Thinking About Diversity and Inclusion

What are the dimensions of cultural diversity? Identify and briefly explain the dimensions by referencing both textbooks.

Some of the dimensions of cultural diversity are racial groups (a group socially set apart by obvious physical difference), ethnic groups (groups set apart by culture patterns or nationality), religious groups, and gender groups.  Age can also be a dimension.  Minority groups generally share the characteristics of experiencing unequal treatment, sharing similarities, involuntary membership, group solidarity, and marriage within the group.

The differences and similarities between the groups must be dealt with simultaneously.  It is important to focus on the whole, rather than approach the situation piecemeal.  The components can vary, as it is possibly to belong to multiple minority groups.  Building a connection is just one dimension of diversity.  The company structure, the amount of motivation, the development of skills and training, inclusion in strategy, all these things must be considered when creating a diverse workplace.  Measurement of progress can be done through certain touchstones.  What is the accepted degree of inequality between those with power and those without?  What is the strength of the ties among people in the workplace community?  How much are people expected to stick to their stereotypical roles?  How uncertain or anxious are members of one group when around members of another?

What is the difference between diversity and inclusion?

It’s possible to be ‘diverse’ without being included.  To be ‘diverse’, just hire a few token minorities for some crappy level positions where they weren’t valued or treated with any kind of respect.  As long as you had a statistic showing that X% of your company employees was some minority or another, you were set.  If a minority got sick of how they were treated and left, just hire another one and show off that percentage like it mattered.

If there is no room for advancement for the minorities, they will leave and go elsewhere.  There was no attempt to retain such employees by actually valuing them and promoting them.  While the company employed them, they weren’t actually included in the company culture.  At one company I worked for, there was a company meeting.  It was held at a strip club.  Not exactly a way to make your female employees feel valued and included.

What is the importance of workplace diversity training?

Diversity training can help with someone realizing that it might just be a bad idea to hold a company meeting at a strip club by helping them to understand that other people have feelings that should be valued.  Just by educating men that it is unacceptable to sexually harass female employees, the workplace became far more accessible to women.  It’s best to go further and ensure that people do not exercise their privilege.  When I was working at Disneyland, one of the things discussed is that when we encounter someone who has a visible disability, we shouldn’t automatically assume they require assistance and try to force that assistance on them.  A lot of people were surprised that someone coming up and taking their arm, as they thought they were just being helpful, might offend someone who is disabled.  Hearing it from the perspective of a disabled person who mentioned it was often degrading and could be outright painful to be grabbed like that helped them to understand and modify their behavior, thus making the park more welcoming to the disabled.

What is your experience with workplace culture? Could there be, or could there have been, more inclusion?

In most cases, the workplace could have been more inclusive.  I have worked in places where, on the surface, it might appear to be diverse, but if you actually looked at the company structure, the only way you were going to get promoted into the higher echelons of management is if you were a white male, preferably Christian.  Occasionally a minority would get promoted to a position of power, but in spite of there being very good candidates among the minority populace of the workplace, generally a poor candidate was chosen and allowed or even encouraged to fail.  This allowed the upper echelons to pat themselves on the back and say things like ‘well, we tried Affirmative Action, but it just didn’t work out, the minority couldn’t handle the tasks’.  I’ve been the token promotion and discovered I was completely hung out to dry, even so far as to be given outright misinformation and actively sabotaged.

I liked working for the construction company because we got respected for the work we did.  Everyone was given the same chance for the same rewards.  If you had something to say, you were heard out and your opinion was evaluated on its merits.  In my opinion, that’s all it takes to create a truly inclusive workplace.

References

Harvey, C. P., & Allard, M. J. (2009). Understanding and managing diversity (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Schaefer, R. T. (2011). Racial and ethnic groups (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

© 2011 – 2012, Within this mind. All rights reserved.

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About Kinda Strange

I am a student at the University of Phoenix majoring in information technology. This is where I come to babble incoherently…err…make notes, talk about things that catch my interest, share ideas, etc...
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