The Impact of Diversity on Human Resources

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The Impact of Diversity on Human Resources
Entering the new millennium, businesses throughout America faced a new challenge. Analysts believed that this new challenge would have a powerful impact on our future as a productive society. However, few American businesses seemed adequately prepared to deal with the new challenge-the increasing cultural diversity of the American workforce (Online.Diversity). Today, the challenges and potential opportunities posed by employee diversity in the American workplace are a growing reality. Since 1970, the number of women in the labor force has doubled. In 1990, they constituted 46% of the workforce. In 1985, people of color made up 13% and by 1988 that percentage had risen to 18%. During the next decade, women and people of color are expected to fill 75% of the twenty plus million jobs created in the United States. By the year 2010, white men will account for less than 40% of the total American labor force. In addition, diversity in age, ethnic heritage, physical ability, religious belief, sexual orientation and work and educational background are also increasing in the workplace as American society continues to become more culturally segmented (Loden, Rosner 3). In Workforce America, Loden and Rosner describes the reaction of a new hire for upper management (who has been out of the workforce for a few years) at a consumer products company when he enters a boardroom for a planned meeting. The date is April 10, 2000. The meeting has been called by four senior officers and is to include several executives from the marketing department. The new hire enters the executive conference room and observes ten people seated at the long table, chatting informally, waiting for the meeting to begin. As he scans the room, he thinks “wait a minute…I’m a the wrong meeting.” Turning to leave, he notices a gentleman standing by the doorway, he assumes because of the gentleman’s demeanor and dress that he must be in charge. He approaches the well-dressed observer and asks him to direct him to the executive conference room, he replied that he was standing in it. The new hire told him that he was there to observe a high-level meeting of corporate officers and again asked if he knew where the event was taking place. The gentleman tells the new hire to “have a seat, the meeting will begin right here in a few minutes.” Astonished, the new hire asked “but who are all these other people?” The gentlemen points to the black woman seated at the head of table; “her name is Margot Jones, VP of Manufacturing. The man to her left wearing the tan suit and gold earring is Clark Baker, VP of Public Relations. The woman next to him is Katherine Proudfoot, our VP of Finance; she’s also a lecturer in American Indian history at the local university. Then there’s William Gardner, the African-American next to Margot; he’s the General Counsel. Carl Philips, wearing a tan suit also is the new VP of Marketing and today is his 30th birthday. Seated next to Carl is his boss, Eduardo Mendoza, VP of Sales. The differently abled man at the opposite end of the room is Bill Burton, our Human Resource VP. The gray haired man next to him is Ed Dynan, VP of Strategic Planning. Then there is Mary McKenzie, our President. Amy Wu our VP of R&D and me. I’m Rodney Bates, Ms McKenzie's executive secretary. Can I get you some coffee or juice before we begin?” The new hire speaks aloud to himself “ten senior people and only four white men! What kind of company is this anyway? Rodney replies, “Why, your typical American company of course.” (62) The scene Loden and Rosner described could very well be seen in today’s boardrooms of American businesses; however, just 10-15 years ago the reaction by a typical businessman would have been the same as the new hire in the scenario. Our society has been changing rapidly: Since the 1990’s the demographics within the American workplace has undergone dramatic shifts away from the European-American, male majority...
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