Successful management of a diverse workforce poses many challenges in the confusing aspects of diversity that exist in today’s workplace. Equal employment opportunity is an attempt to pay retribution for past errors and many say it was a good beginning but more is needed. We commonly read and hear the increasingly popular term diversity training. The new catchphrase to be found gaining popularity in the workforce is inclusion. With all these confusing concepts, just how can management develop a successful strategy to manage a diverse workforce?
The term diversity needs to be defined, as it is applicable in the workplace. Equal Employment Opportunity focused primarily on gender and race. Diversity, though, is filled with many more criteria than just gender and race. Diversity is defined in one article (“Value of Cultural Diversity,“ 1997) as “not part of the mainstream, popular culture. In this nation, our popular culture, or ideal business success, is white, young, heterosexual, Christian, and male.” This description, while blunt, may indeed reflect what diversity in the workforce represents. Anyone in the workforce who does not meet the criteria stated in the article would be an example of diversity. When we add age, marital or family status, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and disabilities the pool of a diverse workforce outside of gender and race gets rather deep indeed. Management strategies must adapt to be effective in managing this expanded diverse workforce.
Management in America has historically always dealt with a diverse workforce. During the days under British colonialism a majority of the workforce were religious minorities, political dissidents, minor criminals, and indentured servants from Britain. Further diversifying the workforce was the practice of importing African slaves. After the American Independence, the American workforce began seeing many German and Irish immigrants who were Roman Catholic, which increased as the nineteenth century progressed. Actually, according to Hatton and Williamson (1998), during the second half of the nineteenth century, “ the rate of Irish emigration was more than double that of any other European country, with as many as 13 per thousand emigrating each year”. While the Irish were flooding the workforce from Europe, the Chinese were also flowing into...
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...r of the skin we're born with but we can control what we put in our noses.”
When does inclusion become intrusion on the dominant culture? How far must the dominant culture bend over to accommodate the multitude of differences found in today’s society? As a nation of diversity, haven’t we already adapted enough without making special concessions for every person with a difference? Recognizing both the differences and the commonalities among the various individuals comprising one’s workplace and instituting fair and balanced strategies are the keys to successful management of a diverse workforce.
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