Understanding the New Dynamics of Workforce Diversity – Nu Leadership Series

“ After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”
Nelson Mandela

As baby boomer workers begin to exit from America’s workplaces and demographic changes take place, organizational leaders will need to develop a diverse strategy to stay globally competitive. Many organizations are struggling to understand the meaning of a culturally diverse organization. How does it relate to the organization’s principles, values, or traditions? Some organizations are further along in implementing diversity strategies than others.

For example, the federal government is a leader in providing equal access to all Americans. I have observed this occurrence take shape in the public sector over a decade. The government’s actions have, however, challenged contemporary private business’ practices.

Historically, diversity has been mandated though federal laws via equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. It was a forced change that brought a lot of negative resistance by both managers and employees. In spite of the government’s many operational flaws, it has attempted to broaden the makeup of workforce for several years.

In 1987, the Hudson Institute published Workforce 2000, which outlined the impending demographic changes for the American workforce. A recent Department of Labor report, Futurework: Trends and Challenges for the Work in the 21st Century, notes the following:

  • By 2050, minority groups will makeup half of the population
  • Immigrants will account for almost two-thirds of the population
  • One-quarter of the population will be of Hispanic origin
  • Almost one in ten Americans will be of Asian or Pacific Islander decent

Obviously, these demographic changes will reshape the organizational culture. The old paradigm of “just fit in or get out” is becoming archaic. With this in mind, where does this place mandated laws of equal access in the federal sector? Many critics of implementing diversity argue that the market should dictate who gets employment.

Clearly, this is a shortsighted approach of organizational strategy when dealing with a multi-cultural marketplace. Therefore, effective leaders need to integrate their diversity strategies into their overall organizational strategies.


Office of Personnel Management (2000). Building and Maintaining a Diverse and High Quality Workforce. Received on June 21, 2006 from http://www.opm.gov/Diversity/diversity-2.htm.

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green