Thinking about Diversity and Inclusion Jennifer Smith Garman Soc/315 January 31, 2011 Dana Batzka Abstract This paper addresses the many dimensions of cultural diversity. How these dimensions affect which cultural, ethnic, or other groups people identify with, and how these groups affect our social circles. The difference between diversity and inclusion is identified as well as the importance of diversity training within the workplace and how workplace culture is affected by diversity. Thinking about Diversity and Inclusion There are many dimensions of cultural diversity.
These dimensions affect which cultural, ethnic, or other groups we identify with as well as our social circles. Inclusion is a way of bringing these culturally diverse people together in a common way. With the use of diversity training, and implementation of workplace diversity policies, workplace culture is positively affected by diversity. Dimensions of Cultural Diversity Harvey and Allard define diversity “as the ways in which people differ that may affect their organizational experience in terms of performance, motivation, communication, and inclusion” (2009, pg. ). According to Schaefer, cultural diversity comes from a mix of different groups. Racial groups, religious groups, ethnic groups, gender groups, and cultural patterns. These groups then form subordinate and dominate groups in society (Schaefer, 2011). People tend to self group based on any of the aforementioned groups. For example, people tend to marry within the same racial, ethnic, or religious group. They self segregate in a neighborhood like Chinatown and Little Italy (Schaefer, 2011) because the cultural patterns in that area are similar to their own.
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As I see it, cultural diversity is the blending of these groups, not to create one homogeneous group, but to work together with different experiences and points of view, to create a better society. The Affect of Cultural Diversity on Social Circles When sitting on my front porch, I can observe how people tend to gravitate toward people like themselves. For example, people consider me as Caucasian because of how I look, but I am of Native American and Hispanic decent. I consider myself to be multiracial. I am Catholic, middle income, and I have an education higher than the high school level.
I served in the military for 11 years as well. My neighbors are also Caucasian, Christian, middle income families, who have received education higher than the high school level as well. Many of them are active duty or former military, or work as teachers, firefighters, or nurses. On our cul-de-sac, there is one African American family, and one family of Pacific Islanders, but these families are also middle income, active duty military families, who have received higher education as well. People tend to live and socialize with others similar to them in lifestyle and culture.
My friends are very similar to me. Many of my friends are military or former military people. Many are multiracial. Most are Catholic/Christian, but a few are Muslim and Jewish. I think the strongest tie that most of us share is either our military service, or our spouse’s service. The military is a culture in itself. Being in the military is like living in a small town or city. People become a “family” when they have no family around. They understand each other’s circumstances when those who live outside of the military lifestyle do not.
The Difference between Diversity and Inclusion Diversity and inclusion are two different things. According to Harvey and Allard, “being “inclusive” means that diverse employees feel that they are vital contributors to the organizational mission, not marginalized or tolerated” (2009, pg. 3). Everyone’s ideas, viewpoints, and skills are put to use to meet the goals of the organization. For example, a company may have a problem with absenteeism because of employees having sick children. An employee, who has previous experience with a company that provided sick hild daycare may suggest a cost- effective way for his current company to implement such a program. In turn, saving the company money, and helping employees to be more productive due to lower absenteeism. R. Roosevelt Thomas, Jr. states that “diversity refers to the collective (all-inclusive) mixture of differences and similarities along a given dimension” (Harvey & Allard, 2011, pg 12). Inclusion, or prejudice, is therefore an outcome of cultural diversity. Diversity is our different races, ethnicities, religions, genders, and cultural patterns; everything that make us all different, yet similar to each other.
Diversity can either cause inclusion to occur, or for prejudice to happen. For example, people tend to have preconceived notions about how men and women manage and make decisions in the workplace because of the stereotypes that have been associated with the genders (Harvey & Allard, 2011). For example, men are logical and women are emotional, therefore men should be in managerial position, not women. Cultural diversity seems to naturally occur, based on our different upbringings in different areas around the world. Diversity cannot be controlled.
Inclusion, on the other hand, is something businesses can control, based on proper workplace diversity training, reviewing of company policies, and learning about the employees within a company. Importance of Workplace Diversity Training Cultural diversity is growing in the workplace. Successful organizations need to recognize the need to invest its resources on managing diversity in the workplace. Cultural diversity has many benefits. Greenberg says that diversity gives the organization increased adaptability, a broader service range, a variety of viewpoints, and more effective execution (2011).
When a company has a more diverse group of employees, there will be greater ability to solve problems because of their different cultures and experiences. These companies will appeal to a larger customer base, and will be able to provide better services because of a greater understanding of cultures and languages. Diverse companies will be able to provide services on a “global level” (Greenberg, 2011). Diversity training is important because there are many challenges to implementing diversity policies.
According to Greenberg the challenges to diversity are communication, resistance to change, and implementation of diversity in the workplace (2011). Communication is important because people speak many languages and there may be language barriers that can affect how people understand each other. It is important to ask questions to avoid misinterpretation of anything that was said. A company must let their employees know that it is acceptable to ask questions and that their opinions matter. Resistance to change is common in all environments.
There seems to be one person who says “but we always do it this way. ” Sometimes it is good to think outside the box and do things differently. Making broad sweeping changes, though sometimes necessary can foster resistance to the changes. If possible, make changes a little over time, and include all employees in the process because their experiences are what make the company diverse. Implementing cultural diversity in the workplace can be difficult. An organization must create policies that have a strategy for using their employees’ diversity (Greenberg, 2011).
Constant review of the organization’s diversity policies is necessary to manage cultural diversity. Asking employees is one way to evaluate how diversity policies are functioning in the workplace. Using a customized employee satisfaction survey can do this for the organization (Greenberg). Diversity training is not enough to ensure a successful company. Diversity training should be used “as a tool to shape your diversity policies” (Greenberg). The Effects of Diversity in the Workplace Today most companies, including the military, are very diverse.
Employees are men and women of all shapes and sizes, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds in positions that were traditionally held by White men. Because of diversity, organizations are including more diverse groups in the management and function of their companies. In 2003, I worked for a surgery center that was one of six owned by a large corporation. The center I worked in was the first of the six to have a female registered nurse as the administrator instead of having a male businessman (e. g. accountant, MBA, etc. ) in the position.
Our administrator had to work twice as hard to prove herself to her supervisors and her counterparts. In 2011, three of the six administrators are female registered nurses instead of businessmen. Women, and registered nurses, are no longer just a part of the company for patient care purposes. Their understanding of how quality patient care is provided, as well as state and local health codes, make them good choices for administrative positions in the company. Is this change a result of the first female making her mark, or is this the result of cultural diversity in the workplace.
I think the later is true rather than the former. I served in the Navy from 1992 to 2003. Affirmative action was still in use in 1992. When I enlisted, I was told that I had a high score on my ASVAB, but that there was not a position available to me at that time. The recruited had said “too bad you’re not a minority. ” I just looked at him, and said that technically, I was a minority because my mother was Mexican. I showed him my birth certificate showing my mother’s maiden name of Cervantes.
He immediately submitted my package as a “high scoring Hispanic female. ” I had a position offered to me as a Hospital Corpsman starting training in nine months. Today the military is a group of different races, ethnicities, and cultures. People are in positions based on their scores and skills, not their minority status. However, during my time serving on board a Navy vessel, I observed that many people still self segregate themselves with people of the same race or culture. During working hours, everyone works together to form a cohesive team.
During meal hours I observed many African Americans sitting together at the same tables. The same went for the majority of Filipinos, Caucasians, and so on. Being on the ship is like living in a small city. In a city you can have a Chinatown and a Little Italy as well as other neighborhoods based on people’s ethnic and culture backgrounds. The military is very much the same way. People come together in their jobs, to bring the best of their diversity to the workplace, but in the end, return home to what is familiar and comfortable to them.
Is this a step backward in regard to cultural diversity, or is it just human nature to stay with what is comfortable to them. I believe that it is the latter rather than the former. Conclusion There are many dimensions of cultural diversity. These dimensions affect which cultural, ethnic, or other groups we identify with as well as our social circles. Inclusion is a way of bringing these culturally diverse people together in a common way. With the use of diversity training, and implementation of workplace diversity policies, workplace culture is positively affected by diversity.
Cultural diversity will continue to grow and be an important factor in business, and society, in the future. References Greenberg, J. (2011). Diversity in the workplace: benefits, challenges, and solutions. Retrieved January 30, 2011, from http://www. multiculturaladvantage. com/recruit/diversity/Diversity-in-the-Workplace-Benefits-Challenges-Solutions. asp. 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.