The expanding conflict over cultural diversityin corporate America may present as many opportunitiesand problems as affirmative action. Today, culturaldiversity 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 forpeople to interact with others outside of their racial,ethical, religious, regional, social, etc. boundaries.To stay on top of their competitors, especially in the1990s and going forward, corporations must change theirapproach, 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 theIn an examination of the U.
S. workplace andspecifically looking at management positions, it isclearly evident that minorities are “under”represented. The reasons behind this seem to varydepending on which point of view it is looked at.
Some argue that minorities “haven’t been in the laborpool long enough to work their way up”. It isridiculous to believe this because there are plentyof qualified minorities for any of those jobs.(1)Others argue that “minority employees don’t know therules that allow one to ‘win’ in the corporate ‘game'”.If this is true, then what is keeping them fromlearning these “rules” and what can be done to teachthem?(2) While these reasons may hold some truth, it isalso, as proven time after time in this country’smedia, a matter of race and/or gender.There is an inherit distrust on the part oftoday’s managers (typically white males who grew upwith little exposure to people from other cultures)in the abilities of others outside of the white, malework-force. At the time many of today’s leading CEOswere in school, they were taught “that blacks hadsmaller brains than whites” and that women were not assmart and were overly emotional. The attitudes andbeliefs of these men have “undoubtedly beeninfluenced by such training”.
They have a deep seededbelief that women, blacks, and in effect, all othersthan themselves are less competent, and they believe itto be true to a biological, molecular level.(3) Atleast this is true of the older generation, but what ofthe younger, civil rights, generation? It seems that”. .
. the younger executives coming in now are worsethey’re less tolerant, high on their big M.B.A.education.
Their attitude is that the laws will takecare of everything. They have little personal concernwith doing what’s right”.(4) The training received bymost of these managers have usually been “based on theassumption that ‘managing’ means managing a homogeneouswhite, male work force” and not on managing any type ofWith this in perspective, is it any wonder whyminorities are leaving organizations to open their ownbusiness? Their corporate managers can’t relate tothem – not as employees, co-workers or people. Whenpromotion time comes around, the managers promote onlywhat they know – other white males. “People arecomfortable with others who look, act, and think likethemselves. So the people in power bring in otherslike themselves”.
(6) This means that as a minority, aperson can only go so far in an organization. Nominority to feels comfortable in such an atmosphere,which is why so many of them are leaving the corporatescene and starting their own businesses. A person canbe 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 alleviatetensions 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 coursesdealing 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 cultural holidays. This serves a dual function in thatit not only makes minorities fell welcome, it also serves as a way of exposing white America, and specifically the white, male mangers, to part of what this person is. It introduces to them something that they more than likely would not have gone out and discovered on their own.
It shows them that different doesn’t mean bad and that there is nothing to fear. With this exposure, managers and their minority employees can at least begin to share some common knowledge and stand on common ground.America has always been called a great “meltingpot”, but it is only true in one sense. What no oneseems to realize is that this phrase only held true forthe European immigrant experience, not those fromAfrica, not those from Asia, nor those from SouthAmerica. Although people of European decent stillhold the “majority” position, it clear and quitefrightening to some, that the same people that wereexcluded from the “melting pot” are becoming the”majorities” in major cities all across the country. It is estimated that by the year 2020, the “minorities”of today will be the majorities of “tomorrow”.
Americacan no longer “ignore the demographic trends in oursociety; we hire society into our workplace . . . we are society”.(7) The laws, as some believe, will nottake care of it; the law can barely take care of itself.
“We, the people of these United States . . .” have totake care of it by ourselves.
According to theconstitution, “we, the people of these United States. . .” are the true leaders of this country. It is inthe hand of these people to shape what the outcome ofthis issue, and others like it, will be for theirchildren and their children’s children. “We, the peopleof these United States . .
.” have to take theinitiative. “We, the people of these United States. . .” have to get into action and do for ourselveswhat “we” are waiting for the “government” and the “law” to do.
“We, the people of these United States. . .” are, regardless of the outcome, the masters of the fate of this society and this country. “Understandthat over the long term, the successful manager isgoing to have to deal with large numbers of minoritiesand women in business, and it is presumed most managers want to be successful, want their company to be successful. Therefore, don’t walk away from Bibliography:Copeland, Lennie (1988, Jun).
“Making the Most ofCultural Differences at the Workplace”, Personnel,pp. 52 – 54Copeland, Lennie (1988, July). “Valuing Diversity,Part 2: Pioneers and Champions of Change”, Personnel,pp. 44 – 49