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Diversity Problem Within the Company

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Diversity is an everlasting factor of society. Diversity within a company is more than just hiring diverse people. Diversity raises important ethical and social responsibility issues that most individuals do not think about on a day to day basis. Diversity can be defined as: dissimilarities of differences among people due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, education, experience, physical appearance, capabilities/disabilities, and any other characteristic that is used to distinguish between people. Managers must learn to appreciate and respond appropriately to the needs, attitudes, beliefs, and values that diverse people bring to an organization in order to remain fair and respectful to their employees. We are going to explore why differential treatment occurs and the steps managers and organizations can take to ensure that diversity is effectively managed. There are seven different categories in which will be broken down within this paper: age, gender, race/ethnicity, religion, capabilities/disabilities, socioeconomic background, and sexual orientation.

A problem with diversity within a company is a ‘glass ceiling’ (a metaphor alluding to the invisible barriers that prevent minorities and women from being promoted to top corporate positions). Human resources and managers are working vigorously to try to break this barrier but run into various predicaments.


To start off, we have the category of age. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the CIA’s World Fact Book, the median age of a person in the United States is the highest it has ever been, 37.6 years old. By 2030 it is projected that close to 20% of the US population will be 65 or over. With the Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, employers are prohibited from age discrimination for hiring and opportunities that arise within the company. Unfortunately, companies disobey the act or try to find a grey area to avoid hiring a particular candidate for either the job or certain task. As the population ages, managers must be vigilant to ensure no age discrimination comes into play with employees. Managers must make certain that policies and procedures treat all workers fairly in the workplace, regardless of their age.


On the employee end of things, the individual must be able to learn from other coworkers, work well together, and take advantage of the different perspectives each has to offer. Within the workforce, there is approximately 55.6% males and 44.4% females. Women median weekly earnings is $706 compared to men, at $860. According to the nonprofit organization Catalyst, an organization which studies women in business, while women compose about 51.5% of the employees in managerial and professional positions, only around 14.6% of executive officers in the 500 largest U.S companies (known also as the Fortune 500) are women, and only 8.1% of the top earner executive officers are women. Women are also very underrepresented on boards of directors- they currently hold 16.9% of the board seats of Fortune 500 companies. Sheila Wellington, former president of Catalyst indicates ‘ Women either control or influence nearly all consumer purchases, so it is important to have their perspective represented on boards’. Research conducted by consulting firms suggest that female executives outperform their male colleagues in skills such as motivating others, promoting good communication, turning out high-quality work, and being good listeners. Results of a study conducted by Catalyst found that organizations with higher proportions of women in top management positions had significantly better financial performance than organizations with lower proportions of female top managers.

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Race/ethnicity is one of the bigger discriminations that is heard about more frequently. Ethnicity refers to a grouping of people based on some shared characteristic such as national origin, language, or culture. The racial and ethnic diversity of the US Population is increasing quickly, as is the diversity of the workforce. One out of every three US residents belongs to a minority group and in 2050, the US population is projected to be 54% minority. Statistics compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that much needs to be done in terms of ensuring that diverse employees have equal opportunities. Median weekly earnings for black men are approximately 75.1% of median earnings for white men; median weekly earnings for black women are approximately 83.9% of median earnings for white women. At a general level, managers and organizations are increasingly being reminded that stakeholders in the environment are diverse and expect organizational decisions and actions to reflect this diversity. Managers have to be especially sensitive to avoid stereotyping different groups when they communicate with potential customers.


Religion can be a tricky factor to work around but the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on religion. In 1997 the federal government issued ‘The White House Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Expression in the Federal Workplace’- although technically only applicable to the federal workplace, many large corporations rely on it as well. The guidelines require that employees make reasonable accommodations for religious practices, such as observances of holidays, as long as doing so does not entail major costs or hardships. A key issue for managers in religious diversity is recognizing and being aware of different religions and their beliefs, with particular attention being paid to when religious holidays fall. Meetings should not be scheduled on religious holidays. When managers acknowledge, respect, and make small accommodations for religious diversity, employees’ loyalty is often enhanced. While only 23% of employees who feel they are victims of religious discrimination actually file complaints, about 45% of these employees start looking for other jobs.


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities and also requires that employers make reasonable accommodations to enable these people to effectively perform their jobs. Managers attempt to implement policies and procedures to comply with ADA, however they face a number of interpretation and fairness challenges. Some employees are hesitant to come forth with their issues while on the other hand some abuse the power of disabilities they may not even have. A key challenge for managers is to promote an environment in which employees needing accommodations feel comfortable disclosing their needs and, at the same time, to ensure that the accommodations not only enable those with disabilities to effectively perform their jobs but, also are perceived to be fair by those not disabled. Training must be set in place to inform both manager and employees about disabilities as well as the real capabilities for those whom are disabled. Many people are unaware of the prevalence of disabilities as well as misinformed about their consequences. For example, a blind individual can still excel in his or her careers. Accommodations covered by the ADA enable the individual to perform to their capabilities. The ADA also covers employees with HIV and AIDS which most individuals are not aware of.

Socioeconomic Background

The term socioeconomic background typically refers to a combination of social class and income-related factors. Managers must be sensitive and responsive to the needs and concerns of those whom may not be as well off as others. In a strong economy, it is easier for poor individuals with few skills to find a job. However, when the economy is low, they are unfortunately the first to lose their jobs. On top of that, in recessionary times, it is even more difficult for the unemployed to find new positions. In 2012, according to the US Census Bureau, 46.5 million people were below the poverty rate.

Sexual Orientation

According to research done at the UCLA School of Law, approximately 9 million US residents self-identify as a part of the LGBT+ community. Although there is no federal law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation, 21+ states prohibit sexual orientation discrimination in civilian federal offices. As society is more informed about the minority community, an increasing number of organizations affirm their rights to fair and equal treatment and provide benefits to same-sex partners of LGBT+ employees. Fortunately, in the years that I have worked in various industries, I have not experienced or witnessed first-hand any of the discriminations examined above. However, some of my acquaintances have been victims of various forms of discrimination. Once, at my friend’s workplace, there was an LGBTQ+ member who had requested that their business cards be printed with their preferred name however, was denied. This could be a situation that their employer pre-printed without consulting the employee, based upon database information which shows a need for a preferred name section within the application process. However, this could have been avoided if the employee was approached by the manager to be sure that was the name wanted on the business cards. If the manager approached the employee before sending the order to the printer in order to confirm the name the employee wanted on the card, then this could have been resolved.

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