Time and time and time again we've heard the panicked cries, "Workforce 2000 is coming, Workforce 2000 is coming." By now, everybody has memorized the Bureau of Labor Statistics demographic projections for the workplace circa the year 2000 (see chart, page 21). And, in fact, many companies have already whipped themselves into shape. there is nothing new about childcare, management training and on-site health programs-companies have been sponsoring these programs for years. Paid paternity leaves, flexible work schedules and cultural diversity programs are rising on the horizon, but even those programs are arriving well ahead of the year 2000. So what's everyone worried about? Maybe it is the battle of the benefits.
Companies can no longer sit by the wayside and let their competitors outdo them in terms of benefits, perks and incentives. In the `90s and beyond, a hefty salary without concerns about the family and individual needs of the employee may cost a company a good job candidate. Job candidates now have more than just money on their agenda; they know that if Company Z doesn't offer them childcare or flextime, Company Q probably will. And the same goes for those already in a job: Retaining a workforce means keeping employees happy. What follows are examples of how some companies are trying to satisfy the demands of the employees while preparing for the changing demographics.
EXAMINING CULURAL BIASES
On a video, two black men are parked in a car on a quiet residential street. A police car pulls uP and the officer asks to see their driver's licenses. Does the police officer have legitimate cause to make his request? Video vignettes like these as well as other interactive exercises were presented to groups of 50 to 70 bank officers from Security Pacific Ban-corporation Northwest last spring in Seattle as part of its Managing Diversity program. Not surprisingly, the results of such introspection made some people uncomfortable, but helped examine biases and prejudices which may not have surfaced before. In total, more than 2,300 officers participated in these one-day workshops run in cooperation with the Anti-Defamation League.
Another exercise included breaking down into smaller groups with everyone assigning themselves four descriptors, for example: female, American, Japanese, banker. Each person discussed how these descriptors have affected his or her life, and once the group was brought back as a whole, people discovered that the group was very diverse.
"It is a way of getting people sensitized to each other," say Ruby Okada, diversity …