Cascade Engineering Earns Recognition for Advancing Racial Equity
April 11, 2018Sam Stebbins
A report released in October 2017, titled “The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity,” recognized Cascade Engineering as one of 12 companies in America advancing racial equity. The six-month study, a partnership between FSG and PolicyLink, highlighted leading practices to illustrate the relationship between racial equity and economic success.
Racial inequity and employment
Addressing racial equity is increasingly crucial for employers struggling to fill open positions in a tight labor market.
Reaching people of color is one way that employers could meet their labor needs. Despite falling unemployment rates across the US since the Great Recession, employment statistics between Whites and people of color remain unequal. The unemployment rate for Black Americans is 7.1 percent, double the rate for Whites, even among those with the same education levels.
Still, a disproportionate number of entry-level employees are people of color. This means that barriers to gaining and sustaining employment such as transportation, child care, and financial stability often have a greater impact of communities of color. So, addressing these issues can simultaneously address racial inequity.
What Cascade Engineering is doing to advance equity
The report recognizes Cascade Engineering for two programs: Welfare to Career and SOURCE, a nonprofit which now includes over a dozen West Michigan employers and offers case management and support services.
To increase racial equity and decrease turnover, Cascade Engineering made changes to better suit the needs of their employees. They expanded acceptable reasons for missing work to include caring for a sick child or parent to be more accommodating of workers and their families. Additionally, after noticing that many of their entry-level employees lived paycheck-to-paycheck, Cascade moved from biweekly to weekly payrolls. Finally, the company trained managers on issues like implicit bias and intergenerational poverty.
These efforts not only supported Cascade’s employees of color, they proved to be beneficial for the business and state as well. Turnover decreased from 62 percent to just 2 percent over nine years. The Welfare to Work programs also “[saved] the state of Michigan almost $1 million in cash assistance, food stamps, and child care vouchers” by helping employees become financially self-sufficient.
The increasingly diverse workforce
Increasing racial equity is more than just the right thing to do. It is increasingly necessary for businesses’ success. According to the report, “by 2030 a majority of young workers will be people of color. A mere ten years later, we will be a majority people-of-color nation.” Employers must address racial inequities in order to attract and retain tomorrow’s workforce. “For companies, a focus on racial equity is critical in order to innovate, to create products and services that serve a more diverse consumer base, and to cultivate a strong workforce.”