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Communication Barriers in the Workplace

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The workplace changed while we weren’t looking. No longer is it dominated by white middle class men. With changes, increased minorities numbers and the movement of women in the workplace, companies need to address issues of diversity in the workplace. The field of diversity has gone beyond even culture and gender but also recognizes that different styles and approaches can be useful to have in any workplace. “In an ideal world, every person is treated equally when it comes to getting a job, advancing in their career, and being treated fairly in the workplace. In reality, we know this is not the case. Racial discrimination does still exist in hiring, firing, and promotions” (Ethnic Majority).

Companies can recruit and hire employees to create a diverse work force. Managers can build teams with diversity in mind. However, organizations can’t thrive on diversity if employees don’t know how to communicate with one another. Some studies suggest that we spend more time communicating in the workplace than doing other things. Every time you speak, people formulate opinions of you and judge you by what you say. Say the wrong things, and people will form bad judgments and opinions of you. Say the right things, and people will respect you, admire you, and windows of opportunity will swing open up for you. Effective teams in the workplace are created and perform to due an effective means of communication and the ability to put personal preferences aside to work on a common goal.

Race and Ethnic Origin

Diversity in the workplace ensures that all members of the workforce are working towards the common goal and mission of the organization. In a diverse workforce race and ethnic origin are an after thought. “our society is diverse and is becoming more so by the day. We are at a critical point in our history because the complex social and environmental issues we face can only be effectively dealt with by acknowledging the diversity in class, values, lifestyle, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation that make up our cultural mosaic” (Stewart 1995).


It’s extremely obvious that women have come a long way as successful professionals. Life in the workplace has become much more diversified as an increased number of women have made their presence felt in many industries and professions. The female task force has expanded with exponential strength, and thus has its dire importance in the professional world. In retrospect, women were put on the backburner in the workplace for many years and it was believed that the only jobs that they could handle were those of teachers or secretaries, but lo and behold, today’s woman can not only hold her own in the workplace, but she also has the dual task of raising a family.


The current workforce the United States is reflecting the changing demographics of our nation in many ways. Older Americans, particularly those age 65 and beyond, are remaining in the job market for a variety of reasons including economic necessity, personal choice and as a critical component in our nation’s volunteer force. The major issues for keeping a viable place for older workers in today’s libraries seem to be addressing concerns about health care costs, investments in training and education, and helping them adjust to changes in organizational structure. “Karl Gustafson was in his mid-50s and had Florida on his mind. But unlike some older workers whose careers are winding down and who see the Sunshine State as a land of golf and early-bird specials, Gustafson headed south to work–not to retire. For him, Florida meant accepting a new challenge as vice president of HR for Baptist Hospital in Coral Gables. Now called Baptist Health South Florida, the organization is the state’s largest not-for-profit health care provider, with 8,900 employees” (Grossman 2003).

Bilingual speaking workforce

Over the past several years, the U.S. has seen a dramatic increase in its population of Hispanic, Spanish-speaking people, and other foreigners that speak little or no English. While the diversity of the workforce continues to be impressive, there has been an increase in the number of Spanish-and or non English speaking citizens who are entering the manufacturing work force.

Employers have taken a keen look at the safety in the workplace as a result of these ever changing demographics. Having employees who speak limited or no English presents new challenges for those trying to maintain corporate safety programs. Specific issues regarding workplace safety need to be considered as we began to employ more and more Spanish-speaking and non English speaking workers. It is important that all employees read and understand all information they receive regarding safety. Corporations have a common goal – to provide a safe workplace for all employees so that at the end of the day they can return home to their families safely.

Sexual Orientation

It might seem that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity has little to do with their job or career. But unfortunately, many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender have experienced discrimination in the workplace in the form of dismissal, lack of promotion, etc., as have people from particular cultures, religions, groups, and communities.

Society and responsible employers are recognizing diversity and addressing discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that are based on misinformation or lack of information which can create fear of people who are perceived as different. Communication is vital to good business and consistent quality. People’s fears and lack of knowledge, can significantly impede effective communication.

If you are a married heterosexual, it would probably never occur to you to keep that information about yourself a secret from the people with whom you work. You might wear a wedding band and refer to your spouse often enough that people know his/her first name and what he/she does. If you are bisexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender, you may not get the same kind of accommodations because you are not legally related to your partner or your partner’s family.

Reference List

Author unknown. Ethnic majority. Retreived from the World Wide Web http://www.ethnicmajority.com/workplace.htm

Grossman, Robert. HR Magazine, May 2003 Issue. Retrieved from the World Wide Web. http://www.shrm.org/hrmagazine/

Stewart, Lisa. Diversity in the Workforce. Conscious Choice, May 1995 Issue. Retreived from the World Wide Web. http://www.consciouschoice.com/issues/cc083/workdiv.html

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