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The Diversity Training Movement And Its Failure

1167 words - 5 pages

INTRODUCTIONScan the newspapers, listen to the evening news, peruse a periodical, survey the literature, talk to a friend, and you too will find example after example of organizations and individuals faced with the costly effects of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. The basic federal law against job discrimination is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law makes job discrimination illegal.Employers cannot use race, skin color, age, gender, religious belief, or national origin as their basis for hiring; nor can these be used as the basis for promotions, dismissals, pay raises, benefits, assignments, leaves of absence, or any other employment relationship-- from pre-hiring interviews to post-employment references. The Civil Rights Act of 1992 broadened the law. If workers can prove that a particular employment practice tends to exclude women or minorities, for example, then the employer must show that the practice is job-related or consistent with business necessity. During the late summer and early fall of 2003, I was privy to information that lead me to believe my potential boss may have been passed over due to his weight and the fact he was Native American. This person was said to have been asked why he was so over weight and how he felt that may hinder his ability to do his job. He never did get the job and perhaps we'll never know the real reasons why. The hiring process has since seen its fair share of changes and alterations. Understanding diverse backgrounds was the key to getting the Director we needed.The underlying expectation of the diversity training process is to provide an avenue of learning and create a level of awareness that would eliminate discrimination and harassment in the workplace. At first, diversity training seemed to be the needed answer and, over time, it developed a following. To update what happened in the movement and why, I first discussed the predicaments facing the organization, and individuals in the workplace. As these scenarios played out, much to the dismay of those receiving the training, diversity training failed to diminish discrimination and harassment behaviors in the workplace. I believe the reason diversity training has failed to provide the much-needed answers is because its central focus places attention on ideas and ideologies rather than on behaviors and skills.THE DIVERSITY TRAINING MOVEMENTWhen a Workforce 2000 Report used the term "diversity" in 1987, it soon became a buzzword. The report predicted that before the turn of the century, 84 percent of the entry-level workforce would be made up of females and minorities. Among the startling projections were the following: White males would account for only 15 percent of the 25 million people who joined the workforce between the years 1985 and 2000. The remaining 85 percent would consist of white females, immigrants, and minorities (of both genders) of black, Hispanic, and Asian origins. Many business leaders were convinced...

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