Managing Diversity in the Workplace: Introduction

Excellence through diversity is one of the Chancellor's goals, yet the term diversity often raises controversy, confusion, and tension. What does it mean? Is it the same as affirmative action? Why should you focus on it?

When people think of diversity, they may think first of ethnicity and race, and then gender; however, diversity is much broader than that. In Workforce America! Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource, diversity is defined as “otherness or those human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet present in other individuals and groups.” Dimensions of diversity include, but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, religious beliefs, parental status, and work experience (Loden and Rosener 1991, 18-19).

It's important to understand how these dimensions affect performance, motivation, success, and interactions with others. Institutional structures and practices that have presented barriers to some dimensions of diversity should be examined, challenged, and removed.