by Gerry Murphy
SunGuard Brokerage & Clearance
Americans are concerned about how globalization will impact the prosperity of the United States. They are leery of global competition for jobs and the offshoring of some U.S. jobs to other countries.
While I can understand why some would be threatened by this, the U.S. as a whole stands to benefit from what’s happening. In fact, with our rich tradition of innovation and our domestic experience with diversity, few countries are better positioned to turn globalization into an opportunity for continued prosperity.
All throughout American history there are examples of how diversity has helped power the country’s innovation and our ability to continually re-invent our economy. As a nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from all backgrounds, America has brought together waves of people whose very differences have often sparked creativity and collaboration that have led to transformative innovations. From the diverse scientific team who put the first man on the moon to the more recent collaboration of Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, we have seen that amazing things can happen when people from different backgrounds work together— new ideas and perspectives emerge and interesting combinations of talents converge with often unexpected results.
Our experience in the U.S. should teach us that diversity is a good thing. It has been a source for our resiliency during changing times and the heart of the vibrancy that has defined American culture and ingenuity. Globalization represents just the latest test to America’s resiliency. Thanks to technology innovation, we now have the ability to not only communicate across borders, but to collaborate and collectively solve problems.
“All throughout American history there are examples of how diversity has helped power the country’s innovation and our ability to continually re-invent our economy.”
But globalization also presents a new and sometimes uncomfortable status quo for some Americans—one that is marked by global competition for jobs and growth.
This doesn’t mean that America should fear globalization. In fact, our country has much to gain by embracing it. Globalization isn’t just about more competition from overseas. It also means new opportunities for the U.S. to be competitive—new markets for U.S. goods and services and new access to global capital, talent and opportunities for growth.
The success of the U.S. will hinge on our ability to adapt to the changes globalization brings, including new innovations and greater diversity of labor from around the world. We should expect that there will be some resistance. Innovation, after all, disrupts the status quo and can render some jobs and even entire industries obsolete. For example, in 1920, 2.1 million Americans worked for railroads. Since then, with significant advancements in transportation and communication technology, that number is down to about 200,000. Yet, it is undeniable that the U.S. economy has prospered over this period and that millions of jobs were either created or shifted to new industries.
Likewise, American businesses must adapt and apply the lessons learned from the U.S. experience with diversity to the global stage. A truly “global” U.S. company is no longer one that just has operations in other countries. To be competitive in the era of globalization, U.S. businesses must continue to foster respect and understanding for individual differences and even greater collaboration between employees around the world. This “managed inclusion” is what transforms diversity from a potentially disruptive—even divisive—element into an asset that strengthens global customer relationships; attracts the best talent from everywhere; encourages productive collaboration; and powers further innovation.