Cultural Diversity in Corporate America Essay

This essay has a total of 1136 words and 8 pages.


Cultural Diversity in Corporate America




The expanding conflict over cultural diversity
in corporate America may present as many opportunities
and problems as affirmative action. Today, cultural
diversity is an important fact of life and business,
due to the changing face of society, and therefore,
the work place. It is growing ever more essential for
people to interact with others outside of their racial,
ethical, religious, regional, social, etc. boundaries.
To stay on top of their competitors, especially in the
1990s and going forward, corporations must change their
approach, and see diversity not as a necessary evil or
a mere threat, but as a source of enrichment and
opportunity that may bring a wealth of benefits to the
company.
In an examination of the U.S. workplace and
specifically looking at management positions, it is
clearly evident that minorities are "under"
represented. The reasons behind this seem to vary
depending on which point of view it is looked at.
Some argue that minorities "haven't been in the labor
pool long enough to work [their way] up". It is
ridiculous to believe this because there are plenty
of qualified minorities for any of those jobs.(1)
Others argue that "minority employees don't know the
rules that allow one to 'win' in the corporate 'game'".
If this is true, then what is keeping them from
learning these "rules" and what can be done to teach
them?(2) While these reasons may hold some truth, it is
also, as proven time after time in this country's
media, a matter of race and/or gender.
There is an inherit distrust on the part of
today's managers (typically white males who grew up
with little exposure to people from other cultures)
in the abilities of others outside of the white, male
work-force. At the time many of today's leading CEOs
were in school, they were taught "that blacks had
smaller brains than whites" and that women were not as
smart and were overly emotional. The attitudes and
beliefs of these men have "undoubtedly [been]
influenced by such training". They have a deep seeded
belief that women, blacks, and in effect, all others
than themselves are less competent, and they believe it
to be true to a biological, molecular level.(3) At
least this is true of the older generation, but what of
the younger, civil rights, generation? It seems that
". . . the younger executives coming in now are worse
they're less tolerant, high on their big M.B.A.
education. Their attitude is that the laws will take
care of everything. They have little personal concern
with doing what's right".(4) The training received by
most of these managers have usually been "based on the
assumption that 'managing' means managing a homogeneous
white, male work force" and not on managing any type of
diversity whatsoever.(5)
With this in perspective, is it any wonder why
minorities are leaving organizations to open their own
business? Their corporate managers can't relate to
them - not as employees, co-workers or people. When
promotion time comes around, the managers promote only
what they know - other white males. "People are
comfortable with others who look, act, and think like
themselves. So the people in power bring in others
like themselves".(6) This means that as a minority, a
person can only go so far in an organization. No
minority to feels comfortable in such an atmosphere,
which is why so many of them are leaving the corporate
scene and starting their own businesses. A person can
be their own boss and not have to deal with the issue, at least at that level. It is
unfortunate to note, however, that 65% of minority owned businesses fail in their 1st year
of operation.

To combat these problems and help alleviate
tensions among the different ethnic groups, many
organizations are integrating cultural diversity into
the workplace. They have many means by which to
approach this. Some companies offer management courses
dealing with racial and gender related issues. In
others, the focus is placed on coaching women and
minorities how to be successful in the white, male,
dominated business environment. Still others have
developed means of ensuring the "upward mobility" of
women and minorities on an executive level. Many of
these organizations also celebrate the different
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