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Thinking of Diversity and Inclusion

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Thinking About Diversity and Inclusion
Rhonda G. Allen
SOC/315
May 6, 2013
Professor Anne Tindall

Thinking About Diversity and Inclusion Cultural Diversity has many dimensions, recognizing what they are can be challenging to those of who may not be familiar with them. The first dimension of Cultural Diversity, Primary Dimensions, which are considered basic and cannot be changed by the individual. The second dimension, Secondary Dimensions, is aspects of someone that can be influenced by outside factors. Finally the last dimension of Cultural Diversity is the Visibility Dimension, the more visible the aspect the stronger the influences have a potential to be viewed. A prime example of the visibility factor in Cultural Diversity would be, you may pretend to be a Christian, but you cannot pretend to be a black person when your skin is obviously white. All three dimensions develop a part of your personal identity, affecting your environment, behavior and how others perceive you. When person characteristics are influenced by the outside views of others is called Stereotyping. Stereotypical views may vary from religious beliefs, gender, racial profiles, and ethnicity.

The specific group of Cultural Diversity of which I can identify with would be gender based. Being a female has many difficulties in the corporate world. For as long as you can refer back in time, the female gender in the workplace has more than likely held a subordinate position. Many studies have shown that when a male and a female apply for the same position it’s more than likely the male will receive the position. In trying to understand why this is so, dating back to the biblical days of Jesus Christ, females were held in submissive positions to their husbands or any other male figure. Through the generations, the concept may have taken a more low-key role, but most definitely has remained the same. Personally, the members of my social circle have always consisted of female associates of who are very much a dominant counterparts like myself. In many friendships, it has been known that you usually surround yourself with personalities like your own. That would definitely be true in my case. My circle consists of females of who are very independent, outspoken, well educated, and religious and family orientated. The most predominant characteristic would be that five of my associates currently hold Administrative Senior level positions in large corporations as do I. In retrospect, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

Understanding the concept of Diversity and Inclusion can be informative, yet complicating when described in the workplace. Diversity is all aspects of which people differ. Inclusion is your presence within a group setting. Inclusiveness plays a major role in workplace diversity. This concept helps develop the awareness into workplace behaviors and cultural differences. Many employers provide what is called “false hope” setting off the three most common delusions about inclusiveness. (a) Persuading employee into thinking everything is copasetic (b) everyone is needed and concerns will be satisfied (c) that everyone is the same. When you hire minorities or attempt to do so in order maintain a diverse environment with the ill intent of not providing positions past entry level is considered Diversity without Inclusion. As an example,
An employee receives a position but remain in the non-promotional positions without the possibility of promotion. The intention was to hire to ensure operation however, you will never be included enough to receive a raise, nor any productive contribution you may want to share. According to recent polls, it shows the percentage of Black employment rapidly decreasing in the category of promotional positions and increased pay scales. African American’s continue to hold the lowest job positions at a 27.6 percentile. This shows that the employer’s intent was not to value the employee but for cosmetic purposes only, making African American is an expendable asset.

Workplace Diversity Training is a very essential part of today’s workforce. The purpose of diversity training helps broaden the cultural lines within a corporation. In doing so, you are proving your staff with the knowledge to co-inhabit with the ethical values, attitudes, and behavior of others. Another main factor in diversity training is the understanding of cultural religion. This provides a diverse arena within the company allowing for a global marketing base. Moreover, some state licensures mandate the requirement of diversity training in the curriculum. When a company provides continuing education courses in diversity training, this allows employees to become more versatile in the work field, understanding of many cultural differences they may encounter be it consumer or co-workers and, provide employees with the sense of inclusion when everyone understand each ethnicity with a better view. A corporation that does not invest in employee diversity training sets limitation on the company’s potential success. Expanding your horizons can prove beneficial for everyone involved, including such trainings into the curriculum can provide new horizons you have never imagined were available.

My personal experience with workplace culture is unique. The situation I experienced actually included two major points of workplace diversity, gender profiling and racial. Upon my employment with the previous employer, I entered into the agency as entry-level office personnel. As time progressed, I had never noticed I was the only African American employee in the office. My counterparts brought this to my attention, many times, I was asked the question “are they good employers?”, “do they treat you differently”, and all of this was answered with a “no”. I was always treated appropriately, to be honest, the Chief Operating Officer, General Manager, Program Director and myself were very close to be employees. About three years down the line I was shockingly was promoted to Program Director after the previous one moved to another city. In doing so, this opened many doors into my career as well as my eyes.

As long as I had worked for this company, despite the numerous questions I was asked about my treatment previously I had never experienced some of the things I was presently encountering. This agency was huge on Code of Ethics and Chain of Command. If you were not apart of Administration you would rarely hear from the owners or Administrative Staff. Everything they requested or any meetings they would attend would be privately held with Administrators only. I was eventually deemed to serve on the Board of Directors along with seven other regional administrators for which our corporation serviced. Upon my entrance at the corporate office, I had noticed the office mimicked the company’s name to the letter. There were many beautiful paintings throughout the building of old antebellum slave homes, cotton field crops and the huge slogan etched on the boardroom table that read, “Don’t worry about the mule’s just load the wagon”. Being the type of person I am, none of that really ruffled my feathers; I was very secure in my position a how I perceived myself. Initially I was introduced to the Board Members as a new addition, during the meeting anytime I offered a proposal or corrected a statistic I was obviously overlooked by many of the owners. However, instead of addressing me with questions they directed them towards my COO of who was a male. Throughout my employment I began to notice how things operated, first they would rather direct any conversations towards the male gender as if women were not recognized on the same playing field. The reason this became apparent was an example of diversity without inclusion, I obviously was the only female at the table. While in this position I had the opportunity to attend much state training, I would meet individuals who recognized the agency I worked for and would ask me, what my job title is. After informing them, they would say, “I didn’t know they would openly hire a Black person in administration let alone a female.” This lead to the second issue, I had to dedicate myself to learning information that my constituents did not know, I could not allow myself to be a mediouker administrator.

I had to have that extra something to make it within this group and earn my right to be at the same table with them. This too was obvious because under their corporate umbrella of eight companies, I was the only Black female in administration. Despite it all, I would still receive a slight side-eye from many. My solution to it all was to place myself knowledgeable about the entire operations of the agency including current ruling passed down from our governing state department. If I knew the information they wanted to know, I at that time succeeded in making myself a non-expendable.

Throught it all, regardless to the situations you encounter within the workplace you have to make it your own. Hard work and persistence will take you all long way in this culturally diverse world.

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