On Diversity and Inclusion

Danone Simpson, President & CEO of Montage Insurance Solutions, explains how women-owned businesses are changing statistics

In Los Angeles, diversity exists. Business leaders here are aware of how diversity impacts their employees’ work life and the implications of not having a diverse, respectful culture. As a panelist at a recent Los Angeles Business Journal Diversity & Inclusion Summit, I found the discussion from the three panels to give great ideas: positive results of having a diversity department, legal compliance, and cold hard facts concerning discrimination.

The topics centered around gender, race, LGBT, religion, and inclusion shifts in society today. The panelists also discussed legal protections and how they have changed the data in terms of women-owned businesses, college graduates, and job opportunities.

Women at the Top

Amex Open reports from 2016 showed growth in businesses owned by women and estimated there are 11.3 million women-owned businesses (WOBs) in the United States. These businesses are estimated to employ nearly 9 million people and generate over $1.6 trillion in revenue. The increase in WOBs between 2007 and 2016 was 45%, compared to a 9% increase in overall businesses. This data, showing the growth rate in WOBs is five times faster than the national average, can be coupled with the fact that business revenues among women-owned firms have increased by 35% since 2007 while increasing employment 18%.

[To read more of Danone Simpson’s thought leadership click here]

The report goes on to state that there was an increase of 3.5 million women-owned firms and nearly 2.8 million (79%) of these are owned by women of color. The highest demographic increase is Latina-owned firms, which increased by 137% and generated $97B in revenues.

As of 2016, Asian American women-owned firms generated $170.4B in revenues, not factoring in the businesses they likely own in the food accommodations, food services, business administration, janitorial, housekeeping, and landscaping industries.

Native American and Alaska Native women-owned firms are more likely to run construction firms, childcare and social assistance, and wholesale trade businesses while African American women lean toward nail and hair salons as well as health and child care.

Other studies are showing there are more traditional jobs for women available and women are more likely to take on jobs that are traditionally for men, while men may be more hesitant and reluctant to take that traditional job thought to be for a woman. Many traditionally male jobs have been, and continue to be, lost when outsourced overseas and to Mexico.

Making it in the USA

With so much time and energy being spent discussing the concept of bringing jobs back to the United States, it may finally be time to acknowledge that this is not a bad idea. The concern is that as our youth, the Millennials, become one of the most educated generations,. 54 million adult Americans ages 18 and 34 who make up one-third of the American workforce and are not attracted to labor positions, nor are our legal and illegal immigrants children. A farmer from the California Central Valley explained to my CEO group that even those arriving under H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers farming contracts are escaping from the hard labor.

Time reported in 2015—and university studies are showing—that women are outpacing men in the areas of graduating from college with Bachelors, M.B.A., and Ph.D. degrees. Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finances at the University of Michigan, states that a total of all degrees is showing the gender college degree gap is favoring women, with predictions that 141 women to every 100 men will graduate with a degree.

As far as pay, university studies are showing young female graduates are earning equal to their male peers, and in the childbearing years pay can decrease. However, today with strict protections, at least here in California, we are seeing more women taking protected time off and returning to work. The gender gap in pay still exists with the older workers and is narrowing with the younger women, ages 25 to 34, with 90 cents to every dollar paid to young men, according to Pew Research. With 24% of young fathers taking off work to care for the children, women still share in the bulk of the child-rearing responsibilities, with four in ten saying they took a significant amount of time off or reduced their working hours. As I say, until men can have babies, it is what it is. Women today are staying with the traditional values of aiming for work-life balance while maintaining their superwoman duties at home and work. The New York Times showed women without children are paid similarly to men (90%) after college. The gap widens to 55% for women after 45, mostly due to the lack of college degrees. Four out of ten say they took a significantally less money, time off, or reduced their working hours to be home with their children.

Diversity Convergence

While today everyone wants their rights to be heard and they should be, these shifts in the U.S. workforce and businesses will bring forth more acceptance of diversity over time. As the Millennials age into management positions, their view on inclusion at work is significant and will redefine diversity, creating a paradigm shift will further redefine diversity.

McKinsey & Company shares examples of gender-diverse companies that are outperforming their non-diverse counterparts by 15%, with ethnically-diverse companies outperforming by 35%. These studies of approximately 366 public companies are showing diversity as a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies. With the extreme growth in women-owned businesses and acceptance from the younger working generations, this diversity will continue to shapeshift us all toward a time where all human beings are treated the same.

[For more on Montage’s approach to Human Resources click here]