As a manager in any organization or institution you are faced with many task and responsibilities. Managers must be equipped with both technical and interpersonal skills in order to thrive in today’s business world. These skills include leadership, motivation, team work, conflict-resolution abilities and an understanding of diversity and diversity management.
Today’s work population is constantly changing; we encounter different people from all walks of life. As a result there is more interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds than ever before. Maximizing and capitalizing on workplace diversity has become an important issue in the field of management.
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The emergence of diversity management has been brought to the forefront of the business world due to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This act prohibits employers from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against an applicant or employee who asserts his or her rights under the law. When we think of the word “Diversity” we tend to think of race, color, religion, etc. However, diversity is a much broader subject that includes work experience, parental status, educational background, geographic location, and much more. Managing diversity means more than simply observing legal and policy requirements to prevent legal ramifications. It also involves managing, promoting and embracing change within your organization.
Organizations that recognize the need to foster a better workplace environment will take the necessary steps needed to develop systems and practices that manage the workplace more effectively with the intention of generating positive outcomes. These programs and procedures should already be enforced and set into place and therefore should not just be a result of a negative incident or outcome. Corporate America has witnessed several million dollar corporations being sued for various discrimination acts.
Two incidents that readily come to mind involve to huge corporations; Texaco and Coca-Cola. In the Texaco case, a corporate executive who was in attendance at a platform that discussed diversity was later caught joking about the “black jelly beans” working for their organization. Texaco suffered a $176 million dollar lawsuit in which $35 million was funded to diversity efforts. Several years after the implementation of their new diversity efforts Texaco reported that the company did well in their efforts but failed to clearly define whether diversity had actually increased. Another similar case is the Coca-Cola 2000 race-discrimination settlement in which black employees were clustered at the bottom of the pay scale, averaging $26,000 a year less than white workers. Coca-Cola Company agreed to pay more than $156 million to resolve a federal lawsuit brought by black employees. The settlement also required Coca-Cola to make sweeping changes within their organization costing an additional $36 million. In the end changes were made and implemented, but the fact remains that the lawsuit tarnished the image of one of the world's best-known brands.
The above two cases are mentioned not with the intent to shed negativity on these individual corporations but more so to gain an understanding of what took place, what was done to rectify the problem and more importantly what was learned and how future incidents can be prevented.
Previous conducted studies (Dobbin, Kalev, & Kelly, 2007) show that certain programs increase diversity in management jobs while others do little or nothing. Programs that work in...