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Workplace diversity is defined as “ways that people differ that may affect their workplace experiences in terms of performance, motivation, and communication” (Harvey, 2011, p. xiv). It is important to have an understanding of cultural, ethnic and gender differences by managers and professionals in order to have an effective working environment. This can be accomplished when managers and professionals are able to understand their own identities, race/ethnicity, and their own biasness. While attempting to overcome our own biasness can be challenging, acknowledging them can prevent us from discriminating actions (Harvey, 2011).
Diversity of cultures in the workplace can be beneficial. It can increase job satisfaction, performance, as well as creativity when employees are able to work in a stress free environment with respectful to one another’s differences. According to Harvey (2011), “To foster organizational environments that are positive and productive, employers must be aware of the strengths and assets that each generation as a group brings to their organizations, and become skilled in dealing with individuals from each generation as subordinates, supervisors and customers” (p,162).
While there are beneficial influences from diversity in the workplace, there are also challenges that can be encountered. When dealing with a diverse group of cultures, negative attitudes towards one another can arise, such as “prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination” (Green, et al., 2002, p. 2). Such negativity can lead to complaints, a poor working environment, and the loss of employees. By offering culture diversity awareness training to management and employees, organizations can create a successful diverse working environment and effective teamwork.
Other challenges of diversity in the workplace that is dealt with are differences in gender roles and disabilities. Women continue to be at a disadvantage over men with leadership roles and salary. Harvey stated (as cited by Powel, 2010), “Researchers have documented that male and female leadership styles do differ but ‘there is little evidence to suggest that one sex or the other is more effective leading’.” (p. 133).
When I conducted the experiment on becoming a lefty for the day I felt strange not being able to us my right hand. Considering I am currently dealing with tennis elbow (tendonitis) to my left arm, the experiment had its painful challenges. I encountered difficulties with trying to hold my cellphone and text, trying to open a bottle of water, and attempts to cut paper using scissors with my left hand were also challenging. Lefties are definitely at a disadvantage, but after developing coping skills, taking my time, and being patient I was able to adapt to the differences. In my opinion, the experiment was a perfect example on the concept of being culturally different and learning to adapt. There is still a lot of work needed when it comes to educating people with the acceptance of diverse cultures and ethnic groups. Success within organizations can be accomplished when they learn to adapt to the cultural differences and develop self-awareness of one’s own biasness (Green, et al., 2002, p. 2).
Green, K. A., López, M., Wysocki, A., & Kepner, K. (2002). Diversity in the workplace:
Benefits, challenges, and the required managerial tools. University of Florida, 1(4). Harvey, Carol, M. Allard. Understanding and Managing Diversity, 5th Edition. Pearson Learning Solutions, 07/2011. VitalBook file.
Powell. G. (2010). Women and men in management, 4th edition, Los Angeles: Sage Publications.