Navigating a Diverse Workforce

In his experience working at the helm of several major companies, Ted Bagley has come to  realize that the word “diversity” tends to make people uncomfortable.

But diversity, he says, is not “black, yellow, brown or white. It’s more about inclusion and valuing what each person brings to the table.”

Ted Bagley, author of
Ted Bagley, author of "The Success Factor: Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Corporate America"

Now serving as vice president of human resources operations for Amgen Biotechnical Corp., Bagley is the author of several published works. In his latest, “The Success Factor: Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Corporate America,” Bagley discusses the characteristics employees need to survive and prosper in a competitive and increasingly diverse workforce.

“It’s best to face your stereotypes and prejudices head on,” he said, emphasizing that you can’t let people off the hook when it comes to diversity issues.

Below are edited excerpts from Bagley’s interview with Diversity Executive.

In your book “The Success Factor: Navigating the Treacherous Waters of Corporate America,” you write about what it takes to succeed in the business world. What are some of these characteristics?

A solid educational foundation. Good written and oral communication skills. Learn to speak a foreign language (Spanish/ Mandarin). Project management skills.

What are the challenges that come with a more diverse workplace?

Understanding culture norms. Stepping out of one’s comfort level. Addressing stereotypes. Including diversity in out of work activities.

What can be done — by employees and employers — to overcome those challenges?

Have a diversity and inclusion process internally — i.e., affinity groups. Understanding generational issues/differences. Be proactive and face stereotypes in a controlled environment. Make sure that company-represented flyers, news releases include diversity. Make sure that there is diversity to the infrastructure, i.e., staffing, promotions, rewards and assignments.

What obstacles have you faced as a minority in the workplace?

None that I didn’t address at the point of it happening, which is key. Discrimination on promotions. Not invited to social settings. Not included in meetings that affected my job, etc.

What advice do you have for minority employees facing similar obstacles?

Understand the political climate of the workplace. Develop a strong network. Be competent in what you do. Ask for stretch assignments that challenge your competencies. Find a mentor who can help in the navigation of your career. Have courage of candor when things are not right. Stay current on skills needed to remain on the leading edge of your career.