By Mary-Frances Winters

diverse group of business people

Rapid and massive demographic shifts are a reality across the globe. Consider the following trends.

In the US:

  • 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day.
  • Millennials have surpassed baby boomers as the largest population cohort. There are 77 million boomers in this country and 86 million Millennials. Millennials will comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020.
  • The US Census Bureau reported that 50.4%of children born in a 12-month period that ended July 2011 were Hispanic, Black, Asian-American or from other groups, while non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6% of all births during that period.
  • Currently 30% of the US workforce is comprised of people of color and it is projected that by 2050 about 50% of the workforce will be non-white.
  • Women’s presence is increasing in the workforce at 47%. The more significant trend is that in 2012, 25% fewer men than women graduated from college.
  • Even though women are attending college at higher rates than men, graduating in greater numbers and earning higher grades, the American Association of University Women reports that one year after graduation, women were making only 82% of what their male colleagues.

In Europe:

  • The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly reported in January 2012 that “the demography of Europe is changing. This phenomenon affects all Council of Europe member states. People are living longer and having fewer children. With increasing mobility and immigration, European societies are becoming more diverse and immigrants are becoming part and parcel of them.”
  • Europe has the highest proportion of people over 60 in the world, a trend that is expected to continue for decades. More than one third of Europe’s population is projected to be over 60 by 2050.
  • Immigrant populations account for a third of the population in a country like Luxembourg, and a quarter of the population in Switzerland. In western Europe relatively large immigrant populations (between 15 and 20% of the total population) are found in countries like Ireland, Austria, Spain and Sweden. In eastern and central Europe, immigrants account for up to 20% of the population depending on the country.
  • As in the US, women earn about 60% of the university degrees.
  • The issues of equity for women are increasingly being addressed in Europe. For example, in November 2012, the European Commission proposed legislation to attain 40% women on non-executive board-member positions in publicly listed companies. Currently, boards are dominated by men, 85% of non-executive board members and 91.1% of executive board members are men, while women make up 15% and 8.9% respectively.

In Asia and the Middle East:

  • In general the economically strong countries such as China, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore have fertility rates significantly below those needed to maintain or grow their population levels. China and Japan both face the problem of an aging population and low fertility rates.
  • On the other hand, India has a younger and growing population. The proportion of the working age population (15-59 years) is expected to increase from around 58% in 2001 to over 64% by 2021. The average age for an Indian in 2021 will be 29 years old.
  • Countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan have high youth populations with the median age being 20 and 18 respectively.
  • Women’s issues are paramount in Asia and vary vastly depending on the country. For example, women in China have more rights than those in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

In Latin America:

  • Fertility rates are dropping in Latin American countries and many countries are near or have reached the tipping point of 2.1 birth replacement rate.
  • The United Nations projects that the proportion of Latin America’s population aged 65 or over will triple by 2050 from 6.3% in 2005 to 18.5%. Concurrently the region’s median age will climb from 26 to 40. By 2050 several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Chile and Mexico, will probably have older populations than the United States.
  • Women have made significant strides in equality in the workplace in Latin America and are credited with the 30% reduction in poverty in the region.
  • Three decades ago, only 36% of working age women were in the labor force. Today that number has risen to over half. The female participation in the workforce has risen faster than in any other region in the world. These results are accredited to educational attainment, where they have been outperforming men on a number of indicators.
  • The share of parliamentary seats held by women in Latin America is currently nearly 24%, the highest in the world.
  • Still as with the rest of the world many disparities continue to exist and women are primarily relegated to lower paying job categories.

In Africa:

  • Africa’s population is growing faster than any other region of the world. By 2030 Africa is expected to account for 19% of the world’s population, compared to Asia which will be at 58% and Europe at 9%.
  • The median age is 18 and there are 70 million more Africans under the age of 14 than just a decade ago.
  • By 2030, average life expectancy in Africa is projected to reach 64 years, compared to 57 years in 2010.
  • As in many parts of Asia and Latin America, youth unemployment is high in most part of Africa.
  • With its rich resources, there is great potential to turn Africa’s economic situation around with the high numbers of youth. It will only happen, however, with education and training.
  • Women face many challenges that vary country by country and too numerous to outline in this post.
    Implications and Recommendations for D&I Practitioners:
  • You need to keep your eyes on the world. There are trends and counter trends that will greatly impact your organization’s ability to find talent in the years to come.
  • Diversity and inclusion professionals should be at the workforce planning tables to provide insights on the cultural nuances that the statistics alone do not reveal.
  • The need for culturally competent leaders will be ever more urgent as the workforce becomes more and more diverse on a number of different dimensions.

Dr. Mary-Frances Winters

Dr. Mary-Frances Winters

Dr. Mary-Frances Winters is a leading diversity and inclusion practitioner and thought leader. She is the founder and CEO of The Winters Group, Inc., a 28 year old diversity and inclusion firm specializing in D&I assessment, education and strategic planning. Dr. Winters is the author of three books: Only Wet Babies Like Change: Workplace Wisdom for Baby Boomers; Inclusion Starts with I and CEOs Who Get It.