Diversify Your Business and Watch it Grow

Diversify Your Business and Watch it Grow

My husband and I were having a quick breakfast in an unfamiliar restaurant, waiting for the doors to open at a nearby museum. As I sipped my coffee, I began to realize why I wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t just because we were having Sunday breakfast away from home.

Very quickly, I had realized every person serving us, from the greeter to wait staff, was young and white. I peeked into the kitchen and confirmed what I was guessing – the invisible people working behind the scenes, performing the lower paying jobs, were Latino, African American and of varying ages. Will this restaurant get my return business? Probably not.

Later, a friend and I were talking about varied in employment and she told me a similar story. While out for a walk, she saw a sign in a local breakfast shop window that advertised “… Restaurant Needs Morning HOSTESS. Apply Now Inside.”

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin, it seems that a number of companies nevertheless don’t get it when it comes to discriminatory advertising or other issues like denying an employee the right to use the Family Medical Leave Act or allowing sexual harassment in the workplace.

Employees understand. In a recent three year period, related employment discrimination lawsuits increased by 77 percent.

Issues regarding discrimination can be difficult to understand; grey areas abound. But the prohibition of basic employment actions based on federally protected classes is much easier to understand. Employers can’t make a hiring or firing decision based on a person’s race, color, religion, gender or national origin.

The restaurant that Joan spotted clearly wants anything but a big guy of mixed ethnicity to greet their customers. This is apparent from their advertisement and the restaurant manager will probably find the hostess he or she is seeking.

But wouldn’t it be less offensive to all of the restaurant’s customers and possible employees if the manager would post a proper notice that complies with civil rights laws? Maybe a phrase like “Seeking a Greeter or great number/Hostess”?

They may nevertheless hire the female hostess they appear to want. But then again, they could expand their search and find a guy who really appeals to their morning coffee crowd to be the new greeter. What is good about doing this right in the first place, is a business doesn’t have the problem of being in violation of federal, state and regional laws.

Better however, a business won’t suffer from opportunity lost when it tries to allurement to today and tomorrow’s ever-changing population.

Figures from the Pew Research Center and from the U.S. Census show that in the next forty years, nearly one in five Americans will be an immigrant.

Latinos, already the nation’s largest minority group, will triple to become 29 percent of the U.S. population. Black citizens will become 15 percent of the population and Asian Americans will be about nine percent of all citizens.

The United States by mid-21st century will be not only more racially and ethnically different,but much older. One in five citizens will be 65 years of age or older.

By using non-discriminatory advertising and other equitable practices, a business opens itself to seeing all of the possibilities for marketing to more and more customers while using the talents and skills of a wide range of employees.

Some might say that concern over a sign in the window might represent a case of too much political correctness. But I really don’t think so. It simply represents basic employment practice and compliance.

Now, I wish the restaurant where Fred and I were having coffee would take a second look at their hiring practices. As customers, we would have enjoyed seeing our money go to pay people from a variety of backgrounds, and not just young and white.

It’s hard enough to find a job these days, and everyone deserves an equal opportunity.

The information here does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you have a legal problem, consult an attorney in your area concerning your particular situation and facts.

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