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Webucator's Free Diversity Training for Employees and Managers Tutorial

Lesson: Understanding Diversity

Welcome to our free Diversity Training for Employees and Managers tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Diversity Training for Employees and Managers course.

Diversity is important in the workplace but also can be the catalyst of discrimination. It is important to understand what diversity is and how to promote and manage the differences between individuals. This lesson discusses the definitions of diversity and how the laws protect individuals and groups, as well as the advantages and disadvantages associated with diversity in the workplace.

Lesson Goals

  • Learn the definition of diversity and other related terms.
  • Learn the advantages and complications of diversity in the workplace.
  • Learn how to assess self-awareness of diversity.
  • Learn about the general history of diversity in the workplace.
  • Learn about the laws that protect against diversity discrimination.

What Is Diversity?

Workplace diversity is about the unique qualities that each individual offers to the team. People in an organization have similarities and differences based on every possible type of criteria. These criteria could be based on:

  1. Cultural background.
  2. Age.
  3. Gender.
  4. Work experience.
  5. Parental status.
  6. Education.
  7. Ethnicity.
  8. Any other method of describing groups or individuals.

It is important to recognize that this is not a racial or cultural issue. Diversity includes a much broader list that incorporates anyone who brings a different opinion or skill to the group. Diversity can be a great benefit to a company, but some individuals may perceive these differences as a hindrance.

It is important that managers provide a work environment that embraces diversity. A successfully diverse work environment is an environment in which:

  1. Employees respect the differences and similarities in others.
  2. Employees learn from those individuals who are different from them to make a stronger, smarter workforce.

In order to understand diversity it is important to know or understand the following:

  1. Common diversity-related terms.
  2. Advantages of a diverse workforce.
  3. Complications that can occur as the result of a diverse workforce.

Other Terms for Diversity

Common terms that are used when discussing diversity include:

  1. Different: This is a term that has both positive and negative connotations. It is important to embrace differences and learn from others that are different instead of being intimidated or frightened by their differences.
  2. Unique: To describe an individual as unique means that they are different, but also extraordinarily special. A unique or rare piece of art is treasured and priceless. Humans should be valued that same way.
  3. Cultural Awareness: Understanding and respecting different cultural values is important, but it alone does not make a workplace diverse.
  4. Stereotypes: These labels, which are often hurtful, that are attached to certain groups because of a certain characteristic or genetic background are important in the discussion of diversity. It is essential to overcome the process of stereotyping and promote the unique values that each individual brings to the table.

Advantages

Diversity is highly beneficial to companies for many reasons:

  1. A diverse team means more opinions and ideas, more solutions, and more creativity.
  2. Different people with different backgrounds offer more options so managers can decide the most efficient and advantageous path to take.
  3. Co-workers can learn from one another and the team grows and becomes stronger because of its diversity.
  4. Diversity helps reduce discrimination lawsuits and promotes a positive business image.

Complications

Not everyone is open to diversity. Negative attitudes and behaviors can cause major complications in a diverse workforce. Managing these complications includes protecting against discrimination and prejudices.

These complications can cause failures in working relationships, decreased productivity, and overall lack of motivation in the team. Managers and employees must overcome these obstacles and promote diversity in a positive manner.

What Is Diversity?

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. True or False: Diversity is about helping minorities and only involves different races and cultures.
  2. Which of the following is an example of diversity in the workplace?
    1. A team of individuals that represent different generations.
    2. Men and women working together on a project.
    3. A department of employees from many different cultural backgrounds.
    4. A group of employees with varied levels of work experience and education.
    5. All of the above.
  3. Which of the following diversity terms means that someone is different but extraordinary?
    1. Different
    2. Unique
    3. Cultural Awareness
    4. Stereotype
  4. Which of the following diversity terms is a hurtful label that is attached to certain groups because of a certain characteristic or genetic background?
    1. Different
    2. Unique
    3. Cultural Awareness
    4. Stereotype

Solution:

  1. False. Diversity does include different races and cultures, but it also includes much more, like gender, age, parental status, and more.
  2. E. All of the listed examples are accurate representations of diversity in the workplace. Diversity includes many different characteristics of people.
  3. B. Unique
  4. D. Stereotype

Diversity Self-awareness

Corporate policies and government regulations can provide structure and try to promote diversity, but the ability to build meaningful relationships and interact with one another is a completely different topic that is more difficult to learn.

It is important to understand and be aware of how your behaviors or attitudes can affect another individual. The ability to analyze your own identity, biases and feelings towards stereotypes is not an easy skill to master.

It requires being completely honest with one's self and also showing empathy for others who are different. Few people like to admit that they have biases or are prejudiced in some way. Formally acknowledging these biases is the first step in changing the discriminatory behavior.

Here are some questions that an individual can use to self-assess his or her ability to embrace diversity:

  1. Do you know your own cultural background?
  2. What unique characteristic or cultural trait do you bring that can benefit the team?
  3. What common stereotypes can you think of?
  4. Do you actively seek out people who are different from you to learn from them?
  5. Do you ever visualize yourself in another person's situation and empathize with that individual?
  6. Do you value a person by his or her contributions or do you use other criteria?
  7. Do you enjoy working with individuals with different accents and different cultural backgrounds?

These questions are merely a starting point for an individual to begin looking within and discovering current comfort levels with diversity. Once individuals are honest with themselves, they can begin to recognize flaws and start changing their behavior in the workplace.

Understanding Diversity Self-awareness

Duration: 10 to 15 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. If someone has biases can they still be successful in promoting diversity in the workplace?
  2. What is the key to diversity self-awareness?
    1. Answering specific questions.
    2. Knowing stereotypes.
    3. Being honest with yourself.
    4. Being a nice person.

Solution:

  1. Yes. Everyone has biases and understanding one's own biases helps change behaviors and embrace diversity.
  2. C. Being honest with yourself

History of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity is not a new term, but it is a somewhat new topic in the workplace. So why is it important? Where did it come from?

From the birth of the United States, the workforce was commonly seen as a white male environment. This started to change slowly because of different historical events over time. Women joined the workforce during war time. The abolishment of slavery and civil rights laws supported minorities joining the workforce and earning a stronger voice in the process.

The following are major points in history that dramatically increased diversity in the workplace:

  1. President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 declaring the freedom of slaves and the 13th Amendment that followed was adopted in 1865 outlawing slavery.
  2. In 1913, Henry Ford offered $5 a day (twice the typical daily wage) to attract immigrants and African Americans. By 1916 Ford's employees represented 62 nationalities, and he also employed over 900 people with disabilities.
  3. Women joined the workforce in great numbers in 1917 when American men went to war.
  4. The Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor formed in 1920.
  5. President Harry S. Truman integrated the military in 1948.
  6. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy improved hiring practices for women and established maternity leave.
  7. In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was signed, which made it illegal to pay a woman less than a man for the same job.
  8. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, which prohibits discrimination in many aspects of employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Americans continue to evolve and strive towards a discrimination-free world and a successful work environment. There are many more equal opportunity laws in place now which help promote diversity, but these do not guarantee equality in the workplace. The responsibility falls on each and every employee to protect and respect one another.

Understanding the History of Diversity

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. When was the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor formed?
    1. 1920
    2. 1948
    3. 1917
    4. 1964
  2. How did President Kennedy improve diversity in 1961?
  3. True or False: Improved work conditions and equal opportunity laws which help promote diversity, do not guarantee equality in the workplace.

Solution:

  1. A. 1920
  2. In 1961, President John F. Kennedy improved hiring practices for women and established maternity leave.
  3. True. The responsibility falls on each and every employee to protect and respect one another.

Diversity Laws

Many different laws protect against diversity discrimination. Some of the most significant Acts protecting individuals from discrimination include:

  1. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on:
    1. Race.
    2. Color.
    3. Age.
    4. Religion.
    5. Sex.
    6. National origin.
  2. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
    1. This act protects applicants and employees with disabilities from discrimination in many aspects of employment on the basis of disability.
    2. The law also requires that employers provide applicants and employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
  3. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
    1. This act protects applicants and employees 40 years of age or older from discrimination on the basis of age.
  4. The Equal Pay Act of 1963
    1. This act prohibits sex discrimination and enforces equal wages for women and men performing equal work in the same establishment.

All of these laws also protect against retaliation. Retaliation is any kind of negative backlash against a person who reports discrimination or opposes discriminatory behavior.

Understanding Diversity Laws

Duration: 5 to 10 minutes.

Answer the following questions and then discuss as a class.

  1. Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on all of the following except which one?
    1. Race
    2. Color
    3. Age
    4. Religion
    5. Parental status
    6. Sex
    7. National origin
  2. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination, and require that employers do what?
  3. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects applicants and employees from discrimination on the basis of age. What ages are protected?
    1. All ages
    2. 40 years of age or older
    3. 18 years of age or older
    4. 18 years of age or younger
  4. The Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires companies to pay employees the same wages when performing equal work in the same establishment. This law requires equal pay between which diversity groups?
    1. Employees from different cultural backgrounds
    2. Employees from different age groups
    3. Women and Men
    4. Employees with different religious beliefs

Solution:

  1. E. Parental status is not protected under Title VII but it is a diversity category.
  2. Employers must provide applicants and employees with disabilities with reasonable accommodations in the workplace.
  3. B. 40 years of age or older
  4. C. Women and men