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ValuingDiversity

ManagingDifferencesEffectively

PattiFralix
TheFralixGroup,Inc.

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ValuingDiversity
ManagingDifferencesEffectively

Objectives
Recognizetheimportanceofunderstandingandvaluingdiversity.
Identifythemostprevalentdifferencesbetweenpeopleintheworkplace.
Differentiatethemostimportantcharacteristicsofdiversegroups.
Integratevaluingdiversitywithcollaboration,teamwork,andproductivity.

INTRODUCTION
It is likely that all readers are familiar with the Golden Rule, Do Unto Others as You Would
Have Done Unto You. Most people think of the Golden Rule as positive and good, even
moral. Few will immediately agree with the suggestion to avoid thinking and behaving by the
Golden Rule Standard. But that is exactly what can be beneficial. Before thinking that the
mere mention of such is heresy, analyze the exact words in the Golden Rule, and think of the
implications.
The Golden Rule is often equated with treating others with dignity and respect, and most people, if asked, would say that such is appropriate. In its simplistic version, it is. In the past, specifically during the Industrial Age, people in the workplace were more alike than different.
Given this, most people were not conscious of many of the important differences between individuals in their same group, much less those in different groups. There were few different
groups present in most companies during that time. Also, those who were assumed to be similar had many differences left unacknowledged. The fact that most people were not aware of the
differences does not mean they were not present. On the other hand, some of the differences
experienced today were not present or, if present, were not of the same magnitude as they are
lately. A few examples may help to illuminate this point.
Twenty years ago college classes in the U.S. in the traditional professions of law, medicine, and
engineering would have had few women. Now, each of those professions graduate an equal
number of women to men and, in some cases, more women than men. This is an example of
gender differences that have evolved, resulting in significant changes in the workplace even
more than in the classroom and academic institutions.
Also, there has been a substantial increase in the number of ethnic groups other than Caucasian,
such as African Americans, Latinos/Hispanics, and Asians, that have been hired into and pro-

1 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

moted to responsible positions in most companies. During this same time period, people who
are physically challenged have found aid in the court systems by the adoption of laws precluding discrimination, allowing them to be gainfully employed. The same is true for other differences, such as sexual orientation, as well as all of the differences addressed in this module.
We are no longer in the Industrial Age. We have gone from the Industrial Age through the
Service and Communication Age and now are living in the Age of Innovation and Creativity.
The we referred to is no longer just the United States, but a global world connected immediately in many ways. One example of this is Michael Jackson, who recently died at 50 years of
age, an international icon whose memorial service held in Los Angeles was attended by people
from all over the world. There were more tweets about Michael Jacksons death than US
President Barack Obamas election. Tweeting is a very recent phenomenon that immediately
connects people from anywhere in the world. Another example of the power of tweeting is that
Iran nationals were not able to keep election unrest information from the rest of the world. Nor
can anyone stop the major changes related to diversity from happening and creating massive
change in our world.
While no one can stop the massive changes related to diversity from happening (nor should
they want to, by the way!), it is highly possible for us to fail to understand and/or values those
differences. If we fail to understand and/or value differences, we miss the opportunities those
differences create.
This module addresses diversity from a macro standpoint. Too often the subject of diversity is
assumed to involve only ethnic differences, often called race diversity. While ethnicity (a better word than race) is an important difference, it is no more (or less) important than the other
types of diversity. In fact, the differences that are not as obvious can involve more prejudice
than those that are obvious. Regarding prejudice, most experts acknowledge that it is (still)
impossible for most people to reach the age of maturity without some prejudice. They also acknowledge that prejudice is hard to maintain once one gets outside of their own group and
gets to know, understand, and value others who are not like them in certain ways, specifically,
those who have some differences. When such occurs, collaboration, teamwork, and productivity are enhanced, resulting in better individual and collective results for people and for the organizations in which they work and the societies in which they live.
Perhaps a disclaimer is in order before getting any deeper into this subject of diversity. While
differences are being discussed by group, it is true that all within a particular group will not
have the beliefs, values, or behaviors of the group. There are, of course, individual differences.
So yes, we are generalizing, without apology. All research is based upon generalizations. If
the generalizations cannot be proven by research, then we can say it is someones personal
opinion. Also, in noting the differences, it is important to note the strengths, not just the weaknesses, of each group being discussed, and each group has both strengths and weaker areas.
From a teamwork and productivity standpoint, therein lies the magic.

THEWORLDOFWORKRELATEDTOMANAGINGDIFFERENCES
It is not possible to accomplish the best results today without collaboration and teamwork.
These words, collaboration and teamwork, are words that were assumed to beand in
many cases wereunnecessary in the Industrial Age. Not so today and in the future. In an inValuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 2

creasingly more and more diverse world, collaboration and teamwork are not possible without
valuing diversity and capitalizing on the strengths diversity creates.
It is important to note that, while the subject of this module is understanding and valuing differences, the focus is the workplace. Certainly the content applies in other areas of life, but the
focus is not personalit is professional. Recognize that, while many will most likely (or hopefully) agree with the content herein, there are some who may not find it necessary to change
their personal opinions about some of these things. We each have a personal set of values, and
these do not always jive with the corporate values of our employer or others with whom we
work. Nor do they need to. Unless, that is, our personal values are constantly at odds with the
values of our employer. An example is the nurse who is opposed to abortion. It will be best for
all concerned, certainly the patients, the nurse herself, and the employer, for the nurse to work
in another area of the healthcare organization than in the obstetrical area where abortions are
routinely performed. If such is not possible, much stress will occur, stress that can result in serious health consequences. Usually, individuals do not choose to work for an employer whose
corporate values are diametrically opposed to their own personal values. Another example is
the cigarette manufacturer who allows smoking in all areas of the company, including meeting
rooms. A non-smoker bothered by smoking will do best to work in another company.
Separate from those personal values that one chooses to maintain, it is hoped that the points
made in this module will illuminate the reasons why valuing diversity is best. It is possible that
people who have very ingrained prejudices will not readily change those. What is expected is
that the behavior will change, meaning that, even if one does not value diversity on a personal
level, they will on a professional level. This is not recommending being inauthentic. It is intended to mean that the workplace has a right to expect respectful behavior from all employees
toward each other, regardless of the differences.
Also, some people reading this will readily accept and even value many of the differences that
will be discussed, but not all of them. Again, this is not intended to even attempt to change
ones personal values. The case is being made that behaving in any manner disrespectful to
anyone, regardless of whether we accept them or their choices on a personal level, should be
unacceptable on a professional level.
The most common differences present in the workplace will now be addressed individually.

THEMOSTPREVALENTDIFFERENCESAFFECTINGTHEBUSINESS
WORLD
WORKPLACEDIFFERENCES
Workplace cultures in most companies were quite different during the Industrial Age and even
the Service Age than they are in todays Age of Innovation and Creativity. One major difference was the relationship between managers (referring to many types of management positions)
and their direct reports (usually referred to as employees). In the past, those in management
positions were assumed to need to control those in non-management positions. Those in nonmanagement positions were expected to do what they were told. Words often equated with this
time period include plan, organize, direct, and control, which were considered the most important management functions. The most prevalent words describing the expected behavior of

3 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

non-managers during this time period were follow and do, as in follow my (managers)
direction, and do what you are told.

One way in which managers controlled was to keep information close to their vest. (One example of the changes in diversity is that most managers in the past were men. The increase in
women in management position is a fairly recent change.) Now, it is not uncommon for most
company information, including financial information, to be openly shared with all company
employees. While this is a more recent change for many companies, one company has been
doing this for many years. That company was Kinkos, which is now FedEx Kinkos. Kinkos
was providing full financial information to all coworkers, and also had all coworkers on profit
sharing plans, as early as the 1970s. In fact, the term coworker, which has now become much
more common, has been in use by Kinkos also for many years. Of late, in many companies,
the term employee, is often replaced by terms including associate, co-worker, and even
teammates, all terms which reflect the awareness of the change in relationship between nonmanagers and the company.
The changes that have occurred in workplaces are changes that happened mainly due to technical, sociological, and economic changes affecting the entire world. During the Industrial Age,
there was much stability and little change, so the behaviors of managers and non-managers
were a reflection of this. Management control and non-management dependency worked, or at
least worked well enough.
The Industrial Age was followed by the Service Age, a period of time in which the customer
became the focus of many companies. In some companies this was referred to as customer
focused, and some companies considered themselves customer driven. It was during this
time that many employees came to be viewed as customers, often referred to as the internal
customers. The paying customer was referred to as the external customer. Articles and
books were written and speeches were given on the value of customers to a companys bottom
line. There were also books and presentations on the value of the internal customers compared
to the value of the external customers. In many customer service presentations given during
this time, the question related to which customer is most importantthe internal customer or
the external customerwas answered with this statement, It is foolish for a company to expect
the internal customers (employees) to treat the external customers any better than they perceive
they are treated by the company.
Due to the focus on customers during the Service Age and the resultant belief by many that
employees are also customers, employees suddenly found they had more power in the workplace. This is not to say that the control or power of managers disappeared, but the relationship
between managers and non-managers definitely changed. This was the time when respect for
the value and contributions of those in non-management positions grew. Again, these were not
changes that occurred because people in these positions suddenly decided that their previous
beliefs and behavior were wrong, but because changes outside of them resulted in changes
within them. Once more people had access to more information, in many cases better decisions
were the result.
One can think of these changes akin to autocracy compared to democracy. When things are
stable and there is little change or little competition, it is easy to manage as an autocrat. When
change speeds up, when there is more ambiguity, when more people have more opinions about
what and how things need to be done, autocracy no longer works as well. Now, democracy can
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 4

be messy. No one ever said democracy was easy. The beginning of democracyor at least the
end of autocracyin the workplace changed things for not just both types of customers, but for
companies as well.
Differences found in the culture of a workplace, as well as what management expects from itself and others, have a significant impact on employees relationships, teamwork, and productivity. If management doesnt walk the talk, not just talk the walk, in the area of valuing
diversity, it is likely that such behavior will roll downhill. It is possible to watch management
behavior to identify acceptable and unacceptable behavior of others, regardless of all of the
(usually) consultant induced training and values development.
In a little over one year, we will have completed the first decade of this century, a time of phenomenal change in our world, companies, and even within ourselves. Many of those changes
are a direct or indirect result of the technology explosion. Lets identify some of those changes.
While only a few years ago many executives and even managers had personal secretaries responsible for most of their correspondence, most managers and even executives are now independently handling those tasks. While this is not as common yet in the boomer or older age
groups in larger companies, these changes will continue to evolve to the point that those illequipped technology-wise will find it difficult to compete or even cope.
In recent years, email has become a necessary evil, consuming several hours of productive
work time per day for many workers. Of late, most business people now have handheld technology devices, often Blackberries or iPhones, making it easier to stay connected 24/7 (whether
such is needed or not). Yet many people moan that there is less meaningful communication
than ever before. Even more recently, blogging and social networking sites like Facebook and
Twitter are now being used by many for business purposes. The next wave of communication
technology is probably already in use somewhere.
See Appendix I for a graphic display of the major differences in and affecting workplaces from
the Industrial Age to the present.

GENERATIONALDIFFERENCES
While change has been occurring at a very rapid pace in the macro system, and workplace cultures have been changing as a result, there is another change in the workplace, this one specifically related to workers. There are now four different generations coexisting in the workplace,
each with different perspectives, values, and behaviors. The four generations, in descending
order of age are the Silent Generation, (also referred to as Traditionalists;) the Baby Boomers
(often abbreviated to Boomers;) the X Generation; and the Y Generation (also called Millennials or Echo Boomers). Appendix II is a graphic representation of some of the most important
differences between three of the four generations. The decision to collapse the two older
groups into one, Boomers, is more a factor of sameness and space. The Silent Generation has
most of the same characteristics as the Boomers, just more entrenched.
Most sources cite the age breakdown of the different generations as follows. Those in the Silent
Generation group were born before 1946. Boomers were born from 1946-1964. Generation
Xers were born in the years from 1965-1976. Generation Yers were born after 1976. Those on
the cusp of a particular group have some similarities to groups on each side of the cusp.
As is true for all differences noted in this module, the age characteristic alone does not determine the behavior of all of those who fall within that age bracket. That would be too simple!

5 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

Although it is true that the generational differences are being discussed as if they stand alone
in accounting for behavioral differences and other differences, human behavior is too complex
for that to be the case. The age classification is just one classification. Once all of the differences are noted, it will be easier for one to consider which ones are more dominant in different
people.
The Generational differences noted on Appendix II are fairly self-explanatory. There are some
differences not addressed in Appendix II that should be mentioned. One of those differences is
the need of younger workers, both Gen X and Y, but especially Gen Yers, for flexibility. This
includes flexibility regarding workday start time. It is not uncommon for younger workers to
come to work ten to fifteen, even thirty minutes late, and not think that they are late! Boomer
managers can get obsessed about this behavior, considering it disrespectful, even insubordinate,
sometimes creating unnecessary struggle for all involved. If the work being done and the customers served can allow this flexibility, it is good to provide it, for one will have a much more
content younger workforce. On the other hand, if the work or customers being served cannot
accommodate such schedule flexibility, reasons why it is not allowed need to be given to
younger workers in a manner they will understand and accept. Boomers and older workers do
not expect this type of workday starting and ending time flexibility unless, that is, they have
seen others do it and have become acclimated to the same behavior. Younger workers often
have just as casual of an opinion about the ending time of their workday, unless they have
somewhere to go after work, willing to stay late for conference calls, etc.
Another type of flexibility desirable to younger workers relates to where their work is done.
These are often the ones more interested in telecommuting, not understanding why they cannot
be just as productive working from home some days of the week. Couple this desire with the
larger percentage of those in the younger generations concern for the environment, including
gas emissions, etc. and it becomes hard to argue the point that one cannot be just as productive
(and some say, even more so) working in a home office with fewer distractions than the traditional office cubbyhole. (This arrangement will not work for the brain surgeon, of course!)
Motivators are different for the different generations. While Boomers and older workers have
traditionally been motivated by power, status, office location, perks of the position, and promotion possibilities, not so true for younger workers. Younger workers do not take such a longterm view of job rewards, knowing on some level that they will likely not stay in the same
company, much less the same job, for the number of years one would need to in order to reap
such rewards. What often motivates the X and Y generations is economically less expensive,
but often harder for a company to provide. While there are some differences in motivations for
the two younger age groups, both groups want work that allows them to make a tangible difference, as well as work that provides challenge and opportunity. Opportunity relates more to
experiences than positions and is connected to the fact that younger workers need more variety.
This is probably a result of the fact that many younger workers were constantly stimulated by
media, and thus lose interest in sameness quicker. Younger workers need more frequent communication, including recognition of how what they do relates to the big picture.
Both groups of younger workers need to have Fun at work, and for Gen Yers that is Fun with a
capital F! This requires more creativity than monthly birthday celebrations, although some
form of celebration is important. Some companies have regular outings geared to the sports
and entertainment interests of their specific workers. At SAS, an international software company, a bell rings at a certain time each day and M&Ms are passed out to everyone. Another
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 6

companys fun is not as predictable, but periodically a spur of the moment company meeting
is called, and all convene for Dove Bars.
Boomers and older workers never expected to have fun at work. They went to work and stayed
in organizations during the time of the Industrial Age. Therefore, they are more comfortable
with tradition, including roles and responsibilities being clearly defined, specifically the manager is in control, and those in non-management positions are to follow directives. Now, this is
changing for all age groups, due to massive external changes. When things are less predictable
and more ambiguous externally, internally we adapt. But these changes happen over time, and
some behaviors have to die out!
Since the theme of this module is Valuing Diversity, it is appropriate to highlight one of the
differences recorded on Appendix II, the one related to diversity. Gen Y is the age group taht is
most diverse themselves, and most comfortable with and accepting of differences, with one
exception. Gen Yers, and to a lesser degree Gen Xers, have usually not known a world where
deep-seeded prejudices dominate. (The possible exception to this is those reared in the deep
South.) While they may still see examples of discrimination, or less respect for some groups,
those beliefs are not embedded in them like they are in still too many in the Boomer and Silent
Generations.
The need of younger workers for more frequent communication has already been mentioned,
but there is a specific about communication that is important to highlight. Another difference,
and one that can unnecessarily exasperate managers of the Boomer and Silent Generations, is
that younger workers want to know not just what and when something needs to be done, but
why. Xers and Millenials have a desire and even sometimes a need for more information than
others see as important or even appropriate. They are put off by managers failing to provide
enough information. Remember, they want to make a meaningful contribution, and just following directives does not qualify. Older workers, however, those who have spent most of their
work life in an Industrial culture, who are often also parents, can think and behave in a manner
akin to just because I say so! There is a danger, however, in misunderstanding this need for
more information.
The danger is that providing information related to the why will be misconstrued to involve
too much how. How is about process and methodology, and why relates to the meaning
and the big picture. Managers who are too process oriented are perceived as controlling and
wanting something done their way, which can rob younger workers of challenge and the
ability to be innovative. The best managers provide clear information about what needs to be
done, why it needs to be done, and when it is due, allowing those to whom they are delegating the ability to control the how something is done, for therein lies the excitement and
challenge. This does not apply to work that requires a certain process for completion, such as
legal or regulatory standards, or quality standards. Nor does it apply to the work of someone
who is inexperienced or lacks skill or competence. In these situations, it is appropriate to be
prescriptive and provide sufficient information on the how.
Companies that are interested in recruiting and retaining the best talent, those workers that
are in greatest demand, often provide perks to attract and keep them. Some of these perks are
specific to some of the generational differences. For example, helping Ys with finding apartments and buying cars, Xs with childcare and home loans, and Boomers with retirement planning and long-term health care. Pitney Bowes Life Balance Resources Program is an example
of this approach.

7 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

PERSONALITYDIFFERENCES
The study of personality is nothing new, dating back to ancient times. Philosophers through
the years have recorded personality differences, recognizing that different types of people behave in certain ways and are motivated by different things. Academic institutions, usually
through their career counseling centers, administer a battery of tests to students to help them
determine the types of jobs and careers best suited for their personality. In recent years, businesses and organizations have recognized the value of doing personality profiling, and usually
use such tools for three purposes. The first use of these tools is to hire people with not just the
rights skills and experiences for specific jobs, but also those who will fit the job and the organization best. The second use of these personality tools in business is for teambuilding purposes. The third way in which these tools are utilized is for individual development, today often
called talent development.
There are many different personality profiling tools availableat last count more than thirteen
hundred! Perhaps the most common tool is Myers-Briggs. Another tool is TTIs DISC based
tool. Appendix III is a personality tool developed by the author, which is provided as an example of a Personality Profiling Tool.
There are a lot of similarities in the different tools. Most of them describe four different personality types, recognizing that most people have some of each type within them, although the
dominance or weakness of each area varies. The strengths and weaknesses of the different areas
result in what can be dramatic differences in behaviors and motivations.
While it is outside the scope of this module to provide a comprehensive analysis of the different
personality types, it is appropriate to give some basic information that will be of most benefit
when working (and living!) with others. Many (and perhaps even most) personality profiling
tools, and the one in Appendix III as well, describe the four different parts of the personality in
the following manner.
One part of the personality relates to action orientation. This part of the personality also relates
to how independent one is, and task orientation. When there is dominance in this part of the
personality, things get done quickly, although not always the right things! One common weakness of this personality type is that one can be too independent, therefore controlling and not
team-oriented. Managers of this personality type are usually drivers, which worked better in
the Industrial Age than it does in an Age of Innovation and Creativity.
Another aspect of the personality relates to how others oriented one is, such as peoplefocused and relationship oriented. The person with a dominance in this part of the personality
is great with teamwork, not so with independence, since they are more group minded. Therefore, the strength of this personality type is relationships and working well with others. The
weakness of this type of personality type is confrontation and conflict, which is understandable
given their people focus. The ability to appropriately confront and manage conflict is more
important in an age of innovation and massive change than it was in the Industrial Age.
The third part of the personality relates to how process and methodology oriented one is. The
person with strength in this area is methodical and oriented to specifics, and is rules and regulations oriented. They are also more predictable and consistent, which is a strength in certain
areas, such as Finance and Engineering. The person with dominance in this area is less comfortable with risk taking and has more difficulty with change. Innovation and creativity are not
strengths of this personality type; therefore, it is important to pair other team members who do
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 8

possess this strength with them when planning new and different things. The strength of this
personality type in that situation will be to assure consistency when consistency is important.
The fourth part of the personality relates to how big picture and how intuitive and understanding oriented one is. This is the part of the personality whose strength is ideas generation
and thinking at a conceptual level. They are visionary and risk-oriented, which is a strength in
the Age of Innovation and Creativity, assuming there is someone who is specifics oriented to
help figure out the process to make the vision a reality. This personality type can at times be
unrealistic in their expectations and does not take it cant be done easily. They can also be
perceived by others as argumentative, due to their over explaining things, thinking if they say it
one more time and in a different way the other person will get it! They fail to accept disagreement soon enough.
To this point, the four parts of the personality have been described as if each person is only one
type. While extreme dominance in one area (and concomitant weakness in the other areas) is a
personality type, many people have strengths in two of the four areas, and are weaker in the
other two areas. There are also those who are more generalists, possessing an average amount
of each of the four parts of the personality.
There are some personality combinations that create certain opportunities and challenges. The
person who is more dominant in action orientation and specifics and process can be considered
a know it all bureaucrat! This is the person who wants things done quickly one waytheir
way! When one is a firefighter battling a raging fire or a military general leading a platoon into
danger, this personality type is needed. As a leader of a high performing team focused on planning a major project, this personality type can be problematic.
Another personality type is one who is relationship and people focused as well as actionoriented. This personality type is often effective as a manager, since the strength is working
with others to accomplish results.
Communication style varies with each personality type, which is one of the most common areas
of misunderstanding between people with different personalities. By style, many individuals
are either more of a direct or indirect communicator, with some having a style which is a combination of both direct and indirect. Communication style is one area in which the Golden Rule
does not usually work.
People who are more direct in their communication style are bottom line talkers, getting to the
point quickly. They use fewer words, and the words are clear and definitive, sometimes too
clear. There is also the tendency to overuse I and you language, such as saying, What I
want you to do is... From a management perspective, this style worked better in the Industrial
Age than it does in the Age of Innovation and Creativity in which teamwork is one of the main
drivers. The strength of the direct communication style is that it is clear, and the other person
does not have to guess what is being said.
The person who communicates in an indirect manner uses more words, does not get to the point
quickly, and the words involve qualifiers. Qualifiers are words and phrases that (usually) soften what is being said, making it less definitive. The most common words that are qualifiers
relate to magnitude (such as some, many, and most) and frequency (such as rarely, often, and
usually). Phrases that are used as qualifiers include, It seems that, In my experience, and
The research reflects that These phrases are inserted at the beginning of a sentence and
render what is being said as less definitive than if the person just began the sentence without the

9 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

qualifier. An example of this will bring clarity to the difference between a statement that includes qualifiers and one about the same subject without qualifiers. Men are logical; women
are emotional, compared to, The research reflects that many men are logical, and many
women are emotional. The purpose is not to debate or even discuss the point being made, but
to highlight the difference between direct and indirect communication. The first statement is
direct; the second is indirect.
The person who is more of a direct communicator can hear the person who communicates in a
more indirect manner as wishy washy and not saying what they really mean. The person
with the more indirect communication style can hear the direct communicator as too direct,
even directive, and rude.
It is not necessary or even possible to change ones dominant common communication style if
it is genetic. It is possible, however, and even desirable to modify ones style when communicating with others who have a different style. Failure to do so can result in the other person not
comprehending what is being said, or worse.
Personality differences can result in unnecessary conflicts, expressed and unexpressed. One
way to avoid this is to understand the different communication styles and to modify ones own
style as appropriate when communicating with others. This is the most important aspect of
valuing differences related to personality.

ETHNICITYDIFFERENCES
It is probably common knowledge that the United States is the most ethnically diverse country
in the world. The US has been known for years as the melting pot, with people from all over
the globe immigrating to this country. For many years, those ethnic groups who immigrated to
the US maintained their own culture within their families and close communities, and were not
necessarily assimilated into the mainstream of the country. That is changing greatly, with many
companies in the US changing themselves in various ways, recognizing the importance of ethnic groups whose populations are becoming increasingly more prevalent in the US. An example of this is the fact that much signage in the US is now not just in English, but also in Spanish. This is a reflection of the dominant language of the Latino and Hispanic population, the
second largest population with a dominant language other than English.
There are some people who verbalize their belief that it is unnecessary and even inappropriate
for ethnic groups to expect the US culture to change in such ways. That is really not the
point. Some of the changes happening in the US are not related to what different people or
groups expect, but are just intended as good business decisions. If there are a large number of
people who may not understand a companys message since it is not in their dominate language, it is likely those people will not be able to purchase that companys products or take advantage of the services offered. Smart leaders know that fact and are making changes consistent with such knowledge.
Also, many new and different ethnic restaurants are proliferatingno longer just in New York
and California, states which still have a higher percentage of different ethnic groups, but now in
many other areas of the country. Also probably intended as a way to broaden their customer
base, many of those menus are written in English as well as in the native language.
The ethnic groups most prevalent in the US are Caucasians (sometimes called White), African Americans (sometimes called Black), Latinos/Hispanics (terms often used interchangeaValuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 10

bly), and Asians. Each of these groups includes a number of many different nationalities outside the US. The names of these different ethnic groups should only be used as descriptive
terms, when it is appropriate or important to make a descriptive distinction. Often, it is unnecessary and even inappropriate to identify ones group when making a comment. If one makes
reference to another by particular group name and is told that the other group name is preferred,
be flexible enough to resist defensiveness, and refer to the person in the manner preferred. This
can avoid some unnecessary conflict.
In 2000, the US population was 72% Caucasian, 12.1% African American, 11.5% Latino, and
3.7% Asian. By 2025, it is projected that the US population will be 62.4% Caucasian, 17.6%
Latino, 13% African American, and 6.2% Asian. It can be expected that these significant
demographic changes will continue to change the US culture. Also, there are more women and
minorities in the workforce than ever before, and those demographic changes will continue.
It is not always possible to predict demographic changes. How and exactly when some of those
changes will evolve cannot be assumed, only lived. There are some current examples of this.
A few years ago it was thought by many that the US would have its first female President
elected in 2008. That was not to be the case. A first was elected in 2008, the first African
American President. This first received much attention, not just in the US, but around the
world, and is considered perhaps one of the most obvious examples that the US is changing in
dramatic ways, which is perceived by many as positive. Some people do not, however, see
these changes as positive, preferring to keep things the way they were, but is not possible to
keep things the way they were. Change is one constant, and it behooves people who do not
think a certain change is good to work through the political and social process to make their
voices heard. One would hope that individuals doing this recognize the value of all humans,
regardless of external factors such as ethnicity or gender, or internal factors such as personality
or sexuality.
Individuals affect change, and the election of President Barack Obama is a good example of the
power of individuals to exert massive change. Through the use of technology, specifically the
internet, masses of people and large sums of money became more powerful than the traditional
political machines. Whether one believes President Barack Obama is a good choice or not, the
power of people to fundamentally change the American political system cannot be denied.
Some may argue that Obamas ethnicity helped him win this historic election. Some will also
state that his ethnicity hurt him with some voters. Both perceptions on this are probably right.
When one considers the numbers, however, and remembers the percentages previously mentioned, it becomes obvious that no one group, other than Americans, elected Barack Obama.
Two of the most common differences among ethnic groups are interaction style and communication style. Interaction style refers to how one meets others, especially people they do not
know. The behavior of people falls somewhere between open at one end of the scale and
closed at the other end of the scale. People whose behavior is more open are referred to as
interactive, and the better term for more closed behavior is reserved. (This example of using
reserved instead of closed is a good example of how to put a positive spin on behavior
that, culturally, can be unnecessarily viewed as negative. In the US culture, especially with
people in positions of power, open could imply more trusting, which would be perceived as
more positive than closed.)

11 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

Asians are traditionally more reserved when meeting and greeting strangers, and Latinos are
more open. These cultural distinctions are not as easily made by ethnicity when considering
Caucasians and African Americans, and relate more to personality and other variables.
Communication Styles have previously been addressed in the Personality Differences section,
referring specifically to Direct and Indirect Communication. It is important to know how to use
each communication style effectively, a decision which should be made based not upon ones
natural (genetic) style, but upon the dominant communication style of the other person and
what the situation warrants. Both styles are effective when used appropriately. However, it is
important to understand that, when one is using the Indirect Style, clarity is still necessary. One
can communicate in an indirect manner and still be clear.
While there are some differences in communication style that may relate to ethnicity, the data
about this is not as defensible as other differences noted, and therefore will not be considered
differences related to ethnicity.
It is important to help people working together to maximize their similarities for the benefit of
those served and each other, but this does not mean assimilating one ethnic group into the
dominant one. While over a period of time it is difficult not to be assimilated into a dominant
culture, assimilation should not be the focus. The strength of the differences is lost when assimilation occurs. It is preferable to capitalize on ethnic differences, and all involved are better
served.
Companies are wise to appreciate ethnic differences and find ways to help ethnic groups express some of their culture in ways that improve understanding and valuing. One way this can
be done is through pot luck meals, asking people to share their culinary talents and customs
with others. Individually, we can learn to appreciate different cultures by eating different food,
and understanding how that particular food fits into the culture of that ethnic group and country.

DIFFERENCESANDWORKPLACEVALUES
It is possible for the differences between groupswhether the differences are related to ethnicity, personality, generational, or any of the other differences addressed in this moduleto adversely impact the workplace. It is important for companies to ensure that the strength of those
differences is the focus, as well as enhancing understanding and valuing. One way in which
this is done is with Diversity Training. While diversity training has been en vogue in many
companies for quite a few years, much of it has focused on ethnic diversity, although there is
often mention of many other types of diversity. It is possible it is assumed that the other differences are easier to manage without concentrated training. It is rare to see gender training
provided, or workplace differences training, or most of the other differences discussed. The
fact that diversity training is not often comprehensive in nature is one reason for the focus of
this module.
While it is not in the purview of this module to do a thorough analysis of all possible differences (for instance, differences in religion and politics are not discussed) it is important to provide a model or method with which the organization can help others manage their differences,
maximizing the strength of those for the benefit of the company and customers served. Through
this, the differences become less important, and the similarities become more important. The
model/method recommended is the development and implementation of Values.

Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 12

Values, in this discussion, refers to professional values, not personal values, and those are
from the organizations perspective. Also, the word values relates more to behaviors than
just beliefs. When something is valued, it becomes the talk that is walked. There are many
good company values, and those will differ based upon the customers being served, as well as
other variables. How the values are expressed also varies. It is important that every organization has clear, understandable values, and that all company coworkers model those values to the
external customer and to each other. It is also important the values not just be printed on a
plaque in the company lobby but be integrated throughout the organization, from the applicant
interview process to the performance review system to the compensation system.
Examples of one international companys values are Enthusiasm, Integrity, Excellence, and
Teamwork. Coworkers who do not possess and model these values are not successful in this
company. Another companys values are Service, Professionalism, and Leadership, which are
very different from the other values just mentioned. The values that are going to be most successful for a company are those that are not developed by company leadership and/or consultants alone, but whose development includes coworkers at every level.
Regarding values, it is possible different ethnic groups will have a different interpretation of the
same words. For example, the word service has a different connotation to different people,
and some of the difference is cultural. Asians, for example, are thought to have some of the
most service oriented cultures. An example of this is found in the very successful Asian airline
Singapore Airlines, a company known for its commitment to quality, service, and innovation.
A US company with Service as a value should ensure that all coworkers have the same definition of service, consistent with the companys definition, which may be a different standard
than any given ethnic groups standard. This example highlights the importance of all individuals working together in any company, regardless of the differences they possess, to have a
process and model/method that will minimize their individual differences and maximize their
ability to find common ground related to those served. A focus on company values provides
this.

GENDERDIFFERENCES
Discussing gender differences can create problems in the home as well as the workplace! It
must be done, however, for it is an important difference that affects everyone. While it is possible for one not to experience some of the identified differences noted in some workplaces today, it is impossible to escape gender differences. It should also be noted that gender is the one
area of difference many people may assume they know enough about because they live and
work with women and men. (While there are some same-sex organizations, it is more common
for most workplaces to employ both women and men.)
Although men and women have coexisted for many years both professionally and personally,
there have been major changes between the sexes in recent years. On the other hand, some
things between the sexes have not changed as much as many people probably thought they
would have by now.
Reviewing Appendix IV is a good place to start discussing gender differences. Note the titles
of the two columns: Masculine Rules and Feminine Rules. These titles are more appropriate than Rules of Men and Rules of Women. Masculine and Feminine are obviously
adjectives, while Men and Women are nouns. This distinction is important. The sentiment

13 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

of Masculine and Feminine terms compared to Women and Men is recognizing that
every individual in a group does not possess the characteristics of the group, yet those are the
Rules of the groups. There is great variety in how many of the characteristics in both groups
are possessed by group members. Regardless, the noted characteristics of each group are still
the rules of that group. In essence, the average woman or man will possess most of the
characteristics of their group.
Where do gender differences come from? Some are genetic, and some are learned, resulting
from socialization. Many people give examples of baby girls and baby boys who prefer the
more common toys of their dominant gender. This is true before socialization can create this
difference. Yes, many people can give opposite examples, but it is reported that the majority of
baby girls prefer girl toys (for example, dolls) and the majority of baby boys prefer boy
toys (such as trucks) before these choices are made for them by others.
It is important to note that the data is not as clear for gays and lesbians related to toy choices
made as young children. There is data; it is just not as definitive. This author remembers the
experience of two family members, one a boy cousin, and the other a girl niece, both of whom
as young children preferred toys of the opposite gender. As adults, the boy cousin has always
lived a chosen gay lifestyle, and the girl niece is married to a man and has one child and another on the way. The purpose of these examples is to emphasize that the data related to toy
preference as children is not always definitive related to same-sex or opposite-sex relationships
as adults. It is important to note that these situations can also be affected by socialization and
other variables.
Some parents today are doing a great job of educating their children from the cradle up that
there really are no such things as girl toys and boy toys, preferring that their children experience gender neutrality in these areas. As more parents take this approach, culturally what
has been known as feminine and masculine will also continue to change.
Many of the differences between the sexes relate to cultural socialization, and some of those are
changing more dramatically than others. For example, Boomer girls usually were not involved
in team sports, whereas girls in the X and Y generation have been. Even so, most sports girls
play are still more singular sports, not team sports, with the exception of softball and soccer.
That difference alone accounts for some of the strengths that men have traditionally had in
working on teams compared to women. One only has to review the Masculine Rules and
Feminine Rules in Appendix IV to find these differences.

WOMENINTHEWORKPLACE
Women have been in the workplace for many years. What is different is that it is only in recent
years that women have been in the workplace in the numbers present today, and in the types of
positions involving power and control that they now occupy. In fact, women equal (and in
some cases surpass) men in numbers in Law, Medicine, and Engineering. More than 60% of
women work outside of the home for pay at least part-time, and a large percentage of those are
doing full-time paid work. Additionally, women still accept more responsibility for children
and home than men. According to reported data, when women opt in and out of the fulltime
paid workforce to either stay home fulltime, or to start their own (often home-based) business,
one of the main driving forces is the need for more flexibility.
It has been said that, when women feel they have to make a choice between family and career,
many women put their family first. The corollary is also reported. When men feel that they
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 14

have to make a choice between career and family, especially when there is a partner with whom
to share those responsibilities, many men put their career first. These are difficult choices for
women and men to make. While this is changing somewhat, it is not changing as dramatically
as many thought would occur.
This is similar to the discussion of who takes care of things at home when both partners are doing paid work outside of the home. Usually, it is still the woman who accepts and even expects
to handle the responsibilities of the children and home, while in many cases also doing fulltime
paid work outside of the home. This is not because most men expect such. Some may, but that
is not necessarily the majority. What seems to be the more likely case is that many women are
conflicted by the duality of these roleshome and paid workwanting to hold on to both.
If some women do not seem as committed to work as they should be or as men are, it may be
because they are overloaded in both parts of their life, work and home. Companies will do well
to consider this, and to do their best to make modifications involving flexibility for all workers,
including those with significant family responsibilities. While it is not the responsibility of a
company to make sure an individual can handle their other responsibilities, such as family, any
company that is able to assist any workers with managing the rest of their lives will be better
positioned to keep those workers in their employ.
It is not the purpose of this module to judge any of the choices made, but to record them, and to
discuss how those choices affect the other variables related to differences in the workplace.
There are some differences between men and women related to how they communicate, how
they manage, and the overall impact on the company.
Men are historically more focused on bottom line results, and less concerned about how those
results are accomplished. Women are process oriented, caring quite a bit about how things are
done and, as a result, can be too prescriptive, or controlling.
Many women in the workplace are historically more nurturing than men, building networks
with others. Men also have networks, but the form of those is different. Men have networks of
influence and power, whereas the networks women form are more related to connection and
inclusion. The way in which the average man works and manages is by left brain dominance,
which is logical, sequential, and predictable, whereas the dominant style of the average women
is right brain, which can be thought of as intuitive, emotional, and integrative. Work requires
some of both, and some work needs more of one side of the brain compared to the other. Gender is only one variable, however, and should not be overrated compared to other differences.
It has been stated that, until there is fundamental change in roles and responsibilities at home,
there will not be fundamental change in such in the workplace. Again, this is not to say any
particular change is needed.
Men in the workplace usually have close relationships with several women in their lives, specifically mothers, wives, and daughters. Think of those relationships and the roles the women
and men play in them. In two of the three, the man is historically the decision maker, and the
woman is the helpmate. Couple that with the fact that in too many situations the woman defers
to the man, and you can see how the power, position, and knowledge of women in the paid
workforce are not always readily assumed.
It should also be noted that there are many single women in the workplace, that not all women
marry or stay married. Also, there are still women (and to a lesser degree, some men) whose

15 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

work is at home fulltime. In these relationships, it makes sense that the fulltime homemaker,
male or female, does the majority of the work at home, and that the other partner brings home
the bacon. Also, some men and women are in same-sex relationships and experience many of
the same role conflicts that heterosexual couples experience.
While there have been a lot of sociological changes affecting the workplace, and some of those
do relate to gender, more change will occur. Men and women in their personal lives and professional lives should work together to ensure that the change that occurs is best for all constituencies.
Related to Gender Differences, the talents and skills of women are often underutilized in the
workplace. The talents and abilities of men may be overutilized in the workplace, not allowing
time or space for more equity between the sexes. When such occurs, the strengths of both are
compromised, resulting in ineffectiveness and too much stress in work and at home, unnecessarily.

GEOGRAPHICALDIFFERENCES
When asked the question, Where are you from? is your answer the town you currently live in,
or where you feel most connected to family, such as where your roots are? Different people
would answer this question differently. One of the reasons for this difference is geographical.
Yes, the world is now a global marketplace, in which people can travel many miles away and
be there so much quicker than previously possible. Some reading this module are probably
from countries other than the US and, if not currently living there, may choose to return there
when their academic work is completed. The geographical differences in this discussion do not
relate to different countries, but to different parts of the United States, which can sometimes be
thought of as different countries! This section discusses the US by focusing on the West Coast,
the East Coast, the South (including the deep South), the Midwest, and the Northeast. It is
recognized that, in so doing, some areas of the US that also have their own culture are not being
discussed. This does not mean those areas are any less important. The information presented is
that which is most commonly reported related to the differences, as well as those differences it
is most important to understand to work collaboratively with others.
The previous section on Ethnic Diversity recognizes the importance of those from different
countries living in the US, and the strengths of some of their differences. In this section, the
focus is on some of the differences people from different regions of the US possess, and how to
utilize them when working with others.
Many people feel most connected to home, wherever they determine that to be. Where one is
raised and where one chooses to live are decisions that affect and are affected by many of the
other differences discussed. Some of these differences may be overstated by those from that
part of the country, becoming somewhat folklore. You decide.
The West Coast of the United States is best represented by discussing California. One common
belief about Californians is that they are socially more liberal than conservative, and that they
are more accepting of different lifestyles than the average person from some other parts of
the country. Regarding lifestyle, Californians are often outdoors people, focused on living a
healthy lifestyle related to exercise and diet.
The work implications to mention come from a couple of specific differences. California is
thought of as a bellwether state, and it is often true that major changes begin in California and
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 16

move east. Therefore, people from California probably accept change easier than some others.
Also, the average Californian is not likely to be as traditional in their mindset related to organized institutions as some from other areas are, specifically the South.
In discussing the East Coast, the focus is on the South. The South could be divided into several
different areas, but the focus is what is often considered the deep South, such as Alabama,
Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. The intent here is not to imply that these states are
the most important in the South, but to identify them as the states in the South in which the differences are probably most pronounced.
Many already know that most food in the South is fried, even vegetables! Therefore one difference from Californians is already obvious. A healthy lifestyle is not as much a focus of many
southerners, although being outdoors is, especially at the beach from spring to fall. Sports
dominate, with fierce loyalties to college teams from the cradle to the grave. It is perhaps only
in the South that many who never went to college at all are some of the most ardent fans of the
different colleges, traveling many miles to support their chosen team, even for away games.
Traditions run deep in the South and are chronicled in a set of books written by Cecilia Budd
Grimes What it Means to be Southern series. By reading these books, non-southerners will be
able to understand southerners and their traditions, and could even be adopted into the fold with
some remedial work!
Regarding the workplace, Southerners are often traditionalists, and are not always as accepting
of even Democrats, much less others who think and speak differently than they do. (Surely the
reader knows that there are Southern democrats, one version of which is Yellow Dog Democrats!) Southerners were reared to be nice, but do not misinterpret that niceness for weakness!
Some Southerners wish others would not migrate south, and if they do come south, would try to
adopt some Southern ways. Such as, talk slower and sit a spell! Dont be in such a hurry all of
the time. And as for driving, slow down, get out of the left lane, and dont honk that horn so
much!
For Southerners, change only what is necessary, and when change is necessary, slow it down.
And when changes have a negative impact on people, remember many people are from the
same family working together, or are lifelong friends. Relationships are primary. Dont forget
to be nice.
The Midwesterners are considered the salt of the earth and very hardworking. They say it as
they see it, not as concerned about being political. They expect themselves to do their share of
the work, but also expect others to do their share as well.
Midwesterners are authentically nice people, although their honest talk and directness can be
misunderstood as rudeness, especially by Southerners!
Midwesterners are good at focusing on long-term goals. After all, those large farms took many
years to mature. Steady and consistent works on the farm and, according to Midwesterners, is a
good model for the workplace.
Now for the Northeast, think of New York and New Jersey specifically. People from this area
tend to be more aggressive and risk taking, which are positives when used appropriately. They
are often direct communicators, making their point loudly and with as few words as possible. In
their directness, they can be perceived as rude, which surprises them, for they equate directness

17 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

with being clear and efficient with language. They prefer others to be direct with them, which
can be difficult for some people, who can interpret directness as rudeness.
People from the Northeast are used to getting things done quickly and are more focused on bottom line results than how people feel about what is being done. This does not mean that they do
not care, but that they are more focused on the results.
Hopefully the differences mentioned will be useful as one works with people who have roots
in, were reared in, or prefer to be in that particular part of the country. The four areas addressed
are quite different, and in the differences lay strength, and yes, some blind spots. The comments made are not intended to be all inclusive, or to even describe the majority of people from
each area, but to provide a flavor of the areas, a flavor that often gets translated into peoples
behavior.

DIFFERENCESRELATEDTOPHYSICALABILITY
The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it impossible, or at least very difficult, for companies to discriminate based upon physical and other limitations, assuming that the individual can
perform the job requirements. It is much more difficult to legislate acceptance and valuing of
people with disabilities. That rests more with the human system than the legal system.
There are numerous examples of workers with physical and other challenges who perform exceptional work, given the opportunity. For the sake of equity, it should also be noted that there
are some people who take advantage of certain laws, such as EEOC laws and ADA. It would
be unfortunate for too much emphasis to be placed on the abusers of the system, and not
enough on what the system needs to do to assist those who can and will do good work when
given the opportunity.

DIFFERENCESRELATEDTOPERSONALVALUES
Most of the other differences discussed have an external manifestation. Gender and generational certainly do, as well as ethnicity and physical challenges. Personality differences are
usually obvious, although not always understood. Workplace differences, such as culture and
management and staff roles and responsibilities, are usually obvious to those involved, if not
always to those external to the system.
The last difference to be discussed is Differences in Personal Values, which is not usually obvious externally, requiring that one get to know the other person on a human level to understand this difference. While accepting and valuing is the language used for managing the
differences previously discussed, personal values are a different matter. It is not necessary for
one to accept or value anothers personal values. Personal values are just that, personal. However, it is desirable to understand the personal values of those with whom we work closest and
most frequently, for values are at the core of what people believe and have an impact on much
of their behavior. Remember, understanding personal values is the focus, not agreement, and
not acceptance or valuing. Understanding can be enough of a collaboration bridge to connect
those with different values.
There are examples of personal values that many people share, such as honesty, truthfulness,
and loyalty. There are other personal values that are potentially divisive, such as capital punishment, abortion rights, and stem cell research. Business guru Dr. Stephen Covey has said that
if a person does his or her best to understand the beliefs of the other person, even when the
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 18

other persons belief is opposite to ones own belief, that is often enough. Abraham Lincoln is
reported to have said, I hate that man; I must get to know him.
It is not necessary to connect with people at work on such a human level as personal values.
But when those connections occur, it is important to listen respectfully, respond thoughtfully,
and strive for understanding. It is not necessary or even appropriate to spend time trying to
convince the other person of what one believes. What is necessary is to strive for understanding, for in understanding, according to Dr. Covey, one is better understood.

SUMMARY
Individuals have as many differences as similarities. When those differences are understood
and valued, (or just understood, as in the case of personal values) collaboration, teamwork, and
productivity are enhanced. Collaboration, teamwork and productivity translate to better results
collectively for the company and hopefully to those the company serves, its customers internally and externally.

DISCUSSIONQUESTIONS
1. Explain how valuing diversity improves collaboration, teamwork, and productivity in
the workplace.
2. Discuss how gender differences in the workplace affect gender roles at home.
3. Develop a basic diversity training program for generational differences.
4. Describe how ethnic diversity affects the workplace.

19 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

AppendixI

WORKPLACE DIFFERENCES

Industrial Age

Age of Innovation

Management by Control

Leading, Coaching, and Empowering


Talent

Employee
Employee Dependency
Control Information
Job Security
Loyalty
Task Orientation
Hierarchical
Little Change
Stability
Data
Risk Aversive

Independence and Interdependence


Information Available to All
Employability Security
Commitment
Project Focus
Team Based
Continuous Change
Ambiguity
Information, Knowledge, Wisdom
Risk Oriented

Patti Fralix
All Rights Reserved
Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 20

AppendixII

21 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively

AppendixIII

Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively | 22

AppendixIV

GENDER DIFFERENCES

Masculine Rules

Feminine Rules

Attack a part of the game

Harmonious Relationships

Be a team player

Work more independently

Do what the coach says

Everythings negotiable

Its over when its over

The hurt goes on

Dress by team

Dress by fashion

Goal focus

Process focus

Power is getting things done

Confuse power with power hungry

Operate before and after meetings

Decisions made in meetings

Attribute success to themselves

Attribute failure to themselves

Attribute failure to things outside


themselves

Attribute success to things outside


themselves

Mintzberg/Heim

(*Some of these differences are not as dramatic today, due to sociological and other changes. PF)

23 | Valuing Diversity: Managing Differences Effectively