The population of the labor force in the United States has altered significantly over the last five centuries. More than 60 percent of employees were white males during the 1950s. At present, the labor force in the country shows a considerable mixture of race, genders, age, religion and other cultural backgrounds (Lindenberger & Stoltz-Loike). Diversity in the workplace involves not only the perception of employees to themselves but also the perception of employees to their co-employees.
In order for any business to achieve a long-term success, there is a need for a diverse group of individuals who can contribute new ideas, views and perspectives to their work (Lindenberger & Stoltz-Loike). The challenge for managers to deal with diversity is how they can utilize the mixture of cultural backgrounds, genders, lifestyles, and ages in order to address the business opportunities more quickly and creatively (Lindenberger & Stoltz-Loike). There are various examples or case studies illustrating diversity issues in the workplace.
According to Strauss and Jones (2000), more than 200 Fortune 500 companies, such as AT&T, Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola, have replaced CEOs more than once since 1998 but only Avon Products and Hewlett-Packard have appointed women CEOs. The authors add that women who were trying to get a CEO position during the 1990s were affected by the given perception that male executives were better than female executives and the poor track records among key women CEOs.
One example of bad track record of women CEOs is Carly Fiorina who rose to become the most powerful businesswoman in the world when she was appointed CEO of Hewlett-Packard in July 1999 (Strauss & Jones, 2000). However, Fiorina’s market value had declined together with Hewlett-Packard’s market value since April 2000 alone (Strauss & Jones, 2000). One specific damaging reputation received by Fiorina is when the company’s quarterly earnings declined in 2000 just a few weeks after giving Wall Street the assurance that the company would meet earnings forecast.
Jill Barad was also terminated as toymaker Mattel’s CEO in February 2000 after a series of earnings disappointments and decline in Mattel’s market value by more than 75% (Strauss & Jones, 2000). Apparel manufacturer Warnaco suffered a decline in market shares by 90 percent from 52-week highs in 2000 under the leadership of Linda Wachner (Strauss & Jones, 2000). Strauss and Jones (2000) explain that women CEOs were unfairly chosen at a time when the entire industries were hiring CEOs regardless of their genders.
The authors also indicate that this is the reason why Lucent and Xerox replaced CEOs and why Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and AT&T have appointed three white, male CEOs in short order. Moreover, Strauss and Jones (2000) mention a Catalyst study showing that women continued to lose their chance to white men despite significant gains in the mid-1990s, with only 12. 5 percent of the senior executives at Fortune 500 companies who were women in 1999 and only 11.
7 percent of Fortune 500 corporate directors who were women. Another example of diversity issues in the workplace is an article by Kiely (2002) who mentions that there was no single black or Hispanic governor in 2002 and the Senate’s 100 members were composed only of 12. 5% Hispanic and 12. 3% black. Kiely (2002) adds that five women governors and 13 women senators were both record-high numbers in 2002 in the country.
However, the statewide positions that historically have been a means for advancement to the presidency have continued to baffle minorities (Kiely, 2002). Kiely (2002) also indicates that out of the 1,864 people who had worked in the Senate since 1789, 15 had been minorities, four blacks, three Hispanics, four Asian-Americans, three Native Americans and one Native Hawaiian.
Likewise, over 2,200 people who had already appointed as governors but only nine had been minorities, four Hispanics, three Asian-Americans, one black and one Native Hawaiian (Kiely, 2002). In the year 2002, about 20 minorities were running or planning to take one of the 34 Senate seats and 36 governor’s offices (Kiely, 2002). Only few minorities were given a fair chance of success, but none of them was an instant favorite (Kiely, 2002).
Politicians of all types of ethnicities and races were concerned by minorities’ under representation in various top elective offices in the country and believed that it has a negative impact on how the country is governed (Kiely, 2002). The top reasons for the poor track record in statewide campaigns for some of the country’s most experienced minority politicians include prejudice against cities, difficulty of raising campaign funds, racial and ethnic stereotypes, and failure to be selected by party leaders and fundraisers as statewide candidates (Kiely, 2002).
According to Lindenberger and Stoltz-Loike, diversity can be a bridge between organizational life and the reality of lives of individuals, a learning exchange and the model for interrelationships between people. One advantage of a diverse workforce is the ability to hire several talented individuals from different perspectives, cultural backgrounds, and abilities (Lindenberger & Stoltz-Loike).
Some holistic strategies to address diversity in the workplace include exploring ways to link diversity with ways to increase corporate profits, ensuring that diversity is evident at all organizational levels by promoting positive responses and showing respect for diversity issues, broadening the definition and efforts to deal with diversity, removing artificial hindrances to success, providing practical training, and performing regular organizational assessments of pay, benefits, work environment, and promotional opportunities (Lindenberger & Stoltz-Loike).
References Kiely, K. (2002). These are America’s governors. No blacks. No Hispanics. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from http://www. usatoday. com/educate/college/business/casestudies/20020627-diversity. pdf Lindenberger, J. & Stoltz-Loike, M. Diversity in the workplace. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from http://www. zeromillion. com/econ/workplace-diversity. html Strauss, G. & Jones, D. (2000). Too-bright spotlight burns female CEOs. Retrieved July 22, 2009, from http://www. usatoday. com/educate/college/business/casestudies/20020627-diversity. pdf