Fundamentally, diversity has existed since the dawn of time. However, the concept has only recently been taken into account by society and particularly by companies. Social movements have forced diversity issues to the attention of firms and other institutions, as they are held accountable for inequalities. At the same time, there is a growing realisation that diversity also offers considerable potential for organisations. In the United States, where this brief history begins, President Roosevelt signed the first decrees on employment equality in the 1940s. Initially the aim was to prevent discrimination when hiring employees for government defence contracts and then to end racial segregation in the armed forces. At the time, the war effort created special demands mobilising parts of the population that had previously been refused certain jobs and opportunities. You can already see here that one of the motivations encouraging diversity in companies consisted of maintaining and boosting their production capacity and performance. However, it was in the 1960s, with the civil rights movement, that the United States truly began to make progress in combating segregation and racial discrimination in society. This movement’s main aim was to ensure that the civic rights of minorities were recognised by law. With the Civil Rights Act introduced in 1964, it became illegal for companies to discriminate when hiring or laying off employees. At this stage, the aim was to ensure that companies were morally obliged to correct past abuses. The underlying principle consisted of promoting equality by legal means, with sanctions for those failing to comply. Interestingly, the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee was established alongside the Civil Rights Act. By way of comparison regarding diversity, the HALDE, France’s official anti-discrimination and equal opportunities body, and Le Défenseur des Droits, a French non-governmental body protecting personal rights, were created in 2006 and 2011 respectively. In Brazil, considered one of the most diverse societies, the Ministry for the Promotion of Racial Equality was created in 2003 to deal with similar issues. Returning to the United States, the emphasis on the moral obligation to combat the effect of discrimination led to affirmative action programs in the 1970s. Affirmative action can be defined as any measure that goes further than simply eliminating discrimination. The measure takes into account race, country of origin, gender or disability as well as other criteria. It is set up to provide opportunities to qualified people who, through history or experience, have been deprived of them. Affirmative action also aims to prevent the reappearance of discrimination in the future. Through it, for example, educational institutions can take diversity elements such as race into account in their admission criteria. In countries such as Brazil, China, Israel and New Zealand, affirmative action has been implemented to reserve places for minority students in universities. Adopting a similar principle for corporate boards, Norway in 2004 then France, Spain, the Netherlands and, more recently, Germany introduced quotas of 30 to 40% for women on company boards. Getting back to the United States, the Hudson Institute’s Workforce 2000 report sent shockwaves through the business world in 1987. The report forecast the state of the US industrial environment in the early 21st century and assessed its procurement needs. It estimated that: 1/ the US would move more quickly from a production-based economy to a service-based one. 2/ the demand for skilled labour would increase, but its supply would decrease. 3/ those entering the labour market would mainly consist of women, racial and ethnic minorities and immigrants, and finally 4/ there would be an ageing workforce. Companies interpreted this demographic forecast combined with the need for talent as a warning. They understood that if they did not start to open the door to new populations, they would very quickly become less competitive on the one hand, and less attractive and less able to retain the best talents on the other. If we focus on the United States, we can see that there are two major levers for promoting diversity. The first is the push factor, consisting of legal requirements such as the Civil Rights Act. Push factors encourage companies to introduce diversity in the workplace through obligations combined with penalties for non-compliance. These factors can take the form of quotas or affirmative action programs. The second lever is the pull factor, one example of which is the wartime labour shortage that led Roosevelt to introduce measures to prevent discrimination in government suppliers and the armed forces. This is also the case with the Workforce 2020 report, which warns of a future shortage of skilled labour. In these cases, companies feel directly affected by these attrition factors, which create an inherent need to diversify the workforce in order to survive and perform. Interestingly, until quite recently, Silicon Valley digital companies such as Google, Apple, Yahoo, and Oracle had ignored all requests for information on the level of diversity of their workforce. It was only in 2014 that Google and Apple disclosed this information and began to actively address diversity issues within their firms. To conclude this video, remember that diversity is a very recent concern for these companies. Affirmative action and related policies have had a significant impact on employee diversity, particularly in recruitment. We tend to look at the figures and quantitatively assess the evolution of diversity, with the idea that the workplace should somehow reflect society in general. From a compliance perspective, this is important for fairness reasons. From a business perspective, it is important in order to understand market trends as well as to develop new markets, products and services.