Fox files: ‘Diversity’

Some of you have heard me confirm what you all suspect and know: our market has grown into a new tier.

When I first started working in statewide economic development, we were generally competing for regional projects. By that, I mean that we were competing for projects against other western markets (Denver, Phoenix, Reno, etc.). As of late, we’ve been competing for more and more projects considering national options. We have worked on several projects recently that are considering markets like Columbus, Raleigh, Charlotte, Austin, and Atlanta — yes, Atlanta — along with Utah.

Many of the companies engaged in a national search want to know more about Utah’s demographics and make-up. A common thread is that these companies currently have a diverse employee population and they are seeking a similarly diverse or even more diverse workforce in whatever new market they expand into. As an example, this week we had a high-priority site visit and at every employer interview the client asked about Utah employers’ ability to hire diverse talent.

It is clear to me that the desire to build diverse teams comes from a desire to capture diverse thought. For companies who are not familiar with our state and our culture, they are often surprised to learn about how multi-lingual we are. Expanding companies are surprised to learn about Utah’s net-in migration rate, which in 2017 accounted for 46% of our population growth. They can be surprised at some of our marquee employers’ ability to attract talent from out of state. A stunning successful example of this phenomenon is Goldman Sachs, whose diversity levels in the Salt Lake City office match the diversity levels of its NYC offices. Goldman works hard to achieve this result but accomplishes its goals thanks to both in-state and aggressive out-of-state recruiting.

Our youth is more multi-cultural, multi-lingual, and multi-ethnic than our adult population. According to State Demographer Pam Perlech, the increasing diversity of our youth is “ongoing, cumulative, and irreversible. It’s a new Utah that’s emerging.”

While by the numbers today we may not be as diverse as some of our national counterparts, we are changing and changing quickly. Identifying a diversifying Utah as a key trend, the Kem C. Gardner Institute confirmed in its Jan. 2018 Fact Sheet that “the share of residents that identified as Hispanic (13.8 percent), non-Hispanic Asian (2.4 percent) and multiple races (2 percent) increased in 2016 estimates from the Census Bureau.”

Our population is globally oriented and becoming increasingly more diverse. Attracting more large, multi-national employers into the state will accelerate the pace of change