Barriers to Cultural Diversity
Because managers and supervisors are creatures of culture, they tend to react to culturally different people in the same manner as their significant others. Therefore, prejudices found in the community are acted out in the workplace. Succinctly, prejudice is a conclusion drawn without adequate knowledge or evidence. The bigot blames members of out-groups for various misfortunes: floods, high taxes, inflation, wars, and, interestingly, bigotry. Such prejudgments are easier to make than objective judgments, which require more energy, knowledge, integrity, and time. In their efforts to make expedient decisions, bigots react to concepts rather than people.
However, as stressed throughout this book, it is behaviors, not attitudes, which create the major problems in managing diversity. There are many laws against discriminatory behaviors, but there are none against prejudicial attitudes. It is not what managers and supervisors think about diversity that hurts or helps employees but how they act out those thoughts. Some managers act out their prejudices by denying culturally different people equal employment opportunities. Contrary to popular writings, prejudices in the workplace are not limited to black-white conflicts and confrontations. There is prejudice against women, older workers, individuals with disabilities, foreign workers, and white workers--all the people who comprise the labor force.
A survey, conducted in 1993 by L. H. Research for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, found that black, Hispanic, and Asian Americans resent one another almost as much as they do whites ( Holmes, 1994). This raises doubt about the strategy of merely hiring more minorities. Unless there is systematic training to help all employees--white and nonwhite--to accept each other, conflicts focusing on ethnicity will expand