Affirmative Action and Diversity

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Diversity in the workplace is a subject that has gained increased attention in the workplace over the past few years. After all, the impact of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs on the nation's work force is undeniable. Women and minorities were the first to dramatically alter the face of the economic mainstream, while gays, persons with disabilities and senior citizens followed not far behind. The result is a diverse American labor force representing a microcosm of our society - yet one that continues to struggle with its identity. Diversity as a social condition is not new to America. We were founded as a nation of Diversity. "America has always been a merger of cultures and, as such, has undergone periods of discomfort as the world's melting pot" (HistoryChannel.com). Ostensibly, the modern American workplace is a simmering pool of diversity. Focused in its early years on racial equality, the movement widened its scope to include equality based on gender, age, sexual orientation and disabilities. And as members of these various groups struggled for recognition, they developed a new sense of pride in what made them distinctive. This sense of pride in diversity has led the nation to where it is today. It is important to identify various dimensions of workplace diversity. The first dimension involves primary levels of diversity. That is, people with disabilities, gender, race, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, creed, religion, and age are primary dimensions of diversity. These basic groups require the greatest degree of management dexterity and attention because they play an important part in workforce interrelationships and communication. These areas are also more prone to conflicts and negative reactions among employees. Managers must recognize that there is a need to train, inform, and sensitize their employees to deal with issues relating to this type of diversity. Consequently, managers must recognize the...
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