Introduction to Diversity and Demographics in the Workforce
It is imperative to call to mind that workforce diversity represents or refers to how employees are similar or different from each other. In other words, diversity refers to the characteristics that are either similar or different in a particular work unit such as race, religion, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or functional background among others. Workforce diversity may occur concerning any characteristics. However, the main focus is usually on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation and physical ability (Harvey & Allard, 2015). Understanding how the stated characteristics shape organizational behavior of any corporate entity very important. Many business organizations are in a hurry to embrace workforce diversity due to the benefits it brings in an organization. However, many find it very challenging to effectively manage diversity and many well-known business organizations find themselves facing accusations about discrimination based on different characteristics. This section of the manual provides a brief explanation of religion, race, gender, age, and immigrant vs. native-born and how they relate to the workplace, the current, recent, and forecasted demographic trends of the US population, the customs and values of 2 of the largest minority races or religions in the workforce, the need for sensitivity to their differing values and customs, and legislation affecting supervisor regulations relating to these groups.
Different forms of discrimination are experienced in the United States and the same go the extra mile to affect the places of work. For example, many people are discriminated against their religious background and this affects the hiring decisions where in most cases, job applicants who are Muslim are often turned away or forced to observe certain rules that are too discriminatory (Harvey & Allard, 2015). On the other hand, racial profiling is a common phenomenon in the United States. People of color and Hispanics find it extremely difficult to secure employment because they are discriminated against based on their race. An example of workplace racial discrimination is where a person unsuccessfully applies for a job and when he makes a follow-up, he is told by the human resource manager that people from his country have been employed in the company before by they all do not share the work ethics of the company.
The stereotypes and assumptions made against millennials and mature workers have a great impact on hiring decisions. In some cases, the human resource departments fail to interview some people under the pretext that they are too young or too old to fit in with other staff members. Immigrants face the worst form of discrimination in the United States. Sometimes, employers may discriminate against immigrants based on their immigration status, the nationality of origin, or language pronunciation (Wrench, 2016). The Immigrants and Nationality Act protects immigrants from being subjected to discrimination based on their nationality of origin. Finally, where a person’s parents were born affects the hiring and promotion decisions in many business organizations even if one was born in the United States. Children of immigrant parents still experience difficulties at the paces of work.
The population of the United States stands at 329.45 million people with a majority being the whites. America is 60.4% white, foreign-born, 12.1% African American, 16.3 Hispanics, and Latinos. The remaining percentage constitutes immigrants. The recent trends indicate that 78% of the workforce is made up of whites, 13% are Blacks and 6% are Asians. Further, 15 of the labor force represent the Indian Americans and Native Alaskans whereas mixed races make the remaining 2%. Elsewhere, the current statistics indicate that as at the end of 2018, an average of 60.4% of Americans was employed. 60.7% of whites were employed, 58.3% of African Americans were in employment, while Hispanics and Latinos topped the list at 63.2%. It is expected that by 2020, African Americans will constitute 10.2% of the workforce in America; Asians will constitute 30.1%, Hispanics will constitute 34%.
There has been a dramatic increase in Muslim and Hispanic percentages in the workforce in the last couple of years. This dramatic increase is a true reflection of how employers are slowly becoming conscious of the need to diversify their workforce. Employers need to understand that Hispanics place more values on family, culture, and the desire to improve their status. Therefore, a recruitment and retention strategy that has Hispanics in mind needs to be anchored on these values (Harvey & Allard, 2015). Elsewhere, Muslims put more value on religious practices and family. Therefore, employers need to understand these two core values and incorporate them into their hiring and retention strategies to accommodate Muslims.
There is a need to appreciate the importance of employers sensitizing their human resource managers and existing employees on Muslim and Hispanic values and customs to ensure that cultural diversity is embraced within an organization. Appreciating the values and customs held by others create a conducive working environment for everyone irrespective of their backgrounds. Finally, the most important legislation that affects regulations about Muslims and Hispanics is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act prohibits employers or those in higher positions to discriminate against anyone based on various backgrounds such as religion, the nationality of origin and gender among others.
Historical Issues of Different Races in the Workplace and how to handle them
Racial diversity in the workplace is an important phenomenon in every business organization that needs to attain a competitive advantage. Initially, not so much emphasis had been placed on the need to diversify business organizations based on race, religion, and age among others. However, various strengths associated with workforce diversity have driven almost every business organization to give diversity a second thought. At the moment, many business organizations are using others as benchmarks to diversify their workforce in order to gain a competitive advantage.
Looking at the current United States racial demographics, one can conclude that workforce diversity has taken a positive trajectory and the majority race is no longer dominating employment in the United States. Various racial minorities such as Hispanics and African Americans are equally competing with whites at the places of work. In the past few decades, African Americans, Hispanics, Indian Americans, and Native Alaskans did not have a level playing field with whites (Wrench, 2016). However, the current demographic trends indicate that 60.7% of whites are employed, 58.3% of African Americans are employed and Hispanics top the least by a representation of 63.2% irrespective of their minority status. In the foreseeable future, Hispanics will likely constitute 34% of the United States workforce; African Americans will slightly decline to 10.2% whereas Asians will form 30.1% of the total workforce in the United States.
Leaders need to focus on specific issues that create tension between different groups in the workplace. Some of these issues include racial bias, ethnic and cultural difference, and respect. Racial bias occurs when one race is given preferential treatment at the expense of others. The ethnic and cultural difference occurs when one ethnic or cultural group harbors unfair prejudice against other groups. Finally, respect is eroded when one racial group fails to accept that individual difference is vital in creating a productive work environment (Wrench, 2016). Therefore, leaders need to acknowledge these issues and adequately address them to give diversity a space to thrive. Some of the ways to solve these issues include adopting a more diverse definition of diversity and putting in place diversity training programs. The other way is to standardize interview processes to reduce biases. Standardized interviews will ensure that only those who are qualified are selected irrespective of racial or cultural background.
Overcoming Gender Issues in the Workforce
When focusing on population, sex or gender is one of the factors that help in understanding how the population has changed over time. Like several other countries across the world, men in the United States are more likely to participate in the labor market compared to their women counterparts. However, these differences have for been narrowing down for quite some time especially in the past decade. Female participation in the labor force is high in most developed countries including the United States (Sakdiyakorn & Wattanacharoensil, 2018). This is because of the changes that have occurred over time. Research findings indicate that the gender gap narrowed down by 26% between 1980 and 2008. The beginning of the 20th Century saw a surge in the number of women participating in the labor force in most developed nations. However, in the 21st Century, the United States saw a steady decline in the number of women participating in the labor market but has since then taken a positive trajectory (Guillaume, Dawson, Otaye‐Ebede, Woods & West, 2017). Research findings indicate that changes in education in the United States have facilitated the integration of women in the workforce. On the other hand, various factors have equally contributed to the gender mix in the United States labor force. Demographic patterns such as the aging baby boomers are equally fueling the integration of millennial women in the workforce.
The chief executive officer talked about various gender issues regarding the company’s workforce. These issues are work strife attributed to demographic changes, an overwhelming number of men in the company, and male dominance of human resource managers and supervisors. According to the CEO, the company has experienced a growing trend of strife in the company and has reasons to believe that this was caused by sustained changes in the company’s demographic patterns (Sakdiyakorn & Wattanacharoensil, 2018). Elsewhere, she stated that the company has had an overwhelming number of men in the past and this could equally be a reason for difficulties experienced by the company in its workforce. Finally, the stated that the company’s human resource and other vital departments have in the past been dominated by men and this has adversely impacted the company in its bid to achieve the required strength.
To address these issues, it is important that the sensitivity of every towards gender issues is raised. For this reason, the CEO will need to inform every supervisor on the need to achieve and maintain a diverse business organization by working towards balancing the ratio of men to women in the company (Guillaume et al., 2017). Addressing it this way will let everyone understand the importance of achieving diversity with regards to the benefits it brings in the organization. Equally, the supervisors can be sensitized on these issues by educating them on the dangers of discriminating against anyone based on sex, race or religion.
In order to make the supervisors understand fully the need to be sensitive about gender-based issues that may affect the organization, decided cases can be used to explain. One of these cases is Griggs v. Duke Power. This case decided way back in 1971 with an emphasis on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when making hiring decisions. In this case, arbitrary tests are forbidden when testing employees as a way of curbing discrimination.
In every state in America, there is a minimum entry requirement for every job that is applied for. For example, in Texas, the minimum job entry requirement for accountants department is a bachelors’ degree in from accredited university or college with majors in accounting or finance. Therefore, an applicant will be required to ensure that his or her academic credentials meet the minimum threshold (Guillaume et al., 2017). Finally, when communicating to a department about a female employee becoming part of the team, a supervisor needs to redefine the meaning of diversity and request the organization to establish diversity training programs so that every employee understands its importance. This will make it easier to explain to them that the department needs to introduce a female employee who will come with a different perspective and enable everyone to be more innovative in his ways of doing business.
- Guillaume, Y. R., Dawson, J. F., Otaye‐Ebede, L., Woods, S. A., & West, M. A. (2017). Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity?. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(2), 276-303.
- Harvey, C. P., & Allard, M. (2015). Understanding and managing diversity: readings, cases, and exercises. Pearson.
- Sakdiyakorn, M., & Wattanacharoensil, W. (2018). Generational diversity in the workplace: A systematic review in the hospitality context. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 59(2), 135-159.
- Wrench, J. (2016). Diversity management and discrimination: Immigrants and ethnic minorities in the EU. Routledge.