Diversity Gives Companies a Competitive Edge

Paige Weil, Ricardo Deanda, Taryn Schroeder

Examination of Diversity in the workplace

America started as the melting pot of the world. A place for various people of various diversities to come and become one with the rest. But, isn’t diversity about celebrating individual differences and backgrounds? Diversity should be more like a salad, each individual flavor is tasted and experienced instead of one combined flavor. Diversity is a controversial topic at any workplace. Whether the issue is about a person’s race, ethnicity, gender or even a person’s physical abilities. Everyone faces problems in their workplace environment; some just have more contributing factors to those issues, like their beliefs or their sexual preference. This can be seen in the leadership of companies, the benefits employees receive, and the organizations companies put together for their employees.

Method of Research


The companies that were picked for this research project were Union Pacific, Target Corporation, PayPal, Offutt Air Force Base, and Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. These companies were of interest for this project because they are some of the largest employers in the Greater Omaha Region. Each employer also serves a different industry.

Categories for Comparison

Categories were created in order to view the companies side by side and compare their commonalities and differences. The first category was leadership because individuals in leadership positions contribute the most to the vision of the company, the path that the company will take, and the way employees are treated. This leads us to the second category, employee satisfaction. This could be affected by factors such as benefits offered or simply by the way in which employees are treated by supervisors, and could end up in situations like lawsuits if they ever feel discriminated against.  The third category has to do with organizations such as Employee Resource Groups and other programs that are important when it comes to diversity because they’re strictly for a diverse workforce. The fourth category, Hiring Methods, is a great factor because all companies have their own methods of hiring and most likely use internal promotion to fill higher positions. The last category is whether the company is a Public or Private corporation for the fact that this may affect how the company would be viewed and controlled.

To organize our information, we used memos while annotated bibliographies made it easier to organize our sources and use the information in our research. We used coding to analyze our collected data while communicating our ideas constantly.



The number one thing noticed about leaders is their bias decision making when they promote. It was easy to see that every company, with the exception of Berkshire Hathaway, had so much in place to get the most out of a diverse workforce. However, every single company had mostly white males as directors and officers. Some companies, such as target, did have less white males; however, the vast majority were white. It is clear to corporate leaders that diversity is something to embrace but they must also embrace it at an executive level. Sometimes executives judge people with their unconscious mind and that affects what they think about the one person and the job that they are capable of doing.

It helps stray away from narrow mindedness at an executive level. PayPal has grown and has become more profitable since their split with EBay. They have also become very diverse and have grown their customer base. They are getting better and better, and their confidence shows through the fact that they are transparent and accepting, so that helps to attract more customers and has led to an efficient work force. This shows that companies could benefit more from bringing in an outsider to lead instead of promoting from within.


No matter what style of leadership a company is under, the higher up a person is in the rankings of the company, the more likely they are to be the go-to person when issues arise with management or profitability of the company (Lake, 2015). Most companies fill leadership positions with individuals already within the company. PayPal is part of the few that did not do that. The CEO, Dan Schulman, of the e-commerce company is a total “outsider” (The New York Times, 2014)   He was picked to lead the company after its split with EBay.  While he has headed the company, PayPal “has since grown to become the most widely accepted digital payment methods amongst North American retailers” (Paypal – Statistics and Facts , 2016).

The Bureau of Labor statistics website had information, as seen in the figures below, about top level officers employed in the nation. It states that less than 800 Chief Executives are employed in Nebraska, Figure 1, and of course, there are more than 350 employed in the Omaha Region, Figure 2 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016). So Nebraska doesn’t employ very many chief officers but it does have some of the highest paid with the average being $212,000 – $242,220, Figure 3 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).Figure

1 – Employment of chief executives, by state, May 20161

Figure 2 – Employment of chief executive, by area, May 20161

Figure 3 – Annual mean wage of chief executives, by state, May 20161

Employee Organizations


The companies that the study looked at have a few ways of handling the diversity present in their workplaces. Union Pacific has a number of internal employee resource groups (ERGs) representing minorities, veterans and women. They also work with MESA, Urban League Partners, DREAM program, and the Women’s Leadership Conference (Union Pacific, n.d.). Target works with outside companies to encourage employee diversity such as Catalyst, Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Executive Leadership Council, GLSEN, National Urban League and The Mission Continues (Target, n.d.).  PayPal works with the Anita Borg Institute, the Clayman Institute, Dev Boot Camp, Prince’s Trust and Stonewall (PayPal Inc., 2016).

The study could not find any information on specific organizations within Berkshire Hathaway, however, they were ranked 5/100 on the Calvert Investments survey, which ranked companies on their commitment to diversity based on 10 criteria. These included board representation, high pays for executives and benefits that are family-friendly (Berman, 2013) Offutt Air Force Base has special teams that deal with the diversity on the base. Figure 4 demonstrates the types of organizations supported by the companies in the study and how many companies supported each type of organization.

Figure 4 – Companies in the Study and the Types of Organizations Supported1


The study analyzes that most of the companies looked at have either set up organizations or have worked with outside companies to support and encourage diversity in their workplace. The influence of these organizations within the workplace helps to stabilize the turnover rate in companies by allowing in-groups and out-groups to form. In allowing in-groups and out-groups to form within the overall culture of the company, the employers create an environment that promotes both competition and companionship.

Employee Satisfaction


Employee Satisfaction is a key aspect to the success of a company. Without satisfied employees, companies would have a poor employee retention rates which decrease productivity and impact a company in a negative manner. Companies do many things to increase employee satisfaction including, benefits, disability, support groups, etc. This study looked at the different aspects of benefits from employees at Target, Union Pacific, Berkshire Hathaway, PayPal, and Offutt Air Force Base.

Target is a well known company countrywide. It is also one of the top 25 employers in the Omaha area, rolling in at number 24. Target offers many benefits to its company including, medical coverage, financial support, career benefits, and social and community benefits. The medical coverage at Target covers quite a few things. They have a health care coverage plan and flexible spending accounts for employees so they are covered for medical necessities.  Target has their own optical company that they use to cover the cost of eye exams and employees may enroll in a vision plan to cover the costs of eyewear. The dental plan at Target covers 100% preventative care at the dentist’s office and employees may enroll in a plan to assist with major dental work. They also offer a Maternity support program and a Nurse line for any medical emergencies.


This study found an extensive Financial Benefit system for Target for it’s employees. This program includes a 401(k) that Target claims is one of the best in the retail industry. For every dollar deposited Target deposits 5% of that. Target offers short term and long term disability, life insurance, child care discount, adoption assistance, parental leave, employee discounts, annual bonuses, and paid time off for holidays, appointments, and personal days. As you can see Target has an array of Financial Benefits readily available for employees.

Career benefits, Social Benefits, and Community Benefits are also available for employees. Career Benefits at Target include a Diversity and Inclusion business councils, coaching and training, onboarding process, leadership development programs, recognition programs, and tuition reimbursement. This study found the business council that Target has quite interesting. It is made up of more than 10,000 team members and includes people of all races, sexual orientations, and gender. Target’s social and community benefits include, networking and volunteer hours.

PayPal coming in at number 19 on the list of top 25 Omaha employers surprisingly has not a lot of information about benefits on their website. They offer unknown health, wellness, and financial benefits. They posted information on volunteer work, the Stanford Medical Hotline, Stock and Life insurance, time off, and courses they offer their employees to further their education. Unlike Target, PayPal posted no information about diversity and inclusion services in the benefits section on their website.

Berkshire Hathaway is one of the four Fortune 500 companies that calls Omaha home. This study decided it would be interesting to look at this company and compare it to other companies. The benefits section on Berkshire Hathaway lists off quite a few benefits including medical, retirement, and financing. Medical benefits for Berkshire Hathaway include, Flexible Spending Accounts, 100 percent coverage on preventative services, 100 percent coverage on cleanings and checkups at the dentist, and eye insurance that covers exam, glasses, and or contacts. An interesting benefit included in the health and welfare benefits was adoption assistance for employees. Income benefits included Short Term and Long Term disability and Life Insurance for self, spouse, and dependants. Berkshire Hathaway also includes a retirement plan. What this study found interesting was that again, Berkshire Hathaway listed no information on diversity and inclusion services and unlike Target there is no paternal or maternal leave listed in benefits. This study hypothesised that Berkshire Hathaway would list better benefits information than Target due to the fact it is a Fortune 500 company and not just a corporate company.

Union Pacific rolling in at number 8 on the top 25 employers in Omaha list has an extensive benefit page on their website. Medical Insurance includes, Health Insurance, a Health Savings Account, Life Insurance, Disability, and Dental and Vision insurance plans. Financing benefits include, pension plans, 401(k)s, and a retirement board to continue to serve their employees even after retirement. The family benefits of Union Pacific are remarkable to say the least. These include Child Care, Pet Care, Elderly Care, Babysitting, Housekeeping, and even tutoring and homework help. They also offer Adoption Assistance. The wellness benefits are also impressive at Union Pacific as they include, a Wellness Portal for employees to use when needing assistance with understanding well being and needing help setting goals, they offer a free Health Coaching Program, and they have numerous facilities for employees to use to achieve their wellness goals. Union pacific also offers many other benefits including, diversity organizations within the company, vacation days, transportation savings accounts, tuition reimbursement, and employee discounts.

Offutt Air Force Base was the last employer we looked at and it rolls in at number 1 on the top 25 employers of Omaha list. Offutt’s benefits list includes quite a few new benefits. They offer medical, dental, and vision insurance through TRICARE but if the employee is employed at STRATCOM the vision insurance is through Blue Cross Blue Shield. There are vacation days, disability, and life insurance. Those who are active duty receive housing benefits as well. There is a Diversity Group at Offutt dedicated to increase diversity and inclusion on base. And there is a support group for spouses to go to if they are having any hardships


Looking at the benefits list this study concluded employees at Union Pacific were plausibly the most satisfied and most diverse out of the companies this study observed with Target employees coming in second. Figure 5 shows the factors employees and employers list as very important when considering employee loyalty. This graph was used to assist in the analysis of employee satisfaction. The diversity organizations at Union Pacific that included anyone appeared more diverse than the business council of Target where there are only 10,000 employees who can participate. The Child Care and House Care services appeared to be geared towards the female employees and would hypothetically result in a higher satisfaction level in employees of the female gender. As all of these companies offer medical, dental, vision, and life insurance that are similar it’s difficult to analyze the satisfaction of employees under these benefits. Union Pacific’s retirement benefits would appear to result in a higher satisfaction rate of elderly employees due to the retirement board that assists the elderly after retirement. This is a program the rest of the organizations lack. This study predicted that Union Pacific has the happiest employees who are also educated on diversity and their employees are more likely to include those of diverse backgrounds.

Figure 5-Very Important Factors in Employee Loyalty1


There are numerous factors that affect diversity within and outside the workplace. Five factors were chosen to compare the companies in omaha and, out of the five chosen categories for comparison, two were taken out of the equation. This was because the information in Hiring Methods was vastly close to Employ Satisfaction. Whether the company was Public or Private was determined to be of minimal importance in line with the rest of the research, so it was dismissed. Leadership had the greatest effect on diversity while employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction were the most affected by diversity and every aspect of it.

This study concludes that many of the major employers in Omaha embrace the “Omaha salad with diversity dressing”, and want to enjoy each of the individual parts of the salad, together, without them blending into the melting pot that was the traditional view of the workplace. However, they still coat this salad with the cultural dressing of that workplace, so that no matter the type of leadership, the benefits they offer or the organizations built to support the diversity in the workers, in the end everyone conforms to their workplace’s culture.


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