Managing diversity is both a challenge and an opportunity for management. It is a challenge because it requires organizational change; it means fostering a cultural environment that values differences and maximizes the potential of all employees. It is an opportunity because organizations that proactively address diversity have a competitive advantage. They are able to attract, motivate and retain high potential employees. And they have greater customer satisfaction and loyalty. These advantages translate into higher productivity and bottom-line profitability (Anonymous, 1997, p. 9).
We must begin by recognizing the unique cultures of different racial, gender, ethnicities, abilities, differing lifestyles, etc., provide the basis for new perspectives on understanding organizational behavior. This perspective starts with the assumption that each cultural group organizes and defines experience within it’s own set of cultural systems. Research has suggested that men, women, and the various minorities do not share a common culture of organizational life. The implication is that each group identifies, defines, and organizes it’s experience in the organization in unique ways (Fine, Johnson, & Ryan, 1990, p.306, 317).
A number of factors account for these differing experiences. First, the context of organizational life is different for each group. For instance, women hold lower level positions at lower salaries than men, therefore, they tend to see the organization from the bottom. Minority employees are fewer in number, so, they view the organization in an isolation perspective. Second, each group appears most comfortable communicating within their own group. Since access to communication networks determines the particular information we receive, different groups receive different information through with to interpret the world. Third, the cultures of gender and race give