Diversity Ethics

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DIVERSITY AS AN ETHICAL ISSUE

IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE
REQUIREMENTS FOR THE COURSE
BUSINESS ETHICS

BY
MB

7 DECEMBER 2012

No matter the topic, ethics seem to be central to the conversation in most major societal issues these days. The irony of it is that in modern society the moral foundations, upon which we construct our typical models of ethical standards, seem to constantly vary if not evaporate altogether. The ever shifting nature of moral and social tolerances have presented a challenge to the implementation of a ethical standard that is not traditionally subject to the same variation (at least in the corporate world). Of these challenges, the inherent complexity of multicultural dynamics has introduced an intricate set of nuances within the realm of ethical interpretation.

Traditionally ‘ethics’ is defined as “the art of thinking through which ought applies to a given is.” The question is how to determine the ‘ought’ when the ‘is’ is subject to it’s own analysis and interpretation in the context of cultural and social diversity. Rarely a society made up of subcultures and subgroups maintains a singular consensus for the empirical applications of a normative ethical standard. Even with regards to deontological rights of humanity, there is dissent among the various assemblages, as to how each value is prioritized and even protected. The natural law, which may be the most basic level of ethical and moral normative behavior, is subject to perspectives that are skewed by variations in religion, race, language, gender, or other orientation. Cultures that do uphold a hierarchy of societal values often have a dissenting prioritization, if not an altogether opposing values, compared to those of other cultures. For example, many cultures value settings and contexts over content and delivery. Other societies appreciate people and relationships over punctuality and productivity. The distinctive value systems propose the most profound complication when they are amalgamated with the value of multicultural diversification of personnel within the corporate setting. Diversity in the workplace is the convergence of societal transformation and corporate management value-acclimatization. So the question becomes how to evaluate the application of a singular standard of ethical norms within an environment that in of itself is promoting the pluralism of multicultural diversification. Is it an ethical question to impose a singular normative value system upon a group made up of subgroups while simultaneously championing the value of celebrating the individual value systems of those subgroups? The banner of diversity must first be analyzed before it can be waved as an ethical cause. The paradox is that it can only be evaluated by a multi-faceted standard of ethics that is a result of a multicultural society. As one expert stated, “the possibility that the classical ought of social ethics might be oughts is to raise the question entailed by the numerical ambiguity of the word itself: is the term ethics actually plural, thus necessarily meant to convey oughts appertaining to a plural is (or are) in worlds where the directions of change may be incommensurable (as opposed to simply different)?” Having established this as a foundational context, we are better equipped to address the question of whether diversity is an ethical issue. In order to commence, the term ‘diversity’ itself and its various interpretations must first be analyzed. Since diversity is both a concept and an initiative, we can begin by establishing a common understanding of diversity as a concept, and then analyze the initiatives that derive from this definition. As a concept diversity encompasses a vast amount of societal segmentations including gender, biological, environmental, cultural, economical, educational, and ethnical heritages. These variations are what differentiate one person from another and define personal identities. Within the dynamics...
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