Attorneys and legal scholars are still sifting through the intricate 4-3 decision reached by the United States Supreme Court earlier this summer in Fisher v. University of Texas. The majority’s decision essentially put down a challenge to the race-conscious admissions program that has been in place at the Longhorn State’s flagship university for more than a decade. Drawing criticism and praise from the usual suspects, one law professor at Harvard indicated that it is the most important educational case since Brown v. Board of Education. The sharply divided decision will likely have broader impact, however. Since it affirms some rather broad social ideas related to diversity within our society, the decision will likely affect American businesses in at least four ways. Here are some takeaways.
Takeaway One: Diversity of Thought Churns Creative Juices
As pointed out recently in a Forbes magazine report, business that embrace diversity tend to be the sort of incubators within which creativity bubbles and churns, with new ideas, new problem-solving methods, and innovation being the positive by-products.
Takeaway Two: Company Diversity Sets Appropriate Tones With Customers and Suppliers
When a business is too monolithic, that lack of diversity can cause tensions with customers and suppliers. Often, these tensions are suppressed; they aren’t overtly communicated. But the tensions are still there. If your business seems closed to diverse persons, thoughts, and/or ideas, your customers and suppliers may decide that your business seems closed to them as well. A diverse business is generally much more appealing to customer or supplier that operates internationally.
Takeaway Three: Diversity Shouldn’t Be Seen as a Way to Stay Off the Radar Screen
All too many businesses view the push for diversity only in terms of avoiding legal risk – of staying on the “good” side with regulators. Most studies say diversity with a company’s workers results in lower turnover, reduced recruitment and training costs, and improved worker attitudes. In short, better performance is usually the result. For example, in one report from a few years ago, researchers discovered that companies with the highest representation of women board directors actually performed better financially than those with the lowest representation of women on their board of directors.
Takeaway Four: Diversity Isn’t Just an Issue at Hiring
While the Fisher case dealt with the “front door” to the University of Texas, businesses should not view diversity merely in terms of hiring practices. Diversity efforts have much broader implications. Should the firm be more open to alternative work schedules that cater to growing families? Should the business bear in mind the changing attitudes and needs of employees as they age within the firm?
Diversity Planning: A Mixture of Business, Social & Legal Concerns
The issues facing today’s business decision-makers usually don’t come neatly packaged as “legal,” “financial,” or “operational.” Instead, challenges are usually a mixture of complex questions, with a myriad of alternative “opportunities.” The law firm of CKB VIENNA LLP provides employment/labor counseling, business consulting, and litigation services to nearly every type of business, from large to small – even to startups and nonprofits. Our attorneys provide preventive training and offer guidance designed to avoid the consequence and cost of litigation, including compliance with laws in the areas of hiring, promotion, discipline, termination, compensation, harassment, substance abuse, wage and hour, affirmative action, and independent contractor arrangements. CKB VIENNA LLP has a long history of representing clients in all types of business issues and disputes. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga, San Bernardino, and Los Angeles. Contact us by telephone – 909-980-1040 – or complete our online form.