The Future of Diverse Organizations in America

In the movie Slumdog Millionaire, the life of 18-year old Jamal Malik is revealed. He is an orphan from the slums of Mumbia. Jamal has the opportunity to play India’s version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’; he stands one question away from winning 20 million rupees.

The movie was dramatic and powerful. It demonstrated the impacts of globalization on diverse cultures in the world.  Although Slumdog Millionaire won eight Academy Awards in 2009, it was a movie mostly invisible to the average American citizen.

As American businesses expand globally, organizational leaders need to evaluate what diversity will mean in the near future. Many organizations are struggling to understand the meaning of a culturally diverse organization.  Some organizations are further along in implementing diversity strategies than others. Unfortunately, most managers miss what diversity is all about.

Strategic foresight provides a lens for understanding how to dissect this diverse future. Strategic foresight allows an organization to analyze what has happened or may happen in the environment. Nick Marsh, Mike Mcallum, and Dominique Purcell, authors of Strategic Leadership: The Power of Standing in the Future, explain that the strategic process used in the past is not adequate for today’s disruptive change. They argue that the traditional strategy was designed for the 20th Century Industrial Age.

However, the Knowledge Age requires a flexible and dynamic strategy. Today, organizations are not confined to fixed boundaries or sectors. They have unlimited resources due to the fact that the key resource is not tangible but intangibles (ideas, knowledge, etc.).  In fact, futurist Richard Thieme maintains that the future is being constrained by technologies. In this New World Order, all organizations like all organisms can be defined as structures of information and energy.

A diversity strategy isn’t easy to master. Historically, diversity has been mandated though federal laws via equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. It was a forced change that resulted in negative resistance by both managers and employees. In spite of the government’s many operational flaws, it has attempted to broaden the makeup of workforce for several years.

Clearly, this is a shortsighted approach to organizational strategy when dealing with a multi-cultural marketplace. As recent studies demonstrate, employees want a more meaningful workplace. Diversity is only adding fuel to a fire that is already smoking. Today’s employees don’t want to be a component in a big machine. Employees want to be valued.

In some cases, technology may impede an objective perspective of different cultures. For example, social media is an increasing communication medium where individuals connect with each other. However, many times individuals’ personal social networks are not diverse along ethnic, gender, racial, or religious lines. Anne Tsui, and Barbara Gutek, demographic gurus, argue individuals within a social group may have a different experience than others from the majority culture in a similar experience.

Disruptive change can have a profound impact on society. For example, the Industrial Age marked the rise of factories, the increase of urban life, and the growth of unskilled labor for industrial work. Between 1840 and 1920, there was a massive influx of immigrants seeking work. This reality transformed American society. That is why organizations need to understand strategic foresight.

In 1987, the Hudson Institute published Workforce 2000, which outlined the impending demographic changes for the American workforce. A recent Department of Labor report, Futurework: Trends and Challenges for the Work in the 21st Century, outlined the following future trends:

  • By 2050, minority groups will make-up half of the population
  • Immigrants will account for almost two-thirds of the population
  • One-quarter of the population will be of Hispanic origin
  • Almost one in ten Americans will be of Asian or Pacific Islander decent

In summary, demographic changes will reshape the future of organizational culture. The old paradigm of “just fit in or get out” will soon become archaic. Let’s hope that America can adequately prepare for these shifts before it is too late.

Using a strategic foresight perspective for analyzing the year 2050, what may the future hold for American institutions?  What will be the impacts on major sectors such as business, government, education, and other prominent organizations?  What will globalization mean in the future?

 © 2010 by Daryl D. Green

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32 thoughts on “The Future of Diverse Organizations in America

  1. If the 2050 demographics come true as predicted in these cited publications, this country will no doubt become diverse from an ethnic/race/immigration perspective but the quality of life and standard of living may be substantially reduced from present standards. In 1950 this nation’s population was approximately 150 million inhabitants. 2010 population estimates by U.S. Census Bureau are 308 million. In just 60 years our nation’s population has doubled. The U.S. is already the third most populated country in the world. If present trends continue, we will add over 125 million people by the year 2050, all competing for limited resources provided by our government, schools, businesses, and other organizations. This staggering growth is a problem that must be addressed now, for the sake of our environment, our quality of life, and future generations of Americans. Compounding the USA population growth are rising water levels due to the polar ice caps melting due to global warming. Presently 46% of citizens in the USA live along the coastline. If polar ice caps melt as predicted by scientists, the year 2050 could witness at least 440 million Americans occupying an area only 2/3 the present land mass. Globalization as we know it today could have a whole new paradigm in 2050. Competition for space and natural resources will be intense.

    Reference:

    U.S. CENSUS BUREAU

  2. It is hard to make accurate predictions so far ahead. America is the country that was built by immigrants, who came here for a better life. I see the prediction that in 2050 immigrants will account for almost two-thirds of the population as a positive prediction. First, I want to clarify myself: I refer to immigrants as those, who came to this country legally, without breaking US immigrations laws. Just like in the past, immigrants come here for a better life for themselves and their families. Today we see a new generation of immigrants, with student exchange programs, work study programs and job offers for highly educated professionals being contributing factors. The US Government welcomes people who have a lot to bring to the table, offering competitive pay and great opportunities in return.

  3. Here is a cool website that reports the news of the year 2050, http://www.newsoffuture.com/year_2050/

    What does the future hold for American institutions? What American institutions! By the year 2050 they will be no American institutions. With globalization of the economy, new technology, and no sociocultural forces because of the melting pot is overflowing. It scares me to think of what American/national cultural will be like in 2050, because I do not like where it is going now. The demographic forces are going to have major shifts. What language are we going to speak, because it seems like English will be a minority language. Language is going to affect everything from school, government, and business. I feel that globalization is one of the forces that are changing the America’s identity and I am not sure that I like that.

  4. If the predictions on growth and immigration come true in 2050, the American market will be a totally different game than it is today. Globalization can be a great tool to “add depth to the bench”, as it was said in class Monday. Adding a greater wealth of knowledge and experience from different cultures could do huge things for any market or sector. However, to Fred’s point above, immigration and globalization can become a burden on the market by sucking it dry of resources and land capital practically halting growth and forcing regression. In short, this broadening of the market place will be a great thing, as long as it does not outgrow the rate at which resources can be acquired.

  5. Looking ahead 40 yrs to 2050 is an interesting thought. There is so much to consider, much of it unknown. Joel Kotkin recently wrote a book, The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050, and he looks at economic and demographic trends. Here are his top 5 predictions,
    1) The death of suburbs is exaggerated, instead they will become ‘greenurbia’. The recent trend of city dwelling won’t overcome the sprawl to suburbs, especially as suburbs continue to become economic centers.
    2) There will be a rise of ‘luxury cities’, class not race will be the main issue. He suggests that the gap between lower class and upper class incomes will increase.
    3) Jobs get more virtual. We are already seeing this, as it’s been reported that 30% of companies currently offer some type of telecommuting.
    4) The decline of mobility. People will reduce their amount of travel due to working virtually as well as the green movement to reduce fuel consumption.
    5) Less to fear from China. By 2050 31% of China will be over age 60, compared with 25% in the US. If America is more equipped to deal with an aging population than China, then the US may be in better financial shape and have less dependence on China.

    The most interesting prediction is that of China. This is the first research that I’ve done that suggests that in future decades China may not be as much of a threat due to how their aging population may affect their economy. With America’s debt crisis, there is potential for the largest country in the world to overtake America’s economy within this next decade. Politics and the economy of 2010 will indeed affect us for many decades to come. The US must act more conservatively in the next few years in order to stave off any more influence from the Chinese, even if the long term of 40 years is not a threat, the near term 5-10 years may be.

    Ref: http://www.usnews.com/money/business-economy
    The Future ofteh US Economy, posted 2/2/10

  6. As U.S. organizations plan for the future there is no doubt that globalization will be of paramount importance. In fact, I feel that U.S. Industry is already working to deal with this trend by outsourcing jobs overseas. While the main motives for outsourcing is to reduce labor cost, I feel the unintended consequences will be key to the survival and growth of American Businesses in a global economy. By estblishing companies abroad and gaining a presence in other countries, U.S. Companies are equipping themselves with a culturally diverse workforce in a merit based system. As a result, they will have a distinct advantage over foreign owned companies that limit or avoid diversity.
    Forrester Research estimates that 15,000 to 20,000 jobs a month are being outsourced overseas from America. This globalization of U.S. Companies provides them with unique insights into large developing markets like those seen in India and Chinia. Thus, laying the foundation for a more efficient and effective company that can more accurately gauge risk and maximize success on the global stage. This wealth of diverse talent will help direct international expansion and help U.S. industry to decide on key strategies, such as a global or multidomestic approach. Unfortunately, government entities will not be as nimble and adaptive. The bueracratic nature of public schools and social programs will be strained by these demographic changes and will adapt at a much slower pace than the private sector.

    Reference:
    Jones, G & George J. (2008). Contemporary Management (6th Edition).
    New York, NY: McGrawhill/Irwin.

    Otterman, Sharon(2004) “trade:Outsourcing Jobs”
    http://www.cfr.org/publication/7749/

    • This is in response to Kenny Miller’s post (last few sentences) about the government not being as quick to adapt to globalization and demographic changes.
      Currently ORNL (DOE) is dealing with spending ARRA funding (American Reinvestment and Recovery Act), which is intended to boost or stimulate our economy. However, there are few restrictions on whether or not the funds can be outsourced (i.e., hiring foreign researchers, purchasing foreign lab equipment). Recovery.gov has a map of the US so that you can track where the funding is being spent (in which state), but it doesn’t show any of the funding that is spent in foreign organizations. Does this mean that all of it is being spent in the US? Not at all. Lots of the funding is spent on outsourcing.

      Resources:
      http://www.recovery.gov/Transparency/RecipientReportedData/Pages/RecipientReportedDataMap.aspx

  7. It is staggering to acknowledge how our country will change by the year 2050. The cost of education will surely increase, but have you considered how globalization will impact our educational system? What is interesting is that everyone in our class has been exposed to outsourcing in some form or fashion. (i.e. http://www.elance.com) Most large companies are outsourcing manufacturing jobs due to the lower income wages of other countries. As the US continues to strive to be a world leader, we stress education as way of getting your foot in the door for business opportunities. But yet, many of those same companies outsource their labor and do not purchase goods or services here in the states. Our management and leaders should incorporate cross-cultural awareness within their business structure and also instill confidence in their work force. Education, both academically and professionally, go hand in hand. What high educational standards will we expect of people in 2050?

  8. The world we know of today will drastically change over the coming years. The population will continue to grow. The number of minorities will continue to rise. The nation was founded by minorities and may take on a new term for someone who is not “American”. Our government, institutions, healthcare industry, and even the Social Security Administration will become saturated by the year 2050. With the increasing life expectancy, the number of tax payers contributing to those retired will be increasing exponentially. It will become even harder for the country to keep up with the change in diversity and increasing population. The language barrier could become an issue of the past when the number of minorities surpasses naturalized citizens speaking only English.

    References
    Johnson, A. (2008, August 14). America in 2050: Even older and more diverse – Life- msnbc.com. Breaking News, Weather, Business, Health, Entertainment, Sports, Politics, Travel, Science, Technology, Local, US & World News- msnbc.com. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/26186087/

      • As our nation becomes even more diverse, assimilation, to include a common language will be critical. Otherwise, certain segments of the population may
        become socially and/ or economically isolated from the main stream. This could spur civil unrest by those that perceive themselves as being unfairly
        treated. Disruptive change in this regard could be a net negative. Instability is
        never good for business.

  9. Here is a thought! I actually read an interesting comparison between a colonist and an immigrant. Here is the authors comparisons: Colonists bring their own culture, their own language, their own ways to the new land and attempt to adapt it to the new area. Immigrants are different. They are not looking to expand their home culture, but become a part of a new one. They might keep some of their old ways, but for the most part they have chosen to set it aside in favor of a new way of life. So going by this definition we should be, as Americans, accepting the immigrants and be keeping out the colonist.

    ref: http://wizbangblog.com/content/2006/04/04/a-nation-of-immigrants.php

  10. There are two types of immigrants that make it to the USA, the first type is looking for easy life and their dream ends by making it to the US. The other type is the active type that is willing to improve their life and better this country. The active type is important in our discussion, because we may meet them in our future business life. This type blends in fast and will try to teach us about their culture as much as they can. When we have them in our business units, they create divers atmosphere that educates us about how other nations live in the globe. They are positive effect when it comes to doing business with their original countries regarding communication and cultural awareness. Make no mistake that the more diversity in your business unit, the more international work opportunities you may have, which can have positive reflect on the US economy. The United States was built on diversity, and that has been always the secret behind being successful. In my point of view, I think the only way we can predict 2050 business life in the US depends on what type of immigrants we will have till then. As far as education, I believe that diversity will bring additional languages that we may have to learn for communication. The immigrants that already made it to the US are following the rules and accepted to be ruled by a government that based their rules and regulations on secularism to have peaceful life and freedom for their diverse culture; this makes me believe that the future governments will change rules but keep the principle.

    Yasir Abdulrahman

  11. There are two types of immigrants that make it to the USA, the first type is looking for easy life and their dream ends by making it to the US. The other type is the active type that is willing to improve their life and better this country. The active type is important in our discussion, because we may meet them in our future business life. This type blends in fast and will try to teach us about their culture as much as they can. When we have them in our business units, they create divers atmosphere that educates us about how other nations live in the globe. They are positive effect when it comes to doing business with their original countries regarding communication and cultural awareness. Make no mistake that the more diversity in your business unit, the more international work opportunities you may have, which can have positive reflect on the US economy. The United States was built on diversity, and that has been always the secret behind being successful. In my point of view, I think the only way we can predict 2050 business life in the US depends on what type of immigrants we will have till then. As far as education, I believe that diversity will bring additional languages that we may have to learn for communication. The immigrants that already made it to the US are following the rules and accepted to be ruled by a government that based their rules and regulations on secularism to have peaceful life and freedom for their diverse culture; this makes me believe that the future governments will change rules but keep the principle.
    Yasir Abdulrahman

      • The possible additional languages will be determent by the percentage of their own speakers in the US. According to the U.S. Census Bureau population, the number of the Latinos and Asian Americans will triple by 2050. The Asian-American population will experience the biggest increase in the United States, expanding from 10.7 million in 2000 to 33.4 million in 2050, an increase of 213 percent. At the same time, the Latino population will swell to 102.6 million in 2050 from 35.6 million in 2000, a 188 percent increase. The US is a melting pot. It is typical to see some areas that have certain population as majority have that population’s own language as an addition to the English language. It can be represented by their newspapers or signs on their stores. With this rapid growth all over the US, We will notice a gradual changing in having additional languages to English.

        http://diversityinc.com/content/1757/article/311/

        Yasir Abdulrahman

  12. Evidence of the US already dealing with the influx projected for 2050 is all around us. If you go to a fast food restaurant or big chain retailer, such as WalMart, a majority of the labels and sign are in spanish. The debate over healthcare reform is partially brought about because a vast number of illegal immigrants abusing the system. I definitely would like to believe immigrants come bringing a small part of their culture and are in search of a new way of life, but that is getting harder to believe. Prior immigration consisted of fore the most part, several cultural and ethnic groups, but with a projected population of 2/3 hispanic, that is obviously not the case any more. If a single immigrant group becomes the majority, then they will become the “colonists”. At some point someone has to say this is who we are, this is our “official” language, these are the rules we agree to live by. If you are willing to accept this and contribute to our society, then you are welcome here.

    • Sorry that was 2/3 population being made up of immigrants, and 1/4 of the population being specifically Hispanic. Which is still a huge percentage of the total pop.

    • Nice job on the depth!

      “If a single immigrant group becomes the majority, then they will become the ‘colonists.'”

      That is a pretty intriguing statement! Anybody care to take a position on it?

  13. Dr Green that statement does raise an interesting point. when the european colonists came to america they were immigrants, and as they grew in numbers the numbers of the indigenous peolpe declined. i feel as we become citizens of the world we will embrace cultural changes in our countries.

    these changes are not only happening in america they can be seen all over the world, as companies continue to go global they will need employees of different cultural backgrounds to help them compete in these different world environments.

    immigrants come to the US seeking a better life but the reality is most of them come here and still face great poverty this is why we see them worrking at Mcdonalds,walmart and off the books.people may say we did not ask these people to come here so we dont have to take care of them but with great power comes great responsibilty. the big companies of america could not have gone glabal without other countries letting them come there to work and learn how to function.

  14. it will play a role but i dont think it will be the only factor. if big company’s go to these smaller countries it would consume some smaller companys. eg iif you were to put a walmart in the bahamas that would put everyone out of business. they sell everything. the rich will just get richer and the poor will try to survive even if that means migrating

  15. In the year 2050, I believe it is very possible that minority groups will equate for half of the population. A company I previously worked for had employees from 36 different countries working in one facility. The company was desperately trying to diversify the workplace and did a great job in doing so. I think in 40 years there will be a tremendous amount of diversity in the workplace because so many people from other countries are moving here and obtaining degrees so they can enter the workforce here. In order for companies to keep a competitive advantage, they will have to cater to the minorities. Although English is the main language, companies will have to adapt to the saturation of immigrants and change their policies to better accommodate for the new workforce. If they do not do this, the companies that do will definitely have a competitive advantage over them.

  16. The two challenges that we have right now in education regarding minorities that will become more of a challenge in the future are standardized test scores and graduation rates. In class we try to supplement with Spanish handouts, worksheets, and tests. We do this so that our minority students can have success in our classes and we are legally responsible to modify so these students will be successful. However when the English as a second language students take the state provided testes at the end of the year they receive no modifications. These test scores affect the students’ grade in the particular class, the teachers’ value added scores, and the schools’ score. The other challenge is graduation rates. The trend is for these students to drop out at 18 to start working. Many places will not hire these students until they are 18 so they go to school until then. Their families value working more than education. Even though these students have to work so their families can survive, when these students drop out it brings our graduation rate down.

    • Hi Dayla, interesting thoughts!

      Low performing minority students and rural students is troubling to me. Can we afford to lose anyone if we are successful? Do you have any innovative suggestions for fixing this problem?

  17. In forty years, I believe the globalization will be clearer for everyone. I am talking about access. Today who wants to be a globalized person can. However who don’t want can avoid computers, internet and the electronic equipments. In the future, you will be forced to work with internet, video conference or the e-books.
    For an education point of view, the learning will be more practical, because after a big period just using technology. Practical exercises will make the difference. The access to e-books, presentations, videos and technology will be so easy that I believe the contact with people and group dynamics can make the difference. The students will have wider options for online classes, with more options than the today’s video conference and a self taught experience.
    For a governmental point, I think governments will work faster and more effective. I am talking about the congresses spend less time to approve a law project. Additionally, despite people concerns, the governments will have more power about market activities and services for the people as basic services as health systems, energy, water, transportation between other social services. Following the current structures of some developed countries as Norway, Sweden, Canada between others.
    The corporate market tends to decrease the number of companies. The companies will merge with each other much more. Today, it’s already happening. Companies as Nestle, J&J, Time Warner, Disney, Exxon Mobil buy their competitors decreasing market competition.

  18. It is difficult to accurately predict what might happen to the American institutions, but the sure thing is that the demographic composition will change and these affect the organisation policies. Some of the policies are designed to protect the minorities but in the future all these groups will be almost equal and their will not be any need for that.

    The businesses, government, and other organisations will have more diverse workforce with different culture and traditions and thus corporate cultures will have to be revised to accommodate them.

    In the future the present developing and emerging economies will thrive and the American consumer will have a big competition from all over the world, so the American companies will have to compete globally and locally. Globally they will fight to expand the market share while locally they will have to try and protect their market share.

  19. It has been said that by 2050, minority groups will make up the large percentage of the American population. Business, government, and education will be affected highly because the resources that these sectors govern will be at an increasingly high level of demand. As companies continue to seek to cut costs and streamline their organizational operations, jobs will continue to be sent overseas, though the current administration seeks to curb this trend. Globalization means that students and future job seekers will need to take education more seriously than ever in order to show that they provide value to their future employers. There will be a greater move to justify the hiring and retention of jobs right here in the United States.

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