Historical Issues of Different Races in the Workplace and How to Handle Them

Assignment Instructions – Diversity Training Manual

As the new human resources manager, you are now ready to complete the next section of a diversity training manual that is targeted at making your workforce supervisors more aware of current racial diversity issues (e.g., the dramatic increase in the Hispanic percentage of the workforce) and how the supervisors should address them. The goal is to reduce potential tensions in the workplace among employees of different races.

Part II is to be titled, Historical Issues of Different Races in the Workplace and How to Handle Them.

This section should discuss the following:

  • Different races now or likely to be in the workforce of the future, based on the U.S. populations racial demographic changes
  • Particular issues that create tensions among the different groups
  • How supervisors need to address these issues that could potentially cause tension

Sample Answer

Different races now or likely to be in the workforce of the future, based on the U.S. populations racial demographic changes

The future demographic change in the United States is likely to embrace men and women of all races. According to the United States Bureau of the Census 2013, more than 25 percent of the United States population will constitute racial minorities. Asians, Latinos, African Americans will outnumber the Whites residing in the United States (Toossi, 2010). These demographic trends are likely to affect the future makeup of the United States labor force. In five years to come, people of color will form approximately 90 percent of the United States labor force. More than 20 percent of the labor force will consists of African Americans and Hispanics will account for about 10 percent of the labor force. By 2020, 16 percent of the United States Labor Force will consist of Asians (Toossi, 2010). These racial demographic changes are likely to increase tensions in the workplace among workers of various races.

Particular issues that create tensions among the different groups

Racial diversity may cause potential issues at the place of work and supervisors need to understand how to support a diverse work force (Mindiola, Niemann and Rodriguez, 2003). Communication may be difficult among employees with different racial backgrounds. In a racially diverse environment, workers normally communicate in slightly different ways. This can result into inadvertent insults or confusion among employees who are not accustomed to the racial customs of their colleagues. Miscommunication therefore ensues which may create a hostile environment if not properly addressed (Fabienke, 2007).

In a work environment that is racially diverse, many employees may suffer from stereotyping. Stereotyping may spread among workers in form of outright prejudice and false assumptions, accordingly creating tension among employees. For instance, an employee might assume that a Hispanic employee is not good at record keeping. This may cause harm to members of a particular racial group and may negatively affect employee performance (Mindiola, Niemann and Rodriguez, 2003).

Companies whose workforce consists of employees from different racial groups are likely to experience resistance to change from a portion of workers. Such problems are common during selection and recruitment periods. Some employees might not feel comfortable being allowed to work with colleagues from a different racial group. In addition, some workers may judge a newly hired employee simply because he or she is different from others. Resistance to change resulting from racial differences at the workplace can negatively affect productivity and cause serious clashes among employees (Fabienke, 2007).

Supervisors who lack effective knowledge on how to handle employees from different racial groups can have hard times dealing with workers. For instance, some workers may refuse roles assigned to them merely because they feel that such tasks are meant for employees from a particular racial group. An employee may also feel unrecognized at the place of work if he or she is not promoted to a higher rank. All these issues that create tension among employees of different racial groups have a negative impact on the productivity of a company (Mindiola, Niemann and Rodriguez, 2003). However, productivity in a diverse organization can greatly enhances if all supervisors are aware of how they should handle a racially diverse work force.

How supervisors need to address these issues that could potentially cause tension 

According to Fabienke (2007, supervisors can avoid issues related to miscommunication among employees of different racial groups by encouraging an atmosphere of openness where the arising tensions can properly be addressed. Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman (2009) point out that, supervisors of multicultural groups must focus on recognition, anticipation, and problem-solving in order to effectively reduce potential tensions in the workplace among employees of different races. Recognition of crucial racial variations in a group requires the supervisor to be self-aware before he or she can demonstrate awareness of the group’s racial dynamics. The supervisor must be aware of stereotypes and values of self as well as those of others. In addition, the supervisor should recognize and respect norms of every member of the group. After recognition, the supervisor needs to anticipate the impacts of potential tensions on each and every member of the group before he and she can embark on problem-solving (Zastrow and Kirst-Ashman, 2009).

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