Diversity Paper

This essay has a total of 3003 words and 12 pages.


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
Through the 1990’s, people ofjob placement service. According to the
Network: color, women and immigrants will account for 85% of the net growth of the Over
the By 2000, women will be 47% of the labor force nation’s labor
force. next 20 years the U.S. population will grow by 42 million. Hispanics will Miami
isaccount for 47% of the growth, Blacks22%, Asians18% and Whites13%. San
Francisco is 1/3 Asian American. A more recent survey2/3 Hispanics. 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 80% of Tenured Professorsprograms. White males are 33% of the population,
but 92% of the 90% of the U.S. Senate  80% of the U.S. House of
Representatives  99.9% of Professional Athletic Team 97% of School
Superintendents Forbes 400 100% of U.S. Presidents (Affirmative Action, P.9,10)
In any case,Owners; and 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 Focusing on
bringing in the best talent, not onfemale and minority employees: Developing
career plans for employees as part ofmeeting numerical goals Establishing
mentoring programs among employees of sameperformance reviews Promoting
minorities to decision-making positions, notand different races And
Holding managers accountable for meeting diversity goals just staff jobs
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. Although some of these programs go
back over thirty years to the height of the Civil Rights Movement, today’s diversity
initiatives refer to a much wider range of programs designed to create a well running,
cooperative workforce. Many initiatives start with benchmarking and company-wide goal
setting. This then results in various recruitment, promotional and employee retention
programs. These retention programs can include everything from educational grants to
multilevel training programs. Another valuable retention program can be the redesign of
performance review processes. One thing is for sure, and that is that in order for it to
work, diversity training must be able to incorporate ALL the demographic trends that are
taking place in the country. In recent years, women have become a growing presence in the
labor force. As Gary Powell point out, “The proportion of women, which was 42
percent in 1980 and 45 percent in 1990, is expected to be 47 percent in the year
2000” (Powell, P.36). Elderly workers are another major demographic group that has
begun to be included in the workforce due to diversity initiatives and sensitivity
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