Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Essay

This essay has a total of 2983 words and 14 pages.


Cultural Diversity in the Workplace




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 millennium. 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 expanded. Today, diversity is a serious corporate initiative
that is seen as helping those at a disadvantage.

Through their commitment and involvement of diversity issues, Xerox was awarded the
prestigious Malcolm Baldridge quality award in 1989 for its three decade campaign to hire
and promote women as well as minorities (Managing diversity: Lessons from the private
sector, AOL Electric Library). The company has been a leader in the development of
diversity initiatives which include programs designed to improve employee motivation, and
teamwork through helping people to understand differences in gender and race as well as
disabilities.
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