B OSTON C OLLEGE
CENTER FOR WORK & FAMILY
E X E C U T I V E B R I E F I N G S E R I E S
In this Issue: Exploring Diversity: Race and Culture
Race and culture are critical issues at the
forefront of inclusive workplace practices. in the Inclusive Workplace
A description of the increasingly Companies around the world are realizing the strength that comes from pro-
diverse workforce. moting a diverse workforce. Though this Executive Briefing will focus on race
The definition of inclusion and how and culture, the strategies that are recommended for creating an inclusive
an inclusive workplace is created. work environment could apply to any segment of the population including
The drivers behind increasing diversity women, employees with disabilities, different generations in the workplace,
and challenges to establishing inclusive LGBT workers, or staff with various religious beliefs. This paper focuses on
practices in the workplace. race and culture because these are visible attributes that distinguish employ-
Best practices for creating and ees, are a significant and growing segment of the global workforce, and can
maintaining inclusive work environments. be very personal concepts to discuss.
Authored by WHY RACE AND CULTURE?
Kisha N. Bazelais The demographics of the U.S. labor market have shifted significantly. The
Konjit V. Page 2000 Census report served as a call to corporations to heighten their atten-
tion to diversity issues within the workforce and throughout the marketplace.
Institute for the Study and Promotion
of Race and Culture at Boston College
Since then, numerous organizations have made attempts to address the
needs and values of today's diverse workforce, but the question still remains
Jennifer Sabatini Fraone
Are we hitting the mark? In our efforts to embrace diverse work environ-
Boston College Center for Work & Family
ments, are we doing a good job at recruiting, retaining, and providing a pro-
Advisory Committee ductive and supportive environment for our workers? If not, how can we
Rosalind Cox seek to promote a work environment that embraces diversity and promotes
Ford Motor Company inclusion? How can we learn to appreciate, incorporate and benefit from the
Beverly Harris values and strengths of our workers?
Sara Kashima Race and culture are not synonymous, although they each can be very
emotional and sometimes scary concepts to talk about for different reasons.
Alcatel-Lucent Instead of avoiding talking about race and culture in the environment and
Contributing Staff thereby engaging in hurtful practices unintentionally, it is more useful to
Janet E. Helms
Institute for the Study and Promotion analyze the organization's philosophy about race and culture in the workplace.
of Race and Culture at Boston College Janet E. Helms, PhD - Executive Director of the Institute
Kathy Lynch for the Study and Promotion of Race and Culture at Boston College
Kristin McNally Discussions about race and culture continue to be difficult, even in the face
Boston College Center for Work & Family of our growing knowledge about the need to address such issues. This
Executive Briefing focuses on understanding these issues in the context of
today's workplace. We hope that you find this dialogue engaging and useful
in your organization.
The Linguistics of Diversity
While the terms "race" and "culture" are often implied when one is speaking about issues relating to diversity or
inclusion, it is important to separate these terms from the broader definitions in order to provide a meaningful
context from which the issues presented in this briefing can best be understood.
Race ... the category to which others assign individ- Diversity ... individuals' social identities including
uals on the basis of physical characteristics and the age, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability,
generalizations and stereotypes made as a result. socioeconomic status, race/ethnicity, workplace
Culture ... the belief systems and value orientations role/position, religious and spiritual orientation,
that influence customs, norms, practices, and social and work/family concerns.
institutions, including psychological processes and Inclusion ... a sense of belonging: feeling respected,
organizations. valued for who you are; feeling a level of supportive
Ethnicity ... the acceptance of the group mores energy and commitment from others so than you
and practices of one's culture of origin and the can do your best work.
concomitant sense of belonging.
American Psychological Association, 2002 and Miller, Frederick A. and Katz, Judith H. 2002. The Inclusion Breakthrough: Unleashing the Real Power of
Diversity. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
TODAY'S RACIALLY AND CULTURALLY DIVERSE WORKFORCE
Today's workforce is more diverse than ever. It has transformed over the past
several years due to changes in worker demographics, the impact of the glob-
al marketplace, and the career and personal life goals of diverse workers.
Today's workers are from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and bring
"The increasingly diverse U.S.
varied sets of motivations and priorities towards their employment.
demographics, coupled with a
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, foreign-born workers (including legal
growing global economy, are immigrants, refugees, temporary residents and undocumented immigrants) made
beginning to force organizations up over 15 percent of the U.S. civilian labor force aged 16 and over in 2006. It has
been predicted that 57 percent of the labor force will be women and people of
to rethink models of business color by 2014 (NAS, 2007). With projected declines in the general population and
success and how they will ensure in the labor force due to factors such as the retirement of aging workers, it will
become increasingly essential for developed nations such as the U.S. to utilize for-
organizational readiness for eign labor sources (Heet, 2003). In addition, many U.S. based companies are doing
effectively aligning business business abroad, acquiring or merging with international firms, or outsourcing por-
tions of their business to other parts of the world. These factors necessitate the
strategies with current and future development of a new skill set to foster competent cross-cultural communication.
demographic and market realities
Understanding the incredibly diverse motivations and priorities of today's workers
to achieve growth, profitability, is necessary in order to develop strategies for retaining organizational talent. A
and sustainability." 2005 study by Storke, et al. showed that while employees in general placed high
values on advancement and learning, employees from racially and culturally
McCuiston, Wooldridge & Pierce, 2004 diverse backgrounds emphasized these issues even more than White employees.
Additionally, when asked about their "ideal job", employees from diverse groups
emphasized opportunities for advancement, learning new skills, and working for an
organization that has good education and training benefits. Furthermore, when
asked to provide their priorities over the next 3-5 years, these employees were more
likely than White employees to list being promoted, taking on new challenges at
work, continuing their education and training, and advancing in their current career.
THE INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE
Defining the "Inclusive
Workplace" While an organization can be diverse, one cannot assume that it is inclusive.
According to Michlle Mor Barak, Researchers at the Workplace Diversity Network (2000) suggest that the con-
Professor at University of Southern cept of inclusion should take into consideration not only the ways in which
California and author of Managing an organization interacts with its employees, but also the policies, structures
Diversity: Toward a Globally and programs offered, and the ways in which the organization interacts with
Inclusive Workplace (2000), an customers, clients, partners, and vendors. According to these researchers,
inclusive workplace is one that an inclusive workplace possesses the following:
A demonstrated commitment A demonstrated commitment
Values and uses individual to diversity to continuous learning
and inter-group differences A holistic view of employees Participatory work organization
within its work force Access to opportunity and work progress
Cooperates with and Accommodation of diverse physical Alignment of organizational
contributes to its and developmental abilities culture and process
surrounding community 360 degree communication and Collaborative conflict resolution
Alleviates the needs of information sharing processes
disadvantaged groups in Shared accountability and A demonstrated commitment
its wider environment responsibility to community relationships
Collaborates with individuals,
groups, and organizations How are companies describing their commitment to the inclusion
across national and cultural of race and culture in their organizations?
Alcatel-Lucent We achieve our shared purpose by embracing the full
richness of our people's differences. We believe the diversity of our people
"Diversity describes the spec- enriches our work experience and is the source of our innovation and our
trum of human similarities and competitive advantage. We adhere to Alcatel-Lucent's core values and treat
everyone with dignity and deepest respect.
differences. It refers to the com-
Chevron Corporation We express our belief in the value of diversity through
position of people associated
principles, practices and accountability. This begins with The Chevron Way,
with the organization. which states, "We learn from and respect the cultures in which we work. We
value and demonstrate respect for the uniqueness of individuals and the varied
Inclusion, on the other hand,
perspectives and talents they provide. We have an inclusive work environment
describes the way an organiza- and actively embrace a diversity of people, ideas, talents and experiences."
tion configures opportunity, Our principles endorse a spirit of inclusion and foster an environment where every-
interaction, communication, one can reach their full potential. We are committed to being recognized as a glob-
al leader that backs its words with accountable actions and quantifiable results.
information and decision-mak-
ing to utilize the potential of Ford Motor Company Diversity embodies all the differences that make us unique
individuals. At Ford Motor Company we recognize diversity as a strategic advantage
diversity. It refers to the organi- in today's global marketplace. We are committed to building an inclusive culture that
zational environment." leverages all of the many elements of diversity; encourages innovation; allows employ-
ees to perform to their fullest potential; and, ultimately, drives business results.
Workplace Diversity Network, 2000
Turner Construction We will build and maintain an inclusive, diverse
workforce that effectively accepts, utilizes and values our employees. We will
maintain an environment where employees can contribute creative ideas, seek
challenges, assume leadership roles and continue to focus on meeting and
exceeding business and personal objectives. We will provide opportunities
and training that allow each individual to achieve their maximum potential.
WHAT ARE THE DRIVING FORCES BEHIND CREATING
INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS?
Pepsi Bottling Group's (PBG) Businesses are being challenged to develop strategies that meet the needs
CEO has a very strong commit- of changing demographics and a growing global economy. Propelling the
ment to diversity. He chairs the need for the creation of inclusive work environments are several factors: the
company's diversity council. The increased participation in the global marketplace, the attraction and retention
objectives of the council are to of racially and culturally diverse top talent, and employees' desires to be a
part of inclusive workplaces.
1) build an inclusive workplace,
2) look like the marketplace, Companies must be able to acclimate rapidly to the conditions
3) capture multicultural and demands of a dynamic new world of business.
consumers and Because the global marketplace is characterized by a diversity of people, prod-
4) connect with the community. ucts, and markets, organizations must be equipped to respond to changing mar-
ket conditions, technologies, and ideas. As organizations become more involved
Diversity has become ingrained with global partners, due to changing economic policies, political changes, and
into the business strategy to foreign sourcing, they need to be able to adapt to changing market realities. By
which the CEO feels is central to increasing their recruitment of diverse employees, companies can gain competi-
the future success and growth of tive advantages by establishing connections with a broader customer base. This
PBG. This is reflected in the can be achieved through leveraging the varied cultural and sociopolitical knowl-
organization's growing popula- edge and linguistic skills possessed by diverse employees that are essential to
tion of diverse customers, con- creating and maintaining ties with diverse communities. At DuPont Merck, the
sumers and communities it sales of an anticoagulant drug in the Hispanic markets were low. A Hispanic
serves. (Visconti, L. 2007) manager identified that the drug was labeled exclusively in English, the man-
ager translated the label into Spanish resulting in a significant improvement
in sales. Now, educational materials for the drug are translated into 15 languages
and bring in millions of dollars in new business. (Hart, M. A.,1997).
Employee Resource Groups, Employee Councils, or Affinity Groups can con-
tribute to the development of new products and marketing initiatives to serve
new market segments. As defined by AstraZeneca, Employee Resource
Groups are "Voluntary associations of employees who support corporate val-
"Employees of Color are equally ues and work together to enrich the concept of community in a diverse busi-
ness environment" (Krupka, 2006). These groups are often involved in iden-
serious about work and life out- tifying innovative business solutions.
side of work. Outside of work,
Work-Life and the Racially and Culturally Inclusive Workplace
family -- specifically extended
Creating and maintaining inclusive work environments requires that compa-
family -- are key areas of focus nies not only foster diversity in the workplace, but also address issues of race
and culture that impact employees' lives outside of work as well.
and concern. For Employees of
Color, being part of a generally Why is it important to address the racial and cultural dimensions of work-life?
diverse organization and one in By viewing the diversity among employees as strengths and demonstrating a
which they see others like them- willingness to accept the different worldviews of their employees, organizations
can benefit in many ways. Research indicates that organizations retain diverse
selves is more important than for workers if they consistently (a) respect and acknowledge the unique contribu-
White/Caucasian employees." tions that diverse workers bring into the workplace, (b) demonstrate a willing-
ness to accept the different worldview of their employees, and (c) acknowledge
Storke et al., 2005 and attend to racial and cultural issues in the work and personal lives of their
employees (Storke et al., 2005).
While many racially and culturally diverse professionals hold leadership roles
"The increasingly diverse (e.g., mentoring, community involvement) in their lives outside of work, com-
panies have been hesitant to recognize, value, or help employees transfer
workforce brings to the workplace these skills into the workplace (Hewlett, Luce & West, 2005). A Harvard
a wide variety of family Business Review article, entitled Leadership in Your Midst: Tapping the Hidden
Strengths of Minority Executives (2005) found that this lack of recognition can
arrangements and family needs. lead diverse employees to feel invisible in the workplace and, in conjunction
The balance between work and with their contributions outside of the workplace, can lead to feelings of
overextension and burn out.
family responsibilities can be very
distinctive in different societies. How can companies address the racial and cultural dimensions of work-life?
Accommodating the work-life Work-life programs that focus on flexibility and allow for individualized
schedules promote healthy work-life balance for employees of all races and
needs of the global workforce is the
cultures. Flexibility is rooted in diversity, looking at each individual and their
most important challenge we face unique needs. Work-life programs that are sensitive to individual and family
needs show how companies can assist in addressing diverse influences in
as researchers and as managers in
workers' lives. For example, Chinese males are obligated to provide filial care
the 21st Century." for their elderly parents as a form of repaying their parents for bearing the
emotional and financial cost of raising them. However, fulfilling this cultural
Michlle Mor Barak, Professor at
obligation is becoming increasingly difficult for many Asian workers in the
University of Southern California, 2006
United States, therefore, they have begun to hire home care workers to fulfill
excerpted from interview for Sloan Work
their caregiving obligations (Lan, 2002). Companies need to take into con-
and Family Research Network
sideration cultural variations in caregiving, and the subsequent impact that
these differences may have on the lives of their employees when creating
THE BUSINESS CASE FOR INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENTS
Racially and culturally inclusive work environments benefit organizations in a variety of ways. Research studies have
shown a strong link between companies' successful attempts to address issues of diversity and business growth,
profitability, and sustainability.
Racially and culturally inclusive work environments help facilitate the overall organizational
growth of companies.
A study conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (Aghazadeh, 2004) found that:
91% of employees reported that diversity initiatives helped their organizations compete in the marketplace
79% believed their diversity programs improved corporate culture
77% said that diversity programs improved recruitment efforts
52% indicated that diversity programs facilitated more effective client contact
Increased diversity in work environments has a positive impact on business profitability.
Organizations that embrace inclusive work practices and directly address the racial and cultural diversity of their
employees have been found to benefit from experiencing both a substantial increase in profit and employee produc-
tivity. Companies with diversity practices collectively generated 18% greater productivity than the U.S. economy over-
all according to a 2004 study of the National Urban League. Studies have shown that there is a strong correlation
between employee diversity and greater business performance in areas such as worker productivity, net operating
profits, gross revenues, and shareholder value (McCuiston et al., 2004).
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