I recently read an article in which AT&T Chief Diversity Officer Cynthia Marshall said, “It makes good business sense to have an employee base that looks like our customer base.” I suspect most of her peers agree. Her statement is exactly what you’d expect a diversity and inclusion leader to say. It’s about as controversial as what I ate for breakfast. Probably because it intuitively makes sense.
It made sense to Pepsi. Years ago, the company realized that women and minorities drink soda, so it launched a major campaign requiring that half of all new hires be women and minorities. Business improved.
Causation? Correlation? Does it matter? No corporation will claim that its diversity efforts aren’t valuable. Neither will any argue that hiring for diversity actually hurts business—nor am I insinuating that it does.
But here’s the problem: If what Marshall and other leaders say is true—that your workers should reflect your customers in order for your business to thrive—then they create a twisted paradox that scrapes at the core of diversity and inclusion. What if most of your customers are women? Or black? Continue reading “The Diversity Paradox No One Talks About”