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An EEOC attorney in Arizona stated:
We often see discrimination when economic times are tough. Many employers
get rid of people of color, they get rid of people with disabilities and they get
rid of people who are pregnant.
To foster a more diverse workplace, an organization has to do more
than simply acknowledge differences in people. It is acknowledged in
debate on the subject that a workplace which is highly diverse can also be
difficult to motivate and manage for a variety of complex reasons.
A major obstacle to effective management is miscommunication within
an organization. Necessary communication competencies may be lacking
in diverse organizational environments subject to poor management prac-
tices. Such skills include self-monitoring, empathy, and strategic decision-
making. Brownell (2003) defined these skills as follows.
￿ Self-monitoring refers to a communicator's awareness of how his/her
behavior affects another person, along with his/her willingness to
modify this behavior based on knowledge of its impact.
￿ Empathy enables the receiver to go beyond the literal meaning of a
message and consider the communicator's feelings, values, assump-
tions, and needs.
￿ Strategic decision-making implies that the communication sources and
channels used to reach organization members, as well as the substance
of the messages conveyed, are mindfully selected.
Brownell (2003) further explains that communication is a skill that
is often difficult to master because the full meaning of a message can
never be completely understood or transmitted. This can occur because
people rarely experience events in exactly the same way. Even when
people from the same background and culture are exposed to the same
messages, they may often interpret the information differently. It is
bad management practice to interpret messages and discern meaning
based on a unique point of view, without a willingness to accept differ-
ing perspectives.
A poor management practice is the creation of a workplace environ-
ment where marginalized groups have little or no voice. Vaughn (2006)
describes challenges to communication that diverse organizations face in
maintaining a culture which supports the idea of concern for both the
organization and employee's voice. When the organizational environment
is not supportive of dissenting viewpoints, employees may choose to
remain silent for fear of repercussions. Employees may also seek alternative
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