In today’s workforce environment where attention to Diversity and Inclusion throughout companies and organizations is a priority and protocol, it’s seemingly apparent there is a limited and/or an absence of Native Americans represented in this vernacular. The omission of Native Americans is so great that in most cases the metrics on some Diversity & Inclusion websites represent Native Americans as less than a full percentile of the organization’s workforce, or even worse they are not represented at all. Furthermore, the absence of photo imagery of Native Americans on an organization’s Diversity and Inclusion website is quite normal and disparaging. Native Americans make up .9% (2.9 million) of the total US population, which is approximately 320 million.
Furthermore in 2016, the overall unemployment rate for the United States was 4.9 percent; however the unemployment rate for Native Americans was 8.9 percent, and subsequently the highest among all races and ethnic groups. These statistics should highlight the importance and opportunity to expand engagement and recruitment into this underrepresented community. These efforts will increase the presence of Native Americans within organizations and more accurately subscribe to the mantra “Diversity and Inclusion”.
The question and rebuke from some may include; “Where do we find these folks?” and “The Native American community is small and it’s a challenge to recruit them”. These statements are one-in-the-same, and can be answered with research, awareness and investing the same amount of resources obligated to recruiting and retaining other diverse groups as identified by an organization’s charter of diversity.
The first step toward Native American engagement is opening up, stepping outside the box and immersing yourself by learning, understanding and eliminating ambiguity about this formidable group who have endured countless life changing adversities and challenges throughout generations. Our ability to adapt and overcome while maintaining our traditions and culture is a testimony to our values, character and integrity. Characteristics that are valuable to any organization, and essential to the success and achievements which is vital to an organization’s sustainability. Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Increasing the capacity and presence of Native Americans into an organization’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative will amplify the “sum” which will magnify the “whole” and resonate “success”.
Christopher Key is a member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe. He is an advocate and consultant for Native American communities supporting their efforts in healthcare and economic, educational program, and natural resource development. He is Executive Director of True North and resides in Arizona and California. Chris is a graduate of Northern Arizona University and UCLA and has spent much of his professional career in STEM. Connect with Christopher in the Partner Marketplace in the Connect Community.