Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

Cultural Diversity In The Workplace Juan Concepcion Managing Diversity in the Workplace Cultural diversity in the workplace is becoming more and more prevalent. Corporations in all industries are encouraging minorities, women, elderly workers, people with disabilities as well as foreign workers to join white males in the workplace. The following analysis will focus on these groups and how companies are encouraging them to join an ever-expanding workplace. Even if affirmative action is dismantled, diversity of the workforce is clearly here to stay. Business owners and managers, experts say, will still need to maintain or step up efforts to recruit and advance ethnic minorities in the year 2000 and beyond. That’s essentially because having a diverse work force and managing it effectively will simply be good business for various companies.

One business leader who is at the forefront of implementing diversity is the Xerox Corporation. Xerox implemented their strategy for diversification through an “aggressive, hard driving affirmative action plan.” (Managing Diversity: Lessons from Private Sector, AOL Electric Library). The company has been successful in grasping Diversity by instilling it in it’s organizational culture and making it management priority. Xerox Corporation has taken on the imperative responsibility to implement plans that ensure a true representation of the community in which they are based and upholding a true picture of the globally based customers they serve. Their strategy is one that sets goals to recruit and retain minorities for previously restricted positions and hold management accountable for reaching those goals. It is an approach which has worked well for the organization.

Because they are truly committed to tapping into the expanded creativity minorities bring, Xerox has moved from the mandatory focus of Affirmative action programs to the voluntary implementation of a business objective. According to John Fernandez, author of the book “Managing a Diverse Work Force”, white males would make up only fifteen percent of the net additions to the labor force between 1985 and 2000. White males were already in the minority, representing only forty-five percent of America’s 115 million workers in 1985. Other facts and figures also support the above mentioned trend. This is pointed out by The Career Exposure Network, a premier on-line career center and job placement service. According to the Network: ? Through the 1990’s, people of color, women and immigrants will account for 85% of the net growth of the nation’s labor force.

? By 2000, women will be 47% of the labor force ? Over the next 20 years the U.S. population will grow by 42 million. Hispanics will account for 47% of the growth, Blacks22%, Asians18% and Whites13%. ? Miami is 2/3 Hispanics. ? San Francisco is 1/3 Asian American. A more recent survey suggests that smaller businesses have been more successful than larger ones in promoting ethnic minorities into upper management.

The study shows that in businesses with fewer than 500 employees, twenty percent of the senior managers are minorities, as compared with about 13 percent for businesses with five hundred or more employees (Thiederman, 162). The reason probably lies in the fact that the highest net increase of small businesses since the early 1990’s have been minority owned. The number of Hispanic-owned business has grown 76% since the early 90’s proceeded by Asians, Pacific Islanders, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives which grew 61% (Nickels, McHugh, McHugh, 4). Naturally, minority-owned businesses are more opt to promote their own into managerial positions. Either because the business is family owned or they have a limited labor pool of applicants. Managing diversity goes ‘far beyond’ meeting the legal requirements of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.

Whereas Affirmative action is based on mandatory compliance regulations designed to bring the level of representation for minority groups into parity, diversity initiatives within organizations are voluntary in nature. It takes Affirmative action a step further. Organizations that incorporate diversity initiatives as a part of their organizational objectives will be the most prepared they will be to meet the challenges of the next millenium. Whereas Affirmative Action focuses on including those on the basis of race, gender, and/or ethnicity, Diversity initiatives, when well implemented, focuses on all elements of diversity. Management must embrace the inclusion of employees not only with regard to obvious differences of race, sex, and age but also without regard to such secondary factors of diversity as marital or family status, sexual orientation and disabilities.

Diversity means optimizing the productivity of ALL people in an organization. As small companies approach the year 2000, there are some compelling reasons for expanding their diversity, according to business leaders and experts. One of the most important reasons is that employers can increase the quality of their workforce. It would be a mistake for small businesses not to embrace diversity, in this sense. Women are another major group that has often been underrepresented in the workforce are clearly below those of white and black males. According to Barbara Bergmann, “The fall in women’s wages relative to men’s over the last twenty years suggest that whatever help they have received from Affirmative action has been modest at best, and has not been enough to counterbalance the effects of their buffeting from market forces.” (Bergmann, p.38) In today’s market, more and more small businesses are being owned and managed by women.

“The Wall Street Journal reported in 1996 that approximately 5.9 million women-owned businesses were operating in the United States.” (Nickels, McHugh, Mchugh P27). Because of this trend, corporate America needs to recruit women and other minorities into previously withheld positions in management if they choose to remain competitive. The owners of these female-run businesses may find it easier to sell to and more desirable to buy from businesses where women and other minorities are included at management levels. Resistance to diversity, particularly by white males, poses a major problem. Resentment may be a result of narrow definitions of diversity that has failed to also include white males as well as a perception by some that diversity means preferential treatment for women and other groups. White male anger may also stem from the fear of losing jobs over a minority as a result of downsizing. Jesse Jackson, a prominent civil rights leader, released a statement in 1995.

In his statement he said, “Those who have been locked out need the law to protect them from the “tyranny of the majority.” We must look at the remaining gap in wages between men and women, whites and people of color. We must determine it’s necessity by data, not by anecdotes. It is a myth that white males are being hurt and discriminated against because of Affirmative Action programs. White males are 33% of the population, but ? 80% of Tenured Professors ? 80% of the U.S. House of Representatives ? 90% of the U.S. Senate ? 92% of the Forbes 400 ? 97% of School Superintendents ? 99.9% of Professional Athletic Team Owners; and ? 100% of U.S. Presidents (Affirmative Action, P.9,10) In any case, it will be easy to tell when affirmative action is no longer necessary.

When an individual can look around the workforce and see that members of all groups are being employed and that they are being employed at the high levels as well as at the lower levels, then it won’t be needed anymore. It is possible that American corporations are on that road. The increasing PRESENCE of women and minorities has altered the way that companies look. According to the August 14th, 1995 issue of Business Week, companies are using the following methods to hold on to female and minority employees: ? Focusing on bringing in the best talent, not on meeting numerical goals ? Developing career plans for employees as part of performance reviews ? Establishing mentoring programs among employees of same and different races ? Promoting minorities to decision-making positions, not just staff jobs ? Holding managers accountable for meeting diversity goals ? And Diversifying their Board of Directors Despite such efforts by corporate America, the Glass Ceiling Commission reports that women and minorities hold just 5% of senior level jobs. Of the minorities who have obtained top jobs, they are in “soft positions” such as Human Resources with not much decision-making power (Business Week, Aug.14th ’95).

In other words, there is still quite a bit of work to be done. Diversity training has unquestionably taken off like a rocket. At corporations around the country, the concept, which previously encompassed a narrow range of sensitivity training programs, has broadened and exp …

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