Diversity and inclusion, popularly referred to as D&I, has become such a common phrase in corporate America that it’s almost easy to take it for granted.
Nearly every major company in the U.S. has adopted a D&I agenda, appointed a D&I chief and formed employee resource groups dedicated to the mission. And many nonprofit organizations have sprung up to advocate the interests of minority groups, becoming recognized as important contributors to more balanced workplaces.
The organization I founded in 1994, the Asian American Business Development Center, was established with a mission of recognizing, encouraging and developing executives and entrepreneurs of Asian descent. We’re proud of our heritage, and believe it is important to showcase successful Asian role models in business. We also believe in collective strength, and teamed up with CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion to support culturally sensitive workplaces.
Encouragingly, younger generations appear to be more welcoming of cultural differences than those that came before. For instance, the millennial group, that much-analyzed — perhaps overanalyzed — generation of young adults, has demonstrated a much more open mindset than previous generations.
Less noticed, perhaps, is the emergence of the next cohort: Generation Z, whose oldest members were born in 1998 and are on the cusp of starting their first jobs. Studies say that this generation will be the most racially diverse group ever. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2020, a tad over half, or 50.2 percent, of children under 18 are expected to come from a minority race or ethnic group.
This is the big wave of the “majority-minority” population, the “new majority” or the “new mainstream.” And I can’t help but wonder: Will this multi-ethnic cadre of employees find bosses who look like them? Or will they still be asking the types of questions that I, along with Black and Latino business leaders, have been posing for some time: Why aren’t our corporate leaders a better reflection of our diverse employees, customers and communities?