4 Trends Seeking to Address Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
In a nation that is built on a history of assimilating many cultures into one geographic location, it has been extremely difficult to embrace a national identity, yet as Americans that’s just what we’ve done. Unfortunately, that ‘identity’ is somewhat skewed depending on what area of the nation you hail from and with staggering numbers of recent immigrants from third world and war-torn countries, it is becoming increasingly difficult to address such widespread diversity in the workplace. In one small office consisting of perhaps 10 people, it is not uncommon for greater than 50% to be foreign nationals.
So then, as a nation, what are we doing to address cultural diversity in the workplace and is there a way to allow for each culture to maintain its identity while being assimilated into the American way of life? Perhaps there is, but first it is important to look at some trends that are seeking to address these very issues.
1) Looking at Stereotypes that Lead to Prejudice
One of the biggest trends at the moment is happening not only within society but also within some of the nation’s largest corporations. There are laws against discrimination and penalties can be huge if a company is found discriminating based on breaking equal employment laws, including:
- Mental condition
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity or expression thereof
- Religious creed
- Political orientation
And the list could go on from there a bit with layers of understanding as to what each of those ‘classifications’ means according to law, not the interpretation of the words. Government and large corporations are spending time and money looking at stereotypes that lead to discrimination in each of the above categories and if found in violation, consequences can be severe.
2) Addressing the Growing Numbers of Women in the Workforce
As a woman, you might not realize just how far this nation has come in the inclusion of women in the workforce. While laws have changed, there is still something in human nature that wants to refer to women as the ‘weaker sex’ and biologically unable to do many of the same jobs as men can do. This may be the case some of the time, but for the most part, many women can lift weights equally if they have been trained and can do much of the same labor as men.
Yes, it is true that most men are stronger than women, but with physical training, women can do so much more than they had ever realized was possible and this is something that many corporations are looking at when deciding whether or not a woman is physically qualified to do a job or if it is a discriminatory act in refusing to interview or hire them.
3) Corporations Seeking to Accept Workers with Disabilities
Within the broad scope of cultural diversity falls the category of workers with disabilities. Where so many people go astray is in thinking that cultural diversity only applies to those of a different culture. That would be cross-cultural diversity or multi-cultural diversity.
Within a culture are some people without disabilities and some with physical limitations/disabilities and these are the people who may be subject to discrimination. When preparing leaders within the educational arena, a huge emphasis is being placed on looking at those with disabilities as simply being part of our diverse culture – they have something to offer which is simply diverse, as the definition implies.
Online master’s programs like the one offered at https://gsehd.gwu.edu/programs/masters-special-education-culturally-and-linguistically-diverse-learners are seeking to look at trends in cultural diversity within our own culture through the inclusion of disabled workers who are highly qualified yet often overlooked.
4) Large Corporations Set the Stage for Diversity / Sensitivity Training
One final trend that is significant in these politically charged times is a trend for corporations to offer seminars and ongoing sensitivity training. Recognizing that we live in a nation more diverse than anywhere on earth, it is important to be inclusionary in our hiring practices. In keeping with the list of anti-discrimination categories listed above, it is important to learn to be sensitive to those who are different from ourselves in some way.
Oddly, what most of us don’t realize is that we are all diverse. There are no two people exactly alike and so it would seem that it should be easy to address cultural diversity in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is not as cut and dry as it should be so efforts continue to define what it means to be culturally diverse and then to promote sensitivity which leads to stronger and better relations.
Image credit: Diversity