Today’s management in the workforce is composed of all types of people verses thirty years ago when white males held a majority of upper-management positions in companies. These positions are now held by a mixture of ethnic back grounds and women who hold just as many if not more management positions then men. Just by looking at the changes in management demographics shows how important it is for people to understand cultural competency in the workplace. Dr. Roosevelt Thomas Jr. (1999) stated, “Diversity is the collective mixture of whomever we have in our workforce characterized by their differences and similarities” (p.11). Managers and supervisors must understand the characteristics of a diversity mature individual; they also need to be able to articulate the differences between affirmative action, managing diversity, understanding and valuing diversity to build skills that transforms awareness into productive and supportive workplace behaviors.
There are many different characteristics of a diversity mature individual. The most important characteristic is when a person accepts diversity management responsibility. The person will need to understand the different types of ethnic backgrounds in the organization, and the different types of techniques he or she will have to use to motivate the staff. He or she will also understand how to treat everyone equal no matter what gender, or ethnic background the employee may be.
Diversity mature individuals must demonstrate contextual knowledge. This knowledge is showed by understanding his or her personal objectives. The individual must know what he or she plans to accomplish before working with others to help develop their personal goals. Also by knowing the organizational objectives, the individual can develop a team to strive towards the bottom line of the organizational goals. Finally, the individual must be able to provide conceptual clarity to the team. This clarity will help the team understand how and why these ideas were created. The one thing a manager does not want is for the team to think everything is just busy work and not for a specific purpose.
Other characteristics of a diversity mature individual include a person who challenges conventional wisdom, and engages in continuous learning. When a person challenges conventional wisdom, he or she is saying it is not ok to continue the same processes of the past because it may affect views and values of the current employees. Also the individual must be willing to continue building his or her awareness of the effects of cultural competency in the workplace by keeping up with current events.
Finally, the individual needs to be comfortable when dealing with the dynamics of diversity. This person will need to utilize a process framework in addressing diversity. This means take the time to understand both sides of the story...