In short, the face of America is changing, and the global economy in which America competes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ethnic minority populations will exceed 50% of the total US population over the next 25 years. Emerging nations, such as India and China to name a few, are increasingly creating a more competitive global economy of which a nation’s human capital (its citizens contributing to economic output) will be one of its most critical assets in developing new innovations, “fielding” the best talent, and creating new export producing businesses. With an increasingly diverse population in the United States, America’s competitive advantage simply cannot be optimized if such a significant percentage of its population are not equitably participating in what we now refer to as our emerging innovation economy. Of particular interest to this topic area are the significant changes and trends in the demography of markets and the talent required for sustainable competitive advantage. Here is a summary of what we know about the current situation for U.S. business enterprise:
The changing demographics of the United States are transforming the culture and buying habits of this nation. This metamorphosis is occurring more rapidly than anticipated. Companies that intend to be competitive going forward must understand and actively court emerging-market customers, including people of color, gays/lesbians and people with disabilities. Involvement in emerging-market communities, from supplier-diversity initiatives to philanthropic endeavors, sends a strong signal of support to potential customers and employees within these communities.
Recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse employees is critical to business success in this evolving marketplace. These efforts must be carefully planned, nurtured, and measured to ensure success.
Corporate diversity initiatives (and now the emerging business landscape being fueled by the innovation and commercialization initiatives) must have total buy-in from top management, particularly from the CEO. Without support from the top, the integration of diversity, inclusion and community engagement strategies into company business plans and organizational culture are doomed to fail.
Businesses, policy makers and related stakeholders must now pay closer attention to the details of quality of life in the communities in which they are embedded as a basis for developing a renewal resource for highly talented associates, suppliers, and distribution partners.
With specific reference to the nation’s emerging innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems – essentially the standard processes, relationships, and networks for commercializing new innovations and technologies and connecting these emerging opportunities to risk based capital – America must intentionally and purposefully seek to broaden these historical networks by engaging and preparing its ethnically diverse citizens for all of the critical roles of the entrepreneurial ecosystem if America is truly to reclaim its position as the dominate player in the global economy.