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Diversity in the Workplace: A Literature Review

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Essay title: Diversity in the Workplace: A Literature Review

Diversity in the Workplace

In today's society, cultural diversity is at the highest point it has ever been. As companies are becoming more diverse, it is becoming more important for them to understand and manage that diversity. People of different backgrounds, races, ages, sex, and/or religions create a diverse workforce. There is an importance of having a diverse workforce in order to provide better performance overall. With a diverse workforce, there arises a need for new management strategies, which require organization leaders and managers to know the differences among their employees and to know how to handle situations involving these differences. As Dr. Sondra Thiederman, a leading expert in workplace diversity, stated, ''whether you are a business owner, executive, salesperson or customer- service professional, your success will increasingly depend on your ability to function in a culturally diverse marketplace'' (Thiederman, 2000).

During this past summer, I participated in an internship program in which I worked for a major company, Thorngate, that employees over 300 people. In this organization, there is a divide between upper management and the workers in terms of diversity. Upper management is predominately white male, while the worker population is predominately female. This is added to with the diversity in race among the workers. This divide could potentially be problematic for the company. Literature on the subject of diversity in the workplace and how it can be handled, revealed statistics on diversity and suggestions for how to handle it.

The growth in diversity is continually on the rise. Today, one in four people in this country belong to a minority or are foreign-born (U.S. Census Bureau, 2001). These minorities are considered include any person who is not a white-male. Women today, who currently make up less than half the work force, are expected to fill 65 percent of the jobs created during this decade (Jackson et al., 1998). Also during the next decade, all minorities are expected to hold almost three-quarters of all jobs in the country (Johnston, 1999). The work force at Thorngate follows this trend since women are roughly three-quarters of the employees and that women minorities are roughly one-third of the workers. Businesses like Thorngate, whom employ mass amounts of people, should realize that a diverse workforce is needed in order to continue longevity, growth, and increased profits.

Companies should see this shift in worker population and change their organizations to meet the challenge presented. Above all other policies is that discrimination is wrong, both legally and morally. In addition to this is the fact that a more diverse workforce will increase organizational effectiveness. It will lift morale, bring greater access to new segments of the marketplace, and enhance productivity. In short diversity can be good for business (Cox and Blake, 1992). Research out of Canada states that the Canadian companies leading the way in the area of diversity management have discovered that by embracing the elements of ethnic and cultural diversity in their workforce they have enhanced their ability to understand and tap new markets, both within Canada and abroad (Thomas and Ely, 1998). Many American based companies could do the same with effective use of diverse human resources

The management in these companies will have to change their strategies and follow different guidelines in order to facilitate diversity. In the companies, management will have to focus on getting the best talent out of the person regardless of age, sex, or other demographic differences. The management will have to develop career plans for all employees of the organization including the minorities. The management will have to promote minorities to responsible positions in the workplace instead of only promoting those individuals of the more traditional white-male population. Management will have to become effective in communication with all employees and be able to listen to their problems, even if they are of a different background or culture. Over time, management will have to become as diverse as the employee population.

As this relates to the employees, management will have to encourage diverse thinking among those who are not of the minority. There are many aspects to establishing the right attitude in the rest of the department. In the workplace, expectations bias will need to be eliminated. This leads people to expect less productive work or more "goofing off" from certain employees. Management and the employees should expect the best from the workers and given the correct training and resources, those workers can deliver. In the workplace, the use of labels should be strongly discouraged. Labels are words used as powerful weapons against another person or culture. How to refer

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