Richard Kuttner: Organizational Diversity
April 20, 2022
Hey Ridgewater! I am writing today about organizational diversity, equity, and inclusion. First, however, a little background. I am currently a non-traditional Ridgewater student. I am taking my last class before I graduate this spring. I have also been a leader with a Fortune 500 company in the area for over 12 years.
In that time, I have seen an immeasurable amount of change, particularly in our workforce. Our employees are, on average, younger than ever before. A lot of the “baby boomers” have retired and are being replaced by younger generations. Those baby boomers were the foundation of success at our company for many years and they took thousands of years’ experience with them when they retired. That is something that is very difficult to replace, if not impossible.
However, at the same time, we have seen a much more diverse workforce replace some of those retirees in term of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. This has had a tremendously positive impact on our company at the same time. People with different backgrounds, experiences and cultures not only enhance the workplace, but it also makes the workplace stronger as well.
In today’s business and social climate, aside from many, many other things, the role of a leader is to make sure everyone on the team feels valued, included, and respected. Two or three decades ago, that necessarily wasn’t always the case. Not just at our company, but that was the norm in business. There weren’t any DE&I committees, lactation rooms, employee resource networks or things of that nature. If there were, it was rare. People were there to do a job and that was it.
Now, we have all those things and more. As a society, we are finally realizing that just because leaders can “boss people around”, we can’t treat our employees as a number or a just a means to an end. By showing employees that they are cared about, not just to make widgets or provide a service for our customers, they will, in-turn, care more about the business. It is a win-win for everyone.
Promoting and celebrating diversity in the workplace is not only “the right thing to do”, but it is also essential to the health and vibrancy of a business. Successful leaders today need to be welcoming, empathetic and lead by example, so ALL members of their team know they are an important part of the team’s success.