Diversity in the workplace is not a new idea or concept. From the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s the majority of people living in the United States were immigrants from other countries including Italy, Russia, and Ireland. Each of the members from these countries spoke different languages, came from different cultures, and had different customs and work ethics. Acceptance to them was fought for in the workplace in industries such as coal, steel, automobile manufacturing, and other labor forces. This type of struggle still continues today in the workplace from cultural differences, and language differences to racial and gender differences. This paper will examine the obstacles managers face when overcoming generational differences between generation X and Y as well as overcoming cultural and gender differences in the workplace.
Differences in Generation X and Generation Y
Although widely debated, the consensus is that the birth range for generation X and generation Y are from 1965 to 1980 and 1980 to 2000 respectively. According to Mhatre and Conger, “currently there are around 48 million individuals belonging to generation X, while generation Y is around 30 million” (Mahtre, K. and Conger, J., p. 73). These two generations differ in many ways. For instance, people in generation X prefer a more independent style of work. They do not like to be micromanaged and would rather be given the freedom to do their work and go home. Generation Y members, however seek guidance from their supervisors and would rather work in a team that includes structure, direction and collaboration.
People from Generation X tend to be very negative and pessimistic with their outlook on life and work. In contrast, generation Y members are very self-confident, and optimistic. They carry an attitude that “anything is possible” and are willing to do whatever as long as they are given direction and leadership. Generation X’ers are less willing to take risks, adapt to change and technology. However they are very loyal to the cause and have a greater need for power but less need for affiliation and affirmation. Generation Y individuals on the contrast require praise and admiration for the job they do, but are not very loyal and will act on another opportunity if they feel it is better for them. “The plethora of differences between Gen X’ers and Gen Y’ers creates a fertile ground for intraorganizational conflict. Because the two generations hold differing attitudes, prescribe to different ideologies and value systems, and exhibit different work preferences, they repeatedly find themselves at crossroads with one another” (Mahtre, K. and Conger, J., p. 74).
According to Bateman and Snell, “One of the most important developments in the US labor market has been the growing number of women working outside the home. Social changes during the 1960’s and 1970’s coupled with financial necessity caused women to enter the workforce and redefine...