Ventura County businesses should welcome the ever-growing diversification of the local work force because it makes good business sense, an employment attorney said at a roundtable in Westlake Village Wednesday.
“The more we see businesses pushing up the 101 corridor, pushing into Ventura County, we’re seeing more diverse cultures and diverse work forces coming into the area and we have to embrace that or we’ll be left behind,” said attorney Karen Gabler of Oxnard-based Nordman Cormany Hair & Compton, the largest law firm in the county.
Gabler led the roundtable titled, “The Emperor’s New Clothes: Exposing Hidden Bias in a Cross-Cultural Work force,” at the Westlake Village Inn. Attended by about 15 human resources executives, the program was sponsored by TechAmerica, a technology industry trade association.
Noting California has more protected classes of people under antidiscrimination laws than any other state, Gabler said businesses should welcome people of different races, genders, sexual orientations, ages and other diverse communities in their work forces.
They should do so not only to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits, but because variety in the work force helps keep businesses competitive, she said.
“The more variety of solutions you have available, the better you are going to be able to serve your customers,” Gabler said. “If you have the same people with the same ideas, you always come up with the same answers. You start losing clients, you lose energy, you lose steam, your business stagnates and you disappear.
“The way to keep moving forward is to grow with the times,” she said. “Things are different now. We have to work within the new structure.”
Paul Meyer, chair of TechAmerica’s Los Angeles Council and the CFO of Westlake Village-based Cynvenio Biosystems, agreed.
“I think all too often in business, we hire guys like ourselves,” Meyer said. “And when you start dealing with an issue in the workplace, you get the same perspective. But if you bring in a diverse group of people to deal with a problem, you’re going to get a lot of different perspectives.
“So as a company, if we focus on diversity as not, ‘Oh, we have to do this, because we don’t want to get sued,’ but more, ‘Hey, if we bring in diversity, it’s going to help us solve problems faster and better,’ to me that’s an asset,” Meyer said.
Gabler recommended all business managers take the Project Implicit test, which is designed to reveal a person’s sub-conscious biases.
Prompting laughs from the roundtable, the self-described career woman and practicing attorney for 18 years noted that when she took the test, it revealed, “I have a sub-conscious bias against women in the workplace.”
On the Net: http://www.implicit.harvard.edu