“It is more important than ever to truly be driving the notion of building a fully inclusive organization where everyone understands that the core mission of the diversity effort is to drive the business toward a sustained competitive advantage,” offers Watson. “Many companies still struggle with their willingness and their knowledge of how to truly measure diversity. [They] still have long conversations about exactly ‘what’ they should measure. If they would simply treat diversity like every other business imperative, you would have folks working hard to reach their goals and ensuring that their performance meets the standards of their business.”
The 40 Best Companies for Diversity offer a variety of opportunities in finance, marketing, human resources, technology, and sales. In light of President Barack Obama’s plans and priorities for industry, the future holds promise for opportunities in areas such as government and energy. As a result, African American professionals must become more strategic as well, aligning skills development with organizational goals and industry trends. For some it may require upgrading credentials and broadening experiences; others must engage in a total career overhaul. But opportunities abound for those equipped to handle today’s industrial challenges.
“Diverse candidates need to understand that the new environment is all about results and no longer about potential,” Watson insists. Trudy Bourgeois, head of the Center for Workforce Excellence, a national cultural change consultancy, agrees. “Diverse candidates should become students of the marketplace,” she says. “They should study the changing consumer and the companies that are trying to meet this consumer’s demands and look for specific employment opportunities within these companies.
“Diverse candidates should leverage their own diversity. By that I mean they should market the fact that they have a strong history of managing change, charting new waters, and learning how to connect with cultures that are different from their own. Organizations need leaders and employees who are flexible, adaptable, and willing to learn.”
Annya M. Lott co-authored this article.
This story originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.