apple Diversity

Why is Diversity in the workplace so important? : Q&A with Nigel Dessau

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 Tyronita Bell

In recent news apple has been pressed to release information regarding data on the diversity among their employees.  According to an article in USA today, “Apple hired 65% more women, 50% more African-Americans and 66% more Latinos last year than it did the previous year”.  With this progress the tech giant is continuing to work toward improving the diversity in the company.

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That same article also stated that, “Apple is still overwhelmingly male and white. Some 69% of the company is male and 54% is white. Leadership of the company is 72% male and 63% white. Technical employees are 53% white. Those percentages barely budged since last year.”

We talked with Nigel Dessau, CMO of Stratus Technologies, author of Become a 21st century executive: Breaking away from the pack, and creator of the three minute mentor to get his take on the subject.

Halfstack Magazine: How can a diverse workplace change the way people in a company think & work?

Nigel Dessau: The most important and valuable [thing is that it] brings people of different thinking together .The people we serve are not uniform so our [staff] shouldn’t be.

HM: What makes a diverse company succeed?

ND: A diverse company reflects the market…there’s nothing more dangerous than uniformity. [When] everyone thinks the same. The millennial generation has grown up in a diverse world. They don’t want to work for a place where they haven’t [grown up]. If you want more diversity it has to look like the world that they want to be apart of.

HM: How can workers from different generations benefit a business overall?

ND: Workers from different cultures and backgrounds, with different ways of thinking and solving problems. A business of 30 years ago may have had the right people and skills for then but it may not be right for right now.

HM: Why is it so important for a company’s team to reflect the demographic of its target market?

ND: When you see an ad you’re like that’s not talking to me. Most of our companies don’t work for segment markets. Most of them work for a pluralistic market, which is much more complex…diversity is critical to building a business.

HM: Why do you think tech companies like apple are being pressed about their workplace diversity?

ND: It’s absolutely a reflection of the millennial generation and those around us. Today the millennial generation are not only sensitive to getting a job, but morals. What’s a company ecological view [and] social view. I also think that companies like apple become a target for organizations to [provide] change. If a company like apple can do it, other companies can too.

HM: In a quote you said, “ For employers, diversity should not be about quotas or affirmative action. It actually makes a great deal of business sense. “, What do you mean by that?

ND: There was a movement for years where it was like you should have a certain percentage of minorities. I think it’s hard for most small businesses. Diversity is not discussed in the benefits, [they’re] just told about it.

HM: Why do you think it is so difficult for employers to create a diverse workplace? 

ND: Diversity is a question of leadership from t he top. If you don’t encourage women or minorities. People don’t look at how they recruit. To get a diverse recruiting base you have to have a diverse recruiting base. You can always do things the way you’ve always done it, but you’re going to get what you’ve always gotten before.

HM: What has been your personal experience with a diverse workplace? How did it impact you? 

ND: I grew up in UK, we didn’t really discuss diversity. 30 years, we didn’t discuss it like we do here now in the US. What we need is to get it in an organizational level. We don’t just look at people from Ivy League or locals. We really [should] try to expand our view…I’ve only has positive experiences. Just hire the right people for the right job.

Guynn, Jessica. "Apple Diversity Report Shows Little Progress." USA Today. Gannett, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 24 Aug. 2015.

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