Corporate Cues

Top Executives Explain Four Business Practicesto Better Position You For Success In The Workplace

It’s the post-new economy era. So what does that mean for today’s job seekers and professionals looking for the next golden ring? It means, once again, the rules of engagement in the workplace have changed, and we’re here to sound the alarm for all who think hard work is enough. It’s not. Longevity? Nope. Loyalty? Not quite.

Worker productivity has indeed jumped 9.4% in the third quarter, signaling what some analysts are calling the beginning of a “self-sustaining economic expansion.” But whether an assistant or a director, employees today must strategically align their professional goals with those of their company in order to take their careers to the next level.

To get you there, BLACK ENTERPRISE talked with four executives at thriving companies. The upshot? Diversity, partnering with employees, globalization, and personalized marketing will help you get the keys to the kingdom. But before you revamp your résumé, read on to learn what these progressive companies expect you to bring to the party. Because just as companies now know that it’s not just about selling their products, employees are learning that it takes more than the “right” credentials to beat out the competition.

Contrary to popular belief, diversity is not the same as affirmative action. Minorities cannot rely on race alone to propel their careers. “When it comes time for movement [up the corporate ladder], it has to be about finding people who can contribute value versus finding people that [the corporations] are comfortable with,” says Robert Morris, founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Diversity Assessment, Analysis & Audits in New York City.

At the same time, however, shades of brown are fast becoming the new landscape of America, both in the workplace and the consumer marketplace. A 2003 study published by the University of Georgia projects that by 2008 the combined buying power of African Americans, Asians, and Native Americans will exceed $1.5 trillion. This represents a 231% gain since 1990. And minority buying power is growing at a much faster rate. In 2003, whites saw a 14% increase in buying power, while minorities saw an increase of 22%.

“People who believe diversity is dead don’t understand the power of diversity as it relates to profits and measurable gains,” says Donna DeBerry, senior vice president of diversity and assistant to the chairman of Wyndham International in Dallas. Wyndham learned that hard-won lesson three years ago after the NAACP gave the company a D rating, saying it wouldn’t encourage blacks to stay at the company’s hotels as it didn’t believe the chain supported the African American marketplace. That boycott resulted in a financial loss for the company, which hired DeBerry to forge new partnerships with diverse organizations like the NAACP; the National Council of La Raza, a nonprofit organization established to improve life opportunities for Hispanic Americans; and the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

“Before 2000, the percentage of our business with minority and women-owned businesses was 1%–today it’s 22%,” says DeBerry, who defines diversity as all of the similarities and differences among

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