Diversity: The Ethical Choice
A Critique of Workplace Discrimination Prevention Manual
By David A. Robinson
November 18, 2014
America is recognized internationally for being a melting pot. It is only natural that the workplace would experience the same diversity (though it has taken quite some time to get there). While it is one thing to work in a diverse environment, it is an entirely different matter to manage one. There is a certain finesse required to successfully manage a diverse work environment, and the supplemental reading helps give a foundation of how to do that. The Workforce Discrimination Prevention Manual is a useful, but not wholly encompassing, tool to current and/or future managers because it does include a synopsis of different types of discrimination and tips on how to avoid them, however, it does have limitations on the information it provides.
Discrimination is based on a number of things: race, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and recently, genetic information. If a manager is not aware of discrimination laws and their implications, they could open themselves up to a number of lawsuits. A manger’s goal should always be to avoid discrimination in the first place, but even when managers are aware of the laws and exercise common sense, there is always a possibility of being sued. While not discussed in the book, it is necessary to note that diversity is not simply just an employment equity issue; it can also be an asset. With different thinking and problem-solving styles, a company is provided a competitive edge. However, this book’s purpose is how to, firstly, prevent discrimination, but it also discusses how to prevent lawsuits in future workplaces by informing you about the different types of discrimination and how to act appropriately. To understand the laws and how to avoid lawsuits, the reader must first understand the principles of the law. “Employment discrimination law is founded on the principle that each person has characteristics that 1) the person cannot change, 2) do not affect the person’s job performance, and 3) some employers dislike.” With a better understanding of the basics of employment discrimination law, it is time to go into further detail about the types.
The first type of discrimination that is discussed is race discrimination. Upon hearing the words “race discrimination”, most think of quotas and affirmative action, but race discrimination involves more than this. The days of just a black-and-white society is long gone. America is a mosaic of people, blended with different ethnicities and races, and the workplace should reflect this. In fact, it is actually the law. People are guaranteed to not be discriminated against based on race, this right is guaranteed by Title VII. Robinson informs us that we should be “colorblind”. He suggests thinking of skin color as sunscreen, it is a function of climate, not brainpower. With this mindset, as a future manager, this could greatly reduce the likelihood of getting sued for race discrimination. However, in some instances, we do not get to be color blind. The example the author gives us is that if two applicants are equally qualified and the workforce is overwhelmingly white, it may prove beneficial to not be colorblind. In the unfortunate event that a minority is fired due to poor performance, it could prove to be incredibly beneficial to have a paper trail documenting that poor performance. While it should be mandatory to document all workers’ behaviors, it comes in handy should any minority wish to sue because they think that they were the victims of discrimination. Many employees are not aware that most discrimination happens in the recruiting and selection phase of employment, not during, or the unfortunate instance of being fired. Whatever the case, the foremost question in any manager’s mind should be, “What does the law say?” In the...
Cited: Robinson, David A. Workplace Discrimination Prevention Manual. Lexington: Archway, 2013. Print.
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