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Diversity: Learning Objectives

1. Explain how workforce demographics are changing
2. Define “stereotype”
3. Define the three components of “lookism”
4. Describe how attractiveness interacts with the Pygmalion effect, secondary gains, and attribution theory
5. Explain the ramifications of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act…what classes are protected? Which are not?
6. Define bona fide occupational qualification, and its uses
7. Provide examples of family friendly policies
8. Describe in which states native speakers are likely to suffer from “accent bias”
9. Define tokenism
10. Define authoritarianism and cognitive complexity


It’s the differences that make us unique! Understanding and appreciating differences helps individuals, communities, and groups. Things that make each person unique are biology (physical makeup), ethnicity and culture, family life, beliefs, geography, and experiences. We all make judgments about people based on our experience with them; but, we make judgments before getting to know them, we “pre-judge” the person (the source of the word prejudice) or we assume that everyone in a certain group is the same, we “stereotype” the individuals in that group. Prejudice and stereotypes hurt everyone whether they’re negative or positive. People differ in many ways. For example, cultural background (including ethnicity) can influence the way people communicate through: body language, listening, speaking, expressing opinions, working styles, but cultural background is only one thing that makes people unique. You can get more out of relationships by being open about differences – don’t ignore them, don’t assume anything—check it out, encourage questions about things that make you different, develop friendships with people who are different from you, don’t make someone a spokesperson for his or her group – nor suggest that the person is an exception either; don’t tell ethnic or sexual jokes – even jokes about your own group. REMEMBER that mistakes happen, especially when people are under stress. Changing old habits and ways of thinking takes time.

Source: Hospital Study Guide (1999). Section III, Only the Human Being, “Diversity,” University Medical Center: Lebanon, TN. Pg. 6., with permission



By Charles Swindoll

“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on my life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past,

Than education,

Than money,

Than circumstances,

Than failures,

Than successes,

Than what other people think or say or do.

It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.

It will make or break a company, a church, a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change the past…We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is to play the one string we have, and that is our attitude…

I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

***One of the purposes of this content segment is to help you to examine your attitudes, your biases, your prejudices, and to expand your cognitive schema***

****Cognitive Flexibility Exercise****

Authoritarianism: tendency to be judgmental, closed-minded, rigid; “one right way”

Cognitive Flexibility: ability to see issues from another’s point of view, openness regarding those who are different

****Diversity Bingo Game****

Check out:

  1. Think of a number from 1 to 10.
  2. Multiply that number by 9.
  3. If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together
  4. Now subtract 5
  5. Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with (example: 1=a, 2=b, 3=c, etc.)
  6. Think of a country that starts with that letter
  7. Remember the last letter of the name of that country
  8. Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter
  9. Remember the first letter in the name of that animal

****Demographics Quiz***

Workforce of the 1950s



Approximately 29 years old

Fewer than twelve years of education

Married to homemaker wives


Worked within their region of birth

States with the fastest percentage growth in Hispanic population, 1990-2000

North Carolina 394% South Carolina 211%
Arkansas 337% Alabama 208%
Georgia 300% Kentucky 173%
Tennessee 278% Minnesota 166%
Nevada 217% Nebraska 155%

 Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Over the next 25 years, minority concentrations are projected to increase in all parts of the country, but especially in the South, Southwest, and West. By 2025, minority groups are expected to account for over 50 percent of the population in four states (Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas) and the District of Columbia.


For a wealth of information on changing demographics between 1990-2000, check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s web site at

National Multicultural Institute

Also, see for a description of Harvard University's "The Pluralism Project"

The workforce is changing….you may work for someone older, someone younger, an ethnic minority, or someone of the opposite gender.

Of the four dyads, in which do you think there would be the most friction? Why?

Man Woman
Man Man
Woman Man
Woman Woman


Queen Bee Syndrome: Because of statistical discrimination or tokenism, women have sometimes been described as hypercompetitive with one another. This phenomenon is however contingent upon the work environment. Ely (1995) found that female partners in less gender integrated law firms were expected to act non-aggressively and deferently toward male partners.


  1. any legislation, admissions policy, hiring practice, etc., that demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws, or public pressure: Admitting one woman to the men's club was merely tokenism.

    Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease

    Sometimes, we find that we are in the position of being what Rosabeth Moss Kanter describes as an “O;” someone who is in the minority position in a group. “O”ness can result from a variety of situations.

“Tale of O” film

While watching the film, think about a time when you felt as outsider.

What created the situation? How did you feel?


When you hear the word “diversity” what comes to mind? What are some dimensions of diversity?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

  • Illegal to discriminate based on sex, race, age, religion, or national origin. President Clinton added “status as a parent” to the list.
    Sometimes, employers can get around this with the “BFOQ" argument

BFOQ: Bona Fide Occupational Qualification: criterion necessary to perform the job

some examples of its application include the entertainment, modeling, movie industries;

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not cover:
Lookism: discrimination based on height, weight, or facial appearance – most prevalent form of discrimination, and most of the time, people do not know what happened

  1. The Ugly Truth about Beauty: Like it or Not, Looks do Matter -

  2. Also, see Surprise! Pretty people Earn More.

However, in some instances “lookism” can be considered discriminatory…..

  1. List the 3 most important criteria that you look for in a restaurant experience….would the “looks” of the wait staff be one of your considerations?

  2. see EEOC Sues McDonald’s Restaurant for Disability Bias against Employee with Facial Disfigurement

  3. Also, see for a picture of Port Wine Stain

Secondary gains: suggests that looks provides a “two-fer;” in that not only does an employer hire someone who can do the job, but someone who is pleasant to look at as well.

Pygmalion effect: individuals grow to behave as they are treated. Attractive people for example have a “halo” which implies that everything is good in this “good looking” package.

Darcy, a former beauty contest winner working for a major corporation for two years.  This past week, she has made more errors than the other accountants in her area.  What could be the cause of her mistakes?

Attribution theory: Attractive people benefit from external attributions of negative conditions, and internal attributions of positive conditions. For example, one may be more likely to blame an attractive person’s co-workers, working conditions, or lack of training if that individual's performance is not up to par, and more likely to attribute good performance to intelligence, character, motivation, etc.


Ten males were recorded reading the same 45-second passage, which was subsequently rated by human resource directors and managers. The ten speakers were from different states: Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, North Carolina, Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, Illinois and New Jersey (and spoke with accents common to their region).

Source: HRMagazine, December 2000

Individuals from which states were rated highest in terms of employment potential?

Age Discrimination

According to census data, 13 percent of the population is age 65 and older. By 2030, 20 percent of Americans, about 70 million, will be over 65. The population age 85 and above is currently the fastest-growing segment of the older population, growing by 274 percent over the past 25 years. 
See for Congressional testimony on best practices and strategies regarding older workers and employment.

Source: HRMagazine, January 2002

List some of the implications of an aging population for employers





The labor pool worldwide is shrinking: The Coming Battle For Immigrants, BusinessWeek, August 26, 2002

Men and Women in the Workforce

  1. The gap between men and women with college degrees has not closed completely, but the percentages are close. In 2000, 24 percent of women age 25 and over had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared with 28 percent of men.
  2. The percentage of women age 16 and over in the civilian labor force in March 2000 was 61 percent. The percentage for men was 74 percent.
  3. However, women still account for less than 18 percent of board members at the largest companies and less than 23 percent of top executives (Krim, 2002).
  4. Also, see how women’s pay stacks up to men’s at,8599,1983185,00.html
  5. Of the two groups, who makes the most money and receives the most promotions?
  • men with working wives $95K
  • men with stay at home wives $125K
  • “Mommy Track”
  • “Daddy Track”

In the past 30 years (1970-2000) the proportion of those who never married doubled for women, ages 20 – 24, from 36 percent to 73 percent, and more than tripled for women, ages 30 to 34, from 6 percent to 22 percent.

What are some family friendly policies that employers can introduce to provide more flexibility for workers?





  1. Do a webquest, or websearch, on "family friendly policies;" specifically, "What are
    some family friendly policies that employers can introduce to provide more flexibility for workers?"  E.g., see the "StrideRite" example below
  2. Summarize the main points of your webquest search.
  3. Be prepared to share your results with your teammates on Friday, and to select a
    spokesperson from your group who will present these findings to the class.

Stride Rite Intergenerational Day care

Diversity Management

Voluntary initiatives designed to foster inclusion through cultural change.

Should be championed by the CEO!

Can involve....

Copyright 2006 Jacqueline Gilbert. All rights reserved