(Gallup, NM) -- Any retailer that posts a sign announcing they “reserve the right to do business with anyone for any reason," might consider some business advice given by the author of a new, multicultural business eBook:
"That's a pretty stupid way to get new customers!"
Susan Klopfer, author of Cash In On Diversity, says she "can’t believe what I am seeing when I walk into retail stores with signs like this.
"What is going through the head of any business owner that appears to say, ‘Hey, if I don’t like the color of your skin, or how you look or act, I can tell you to leave my store and I don’t have to be rational or even follow the law’.”
Klopfer, a communication specialist, moved to New Mexico in January and said she is surprised that in a state with such a diversity of population, business ‘refusal’ signs are still common in many communities.
“For many people – whether or not they fit into a ‘minority’ classification, such a statement harkens back to the days when non-white people were actively discriminated against by racist retailers. So, why would any business owner in their proper mind – someone who wants to make money by serving as many people as possible -- post a potentially offensive sign in their store in this day and age,” she asks.
Klopfer, who holds a graduate degree in business and operates a small business, gives a quick sociology lesson: almost half, nearly 40 percent, of the U.S. population doesn’t fit the white family stereotype that made marketing in the 60s so easy – the image of June Cleaver and her popular family.
“Leave it to Beaver days are over! The changing cultural landscape of the country is exciting and offers so much opportunity. This requires all of us in business to think about the best way to start an engaging conversation.
An offensive sign that brings back memories of our country’s worst behaviors, the days of water hoses and black children being hosed down, simply is not a way to start a good conversation with any customer.”
Klopfer says she still remembers the “horrible images from the 1950s” when watching television with her parents, and often asks store owners to explain their signs when she sees them.
“It can be an interesting encounter. Sometimes, the store owner is quite defensive, even when I quietly explain how I feel about their sign and why. But I do think they get the message, and I ask others to ‘run’ the same ‘social experiment’.
"This type of bigotry, whether or not it is purposefully intended, really harms all of business and can be so hurtful.
“One has to wonder. Who is the store owner targeting? Would they kick out a gay couple holding hands? Do they want poor people to stay away? Are they directly targeting Native Americans? Often, the store owner can’t even answer these questions, probably because they haven’t given their sign enough thought in the first place. Yet, I am sure they want to have a successful business and make money from lots of customers.”
Cash In On Diversity, published by Smashwords (distributor of eBooks to the
Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store) blends practical experience with academic findings and provides do-able solutions for companies that are trying to grow their customer base, capturing a better representation of ethnicity and cultures.
The 12 chapter eBook features a diversity and psychology FAQ contributed by a social and clinical psychologist, a discussion of five common diversity mistakes companies make, specific tips for communicating with non-native speakers, an 11-point organizational diversity analysis, the script from Klopfer’s popular diversity webinar, followed by a complete glossary of critical diversity terms (“from Abrahamic religions to xenophobia”).
Klopfer’s interest in diversity comes through her business and civil rights background. She holds a master’s degree in business from Indiana Wesleyan University and an undergraduate degree in communication from Hanover College. The former Missouri journalist and Prentice Hall editor wrote three civil rights books on the Mississippi Delta and also wrote a Book of-the-Month alternate selection on personal computing, published by Prentice Hall. She has also written books on home-based businesses and how to use the Internet.
Klopfer recently moved to Gallup, a highly multicultural community, where she opened a vintage and southwestern gallery – “a quiet, little shop in a multicultural community where I can write, enjoy art and meet interesting people.”