Public Administration: Building More Diverse Public Organizations and Businesses

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Businesses and other organizations worldwide have traditionally ignored the importance of workplace diversity. However, modern businesses have recognized that diversity in the workplace can spur innovation, boost productivity, and cultivate loyalty among staff without necessarily compromising service delivery or revenue growth. Due to this, businesses now focus on the competency of job applicants rather than their religion, race, age, physical ability, sexual preferences, and religion. This approach gives businesses a competitive advantage over industry peers.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Ohio University’s Online Masters in Public Administration.


Public Administration: Building More Diverse Public Organizations and Businesses infographic

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Diversity in the Broader US Population

Diversity is a wide-ranging term that covers aspects including gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, and physical ability. With that in mind, the US is probably the perfect diversity mirror due to ethnic, religious, and political differences among its citizens. For starters, the population of America currently consist of 61.6% Caucasians, 17.6% American-Hispanics or Latinos, 13.3% African Americans, 5.6% Asian-Americans, 1.2% American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 0.2% Native Hawaiians. Out of these, 13.1% were born outside the US while 2.6% are the offspring of parents from different racial backgrounds. Additionally, over 350 languages are spoken in America with 60.3 million Americans using a language other than English to communicate at home. Apart from English, Spanish or Spanish Creole is the next most common language with a base of 37.4 million speakers. Chinese comes in a distant third with a base of 1.8 million speakers while 1.6 million people speak Tagalog. Vietnamese and French languages boast of 1.3 million and 1.2 million speakers respectively. On the gender front, 49.2% Americans are male, whereas 50.8% are female. In terms of age, 18 to 64-year-olds account for 62.2% of the general population, people under 18 years old make up 22.9% of the population, and seniors (65 years or older) account for 14.9% of the entire population.

Disability is also a key diversity factor with 64 million Americans or 22% of the population living with some form of disability. Due to unparalleled democratic freedom and regulations that ban discrimination, Americans are generally unafraid to express their sexual orientation. For this reason, up to 95.1% of men and 92.3% of women self-identify as heterosexual. At the same time, 5.5% of women and 2% of men say they are bisexual while 1.9% of men and 1.3% of women self-identify as gay. Religion also plays a key role in the lives of Americans with 77% identifying with a specific religious belief. In particular, 25.4% identify as Evangelical Protestants, 22.8% have no religious affiliations, 20.8% are Catholic, 14.7% are mainline Protestants, and 5.9% follow non-Christian faiths.

Diversity in the Workplace

The US is home to 27.6 million businesses including 9.8 million owned by women and 7.9 million firms owned by minorities. Slightly more than half (50.8%) of the employees in these firms are women. Sadly, women only account for 16% of executive teams while 45% of companies have no minorities within their executive ranks. Additionally, while the disabled account for 17.5% of the labor force, 27.3% of American companies are yet to implement diversity initiatives.

The Benefits of Workplace Diversity

For starters, diversity in the workplace usually fosters innovation due to increased exposure to different ideas, cultures, and norms. Workplace diversity also boosts productivity because contended employees are likely to put in more effort at work. In the same vein, diversity enhances problem solving due to the wide range of talent, unique skill sets, and professional perspectives. Another major diversity benefit is improvement in talent recruitment and retention. Remember professionals are likely to favor employers who can match their expectations.

In the US, most employers are aware of these benefits with 90% of CEOs saying that workplace diversity was a key factor in attracting new talent while 85% reckon it has boosted productivity. Up to 83% of executives believe that diversity has enhanced brand reach and reputation. Moreover, 78% of CEOs credit workplace diversity with improving both internal and external collaboration as well as enhancing innovation. Finally, 77% of CEOs say workplace diversity has improved customer satisfaction while 75% credit it with addressing emerging customer needs effectively.

Workplace Diversity and Financial Performance

Companies that adopt diversity usually enjoy significant financial benefits. Firstly, mean sales revenues were 1367% higher at American businesses with racially diverse workforces than at firms where racial diversity is shunned. What’s more, mean annual revenues were 1325% higher at companies that practice gender diversity compared to firms that do not follow the same philosophy. To be precise, mean sales revenue at firms with low racial diversity stood at $51.9 million while firms with high racial diversity posted an average of $761.3 million in mean sales revenue. On the other hand, mean sales revenue at firms that shunned gender diversity stood at an average of $45.2 million while high gender diversity boosted mean sales revenue to $644.3 million.

How to Improve Diversity in Public Administration

Diversity in public administration cannot be wished away because it accounts for 12% of content published by the leading ten public administration journals. At the same time, diversity is one of the topics taught in public administration programs. With that in mind, strategies that could improve organizational diversity include communication, cultural self-awareness, amicable resolution of contentious issues, diversity adaptability, and good grasp of different cultural beliefs. In addition, companies should lead efforts to improve diversity. This should be complemented by regular evaluation of all workforce cadres to identify diversity gaps. Employers should also strive to involve their staff in diversity initiatives. Where possible, employers should make diversity part of their core mission.

Case Studies

Marriot International leads the diversity space with a workforce that consists of 64% minorities and 54% women. Moreover, 92% of staff say communication is great, 94% praise the welcoming atmosphere accorded new talent, and 91% say they have great bosses. These gains notwithstanding, Marriot intends to increase the number of hotels owned by women and diverse partners to 1,500 by 2020. Currently, women and diverse partners own about 800 hotels. Marriot also plans to increase the number of women owned supplier businesses to 10% within the same period.


To survive in today’s highly competitive environment, American businesses must develop and implement diversity-related initiatives. This includes hiring more women, recruiting talent from diverse racial backgrounds, boosting the percentage of women in executive positions, and championing the hiring of disabled people.

Learn More

Our online Master of Public Administration at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs can help you build the skills to address public needs in effective, efficient, and imaginative ways. We want you to take the big ideas in your head and put them into action by helping you develop as a project manager, communicator, policy analyst, and financial mind. When you have an expert understanding of public administration and the professional tools to back it up, you can lead a career of consequence for your constituents.