Healthcare and Medicine Reference
In-Depth Information
CHAPTER 5
Workplace Diversity and
Discrimination
BACKGROUND OF DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE
Diversity is a broad concept that can be difficult to comprehend, since
there is no clear understanding about how different groups or individuals
directly contribute to diversity at a given place or time ( Marsiglia &
Kulis, 2009 ). Workplace diversity has long been considered an important
aspect of diversity and is projected to become even more important for
several reasons. Because of the history of unfair work experiences in
America and the increasing changes in US population demographics and
the economy, companies will need to focus differently on diversity. They
will have to find ways to become much more inclusive organizations,
since diversity has the potential of yielding greater productivity and com-
petitive advantages ( Society for Human Resource Management, 2010 ).
Stephen G. Butler, co-chair of the Business Higher Education Forum,
believes that diversity is ultimately a competitive asset that organizations
cannot afford to ignore ( Robinson, 2002 ).
Managing and valuing diversity are key components for accomplishing
an organization's desired goals and objectives in order to improve workplace
fairness and equality. Esty, Griffin, and Schorr (1995) suggested that people
are bringing greater diversity to the workplace and that it is encompassing
a wider variety of challenges. The concept of workplace diversity is an
idea of acknowledging and accepting the value and contributions of all peo-
ple. It further means understanding that each person is unique and impor-
tant, while recognizing their individual differences. Differences among
people can include the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orienta-
tion, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political
beliefs, and various other factors. Having an opportunity to explore differ-
ences in a safe, positive, and nurturing workplace environment facilitates
the achievement of a host of beneficial outcomes. Embracing workplace
diversity is about understanding others and moving beyond mere tolerance
to truly celebrating the rich dimensions of individual differences.
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