Diversity Days

Happy Marting Luther King, Jr Day!

So many people roll their eyes at this "bank holiday". We (yeah, sometimes I've a done it too) shake our heads and proclaim it just another silly reason for kids to get out of school, or teachers to do even less than so many folks (emphatically NOT including me) seem to think they do. MLK Day is one holiday which the children of Trickle-down Ronnie's legacy do shrug off as hardly worth their time to acknowledge, much less have personal cause to celebrate.

With this new research, as presented via the WaPo by Shankar Vedantam, the empirical evidence that Diversity within our great America Melting pot is both desirable and efficacious towards our long-term health and growth, continues to pile up.

Businesses, Politicians and Reactionary Fundamentalists take note:
In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference
By Shankar Vedantam
Monday, January 15, 2007; Page A02

Cedrick Herring has just completed his study. He found that companies that are more diverse have more customers, a larger share of their markets and greater profitability. In fact, when Herring puts his numbers on a graph, he finds a linear relationship between diversity and business success, meaning that as diversity increases, those business indicators increase in step.

"Those companies that have very low levels of racial and ethnic minorities have the lowest profits and the lowest market share and the lowest number of customers," he said. "Those that have medium levels do better, and those that have the highest levels do the best."

Herring got his results by obtaining data about diversity levels and business performance from about 250 companies. He verified the information with independent statistics from Dun & Bradstreet Corp. and documents filed with the federal government. The 250 companies are representative of all U.S. businesses with more than 10 employees -- from the restaurant down the street that employs a dozen people to multinational corporations with thousands of workers. Herring found the same relationship between diversity and business success whether a company was large or small.

While Herring's study points to the benefits of diversity, it does not directly address the contentious question of how it should be achieved.

As a good scientist, he is cautious about the result and says it does not prove that companies do better because they are diverse. What the study shows is a correlation between diversity and business success. While diversity could be the cause of better business outcomes, it is also possible, for example, that companies that are successful to begin with do a better job of attracting and retaining minorities.

[For the whole of the article]


  1. I wish that the genes of people would get so mixed up that most people would be a blend -- Cablinasian like Tiger Woods [grin]. I think race is non-existant anyway, it's all about culture and family resemblance. Diversity makes us stronger.

  2. I think of diversity as being not like the norm, the false standard of those who conquer. I look forward to the day when we don't have to reconcile anything, but people are accepted just as they are and we celebrate differences. Good post, Michael and very timely.

  3. Dr. King is a hero, a man who was willing to give his life for his (loving and peaceful) ideals, and who eventually did. I weep not for him, but for the world without his voice.

  4. So many people roll their eyes at this "bank holiday".

    As Wallace once so wisely observed, "These bank holidays...it's a problem to decide (where to go)."

    I like your posting on diversity--a worthy topic for MLK Day. As I mentioned over on Blognonymous, an MLK Day just seems to small to me. Doesn't have the right focus, and I'm sure Dr. King would agree. Diversity, and the strength America derives from it, seems to be closer to the mark.

  5. Heard this story on NPR during the drive to work today. The researcher had focus groups do some kind of role playing. One exercise involved jury role-play (there's a surprise). In groups where participants were all white, the "jury" found the defendant guilty 50% of the time. In groups with a racial mix, the guilty verdict was returned 33% of the time. So the unanswered question is, what is it about mixing it up that changes the way an otherwise all-majority group thinks and behaves? Spooky.


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