~ It’s all about people.~
By John T. Hewitt
Founder & CEO of Liberty Tax Service
Let’s take gender, color, race, disability and creed out of the Diversity equation and what do you have? Very simply, you have people. And, your success is always going to be about “people”. Whether it’s internal intelligence, clients, or in the case of Liberty Tax Service, our franchisees, the bottom line is people working with people successfully, and not on how many people of each ethnicity is onboard. Diversity should play a major role in the progression of your business. It should be a natural process, not something you are doing because you feel compelled to do so. The color of one professional’s skin does not make them any less valuable or contributory than a professional of another ethnicity. We are all just people and we all deserve the opportunity to excel and, yes, go for the brass ring, if you’ll excuse the cliché.
America’s workplace must reflect today’s diverse world, and it must reflect it at all levels within the company. The impact of diversity on a company’s market penetration and overall success can be significant and profound. Think about it…internal diversity draws external diverse groups to your product or service. Why? Because all people enjoy working with someone who understands their culture, as well as the unique communication that results from this knowledge. Without diversity, how are you going to understand and cogently enter the folkways of the many diverse groups that will impact the financial solvency of your company? The more diverse your market becomes, the more your company will prosper. This is simply Business 101!
No More Buzz Words
Diversity directives have been around for some time, and with many business leaders, it is treated more as a buzz word of the times than the outstanding opportunity it presents. Your commitment to diversity cannot be superficial or it will not be embraced by your stakeholders, and certainly not by your marketplace. An inclusive corporate culture is key to recruitment and retention of both your internal intelligence and your clients. Diversity must be woven into the fabric of your company to keep it healthy for your employees, exciting for your culture and satisfying for your clients. This corporate attitude very simply equates to devoted employees and loyal clients. It’s time for corporations to eliminate the buzz words from their vocabulary and start “walking the talk” of diversity. In actuality, the labor pool itself is becoming so blended, so ‘colorful,’ that employers will be hiring a more diverse workforce because there will be no way to avoid it – and they certainly would be foolish to ignore the value a multicultural workforce can bring to their company.
At Liberty, our franchisee and stakeholder family is a rainbow of diversity. We have been embracing the positives of diversity since the company’s inception. We even wrote the sentiment into our Mission Statement which is quite simple: Set the Standard. Improve Each Day. Have Some Fun. By interconnecting our corporate culture with diversity, we have been able to serve diverse communities across the nation, while working to set the standard for other companies that might be a little slower to the concept. Through our FREE financial and fiscal education to underserved communities in English and Spanish, (and in some cities we even provide these courses in Haitian Creole, as well as various Oaxacan dialects), we have provided the means by which many of our disenfranchised neighbors can learn vital information that will make a difference in their lives. The goal is to understand the needs of our diverse communities and to provide them with services that will enhance their lives, promote their success, and ultimately, help move them from just “surviving” into “thriving” mode. And, we do this with the help and input from our diverse stakeholders and franchisees. At Liberty, our philosophy is that if you take care of the community, the community will take care of you. So rather than selling to these underserved communities, we work to provide them with information that will allow them to make more informed economic decisions that will positively impact their lives and their future. We believe that they, in turn, will trust in our commitment and will choose Liberty as their service provider when the time comes for them to make this decision. But first, we invest in the community to help it prosper. Entering diverse markets should be viewed as a long term investment. Building trust within immigrant communities is extremely important to the success of your business. And, it takes time and sincere effort to achieve.
That said, diversity is, in effect, an investment in people. There is nothing more critical or worthwhile than to realize the importance and value of the diverse communities in America. Diversity allows companies to utilize our country’s assets to the fullest. The dimensions of employable individuals have grown in the U.S. That is to say, the broader the workforce, the broader your options. Companies that embrace diversity ultimately reap the benefits of their commitment. Studies show that companies that embrace diversity reported an increase in employee work quality, which, in turn, equated to higher productivity and a greater return on investment. Various researchers studying diversity in the workplace have consistently found that organizations that emphasize collectivism in the workplace typically see greater benefits as a result of diversity. Companies that creating a corporate culture that focuses on “involvement” will more easily facilitate successful diversity fulfillment in their organization.
The reality is that diversity will continue to be evolutionary. As business leaders, we must embrace the opportunities and value the cultural impact this evolution will provide.