Managing Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

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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 lon...

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... work environment when managed properly can produce better performance. It is for these reason that managers and leaders in the organizations should learn about the differences of gender, age, sex, religion, etc in their work environment and learn how to communicate well between them.


Cox, T. H., Jr. & Blake, S. (1992). Managing Cultural Diversity: Implications for Organizational Competitiveness. Academy of Management Executive, 5(3).

Jackson, S. E., & Associates. (1998). Diversity in the workplace. The Professional Practice Series (Douglas W. Bray, Ed., Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology). New York: Guilford Press.

Johnston, W. B., & Packer, A. E. (1999). Workforce 2000: Work and workers for the 21st century. Indianapolis, IN: Hudson Institute.

Thiederman, S. (2000). Profiting in America's Multicultural Marketplace. Lexington, MA. Lexington Books.

Thomas, D. A. & Ely, R. J. (1998). Making Differences Matter: A new Paradigm for Managing Diversity. Harvard Business Review, September-October 1998.

U.S. Census Bureau (2001). Demographic Profiles: Census 2000. Retrieved November 4, 2001 from the World Wide Web:
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