Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

"Take Your Own Path": Minority Leaders Encountering and Overcoming Barriers in Cultural Community Centers

Academic journal article Journal of Cultural Diversity

"Take Your Own Path": Minority Leaders Encountering and Overcoming Barriers in Cultural Community Centers

Article excerpt

I am an ethnic minority that had been asked to take part in the planning of a new health center. Due to my extensive background in healthcare I was viewed as a content expert. It was decided early on that since the center would be located in an economically depressed area of town that we needed to have representation from the immediate community. Because the area was heavily populated by minorities, this translated into a few minorities from the area becoming part of the planning team. After over a year of working on the project, the health center became a reality. To acknoxuledge this accomplishment we scheduled a little celebration and invited leaders from the community to join us. While at this celebration one of the leaders came up to me, and without an opportunity to introduce myself she said, "You must be one of the community members?" -First author Introduction

Racial/ethnic minorities face a multiplicity of barriers in the workplace including bias, discrimination, racism, and stereotyping. Although racial/ ethnic minorities account for 30% of the total workforce in the United States, only 18.2% hold management positions (U.S. Department of Labor, 2007). This large discrepancy has ramifications for organizations trying to perform optimally in a multicultural world as more diverse organizations enjoy better performance outcomes (Page, 2007; Roberson & Park, 2007). Given the rapidly changing demographic landscape, organizations can no longer ignore the consequences of an evolving workforce. Organizations that integrate more racial/ethnic minorities into their workforces and into leadership positions should be in a superior position to compete into the future (Page, 2007; Roberson & Park, 2007.

Much prior research has focused on barriers that have contributed to lower numbers of racial/ethnic minorities in leadership positions. One of the primary obstacles is the perception held by most that the prototypical leader is a white male (Chung-Herrera & Lankau, 2005; Craig & Feasel, 1998; Ensari & Murphy, 2003 ). With white males dominating the leadership ranks, it becomes increasingly difficult for change to occur (Giberson, Resick & Dickson, 2005). Breaking this cycle becomes very difficult and requires intentionality as organizations develop cultures that reinforce this self-fulfilling prophecy (Giberson et al., 2005). Other research in this area has focused on stereotyping and bias in the workplace (Conchas & Perez, 2003; Craig & Rand, 1998; Dixon & Rosenbaum, 2004; Duehr & Bono, 2006; Greenhaus, Parasuraman, & Wormley, 1990; Rosette, Leonardelli, & Phillips, 2008) while several studies have also examined the perceptions of racial/ethnic minority leaders from the perspective of the followers (Chung-Flerrera & Lankau, 2005; Craig & Feasel, 1998; Cundiff & Komarraju, 2008; Ensari & Murphy, 2003). Some research has been conducted on the experiences of racial/ethnic minorities as they encounter racial barriers in various settings (Daniel, 2007; DeLany & Rogers, 2004; Gardner, 2005; Seago & Spetz, 2008). The literature is deficient in exploring the experiences of overcoming these barriers by racial / ethnic minorities, especially those in top positions in organizations.

Cultural Community Centers

The development and growth of community centers are a result of traditional community organizations not meeting the needs of certain populations. Cultural community centers, as the name implies, are organizations established to serve the needs of specific cultural populations. The services may vary by center, but what is consistent is the goal of providing services that are relevant to their clientele (Eaton & Salari, 2005; Jenkins, 2008; Sheskin & KotlerBerkowitz, 2007). For some community members this is citizenship (Glover, 2004), socialization (Eaton & Salari, 2005), academic support (Wong, 2008), or cultural learning (Jenkins, 2008). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.