Donna Klein, president and founder of Corporate Voices for Working Families, is featured in a special report in the April issue of Smart Business titled “Debunking Diversity.” Here’s from the article, written by Jessica Tremayne:

The million-dollar question about making an investment in diversity is: Will it pay back?

While experts say diversity in the work force is a business imperative, defining diversity by employees’ physical attributes won’t foster a functional or profitable environment. 

The article continues:

Since the country’s demographics are continually changing, a failure to branch out and move past your comfort zone when hiring and communicating with employees will ultimately result in financial punishment for the business.

“It can be difficult for a 50-year-old to be managed by a 30-year-old boss,” says Donna M. Klein, president and founder, Corporate Voices for Working Families, a national business membership organization representing the private sector on public policy issues. “Training to maximize the benefits of these differences instead of allowing them to divide workers is essential. Business benefits are the same as mixing age, race and gender outside of business. It makes for a more interesting conversation at a dinner party.”

U.S. Census Bureau reports show Hispanics are the fastest-growing population, with an increase of 121 percent since 1999. The Asian population nearly doubled since 1990 and the African-American population is predicted to increase to 65.7 million strong by 2050, an increase of 15 percent since 2008.

“Any homogenous group will provide predictable results in problem-solving,” Klein says. “But a diverse group comes up with ideas and problem-solving techniques that would otherwise have never been thought of. Allowing knee-jerk reactions of stereotypes to get in the way of hiring and working with a diverse group is really limiting your potential.” 

The article also looks at a February 2009 Groundbreakers report by Ernst & Young, a Corporate Voices partner company.