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Q: Diversity in the workplace ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Diversity in the workplace
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: viking-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 04 Aug 2002 09:43 PDT
Expires: 03 Sep 2002 09:43 PDT
Question ID: 50472
Has diversity in the workplace been good or bad for businesses
economically and socially, or has hiring the best qualified person no
matter what color, race,   gender, or age proven better for businesses
economically and socially?
Subject: Re: Diversity in the workplace
Answered By: j_philipp-ga on 04 Aug 2002 11:18 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Viking,

Following is a collection of resources analyzing the economical and
social aspects of diversity in the workplace. Practically all
resources agree that -- besides partly being legal responsibility --
creating a diverse team is critical to an organization's success.

American Corporate Counsel Association - Diversity in the Workplace
"By establishing programs to promote diversity, employers may increase
profitability and enable themselves to improve morale; retain talent;
reduce turnover; increase job performance and productivity; improve
business relationships with customers, competitors, and partners who
are also increasingly diverse; and instill a sense of loyalty in
employees. (...)

[Diversity in the Workplace] makes good business sense, aids in the
defense of lawsuits, and benefits society as a whole. The Glass
Ceiling Commission's 1995 fact-finding report cites several studies
indicating that implementing diversity initiatives directly
contributes to the bottom line.[1] For example, a 1993 study rating
the performance of Standard & Poor's 500 found that the stock market
performance of companies practicing diversification in the workplace,
in conjunction with the implementation of policies effectuating those
goals, was 2.4 times higher than those firms that did not.[2] Those
same businesses had an average annualized return on investment of 18.3
percent over a five-year period, compared with only 7.9 percent for
those companies without a commitment to the promotion of women and
minorities.[3] In addition, another recent report found that employers
that received awards from the Department of Labor for their success in
implementing voluntary affirmative action policies were rewarded with
a boost in their share price within 10 days of the announcement.[4]"

(The footnotes can be found in the original document.) - Corporate Diversity for African, Hispanic
(Latino), and Asian Americans
"Most people would agree that having a diverse workforce utilizes our
country's skills to its fullest, and contributes to our overall growth
and prosperity. (...) Statistics have shown that companies that have
workplace diversity generally out-perform those that don't."

Gender and Diversity in the Workplace [PDF]
"The business press frequently states that organizations need to
address these issues in some manner if they are to compete effectively
in a global economy, and many organizations have initiated corporate
diversity, plans, programs, and departments. Also, a growing body of
research has suggested an effect of attention paid to diversity on
corporate performance."

Test of Courage - Diversity in the Workplace
"Few people would openly argue the benefits of diversity in the
workplace; new faces and new ideas offer greater opportunity for
creative solutions on the job." - Mitsubishi's Illinois Plant Becomes Test Lab for
Managing Diversity (By Frank Swoboda)
"From the start of her Mitsubishi assignment, [Lynn] Martin has tried
to impress on executives in Tokyo that failure to reform their
workplace practices would not only be wrong -- but bad for business.
She urged the company to weigh costs and benefits. Because the amount
of damages women can collect for harassment is limited by law, the
company faces at most about $120 million in damages in agreeing to
settle. She argues that if the company fails to address its workplace
critics, it puts at risk the far larger sum of $2 billion, which is
its investment in the U.S. car operation."

Diversity in the Workforce (by Lisa Stewart)
"[The goal of many American companies] is to capitalize on the
richness of human potential that lies untapped in their workforce.
In the optimist camp, folks argue that corporations are in business to
generate returns to their shareholders and appealing to a diverse
market simply makes economic sense. What better way to reach a diverse
consumer base than to have people on staff that represent that
diversity an understand how to tap into new markets?"


Are there some negative aspects, or problems, connected to diversity
in the workplace?

Gender Diversity in the Workplace
"At the same time, some managers would point out that increased
diversity can cause management problems. For example, having more
women has meant more problems with sexual harassment (even if it's the
men's fault). Increased diversity brings with it the need for more
flexibility, which makes management more complicated (e.g.,
scheduling, compensation plans, interpersonal communication)."

NIFSource - Embracing Diversity in the Workplace [PDF]
"Organizations can benefit from the differences that exist among
employees by tapping into and utilizing each individual's unique
talents. Dealing with diversity will often be a positive experience
with everyone coming away with the feeling that they are treated with
respect. However, when communication breaks down the result is
decreased morale and bad feelings among co-workers."

Above resource emphasizes that certain management courses might need
to be implemented in order to avoid such problems of communication.
(And during my research, I came along dozens of such courses that were
promoted online.)


What do some companies say themselves?

Abbott Laboratories - Diversity in the Workplace
"Having employees with different backgrounds and experiences helps us
understand the diverse needs of our stakeholders, and fosters new
ideas, creativity and innovation. Simply put, the company recognizes
that its business performance is strongly linked to its ability to
successfully attract, retain and develop a diverse employee

For the complete article, please see:
Stairway to Success - Building a Diverse Leadership Pipeline at Abbott
Laboratories [PDF]

Ace - Diversity in the Workplace
"Embracing diversity allows Ace to better serve its customers and
maximize its overall value and enhances our corporate culture to
further promote mutual respect, acceptance, cooperation, and

Sun - Corporate Diversity
"Corporate Diversity envisions an empowered workforce where the unique
skills and talents of all employees are appreciated and maximized to
increase Sun's success in the global marketplace."

PECO Energy - Diversity
"Our success depends upon a diverse and creative work environment
blending cultural and ethnic diversity through teamwork." - Leveraging a Diverse Workforce

Quote Peter Bye, corporate diversity director for AT&T:
"If we really have an environment which brings out different
perspectives, and use those in a productive way, then business
products and services can improve"

And Patsy Randell, Honeywell vice-president, corporate diversity and
multicultural business affairs:
"Multiculturism recognizes that diversity is broad, it touches talent,
customers, suppliers, relationships in general, and the work
environment and company culture. These components tie this directly to
business strategy and practices."

Alfred C. Koeppe, PSE&G:
"The strength of our company -- part of its competitive edge - lies in
having a workforce representative of the customers we serve. A major
challenge for PSE&G as we move forward is to increase the number of
women and minorities throughout our organization so that we better
reflect our customer base, and can take advantage of the talents and
perspectives of employees from a variety of backgrounds."

And Steven R. Teitelman, PSE&G:
"As our markets become increasingly complex, diversity establishes the
platform that is essential to unraveling that complexity. It creates
the essential base of ideas that can only be nurtured by a diverse
group of employees who appreciate and enhance the views and beliefs of
their peers. An unwavering drive to embrace diversity and embed it
deeply in our culture is paramount to our continued success."


I hope that helps!


Definition of Diversity
"Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own
and those of groups to which we belong; but that are manifested in
other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include but are
not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities,
race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location,
income, marital status, military experience, parental status,
religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification."

Test for Courage - Diversity Timeline 1619 to 1996 - Top 50 Diversity Leaders


Global Diversity at Work: Winning the War for Talent (by Trevor
Wilson, Julie Carswell=

Diversity in the Workplace - Human Resources Initiatives (by Susan E.
Jackson and Associates)

Search terms used:
    "diversity in the workplace"
    "corporate diversity"
    diversity economics
    diversity statistic
    diversity "social implications" company

Request for Answer Clarification by viking-ga on 05 Aug 2002 16:23 PDT
Not enough information on the negative side of diversity in the
workplace.  Are there companies that feel that diversity is not in
their best interests, and if so, how do their businesses survive in a
non-diverse atmosphere?  Are there companies that are blatantly
against diversity, if so, who are they? Please clarify.

Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 06 Aug 2002 07:32 PDT
Hello Viking,

Let me focus on the negative side of diversity in the workplace, as
discussed by journalists or management:

Gender Diversity in the Workplace 
"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. It might be morally desirable
for corporations to give all their profits to the poor, but it would
not be responsible action."

Can Diversity Programs Create Behavior Changes? (by Sharon Ulmar)
The interpretation of opponents of affirmative action "was that
unqualified women and racial/ethnic applicants are hired or promoted.
(...) [However only] those individuals that meet the minimum
qualifications of a position are hired or promoted in the areas where
there is an affirmative action goal. Some problems with affirmative
action were that it did not include any emphasis on retention,
development programs, promotions or any other terms and conditions of
employment. Once minorities or females were identified or hired in the
workforce, organizations did not have anything in place to develop
their skills farther or to retain their employment."

According to the article, over the years "affirmative action continued
to receive negative attention. White males began to feel the pressure
of affirmative action and felt they were being challenged. Some
believed they were passed over for promotions. (...) Whites who may
have had a higher entrance score than minorities were often overlooked
and denied entrance to college."

And some people think that "diversity means that the majorities in the
organization must give up their standards for hiring, promoting, or
getting along, in order to work together and learn the values of each

Some believe diversity equals affirmative action and is "a means of
repackaging the same old thing, but in a different box". Lawrence
Drake, vice-president of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is quoted to have
said that "affirmative action and EEO programs have been poorly
implemented. Unfortunately, over time, the application of affirmative
action has been misused".

Please also see the statements of this article on "Negative Aspects of
Diversity Programs" in about the middle of the page:
"Although diversity training is designed to foster harmony and
understanding among employees, it may indeed have the opposite effect
of polarizing the workplace, stressing differences rather than unity,
and exacerbating problems that already exist between employees."

Brookings Review - Beyond Sushiology: Does Diversity Work? (by Peter
Here, political scientist Gary Freeman is quoted: "Weak labor
movements are generally found in those countries that are ethnically
heterogeneous. The most notable example is, of course, the United
States, where racial divisions have historically vitiated the efforts
of the labor movement to push for social reform. By making racially
diverse societies out of previously homogeneous ones, migration has
complicated social and political cleavages."

Peter Skerry writes that a "consistent finding of research is that
racial and ethnic diversity can generate more creative and innovative
ideas -- but that it is also linked with conflict, especially
emotional conflict among co-workers. In a nutshell, diversity appears
to produce both positive outcomes and obstacles to implementing those

Workforce Diversity Journal Article
"There is also a downside to workforce diversity. Many people feel
threatened by working with people of a different age, sex, or culture.
In response to the statistical data provided by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics and the Census Bureau, many companies have set up task
forces to address the changing composition of the workforce.  Although
the intent to study and appreciate the differences among various
groups is honorable, the reality of such differences are present every
day on the job, sometimes causing terrible conflicts between employees
in even the most well intentioned companies."

And a second problem: "Mismanaged diversity can have long-reaching
effects on employee satisfaction and productivity. (...)
Unfortunately, minority-group members often feel less valued than do
majority-group members due to stereotyping, ethnocentrism, and
prejudice. Mismanagement of diversity -- for example, in the form of
denied access or unfavorable treatment -- can have negative workplace
consequences, such as inhibiting workers' abilities and motivation,
thereby leading to diminished job performance. Thus, when an
organization ignores the existence and importance of workforce
diversity, conflict can emerge and neither the corporation nor its
employees will realize their potential."

And here are some institutions and branches that do not seem to show
much diversity:

GenderGap in Federal, State and Local Government

This page states that women are 52% of the adult population, 28.5% of
the Cabinet, 13% of the US Senate, 13.8% of the US House, 22% of the
US Supreme Court, 20.6% of Federal Judges, 10% of state Governors,
19.9% of state Senators, 23.3% of state Representatives, 9% of state
Judges, 20.8% of big city mayors.
And in the history of the United States, there has never been a female
President or Vice President. (Nor has there been a black President.)

Sports Taking Aim at Diversity
"The lack of minorities in professional ice hockey can be largely
attributed to the expensive start-up costs of the sport and the
location of ice arenas, making it beyond the reach of many
lower-income families.  Circular reasoning explains the lack of
minority hockey role models for minority youth to aspire to."

The article also lists other sports such as golf and tennis to be
currently lacking ethnic and gender diversity, but aspiring to grow
numbers of those.

Says Gary Sailes, Ph.D, chair of the USPTA Multicultural Committee:
"The majority of minority pros work in a public facility because
private clubs won’t hire them. Private clubs need to change the way
they do business and start hiring more minorities. The worries of
private club managers that keep them from hiring minorities are
founded in unsubstantiated stereotypes." - To NBA's European Stars, 'Big White Stiff'
Doesn't Translate
Michael Wilbon says in his article that while European kids "don't
regularly face parents and friends who say they won't ever feel
comfortable in basketball's culture of hip-hop music, uniquely urban
fashion and language", many athletic white kids in the USA "were
talked out of playing basketball, more often by whites than blacks. If
ever there was ample evidence that environment can trump genetics,
this is it. The notion that "White Men Can't Jump' ought to be changed
to 'White American Kids Don't Jump Because They've Been Convinced They
Shouldn't Try.""

Hope that helps!

Search terms:
    "diversity criticism"
    "downside of diversity"
    nba diversity
    "segregation at work"

Clarification of Answer by j_philipp-ga on 06 Aug 2002 07:36 PDT
Let me add the reference to the last article quoted: - To NBA's European Stars, 'Big White Stiff' Doesn't Translate
viking-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

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