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CORTEZ: Why diversity makes good business sense

The U.S. workforce is undoubtedly becoming more diverse, with people of color comprising 36 percent and women accounting for 47 percent. By the year 2020, when more than 164 million people are projected to be in the workforce, the number of women is expected to grow to more than 77 million, a higher participation rate than that of men.

By the year 2050, census data tell us there will be no racial or ethnic majority in our country, with immigrants and their children accounting for 83 percent of growth in the working-age population.

A diverse economy is a strong economy, and businesses that embrace these changing demographics will reap the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. While diversity fosters a more creative and innovative workforce, it also drives collective economic growth and is critical to creating a competitive economy in a globalized world.

Having a diverse workforce makes good business sense for the following reasons:

• Creativity. When people with different backgrounds work together to solve difficult problems, they naturally bring different solutions to the table. The more ideas you can gather from people, the more likely you are to develop a workable answer.

• Productivity. A 2004 research study concluded that, overall, workplace teams that possessed diverse employee skill sets were the most productive. Why? With varied experience and training skills, each person made a unique contribution to the team, allowing employees to enjoy great personal and job satisfaction. Happier employees lead to less turnover and, in turn, cost savings for employers.

• Solid business reputation. If your business goals include becoming an “employer of choice,” you may experience a wider range of applicants who can bring a great deal of talent to your organization.

You’ll also be viewed by key stakeholders as an organization that values integrity and ethical business practices. And, by virtue of your workforce talent, a broader customer base can be better served.

At the Rives E. Worrell Co., diversity is not just a buzzword; it is something we put into practice every day. Over the past several decades, we have worked with many minority- and women-owned firms and organizations to promote diversity in the construction industry.

The company’s Minority Contractor Business Development (MCBD) program provides a venue for minority- and women-owned firms that have been working in construction-related fields for a minimum of two years to participate in a training program to enhance business acumen and interpersonal and relationship-building skills.

In the two years the program has been active in Savannah, we have awarded 24 projects totaling more than $23 million to local minority- and women-owned businesses. More than $9 million of that went to MCBD program participants.

Next month, we are partnering with the city of Savannah to launch the inaugural New Construction Business Program, a six-month program offered to informal construction businesses to prepare them to participate as subcontractors on city projects.

Topics covered will include business foundations, case management, price estimations, marketing, information technology and legal issues.

We believe diversity makes our organization stronger and more robust and improves the community in which we all live. We are committed to promoting diversity and building a culture that enables all our employees and partners to achieve their full potential regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity or physical capabilities.

 

Cherelle Cortez is a diversity manager at the Rives E. Worrell Co., a JE Dunn Construction Co. She may be reached at Cherelle.Cortez@jedunn.com or 912-354-1386.

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