Diversity and Corporate America

While relating to other people makes you an asset in the corporate arena, one must focus on the similarities and not the differences when interacting with fellow colleagues. Minorities face many issues based on preconceived notions and the obstacles that these issues present in the workplace. Minorities are well aware of stereotypes in corporate America, navigating through those stereotypes can be difficult. Often the rule still stands: You have to be twice as good in order to earn opportunities to advance or secure opportunities.


Actions that offend minorities –Here's an example:

Here’s another offense for the record. Perhaps rooted in lack of knowledge it is extremely offensive to “colorize” your language when speaking to someone just because they are a certain race. If you engage in conversation with an educated professional that is addressing you professionally it is extremely disrespectful and rude to start talking to them like you are a rap star speaking ebonics and think you are “relating” to someone. Did that person address you speaking ebonics? That is highly offensive to minorities. There is no need to be anyone other than who you are when encountering and interacting with minorities. Not all minorities grow up in economically impoverished communities. Not every minority individual you encounter grew up without their parents or some war zone in America.

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Diversity

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization.

While diversity relates to culture, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, and age-the best way to understand the needs of others is to focus from the basis of commonalities and not differences. Here are some commonalities that build functional work relationships:

  1. Knowledge of the company
  2. Sports
  3. Current news (lighthearted issues) other than religion or politics
  4. Common interest in activities such as hiking, fishing, swimming, or running

Effectively managing diversity in the workplace means respecting and engaging individuals as just that-individuals. It requires releasing presumptions and prejudices when it comes to interacting with others. It involves being aware when you might unfairly label the behavior of others based on stereotypes or preconceived notions about groups of people. We live in a multicultural society and the workplace reflects changes over time. Women are not secretaries but CEO’s. Minorities are ivy- league educated and qualified for the positions they hold and do so competently. The greatest gift we can give others is to see that person clearly as an individual without labeling others based on preconceived thoughts regarding certain groups of people. Be yourself, be respectful, and step out of your experience is the best way to manage diversity in the workplace.

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