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Managing Diversity in the Workplace

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Managing Diversity in the Workplace

Gwenzetta M. Carter

Hum 6500/ Dr. Goldstein

University of the Rockies


The United States is comprised of many races, cultures, religions and ethnicities. The difference of these groups has led to an increase in conflict. Diversity consciousness seeks to resolve this conflict by recognizing, understanding and adapting to the differences (Bucher, pg 1, 2010). Diversity Management within an organization or business focuses on differences in the workplace and the way that those differences affect the workplace experience of an individual in terms of performance, motivation, communication and inclusion. In this paper the ways that differences can be managed in the workplace to ensure the success of the individual employee, the team and the organization as a whole, will be examined.

Managing Diversity in the Workplace

Organizations deal with diversity related conflicts and issues on a regular basis due to differences relating to age, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion and social class and more. Our learned behaviors are a major reason for the conflict. The way that an organization manages the conflict resulting from these differences can dictate the future failure or the future success of that company.

Although great strides are being taken toward achieving diversity consciousness, many companies are still recovering from the negative impacts of discrimination due to not reevaluating and revising policies to provide inclusion to a rapidly changing cultural landscape. For example, in 2005, Abercrombie & Fitch were demanded to pay $50 million dollars to class members comprised of women, African Americans, Asians and Latinos, due to a discrimination lawsuit. They were also required to revise their policies and programs to foster diversity within their workforce and inclusion of women and minorities (Alvarez, 2005). Many other companies have been forced to pay out settlements and legal fees at a high rate due to similar accusations of discrimination. As a result, companies are now realizing the importance of inclusion and diversity consciousness. They are investing considerable amounts of revenue into diversity awareness programs, hiring diversity managers to facilitate and resolve conflicts and taking a closer look at exclusive, outdated policies to ensure that all are treated fairly.

Managers are becoming more flexible with scheduling due to working parents and to accommodate those who practice certain religions. In this case foresight serves the organizations much better than hindsight. Investing this money on the front end to develop diversity awareness is a safe guard that proves to be an asset for the company long term.

Based on this information, the question is raised as to why the companies were slow to address the issue of diversity. The text defines a few reasons the first being cultural lag which is a condition when one part of a culture is not keeping pace with another part (Bucher, pg. 13, 2010). Another reason, the text pinpoints, is a glass ceiling effect which results from attitudes and actions that block the promotion of women and minorities into top management positions (Bucher, pg 15, 2010). The attitudes are usually those of prejudice, discrimination or outlined in the policies and regulations of the company.

For example, I have a friend who worked for a Fortune 500 company. She was in her second year and her manager was so impressed with her work that he called her in to discuss her future career with the company. He told her that he wanted to begin preparing her for the position of vice president a position that required that she travel a great deal of the time and eventually move over 600 miles away. My friend would have been elated; however, she had just gone through a divorce and had a custody agreement with her ex-husband for their two children. By court order, she was not allowed to take the children that far away. My friend asked the boss if the policy could be revised or her situation reevaluated and he explained to her how the policy had been in effect for the last twenty years.

She left the meeting feeling hopeless. After giving the situation consideration, my friend thought it best to call a recruiter and quickly begin her job search. Fortunately, she was offered a job rather quickly. When she handed in her letter of resignation everyone was surprised. In addition,



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