As 2011 begins to unfold, we can all look back and see that tremendous strides have been made in the field of diversity and...

Lisa Wicker - ChryslerLisa Wicker

Chief Diversity Officer & Director, Talent Acquisition,
Chrysler Group LLC

Corporate Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Michigan

Website: www.chryslergroupllc.com

Primary Business: Automotive

2010 Revenues: $40 Billion

Employees: 52,000

Even as substantial progress is apparent, we should caution against becoming complacent. The future focus of diversity must build upon the foundation of the progress made and migrate toward more fully integrating business approaches that are aligned to support company goals.

The pace and breadth of change is not where it could be. It’s important to keep the momentum moving forward. We can’t lose sight of the broader landscape of opportunity to expand the values of inclusion today in our educational systems, in corporate hallways and boardrooms, in academia and in many areas of government.

I believe diversity and being competitive go hand-in-hand. Yet, not everyone sees the connection. Over the past several decades, considerable attention has been given to the changing demographics of our nation and world. Minority populations were projected to grow at faster rates than the non-minority population to become the largest population group in many major cities in the United States, and coming to represent nearly half of the population by 2050.

The opportunity to create work environments that are truly inclusive and optimize both individual and organizational performance is the next level of diversity’s future. Getting there will require moving beyond the demographics. In the United States, we haven’t leveraged the opportunities diversity offers to the degree that other countries have, particularly in the field of education.

“In the future, challenges will remain, even as technology continues to advance.”

There is an opportunity to close the skill gap in math and science and languages. An educated, diverse workforce in math, languages and the sciences can propel diversity and inclusion to the next level. Here in the United States, higher education is not a ‘right’, but a ‘privilege,’ unlike in Europe where education is embedded into the social and economic framework.

Nevertheless, I am optimistic and view advancing diversity as a grand opportunity. In the future, challenges will remain, even as technology continues to advance. We should continue to understand the implications and importance of workforce demographics and the impact ethnic and generational diversity have on business success.

Technology will transform when, where and how we work, and bringing aging or new entrants into modern work environments will be complex. The diversity challenge will become even greater. I believe corporations will win in the global marketplace when there is emphasis placed on people, process, technology and systems. The integration of these components will require establishing effective partnerships with internal and external stakeholders to collectively create and sustain more inclusive work environments in which human potential and business performance are optimized.   PDJ