CareerQuest Newsletter
Diversity and Productivity

February 2008
My dear friends, colleagues, clients and students:

Much has been said about diversity in the workplace. In this issue we explore how diversity and productivity affect each other. Let us know your thoughts on this topic.

In the January 2008 issue of the CareerQuest Newsletter which had already gone to press, we neglected to mention that Wyeth has now planned for 5,000 job cuts. Also, pharmaceutical companies have already cut an estimated 86,000 jobs during the four-year period 2003-2006.

As we had informed you last month, Don Sutaria is the author of Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!), due to be published by iUniverse in 2008. Several pre-publication reviews of this book have been fabulous! Here are a couple of samples:
"Don Sutaria has compiled a collection of original essays on the world of work and its many crossroads with everyday living.

Reflecting the expertise he brings to his career counseling and coaching practice and drawing freely from his own life and work experiences, Don's book is a rich compendium of insights and advice for job seekers and career professionals alike. The chapters are brimming with useful tips and tools for managing a successful career transition. But even more, these writings exude the passion, authenticity and amazing dedication of a man who personifies the realization of the American dream.

Don's own career and life progressions provide a colorful backdrop for the inspiring encouragement and exhortation he offers to job hunters and career changers. He pours his heart and soul into these pages, and his care and concern for the success of his clients (and readers) are always present.
Career and Life Counseling from the Heart is genuine and inspiring."

Ken Lawson, M.A., Ed.M.
Career Counselor
Author, The KISS Guide to Managing Your Career
Consulting Editor, Barron's "Business Buddies" series

"Don Sutaria is a rare individual who has a big heart, is technically current, knows his field of career coaching - and most importantly - can provide details that work in both an up-market and a contracting job market. We need his expertise to help the many individuals who want to make career changes, whether they must because of losing a position or because they know that there is more they can do for their own professional satisfaction.

I celebrate Don's commitment to the field of career coaching and acknowledge his consistent contributions, especially his book,
Career and Life Counseling from the Heart."

Dr. Judith T. Evans
Founder, New Career Directions

Until we meet again through the magic of e-mail,

Peace! Love! Shalom!

Don Sutaria, MS, IE (Prof.), PE
Founder, President & Life-Work Coach

Diversity and Productivity: Are They Warring Factions?
by Don Sutaria

A couple of decades ago, I was under the wrong impression that diversity in the workforce may be an anathema to productivity and innovation. But in recent times I have been proven wrong!

Applied broadly to diversity, the old adage "Two heads are better than one" has its place and value. A diversified group at work is the best miniature think tank you can have at your fingertips!

I lived in New York City (Manhattan and Queens) for many years, thirteen to be exact, and I enjoyed its diversity and vitality from the very first day I set foot on American soil in Manhattan on September 3, 1963. I still think New York City is magical!

During my student days I used to feel joyful palpitations when I approached New York City's (Manhattan's) skyline from many angles, especially from the New Jersey Turnpike. Sounds crazy, but it is true!

Would you believe that I had vowed from the day when I landed in New York that I would get a job and seek my fortunes there? This immigrant fulfilled his dream, and although I now live with my family in Union, New Jersey, eighteen miles from Manhattan, at heart I am still a New Yorker. You can take the boy out of Manhattan, but you cannot take Manhattan out of the boy!

Even in the 1970's when New York City was riddled by financial and social troubles, I had this faith that it would rejuvenate itself like the mythical bird, the phoenix, which can resurrect itself from ashes! And I really believe that an important part of this equation is the influx of legal immigrants moving in, working hard, and trying to claim the American Dream.

A diversified group at work is the best miniature think tank
you can have at your fingertips!
Just look at the various diversified international cities around the world, whether it is London, Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Beijing, New Delhi, or Moscow. They are alive and kicking!

What exactly is "Multiculturism?"

Wikipedia has a good definition. "Multiculturism generally refers to a de facto state of both cultural and ethnic diversity within the demographics of a particular social space. The term is more commonly used to describe a society of minority immigrant cultures existing alongside a predominant, indigenous culture, like in the United States."

This article in Wikipedia continues with the 'Melting Pot' ideal in the USA. "In the United States, continuous mass immigration has been a feature of economy and society since the first half of the 19th century. The absorption of the stream of immigrants became, in itself, a prominent feature of America's national myth. The idea of the Melting Pot is a metaphor that implies that all the immigrant cultures are mixed and amalgamated without state intervention. The Melting Pot implied that each individual immigrant, and each group of immigrants, assimilated into American society at their own pace. An Americanized (and often stereotypical) version of the original nation's cuisine, and its holidays, survived. Note that the Melting Pot tradition co-exists with a belief in national unity, dating from the American founding fathers."

My personal observations have led me to form an opinion that the 'Stew Pot' theory is more valid in recent times. Here each immigrant group proudly maintains its identity and contributes to the progress of the United States, as well as their own. Just look at the number of parades in a typical year, marching down proudly along Fifth Avenue in New York City. It may take a generation or two before the children of immigrants are assimilated into the'Melting Pot.'

The most practical question Dr. Page asks is,
"How can we all be productive together?"
D. D. Frost, based on his studies, talks about the Top Ten Worst Diversity Practices, and what we can learn from them.
  1. Having diversity focus that is too broad.
  2. Using code words instead of direct language.
  3. Continually researching and arguing the case for diversity.
  4. Avoiding the collection or use of data.
  5. Delegating the work for creating an inclusive climate to people in staff positions.
  6. Focusing efforts on members of the non-traditional or excluded groups.
  7. Using a series of activities that appear to have no link to business success.
  8. Developing a plan for an inclusive climate believing that everyone will be happy.
  9. Assuming that training is all that is needed.
  10. Focusing the diversity efforts on customers and external public relationships.
"New York City is the perfect example of diversity functioning well."
Several authors (Robbins, Brickson, Milliken, Martin, Schneider, Northcraft) have studied diverse work groups and concluded that they have potential advantages and potential disadvantages, as can be expected, for a balanced viewpoint.

Potential advantages of diverse groups are:
  • Many alternatives and perspectives
  • Fewer errors
  • Greater probability of an optimal solution
  • Higher level of innovation
  • Greater access to outside information
  • Many needed skills are present
  • Specialized division of labor
  • Refined reasoning due to minority viewpoints
Potential disadvantages of diverse groups are:
  • Possibly greater individual dissatisfaction
  • More turnover
  • Adjustment period within the group
  • Takes more time to reach an agreement
  • More absenteeism
  • Greater ambiguity
  • Miscommunication is commonplace
The most encouraging news on Diversity has come from Dr. Scott E. Page, a professor of complex systems, political science and economics at the University of Michigan. His most recent book has been published by Princeton University Press, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.

Scott Page also clarifies the term 'diversity.' He says he really means how people think. Two people can look quite different but think alike.
Instead of hypothesis and essays, Professor Page has quantified the positive effects of diversity using mathematical equations and modeling, and case studies, to prove how variety in staffing enhances organizational strengths.

Claudia Dreifus of The New York Times interviewed Professor Page in January 2008.

The most practical question Dr. Page asks is, "How can we all be productive together?" The usual question, "Why can't we all get along?" is too nebulous, esoteric and philosophical!

The answer to the question on productivity, Dr. Page says, "lies in messy, creative organizations and environments with individuals from vastly different backgrounds and life experiences."

He continues, "New York City is the perfect example of diversity functioning well. It's an exciting place that produces lots of innovation and creativity. It's not a coincidence that New York has so much energy and also so much diversity."

As a bonus, it was also mathematically proven that collective accuracy
of a diverse group was greater than average accuracy
of a non-diverse group.
Scott Page also clarifies the term 'diversity.' He says he really means how people think. Two people can look quite different but think alike. He has seen a lot of evidence that people's identity groups - ethnic, racial, sexual, age, etc. - matters when it comes to diversity in thinking.

Lu Hong, an economist at Chicago's Loyola University, developed mathematical models with Scott Page which showed that diverse groups of problem solvers outperformed the groups of the best individuals at solving problems. Would you believe that the diverse groups got stuck less often than the smart individuals, who tended to think alike? As a bonus, it was also mathematically proven that collective accuracy of a diverse group was greater than average accuracy of a non-diverse group.

Don Sutaria is Founder and President of CareerQuest (formerly New Life Career Counseling), located in New York and New Jersey. CareerQuest is also mentioned in "What Color is Your Parachute?" Sutaria is a consultant to individuals and various corporations, offering executive coaching and career management services. He has developed unique methods for capturing jobs in the new millennium. He appeared on a Phil Donahue TV special on unorthodox methods of job hunting. Known as "Career Doctor Don", he has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, The Star-Ledger, The Union Leader, WorkingSmart, SmartMoney, Fortune, Money, and on WINS and WOR radio. He specializes in counseling of international professionals, Generation X (age 20-29), career changers, freelancers, consultants, mid-career executives and people over age 50. He really believes that your career is a pathway to your soul.

Mr. Sutaria has over forty years of diversified industrial and management experience, complemented by training in career development and hands-on experience in career advising. He is an international cross-cultural trainer. He has also served on committees of several organizations, and conducted courses, seminars and symposiums at Columbia University, New York University, Nyack College, Alliance Graduate School of Counseling, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Association of Career Professionals International and the Career Counselors Consortium.

Don earned his MS degree in Management from Kansas State University, an IE (Professional) degree in International Management and Personnel Relations from Columbia University, and obtained New York University's postgraduate Certificate in Adult Career Planning and Development.

Don Sutaria is the author of "Career And Life Counseling From The Heart (Your Career Is A Pathway To Your Soul!)", due to be published in 2008.