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A Framework for Pursuing Diversity in the Work Place

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Case Analysis A Framework for Pursuing Diversity in the Work Place By Dr. Thomas Delong and Mr.

Michael Brookshire Group Dynamics for Teams (HRDV 5560) Instructor: Dr. Innocent Nkwocha April 23, 2007 Team One Members: Alisha Carlton, Saundra Carr, Jeanna Dixon, Shereka Rhett, Sara Young Case Analysis A Framework for Pursuing Diversity in the Work Place Comprehend the Case Situation Mr. Thomas Delong and Mr. Michael Brookshire paper assesses the costs and benefits of pursuing diversity. They reviewed the primary barriers to creating diverse workplaces and propose options for companies’ interest in pursuing diversity in their organization.

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The fundamental reason for embracing diversity is the perspective on discrimination and diversity. Discrimination is an act or pattern of acts that affects the individual.

Diversity is an attribute of an organization’s culture that has an impact on the entire organization. First of all, discrimination is easier to assess because discrimination laws seek only to determine whether an individual has been treated inequitably because of his or her demographic category. Diversity is a broader concept having to do with the overall climate of an organization and its composition of mixed constituents.It is important to note that discrimination in hiring generally precludes diversity, however, lack of diversity does not necessarily indicate discrimination. Identify the Problem/Formally State the Problem The federal law on discrimination has had legislative amendments since 1870 to the U. S. Constitution.

Race was eliminated as a voting barrier (by the Fifteenth Amendment), gender in 1920 (Nineteenth Amendment), and class in 1964 with the prohibition of poll taxes (Twenty-Fourth Amendment). However the United States government did not officially outlaw discrimination in the workplace until the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.Since 1964, other laws were passed prohibiting overt discrimination. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed an executive order requiring federal contractors to use affirmative action for minority employees. Affirmative Action is defined as an active effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups and women. Later moves extended affirmative action to federal and state agencies.

The federal affirmative action law has had several battles in the legal arena since 1978 (Regents of the University of California v. Bakke).The most recent being the Supreme Court interpretation of the constitutionality of affirmative action in 2003 in cases on the University of Michigan undergraduate and law programs. With this ruling, the court interpreted affirmative action as a means to a positive end not only for minorities but also for the organization in question. The Supreme Court also asserts that a diverse population benefits all members of an organization in a way that a non-diverse population would not. This far reaching standard has significant implications for business leaders and for their organizations.The team agrees that conceptualizing the effects of diversity will involve a change process.

With the organization realizing change as ongoing and change in any part of a system eventually will affect all of its parts. There is a need for new approaches to influence policy toward diversity with organizational structure and communication. Policy will need to be reviewed for diversity in training programs, hiring and promotion patterns, and identifying and removing obstacles which may impede the attainment of diversity goals and objectives of the organization.The three main business rationales for having a diversity program will be reviewed and presented in this case study as first steps in pursuing diversity in the workplace: a. attraction and retention of employees, b. customer and supplier relationships, and c. workgroup performance.

The most prevalent issue identified and should be addressed first is attraction and retention of employees. One must keep in mind that for any diversity effort to succeed, a substantial diversity effort requires senior management support, a vested champion, and a long payback period. Generate AlternativesThe scope of this case study will be comprised of overriding themes that emerged from discussion with team members after reviewing Dr. Delong and Mr. Brookshire’s paper. The overriding themes that emerged from these discussions are attraction and retention of employees, customer and supplier relationships, and workgroup performance. Some obstacles that are associated with these overriding themes when pursuing diversity in companies’ efforts are gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, and ability, and an accumulation of disadvantages.

These obstacles have led to failure for some diversity programs.Their failures are attributed to explicit and implicit biases and barriers to change. Also, pursuing diversity can entail significant up-front implementation costs in time and effort. Commitment of senior management is needed to have a viable diversity program. Processes that produce outcomes for women and minorities are similar in some ways – and in other ways they are different. There are non-conscious hypotheses that entail expectations or stereotypes associated with members of a group that guide perceptions and behaviors that influence the judgments of group members as well as non-group members.Gender and race influences group members’ expectations about how they will be judged.

There are stereotypes about different social groups that vary along two dimensions: ocompetence (e. g. , skillful, competent, confident, capable, efficient, and intelligent) owarmth (e. g. , friendly, well-intentioned, trustworthy, ware, goddgood-natured, and sincere) Research has shown that these stereotypes in social groups are widely culturally shared. Both men and women hold stereotypes about gender, both whites and people of color hold them about race, and people are often not aware of them.These stereotypes are applied more under circumstances of ambiguity (including lack of information), stress from competing tasks, time pressure, and lack of critical mass.

Hidden bias can cause hidden barriers. The hidden barriers are the subtle, day-to-day, small, trivial, and/or isolated behaviors that have a cumulative effect which distorts the playing field, conferring advantage on some while disadvantaging others. These barriers can be erected by individuals, either intentionally or unintentionally.They can also result from skewed/unfair organizational practices and will undermine a system in which the talented are chosen and moved ahead on the basis of their achievement. Examples of hidden barriers: •Using assumptions or stereotypes to guide an organizationsorganization’s decisions and interactions. –We can’t put Cynthia on that project – what would happen if the client were to find out she’s a lesbian? •Hiring and firing based on comfort and familiarity rather than credentials and experience. –We’ve got to hire John; he’s perfect for the job.

He went to school with my sister; she said he’s great. Evaluate Alternatives and Select One By any reasonable definition of diversity, there are twotoo few women and minorities at major organizations to achieve and maintain diversity in their workforce. The situation differs across fields and departments and the impact of diversity obstacles is greater for race and gender. Overt gender and race discrimination is now very rare, but it is still an issue. There has been considerable progress within the last 20-30 years, but it has been painfully slow, especially for women and African Americans.The playing field is still not level. Therefore, It is important to consider carefully differences between gender and race/ethnicity, and their combined effects (e.

g. , for women of color). After extensive research for strategies to address pursuing diversity in the workplace several alternatives were discussed by the team. After a lengthy discussion, three alternatives were identified as critical for a successful diversity program: employee attraction and retention, ? , and ?. The first alternative formulated is employee attraction and retention.The team recommendations are to conduct a study of the experiences of individual people of color, and women within the workplace culture. There are growing numbers of women who have earned undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees.

More and more of these well-qualified women have sought to pursue their calling in corporations and academic settings. It has been documented that gender and race biases influence group members’ expectations about how they are judged. These stereotypes are often widely culturally shared by both men and women, both.Both whites and people of color hold them about race, and. Most people are often not aware of them. They are applied more under circumstances of ambiguity (including lack of information), stress from competing tasks, and time pressure. These stereotypes can affect evaluations (evaluation of resumes, evaluation of job credentials, evaluation of minimum standards vs.

ability, and letters of recommendation) concerning race and gender. It is important to note that gender and race problems result in biased evaluations for members of both groups.These biased evaluations have important consequences that accumulate over time. The National Academies (2006), Beyond Bias and Barriers, reported that, “Although scientists like to believe that they “choose the best” based on objective criteria, decisions are influenced by factors – including biases about race, sex, geographic location, and age – that have nothing to do with the quality of the person or work being evaluated. ” In essence, these problems affect the careers of women and under-represented minorities.Companies seek excellence and diversity by retaining over 60% of the population, gain valuable contribution of the whole population, support diverse teams that produce better solutions, provide diverse experiences, and to be fair and equitable. The companies realize that by excluding women and male minorities, they are excluding the majority of people from their pool of applicants and employees.

Diversity matters to companies because it opens up the environment for a wider range of people, skills, talents, and perspectives.More perspectives are taken into account in devising solutions to problems. When diversity is incorporated into the policies and procedures of an organization fewer things are taken for granted and more things are questioned. This strategy will address the under-representation of women and minorities with recruitment and retention. The company should begin this process with recruiting and retention strategies such as: •Recruit for diversity and excellence •Review search committee composition (Include people who are committed to diversity and excellence. •Job definition (Work with a single search committee for all positions, to allow opportunities for people with unusual backgrounds to emerge. ) •Advertisement (Consider advertising in venues that reach women and minorities (special subgroups of professional organizations, focused conferences and workshops, etc.

) •Active recruiting (Ask employees who nominate candidates to identify other very strong candidates in the field, including women and minorities.Consider women and minorities who may currently be under-placed: those thriving at less well-ranked institutions. ) •Interviewing tips (Bring in more than one female and/or minority candidate: this disproportionately increases the likelihood that a woman and/or minority will be hired. Provide information about family-leave policies to all candidates. ) •Promote awareness of the issues (Encourage inclusion of women and minorities in the companies social life (lunches, conferences, etc. ) and decision-making of the departments)

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