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Diversity in the American Workplace: Employers Benefit from Having a Diverse Workforce

Updated on September 11, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

Abraham Lincoln's speech, "House Divided" was given at this location on June 16, 1858. Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois
Abraham Lincoln's speech, "House Divided" was given at this location on June 16, 1858. Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois | Source

We are Diversity!

The American workplace is one of a diverse set of values and ethnic backgrounds. The notion of freedom for all and equality in the workplace are ideals that our founding fathers would probably have been pleased to see evolve past what they could ever have envisioned for this nation. Due to the tradition and class customs of the time, most would not have realized the wonderful and unlimited offerings of the hard work and ingenuity that come from a diverse American workforce. The building of cities, bridges, and all of the incredible inventions that have been created by Americans throughout history are something that would bring any founding father immense pride as they look at how far this nation has changed. While we have made great strides over the last several centuries, there is still much to do to make diversity appreciated to create a more inclusive American workplace.

How Have We Grown?

The United States has grown much since the fight for independence from the British in the 1700's. From the farmlands to the factories and on to the technology of today, the American workplace has progressed over time to include many people with different ideas and efforts that affect the American way of life. The advancement and inventions that have shaped our lives clearly are due to the hard work of many Americans from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to the earliest Americans who toiled over this land, the vast movement of immigrants in the mid eighteen through the early nineteen hundreds made a considerable contribution to the shaping of our society. In this country, no matter what ethnicity, gender, religion, age, physical ability or the color of their skin, Americans have created a workplace that sets the bar extremely high for future generations to surpass in terms of ingenuity and creativity.

The American Workplace Still Has Much to Accomplish.

A long, costly war tore this country apart regarding the matter of freedom and equality for all people of the United States. Laws were passed at the federal level about one hundred years after Lee surrendered at Appatomox which were geared to make equality even more a fact of life in American society, including the workplace. It has been a long, hard journey but much more is needed to create a fairer and more equal place for American workers to succeed and prosper. Women and minorities still need to hold higher level and prominent executive/leadership positions to be at a more equal playing field with white males. While the debate is on for what is the best way to achieve such equality, it behooves management to maximize on the benefits of having a diverse workforce, itself. With globalization of the workplace that allows teleconferences to take place between people on different continents, it is important to have a team that appreciates, values and celebrates differences in who they are, what they look like and where they are from. An employer that encourages such a philosophy will foster a productive workplace that has a wealth of knowledge for the organization to compete with other organizations that already understand the effectiveness of diversity. Understanding the culture, language and traditions of the global workplace hits home at all levels of employment. Diversity in the workplace will continue to be "history in the making" for a prouder American people.

Inside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois
Inside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois | Source

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