investment to train, which aids to motivate employers to ensure their employees are fulfilled.

Diversity initiatives have taken high priority on many companies\' list of objectives. The challenge comes as companies begin to change the corporate environment to accommodate such initiatives. There are companies that as a result of media spotlight, for example Texaco, make radical transformations that would otherwise perhaps feel resistance from the existing cultural environment. Texaco is one example of a company that has developed and carried through effective diversity initiatives with positive success in a relatively short period. We also have companies that by the nature of their business are propelled to gravitate toward championing diversity initiatives. Microsoft was an active lobbyer to lift the freeze on immigration as it depended heavily on the influx on immigrants for labor. Finally we have companies that are trying to regain a portion of their lost market share by tapping into new markets. The most visible example is telecommunications companies whose profits are decreasing as a result of competition and are forced to venture into new markets and seek new customers.

Diversity does not only pertain to minorities of racial and ethnic differences, as some believe, it also includes women as well. The rapid influx of women into labor markets worldwide is one of the most significant developments of the 20th century. Many social changes ranging from the rise in divorce rates to declining fertility have been influenced by the changing status of female workers, according to Marianne A. Ferber, professor emerita of economics and women\'s studies.

The increase of