Diversity in management, or lack thereof, is having the same mixture of women, blacks, and other minorities in management positions as there is in that local population. What this paper will talk about is some of the facts that business will have to face in regards to diversifying there workforce and there management. Also, it will discuss that while our workforce is becoming more diverse, the upper and middle management of many companies are not. We have to remember that having diversified workforce is not something a company should have, actually it is some thing that has happened or is soon going to happen due to the fact that we have a more diversified population. (Sutherland, 1996) This is why it is important that we train our management to deal with this inevitability.
To the extent of the lack of diversity in management, it is somewhat alarming to see that while we have a rapid increase in the diversity of our population on Long Island, and a pretty diversified workforce, we don’t have well-diversified management in most companies on the island.
On Long Island, two-thirds of the companies surveyed in conjunction with a recent Newsday article have no blacks, Hispanics, or Asians at anything above the vice president level. Also, of all the companies surveyed only 13 percent of them said that they had more than one minority in their executive suite. Also while women have seen an increase that has actually out numbered the number of men in professional ranks, women only account for a mere 10 percent of the total number of executive officers in the top 25 companies on Long Island. While women are getting the short end of the stick in the respect to jobs, women and other minorities are also not getting paid as much as men are. Of the 500 highest paid executives on the island and queens only 19 of them were female. That works out to be about 3.8 percent of the 500 executives.
In the highest paid and the fastest growing type of business which happens to be technology, management here is represented less than in any other type of business. All women and most minorities excluding Asian Americans hold few to no jobs in this field that includes the manufacturing of computers, communication devices, and other kinds of electronic equipment. Along with technology, the stock brokerage field and securities firms all also some of the toughest fields for minorities and women to obtain a job in.
The interesting thing about the problem of diversity in management is that the people who have the power to open these positions to minorities and women, namely the CEO’s of these companies, don’t see a problem. The fact is that of the companies surveyed, half the executive said that they see no barriers to women that would prevent them from reaching the executive level. Also, one third of these executives also said that there is no barrier that would prevent minorities from reaching the same executive level. Another example of this kind of discrimination is the fact that more than half of all the workers surveyed said that they knew of a fellow women or minority employee that had the potential to move up to CEO of the company they were working for while of the executives that were asked the same question only one third of them said that they recognized that employee as an actual contender. (Gordon, p. A5-A7)
Despite that fact that these companies fail to have the same kind of diversity in their management as there are in the local area, they will in the long run find it hard to do business due to the fact that your business has failed to keep up with the changes that taking place in the market place which are partially due to the increase of diversity. For instance, as your customer base changes due to increased diversity, you would need the same king of people working your business to help facilitate the needs of you customer. As a result of this, if more and more companies became as diverse as they should be this would most likely impact the economy in a very positive way.
One of the defenses brought to the table was by the CEO of Arrow Electronics. Arrow, which is the largest company on the island and also the world’s largest distributor of electronics, also has a reputation for helping women obtain the levels of upper management. Unfortunately, the company has not had the same success with minorities.
The reason given was that while it is relatively easy to get white workers for the amount of money he is willing to pay but has a much harder time hiring a minority for the same job at the same pay. He goes on to say that the reason for this is that minorities demand a higher salary based on the fact that they are in shorter supply and in greater demand. He refuses to have two people working the same job and earning a notable difference in salary. Also he says that he will never pay a person more money based on the color of their skin or their gender rather than on the skills that they possess. (Gordon, p. A38)
One thing that is often confused is the difference between affirmative action and diversity in management. Affirmative action is the implemented to help right the wrongs done to minorities in the past. It is based more on the historical aspect of discrimination and basically is being used to make up for previous injustices and to place minorities in an organization that would rather not accept minorities and eventually became a legal obligation for companies in most states.
Diversifying management is based more on changing the culture of the organization to help them become more willing accept minorities into their company as much as they are willing to accept whites. The idea here is to show companies from a business aspect that diversifying there company and the management team will help their company become more profitable as it will be able to realize the needs of a broader range of people. (http://www.shrm.org/diversity.htm)
These are some factors that should be considered when a company decides that it should conceive a plan to diversify itself:
o What are the demographics of your customer/client base? (e.g. age, income, gender, education, ethnicity, etc.)
o How many languages are spoken by your customers/clients?
o In how many countries does your organization operate?
o How much does employee turnover cost your company?
o How much does your company spend annually on recruitment?
o How much have discrimination/harassment suits cost your organization in the past year (in both legal fees and settlements)?
o How frequently does inter-group conflict arise?
o Is there a high level of turnover among certain employee groups?
o Are your policies and benefits attractive to potential diverse recruits?
o Is your organization losing top talent because people do not feel valued, included or heard?
o Do all employees feel that their talents and skills are well rewarded?
o Is there some career advancement possibility for employees and a focus on developing people internally?
o Is diversity reflected in your procurement policies and among your suppliers?
Once a company answers these questions it will have a better idea of what steps to take to help diversify itself and what areas need special attention. And after these steps are taken there should be a noticeable improvement in the functionality of the company as it finds it easier to communicate with a larger number of people and employees enjoy a more positive work environment.
While it is obvious that minorities and women are not being represented fairly in the workforce as well as in managerial roles, there are some changes taking place in the job market and some court cases with some severe penalties for discrimination against color race or gender. One example of this is a court case that was recently won by minorities against a contracting firm. This firm, namely Foster Wheeler, was fined over $1.3 million which will go to 100 former black/female workers of the firm for having offensive graffiti of some kind in the portable toilets at a job site in Robbins, Illinois. In addition to the fines, the firm also has to create a harassment policy; its managers have to go to trainings and the firm has to make Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also known as the EEOC.
Another victory for minorities is the new hiring law implemented by the FCC. In this case, a federal court deemed the FCC’s rules regarding the hiring procedure by broadcasters as “unconstitutional”. Due to this court decision, the FCC has implemented new rules that broadcasters must follow when hiring new applicants. These new rules basically aim to improve the job opportunities of women and minorities in this field. The basis behind this new ruing is that broadcasters must now reach out more into minority communities when hiring new workers. (www.diversityonline.com)
While where has been some progress in helping diversify our workforce and management it is obvious that we have a long way to go before the amount of minorities and women in a given local area equal the amount of minorities and women in managerial roles in a given company. It is unfortunate that there is such a lack of diversity because if we continue to limit the number of minorities in management positions and the number of minorities in a given community continue to rise than companies might not be able to meet the needs of their customers. That it is why it is imperative that more companies incorporate some form of a diversity program. If companies don’t start using programs like this it will not only hurt that company and community but it will also hurt the economy.