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Cultural Diversity in Professions

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For my course project, I decided to choose scenario two pertaining to cultural diversity. I selected it because it involved a minority female that attended graduate school. Maria is very devoted to her family, and as a Latino female she may have a dilemma between her family and her career. I expect in researching Latino family dynamics that having a Latina work outside the home might be a problem in the family from time to time. I propose to provide an overview of Marie’s situation and her quest to be promoted. I want to look in depth at a company promotion policy.

Maria’s ancestry is Latino and she has a strong distinctive accent. She filed a complaint in her company because she was eliminated as a candidate for a promotion. She thinks that she was unfairly treated for consideration of a promotion. She feels she was qualified for the promotion because of the years she worked for the company and she has the education qualification. Maria also claims that the reason for her job evaluation being low is because of built in bias on part of her white male supervisor, because she is the only Latina woman in the department. She alleges that the company is engaging in discriminatory practices. In Maria’s case, there are known prejudicial attitudes involved and individual discrimination. Prejudice is usually a negative attitude toward members of a particular group. Common features of prejudice include negative feelings, stereotyped beliefs, and a tendency to discriminate against members of the group (Bell, 2007).

Her company has based their hiring decision on Maria’s supervisor reports of her tardiness, absence, and that she had been counseled on her negative attitude. Each time an incident happened she claims that there were family problems. Regardless of what Maria’s reason for her tardiness, as long as she does her job right, she feels there is no reason to be excluded. Her company also questioned her attitude and communication skills. Maria’s strong accent and rapid talking made her very hard to understand, and the job requirement was to communicate clearly. The company expects its employees who communicate directly with the customers to speak in unaccented English when speaking to clients. This is not something that you find in every company, but reasonable if someone does not speak English easily, and has a strong accent. For this allegation, Maria is claiming the company is engaging in structural discrimination (Donnelley, 2009).

Latinas are usually able to secure employment easier than their male counterparts, and often at a higher rate of pay. In a culture where the men hold the traditional role as providers, for traditional Latino male-female relationships, a female executive role might be an added stressor to the dynamics of the relationship with her family. Married or unmarried, most women work to provide for themselves and their families (Bell, 2007). Women work for the same reasons that men do, to support their families, children and themselves. Within families, there are typical roles for mothers, fathers, and children (Pincus, 2000). The incidence of children influences a woman’s tendency to work and their pay at work. The process of adapting to the new culture of the U.S can be stressful if they are new citizens. The FMLA is applicable to employers having 50 or more employees, and although women and Hispanics are more likely to work for the smallest employers, having 10 or fewer employees (Bell, 2007.)

I believe this topic is important because the Latino population will be the workforce majority within the next decade in the United States. Female Latino workers were estimated to be 51 percent by 2008. According to the U. S. Census, Latin women in the United States, eight million are native-born and older than 18 (Vega, 2011). Single women represent 54 percent of all women in the workforce, according to data from the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Santonoccito, 2013). Hispanic men and women tend to work for small businesses, restaurants, private individuals and other unskilled manual labor jobs presently, but in the future this is sure to change in the “white collar” world with increasing education opportunities for all. Flexible scheduling and family leave can help employees cope with their particular work and family needs, and the availability of flexible scheduling positively affects employees’ commitment to their employers and career satisfaction. Individuals should not have to try to make the impossible choice between work and family. Attention to the goal of diversity should be increased, rather than decreased (Bell, 2007).

If women are to continue living longer than men, older workers will need to work longer, minorities will grow to become the majority, and all potential workers must be encouraged to bring their contributions to the country’s success. The United States needs women as scientists, engineers, computer programmers, and truck drivers, rather than only as kindergarten teachers, nurses, and secretaries—limited to a few job categories and competing for low wages in these limited categories (Dey & Hill, 2007). The presence of women in managerial positions is of greatest importance to gender issues at work. It needs Blacks, Latinos, and American Indians as scientists, engineers, programmers, managers, and entrepreneurs, rather than only as custodial workers, laborers, hotel housekeepers, and construction workers (Bell, 2007). Occupations heavily dominated by women and people of diversity include human resources, communications, and public relations which are positions that rarely advance them to the top managements levels. Women make up just under half of the nation’s workforce. Our economy is being rebuilt after the financial recession, and women are in growing numbers in all sectors of the economy, but those sectors are paying poverty wages to them (Jaffe, 2013).

Marion Bell discusses glass walls, a term referring to invisible horizontal barriers that constrain women, to certain positions and jobs within organizations. Glass walls restrict them to supportive verses decision making positions. They prevent people of color and disabilities from obtaining experience and exposure required for advancement in organizations. In understanding Latino employees, it is important to be aware of the internal family dynamics of their culture. Hispanic girls are thought to less likely worry about their capabilities and skills for working than white girls, according to report data from adults who work with girls. They reported that young minority females tend to have more responsibilities at home and in their communities than non-minority girls. Hispanic girls reported they already think of themselves as leaders among adults because of these responsibilities (U. S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, 2012). Women spend considerable less time at work after becoming a mother. Greater flexibility in the workplace for parenting could be valuable for mothers or fathers, and older workers (Dey & Hill, 2007).

Women managers may be especially well equipped to help dismantle the glass ceiling. Research has found that having more women in management helps other women advance into the top management. Women in management also showed higher turnover rates, and intentions to quit their jobs (Bell, 2007). There are Affirmative Action Plans implemented for females and minority groups, and the disabled, including veterans. Each company should have inclusion plans to increase the presence of women and minorities in all areas. The Equal Employment Opportunity Act provides organizations policies and procedures to accommodate any religious beliefs and encourages whenever possible to use goods and services from minority and female-owned businesses (Donnelley, 2009).

Maria states she was told that clients had trouble understanding her distinct Latino accent. Structural or individual discrimination is the result of longstanding practices and behaviors that can have a negative effect on certain groups (Bell, 2007). The stories of accent discrimination could be true. Overt discrimination against U.S. citizens and legal residents who look, speak, or act in a manner that the Anglo cultural majority considers “foreign” could be told by many Latino or non-Latino folks, whether native-born or immigrant professional. According to the leading federal court decisions, none of them states a claim for illegal national origin discrimination. In real life the United States Courts have ruled that a private employer’s English-only rule cannot be considered discriminatory, if the employee in question is bilingual, and can easily comply with the directive. Under the law, any employee has the right to speak+ Spanish while on duty to their supervisors, co-workers, or even customers who only speak Spanish. So not promoting Maria due to her heavy accent conforms to company policy and can stay policy for as long as the company sees fit, according to the Federal courts (Cameron, 1997).

Latino Americans feel some people do not take what they say quite as seriously as they do native English speakers. Research has shown the stronger the accent, the less credible the speaker (Weise, 2010). Accents make it harder for people to understand what they are saying especially if they speak rapidly. While research has clearly shown accent affects how a person is perceived, how much having an accent affected a person’s credibility hadn’t been known. In a research case, speakers with mild accents were considered as truthful as native speakers but those with heavy accents were judged less truthful (Cameron, 1997). An accent is a wonderful, wonderful thing. It only becomes a problem when it starts to interfere with a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Employers that insist on unaccented speech are few in number, because foreign accents come from “national origin,” which is an area of protection in the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Those who refuse employment to accented applicants with no reason could be open to discrimination lawsuits.

Overt discrimination against U. S. citizens and legal residents who look, speak, or act in a manner that the Anglo-cultural majority considers “foreign” could be told by many Latino or non-Latino folks, whether native born or immigrant professional. There are probably great people in the workforce who are not getting opportunities because of lack of communication skills. The current trend is to take foreign accent reduction classes offered at community colleges around the country. These classes are putting an emphasis on reducing foreign accents. It is designed so not to lose the accent, just pronounce the words clearer. This would be a suggestion for companies to help develop cultural competence. Maria was probably aware that she spoke differently, and that her accent kept her from being understood. It had to be frustrating when others asked her to repeat herself, and she would just speak louder, repeating over and over again, seeming more aggressive to her co-workers and supervisors. The last point to explore is the tardiness problem. She had been counseled about this over course of her employment and how it has impacted her lower evaluation scores.

Employers should be careful to avoid bias against women in the workforce, assumptions about women’s willingness to work or whether they have or likely to have children in the future. Motherhood in the workplace can involve economic and personal sacrifices, so as a result could result in fewer professional opportunities for women in management. Structural or individual discrimination is the result of longstanding practices and behaviors that can have negative impact on organizations (Bell, 2007). The stories of accent discrimination could be true. Cultural competence should become the most essential part of the organization and their value or mission. Simply recruiting diverse staff members and developing trainings is not sufficient. Hiring, firing, and promotions should be based on merit and achievements, not on culture, race, sex or religion. In Marie’s case she was not unfairly eliminated for consideration for a promotion because of her accent or any built-in bias. She did not qualify due to her lower performance evaluations. It is important to confront cultural competence at work because the cultural landscape of the United States is changing and diversity is here to stay.


Bell, M. (2012). Diversity in organizations. Mason, Ohio: South-western cengage learning.
Cameron, C. (1997) How the garcia cousins lost their accents: Understanding the language of title VII decisions approving english-only rules as the product of racial dualism, latino invisibility, and legal indeterminacy. California law review. 85(5).

Dey, J., & Hill, C. (2007). Behind the pay gap. American association of university women education foundation.
Jaffe, S. (2013). Trickle-down feminism. Dissent, 60(1), 25-30.
Pincus, F. (2000). Discrimination comes in many forms: Individual, institutional, and structural.
Extracted with permission from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice. Edited by Maurianne Adams.
R. R. Donnelley (July 1, 2009). Internal job posting: Policy 2.4. HR xpress. Chicago, Ilinois. Retrieved from
R. R. Donnelley (October 28, 2009). Equal employment opportunity: Policy 5.1. HR xpress. Chicago, Ilinois. Retrieved from http://inside.rrd.net/insideRRD/pages/home.aspx
Santonocito, P. (2013). Single women in today’s workplace. Single minded women newsletter.
U.S. Department of health and human services, Office of minority health. (2012). Performance improvement and management system (pims), hispanic/latino profile.
Vega, T. (2008, December 8). Marketers and media companies set their sights on Latin women. The New york times, p. B3.
Weise, E. (2010, July 20). Study: Americans with accents judged less credible than native speakers. USA today.

Pincus, F. (2000). Discrimination comes in many forms: Individual, institutional, and structural.
Readings for diversity and social justice.



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