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Cultural Diversity in Corporate America

The expanding conflict over cultural diversity in corporate America may present as many opportunities and problems as affirmative action. Today, cultural diversity 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 for people to interact with others outside of their racial, ethical, religious, regional, social, etc. boundaries.

To stay on top of their competitors, especially in the 1990s and going forward, corporations must change their approach, and see diversity not as a necessary evil or mere threat, but as a source of enrichment and opportunity that may bring a wealth of benefits to the In an examination of the U. S. workplace and specifically looking at management positions, it is clearly evident that minorities are “under” represented. The reasons behind this seem to vary depending on which point of view it is looked at.

Some argue that minorities “haven’t been in the labor pool long enough to work [their way] up”. It is ridiculous to believe this because there are plenty of qualified minorities for any of those jobs. (1) Others argue that “minority employees don’t know the ules that allow one to ‘win’ in the corporate ‘game'”. If this is true, then what is keeping them from learning these “rules” and what can be done to teach them? (2) While these reasons may hold some truth, it is also, as proven time after time in this country’s media, a matter of race and/or gender.

There is an inherit distrust on the part of today’s managers (typically white males who grew up with little exposure to people from other cultures) in the abilities of others outside of the white, male work-force. At the time many of today’s leading CEOs were in school, they were taught “that blacks had maller brains than whites” and that women were not as smart and were overly emotional. The attitudes and beliefs of these men have “undoubtedly [been] influenced by such training”.

They have a deep seeded belief that women, blacks, and in effect, all others than themselves are less competent, and they believe it to be true to a biological, molecular level. (3) At least this is true of the older generation, but what of the younger, civil rights, generation? It seems that “. . . the younger executives coming in now are worse they’re less tolerant, high on their big M. B. A. ducation. Their attitude is that the laws will take care of everything. They have little personal concern with doing what’s right”. 4)

The training received by most of these managers have usually been “based on the assumption that ‘managing’ means managing a homogeneous white, male work force” and not on managing any type of With this in perspective, is it any wonder why minorities are leaving organizations to open their own business? Their corporate managers can’t relate to them – not as employees, co-workers or people. When promotion time comes around, the managers promote only hat they know – other white males. “People are comfortable with others who look, act, and think like themselves.

So the people in power bring in others like themselves”. (6) This means that as a minority, a person can only go so far in an organization. No minority to feels comfortable in such an atmosphere, which is why so many of them are leaving the corporate scene and starting their own businesses. A person can be 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 alleviate tensions 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 courses dealing 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 ultural holidays. This serves a dual function in that it 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 “melting ot”, but it is only true in one sense. What no one seems to realize is that this phrase only held true for the European immigrant experience, not those from Africa, not those from Asia, nor those from South America. Although people of European decent still hold the “majority” position, it clear and quite frightening to some, that the same people that were excluded 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”.

America an no longer “ignore the demographic trends in our society; we hire society into our workplace . . . we are society”. (7) The laws, as some believe, will not take care of it; the law can barely take care of itself. “We, the people of these United States . . . ” have to take care of it by ourselves. According to the constitution, “[w]e, the people of these United States . . . ” are the true leaders of this country. It is in the hand of these people to shape what the outcome of this issue, and others like it, will be for their children and their children’s children. We, the people f these United States . . . ” have to take the initiative.

“We, the people of these United States . . . ” have to get into action and do for ourselves what “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. “Understand that over the long term, the successful manager is going to have to deal with large numbers of minorities and women in business, and [it is] presume[d] most managers want to be successful, want their company to be successful.

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