The United States has the most diverse and multicultural population ever known to man. The symbolic metaphor “the melting pot,” strongly states that the major problem organizations face in American society is a diverse personnel with different economical status, beliefs, and cultural background; because of this, operating an organization in American society is a very complex task. For many years, researchers struggled with the concept of finding the perfect organizational structure to meet the need of the employee and the demands of society.
However, research has consistently shown because of historical American idealism that individuals choose to interact more often with members of their own cultural groups or identity rather it’s gender, physical, race, or religious base. This type of interaction makes managing a diverse work force a major challenge for managers in the 21st century. This paper will examine diversification from four important issues facing today and future American corporations: Gender, Disability, Ethnicity, and Religion.
The four issues are protected by Federal and State laws and enforce by Federal and State courts. Since Americans are comprised of individuals from various countries, and different ethnicities many organizations have begun to embrace diversification in the workplace. Diversification within American Organizations (GENDER) The study of organizations shows the significant differences and similarities of groups. American organizations have recognized that the composition a workforce or any organization, is beginning to reflect the composition of American society.
Diversity of gender is one that is characterized by rolls of a person or persons. Research has shown that men and women are equal in terms of learning ability, memory, reasoning ability, creativity, and intelligence (Gibson, 96). Some people regard issues of treatment of various employee groups, such as those based on gender, race, and sexual orientation as primarily an issue of moral fairness. Women should be given the same career opportunities as men; homosexual couples should be given the same health insurance benefits as heterosexual couples.
American society and culture has changed considerably on these issues over the last 150 years (when women were not allowed to vote and slavery was still practiced), and organizations are asked to not only follow but to lead the way. However, many managers would counter that organizations are not supposed to change American society. They are supposed to manufacture goods and provide services for money. Their responsibilities are to their stockholders, not women’s groups.
In our media-intensive culture it is not difficult to find differing opinions. The difficulty lies in deciding which opinions to agree with and which experts seems the most creditable. As society places more of an emphasis on equal opportunity and treatment, many disparities will disappear. A well-known Dutch researcher by the name of Geert Hofstede developed a study to determine how cultures are similar in different. In this research he developed four dimension tools. One of these tools was the Masculinity-Femininity tool.
Hofstede used the term masculinity to designate the degree to which a culture emphasizes assertiveness, dominance, and independence. He also used the term Femininity to describe how culture tends to favor such values as interdependence, compassion, and emotional openness (Gibson, 63). His theory is that work in cultures can be divided on the basis of a masculine-feminine dimension. Men had jobs that emphasizes power, authority, and responsibility and women were suppose carry roles such as teaching, caring for patients, and helping the les fortunate.
Others see the issues of diversity primarily in strategic terms. Organizations compete for human resources and as the workforce becomes more diverse, organizations will have to serve the diverse needs of this workforce or they will lose them to their competitors. Organizations that discriminate against women are forced to select workers from a smaller pool, reducing their ability to find top performers. At the same time, some managers would point out that increased diversity could cause management problems.
For example, having more women has meant more problems with sexual harassment. Increased diversity brings with it the need for more flexibility, which makes management more complicated (e. g. , scheduling, compensation plans. Gender diversity recognizes that in order to have a balanced and productive workforce, organizations should foster a nurturing work environment for both women and men. This is important because ignoring the presence and contribution of women in the workforce means that employers would be losing out on a valuable resources.
In order to maximize the contribution of the female workforce, employers need to recognize that women employees bring special strengths and, to a certain extent, have different requirements that need to be addressed to realize their full potential. Male managers who have their own stereotypes of working men and women dominate traditional organizational structures. Both of these constituents need to break out of these stereotypes as the changing role of each now defy these stereotypes. Both partners need to establish new working relationships based on a proper appreciation of each party’s contribution.
Through the year 2005, the Labor Department estimates that half of all labor force entrants will be women. In addition, a third of the labor force will be people of color, and the working population is aging along with the country. In order to hire and promote the best and brightest, in order to compete globally, companies must manage increasingly diverse employee populations. In the past, many employers made a commitment to fostering diversity, women made significant leeway into professions that had previously been off limits tot them. In 1972, women comprised 3 percent of architects.
By 1993, that number had climbed to 18. 6 percent (Braun, 206). In 1972, women were 10 percent of all physicians, but by 1993, that number had grown to 22 percent (Braun, 206. ) In 1972 women made only 4 percent of all lawyers, a number that grew to 23 percent by 1993 (Braun, 206). The workplace is not the only source of accusations of gender bias. Some researchers contend that the justice department routinely demonstrates bias against one gender or another (Braun, 204). A 1994 law passed by Congress to protect the civil rights of victims of gender-motivated violence.
Society’s point of view is not a stable diagnosis of how different genders are or should be. Changes in society will result in more similarity between men and women or the opposite. In terms of workplace behavior men and women are becoming more alike. Diversification within American Organizations (DISABILITY) The American workforce is changing in age, race, sexual orientation and physical and mental ability. Working and managing in these societal trends have an impact on the public and private organizations. For years, many organizations have made efforts to provide people with various disabilities the opportunity to work.
Most of the time, people with a disability were given a job because employers felt it was the right thing to do. In certain cases these employees were terminated as a result of acquiring a disability. However, as a result of a number of governmental regulations beginning with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, people with disabilities were identified as a group to receive special consideration in employment. The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 law used the term handicapped to define individuals with physical or mental impairment, but the preferred usage today is individuals with disabilities.
This law also required certain employees doing business with the government and other federal agencies to develop an affirmative action program and to make reasonable accommodations for the employment of such persons. In 1990, the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), which covers and estimated forty million disabled Americans was passed, however, it did not go into effect until January 1992. The law as adopted, applies to employers with fifteen or more employees and identifies protection for people who have disabilities.
The law requires that employers provide access to public spaces for people with disabilities. This includes making sure that individual with disabilities are ensured equal opportunity in the application process; enable a qualified individual with a disability to perform the essential functions of the job; and to enable an individual with a disability to enjoy equal benefits and privileges of employment. It is estimated that 17 percent of the United States population has a disability. Two-thirds of the people are between the ages of 16 and 64 were unemployed in 1990.
Studies show that 66 percent of those people indicated they would like to be employed. The EEOC, which is the enforcement agency for ADA, estimates that the annual productivity gains from passage of ADA could be $164 million not including reduced governmental support payments and increased tax revenues of approximately $222 million. The Americans with Disabilities Act is aimed at changing the perception and actions of people in the workplace. It encourages employees to recognize the abilities of co-workers rather than their disabilities.
Understanding and complying with this law means employers must take appropriate steps to change the organizational attitudes of their employees and provide training programs designed to familiarize them with the needs of people with disabilities. It is important that members of the organization understand that this is not preferential treatment and understands the organization’s intent to comply. In most instances, this does not create a problem because most unions or other bargaining units endorse this for their members.
To be considered or protected under ADA employment provisions, an individual must be qualified. This means a person with a disability must be able to perform the essential components of a job position with or without reasonable accommodations on the part of the employee. The law does exempt a number of categories from its definition of the protected class with a disability, such as people with an infectious disease whose job includes handling food; homosexuals; and people who currently use illegal drugs.
However, the definition of disability covers most major diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. In some circumstances, pregnancy can be considered a disability. Generally a normal pregnancy resulting in temporary disability is not covered under ADA. However, in certain limited cases, a pregnant employee who is experiencing substantial complications that limit a major life activity may be considered disabled under the law and entitle to reasonable accommodation. The term reasonable accommodation is a critical component of the ADA’ s assurance of nondiscrimination.
It means altering the usual way of doing a job or altering the job application process and/or work environment so that another wise qualified disabled person can perform the essential job duties, but without creating an undue hardship for the employer. Undue hardship is defined as an accommodation which creates significant difficulty or expense when taking into consideration, the nature and cost of the accommodation; the overall size and financial resources of an organization; the type of business, nature of work and the functions performed by the individual.
In some cases, if you are not able to accommodate an employee in their current position, you may need to consider whether you can do so by transferring them to a vacant position. Reasonable accommodations could also mean making buildings accessible by building ramps, altering restrooms or arranging furniture to allow people in wheelchairs access to job locations. It could include modifying work schedules and purchasing certain equipment to assist in performing essential job functions.
Many employers have made it mandatory that supervisors’, who have a significant responsibility in carrying out the organization’s goals and objectives, attend training programs that assist in making the necessary adjustment. In many cases employers have altered their employment process to comply with the provisions of the law. This includes reviewing their application forms to make sure that improper questions are not included. Employers who are covered by the ADA can no longer ask any questions about an applicant’s mental or physical disabilities until after a contingent job offer has been made.
However, employers may ask if applicants can perform the specific task required by the job. This is why many employers have revised their job description to define the essential functions of each job. While the intent of the ADA law is clearly defined, the issue of disability is just one of the un-funded federal mandates that some organizations are forced to comply with. Many organizations have not taken a close look at the impact of administrative and operational cost to comply with the ADA law. The cost to comply with these mandates can sometimes cost as much as wage increase proposed by some organizations.
In its current form, the ADA law provides people with a disability the opportunity to be productive and monitors the activities of certain employers. It is no doubt the individuals with disabilities can make excellent employees provided they are placed in jobs where their abilities can be adapted and utilized appropriately. However, to be effective, the departmental supervisor has to buy in to the organization’s attitude toward disability and make it happen. Diversification within American Organizations (ETHNICITY) Since World War II the United States highly volatile economy has experienced many changes within organizations.
Whether organizations grow or decline, automate or stay traditional, personnel continue to be the means of production and the lifeline of the business. As companies develop new services, they must also develop or obtain new personnel qualified to produce these services. In this era of strikes, unions, and disgruntle workers’ one must strongly question if the problem is within the organizational structure or within our society. This section will examine diversity within two traditional organizational structures: Structural and Political.
Diversity and Organizational Conflict Our increasingly diverse society is reflected in our growing workforce diversity. Leading organizations acknowledge that working successfully with others who don’t share the same background, beliefs, or traditions is a top priority in today’s workplace. Diversified integration within an organization is the idea that all members and their cultures are appreciated and utilized to achieve organizational success; no one way is assumed to be correct; many ideas and styles are encouraged.
However, the organization cultural system imply that managers will steer the organization in the right direction and not just playing lip service to diversity but allowing each organizational member to grow for the benefit of themselves and the organization (COX, 34). Recognizing international culture within an organizational system often leads to organizational conflict; organizational conflict is the result of interdependent relationships between and among individuals within an organizational system designed to achieve a common purpose that is oppose of the organizational goal.
The causes of conflict may vary but they normally reflect the differences between an individual culture and an organizational cultural system. Levine, in his book Ethnocentrism discusses that organizational conflict manifests itself in different ways; it can be between the governing body and management, management and employees or unions and management. These conflicts are serious but not detrimental to the organization.
When the conflict clashes with or involves one culture it becomes a very serious liability that causes, poor performance, destructive attitudes, animosity, and reduced productivity, which is very detrimental to the survival of any organization. Experts have addressed the cultural conflict that many members of the minority population face when attempting to interact within the corporate structure of America. This research examines International culture within three organizational frames: Structural, Political, and Human Resource. Structural Frame Organizations
The structural frame mainly derives its concepts from Max Weber’s, “Conception of Monocratic Bureaucracy’s. The frameworks of this theory are the following: 1. A fixed division of labor 2. A hierarchy of offices 3. A set of rules governing performance 4. Separation of personal property from official property and rights Organizations such as McDonald’s, Universities, and the Military use the Structural frame as its organizational framing principle. The problem that diversified cultures cause in a structural frame organization is that of an individual’s or a group’s worth to the organization.
The following statement shows a hierarchical separation within a structural system: In 1 1996 Texaco executives were caught on tape talking about the Jelly Bean experiment, which referred to African-Americans as the black jellybeans in its structure. They stated, “The black jelly bean stays at the bottom and no one likes the black jelly bean”(CNN, 1996). The non-bonding among upper-level and lower-level individuals is a major problem within organizations that ensue a structural frame. This type of top down system clashes more deeply with organizations that have a diverse workforce rather than those that are more homogeneous.
Since the structural system is divided into labor, specialty, and rank, it is often understood what groups get into the top positions or highly skilled divisions (O’Reilly, 27). The more homogeneity the upper-level contains, the more likely the organization will face cultural conflicts with a diverse workforce. However, the more heterogeneous with the upper-level positions becomes a motivating factor that gives the employees the belief that they can also achieve that upper-level position through hard work and increase performance.
Another major problem that individuals or groups face in structural frame organizations is assimilation. Some organizations like the military are resistant to change and require the individual or group to assimilate to its traditional structural culture. The culture member(s) that chooses not to attempt assimilation into the majority culture organization by maintaining a strong social identity will experience less success signified by slower rates of promotion than the member(s) that attempts to assimilate.
I recall in Goldstein and Leopold 1994-article corporate culture vs. hnic culture, they argue that, a minority culture member(s) will experience more inter-role conflict than a majority culture member(s) when assimilation is necessary in a traditional culture organization. This effect is due to the individual’s or group’s unwillingness to accept the culture of the majority or the majority’s unwillingness to accept the minority’s culture. Political Frame Organizations In the Political Frame, one must assume and understand the realm of political functions of an organization under this model. The main goal in a political organization is power.
The Political Frame asserts that in the face of enduring differences, conflict is inevitable and power is the key”(Deal, 161). Power is defined as the ability to influence behavior, change the course of events to overcome resistance, and the potential to get people to do things they would not otherwise do. Obtaining power and influence is the ultimate goal of a political base organization. The means of achieving that goal by influence, manipulation, and coercion is the basic motivating factors within a political organization.
The political frame assumes that, agreement and harmony is much easier to achieve when everyone shares similar values, beliefs, and culture. This statement is more likely to work in homogeneous cultures like China, Korea, and Japan, but not in a multicultural country like America. “The assumption of enduring differences implies that political activity will be more visible and dominant under conditions of diversity than under conditions of homogeneity (Deal, 164). ”
During the 1992 presidential campaign, Gov. Clinton promised voters that he would change the face of government to reflect “The True face of America. ” After winning the election, President Clinton selected the most diverse cabinet ever selected by any President. This example shows the political maneuvering by Clinton to use his power to change the course of events and implies the statement of Deal that political activity will be more visible under conditions of changing from homogeneity to diversity. Although this shows how the political frame can work with diverse cultures, more often the political frame conflicts with multiculturalism.
The political frame and multiculturalism conflict in ways of cultural morals and multiple realities which produce confusion and conflict when individuals of groups view the same event through different lenses for example: A high executive position just open up in the organization and the president wants the employees to make a suggestion on who should fill the opening. Instead of the employees selecting the best-qualified person to fill the job, they begin to separate themselves into groups.
The Japanese employees want a Japanese executive in the position to support their views and give them more sense of power and influence in the organization. The Chinese want a Chinese for their point of view, Germens want a German for their point of view, and so on. Instead of the employees being concerned with the organization’s best interest, the fight for power among the groups brings conflict, confusion, and separatism within the workforce, which is detrimental to the organization.
Diverse cultural moral is another problem faced by political framed organizations. This is a problem because the political frame requires certain means to achieve an end. The political frame suggests that coercion; manipulation, force, and seduction are the motivating factors in achieving a goal. When a group or department within the organization begins to brainstorm on ideas of how to obtain their goal the methods suggested could lead to conflict with some other group’s beliefs and values; this could cause more division inside the organization.
Or social, ethic, educational and cultural backgrounds shape our individual values, beliefs, and attitudes about society and are part of what creates our individual uniqueness. This paper discusses how diversity affects two traditional organizational frames: Structural and Political. Cultural conflict often arises when one’s social culture expresses an identity, which clashes with the written or unwritten rules of an organizational culture or the organization, fails to recognize the culture identity of that individual or group of employees.
Then one must say, the tension between the work culture and social culture increase the demand made upon member(s) of an organization; this in turn affects the overall performance of the organization. Therefore, the manager is forced to create strategies to find a balance between the values and goals of its members and the organization. Diversity will challenge organizational leaders to make the necessary changes to develop a multicultural organization in today’s diverse society that fits society demands and the organizational needs.
Diversification within American Organizations (RELIGION) The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees each individual the right to religious freedom. As managers embrace the concept of diversification, and hire individuals from varying ethnic backgrounds they are also faced with the challenge of ensuring every employee the right to that freedom. During this decade nearly all of the growth in the workforce in this decade will come from people who are not white (Morrrison, 1998 p. 18). What exactly is religious freedom?
Religious right or freedom of conscience is an idea, which never ceases to be important. “In biblical terms, it is understood, as the priesthood of the believer or in a more general sense, the competence of the individual before God. If the state, infringes upon ones freedom to worship God in a free sense, for example then religious (Jersild, 1995 pp. 112-115) is compromised. Religious liberty is considered to be a God-given right to worship. ” The author Jersild (1988), writes that Americans have exalted individual autonomy and freedom to the point of a crisis in values.
The individual has become the source and judge of what is good and evil, resulting in the loss of a common morality to which society is accountable. Even the deepest ethical virtues are justified as matters of personal preference. Indeed, the ultimate ethical rule is simply that individuals should be able to pursue whatever they find rewarding, constrained only by the requirement that they not interfere with the value systems of others. It is difficult to find two concepts more appealing to the American mind than individualism and freedom.
Together they seem to capture the essence of our character (Jersild, 1988 pp. -17) as a people, yet if they are understood in certain ways they become concepts that can also threaten our common life. ” Freedom has come to mean little more than being left alone; it is our claim to our own bit of space in which we can exercise personal moral autonomy. ” Managers and leaders in today’s global and dynamic organization must get to know and understand the religious rights and customs of each individual in the workplace. Today’s leaders have to recognize that ethnicity and diversity encompass more than racial and age discrimination.
Many organizations take steps to hire minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities but they have difficulties enforcing, protecting, and guaranteeing religious freedom. Everyone made major adjustments after witnessing the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. Did the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 change corporate America’s view on religious worship? Immediately following the September 11 attack, Many American corporations sent departmental correspondences to all employees requesting that they take a moment out of their daily schedule to pray for the individuals that lost their lives on that day.
Some managers allowed employees to gather collectively in groups to pray. In addition, managers distributed buttons to employees with a picture of the American flag and the Words God bless America inscribed on it.. Some employees within the organization perceived the distribution of pins to be an infringement on their personal freedom and refused to accept them. The author Capps (1990) states, ” According to social observers, the new workers are demanding of its employers. This group of new employees, which is increasingly dominated by people of color and white women, is more resistant to “fitting in” at work.
Increasingly, these employees want their individual and group needs recognized, and they ( p 119) are less interested in conforming to an organization’s already established norms. ” Other American organizations openly hung or displayed flags in front of their buildings. On the other hand, businesses that decided to remain neutral were perceived to be unpatriotic. Would you as managers and leaders consider your employees to be unpatriotic if they refused to display the American flag in the workplace if future attacks occurred on our soil?
Capps (1990) further states, “that values are dependent upon ones personal preference, and since each ( p. 120) person is unique, it is inappropriate for anyone to make moral judgment of another” Did the organization violate the rights of its workers by asking them to pray on September 11th? Were those organizations being insensitive to its employees? The author Tillman (1986) states, “there is some high-powered logic in the idea that if a certain act were done by everyone that caused great harm to come, then it would be better if no one did the act.
In the reverse, the author suggested that we think of the great good that would come if everyone performed a particular moral act in a positive way. He said the morality of an act depended on its motive ( p. 56). Therefore, management determined that they could find universal acceptance of prayer by appealing to our moral senses and it worked. Did they consider the fact that individuals in the workplace have different religious beliefs? During the last several decades our society has become more diverse and no longer share in a common religious and moral tradition (Jersild, 1990 p 37).
According to social observers, the new workers are more demanding of its employers. This group of new employees, which is increasingly dominated by people of color and white women, is more resistant to “fitting in” at work. Increasingly, these employees want their individual and group needs recognized, and they are less interested in conforming to an organization’s already established norms (Jersild,1990 p. 37). Organizational managers and leaders may have assumed that the individuals within their organization shared their beliefs and look more like themselves.
Let us consider these staggering statistics, “only 15% of the workforce population will be native white men, while the rest will be native white women (42%) native non-white women (13%) and men 7%, and immigrant men (13%) and women (9%),” (Morrison, 1988, p. 70) These statistics clearly shows how diversified the workforce has become. On February 25th, 2002 one line supervisor decided to have a unit luncheon in honor of Black History month. The supervisor asked all of the employees to join hands as she blessed the food with prayer.
Immediately after the luncheon was over, a complaint was filed with the Office of the Inspector General by one of the workers that were present at the luncheon. The worker that complained stated that she took offense to words that was uttered in the prayer. In that particular instance no disciplinary action was taken against the employee, because she used the executive director’s call for prayer on September 11th as justification for her actions. Shortly thereafter, everyone received a departmental email that forbade prayer. The employees perceived the leaders to be hypocritical for banning a practice they earlier embraced.
How do you protect the rights of one without offending another? Managers hire individuals from diversified backgrounds because they realize that they bring a wealth of knowledge and skills that will benefit the company. It is the responsibility of the organizational leaders to remove obstacles, and create a work environment that is conducive to the employee’s overall growth. Furthermore, studies have shown that employees who felt valued and supported by their organization were more innovative and productive (Clutterbuck, 1981, p. 86). Many people refuse to work for organizations that don’t express certain values to which they are committed.
For instance, young workers are rejecting employment with certain companies because of differences in values and may evaluate a potential employer on such things as it s stance on the way it treat its employees (Morrison, 1988. P. 27). How should managers and leaders handle diversification in the workplace? Morrison (1988) suggest, ” that organizations should establish accountability for Diversity. It is very difficult and complex to allocate the accountability of diversification, however, Responsibility must be distributed throughout the organization if diversity goals are to be achieved (p. 5).
Who should bear the burden of setting and meeting these goals? All enforcement techniques require top management’s direction and support. As more executives identify diversity goals as business objectives, Accountability for diversity spreads more widely throughout the ranks. We suggest that you build diversity into the ongoing responsibilities of all managers. Diversity should be discussed as part of the manager’s normal work routines, just as other business objectives (sales and customer service) are handled. Some organizations establ