Skip to main content
Business LibreTexts

12.9: Summary

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    Key Terms
    Access discrimination

    A catchall term that describes when people are denied employment opportunities because of their identity group or personal characteristics such as sex, race, or age.

    Access-and-legitimacy perspective

    Focuses on the benefits that a diverse workforce can bring to a business that wishes to operate within a diverse set of markets or with culturally diverse clients.

    Age discrimination

    Treating an employee or applicant less favorably due to their age.

    Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

    Forbids discrimination against individuals who are age 40 and above, including offensive or derogatory remarks that create a hostile work environment.

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

    Prohibits discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications against people with disabilities.

    Cognitive diversity

    Differences between team members regarding characteristics such as expertise, experiences, and perspectives.

    Cognitive diversity hypothesis

    Multiple perspectives stemming from the cultural differences between group or organizational members result in creative problem-solving and innovation.

    Covert discrimination (interpersonal)

    An interpersonal form of discrimination that manifests in ways that are not visible or readily identifiable.

    Deep-level diversity

    Diversity in characteristics that are non-observable such as attitudes, values, and beliefs, such as religion.

    Disability discrimination

    Occurs when an employee or applicant is treated unfavorably due to their physical or mental disability.

    Discrimination-and-fairness perspective

    A culturally diverse workforce is a moral duty that must be maintained in order to create a just and fair society.

    Diversified mentoring relationships

    Relationships in which the mentor and the mentee differ in terms of their status within the company and within larger society.


    Identity-based differences among and between people that affect their lives as applicants, employees, and customers.

    Equal Employment Opportunity Comission

    An organization that enforces laws and issues guidelines for employment-related treatment according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    Equal Pay Act of 1963

    An amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

    Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

    Provides new parents, including adoptive and foster parents, with 12 weeks of unpaid leave (or paid leave only if earned by the employee) to care for the new child and requires that nursing mothers have the right to express milk on workplace premises.

    Glass ceiling

    An invisible barrier based on the prejudicial beliefs of organizational decision makers that prevents women from moving beyond certain levels within a company.


    A dysfunction in decision-making that is common in homogeneous groups due to group pressures and group members’ desire for conformity and consensus.


    Any unwelcome conduct that is based on characteristics such as age, race, national origin, disability, sex, or pregnancy status.

    Hidden diversity

    Differences in traits that are deep-level and may be concealed or revealed at discretion by individuals who possess them.

    Highly structured interviews

    Interviews that are be structured objectively to remove bias from the selection process.

    Identity group

    A collective of individuals who share the same demographic characteristics such as race, sex, or age


    The degree to which employees are accepted and treated fairly by their organization.

    Integration-and-learning perspective

    Posits that the different life experiences, skills, and perspectives that members of diverse cultural identity groups possess can be a valuable resource in the context of work groups.

    Invisible social identities

    Membership in an identity group based on hidden diversity traits such as sexual orientation or a nonobservable disability that may be concealed or revealed.

    Justification-suppression model

    Explains the circumstances in which prejudiced people might act on their prejudices.

    Justification-suppression model

    Explains under what conditions individuals act on their prejudices.

    Managing diversity

    Ways in which organizations seek to ensure that members of diverse groups are valued and treated fairly within organizations.

    Model minority myth

    A stereotype that portrays Asian men and women as obedient and successful and is often used to justify socioeconomic disparities between other racial minority groups.

    National origin discrimination

    Treating someone unfavorably because of their country of origin, accent, ethnicity, or appearance.


    The decision to not disclose one’s invisible social identity.

    Pregnancy discrimination

    Treating an employee or applicant unfairly because of pregnancy status, childbirth, or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.

    Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA)

    Prohibits any discrimination as it relates to pregnancy in hiring, firing, compensation, training, job assignment, insurance, or any other employment conditions.

    Race/color discrimination

    Treating employees or applicants unfairly because of their race or because of physical characteristics typically associated with race such as skin color, hair color, hair texture, or certain facial features.

    Religious discrimination

    When employees or applicants are treated unfairly because of their religious beliefs.

    Resource-based view

    Demonstrates how a diverse workforce can create a sustainable competitive advantage for organizations.


    The decision to disclose one’s invisible social identity.

    Reverse discrimination

    Describes a situation in which dominant group members perceive that they are experiencing discrimination based on their race or sex.

    Schema theory

    Explains how individuals encode information about others based on their demographic characteristics.

    Sex-based discrimination

    When employees or applicants are treated unfairly because of their sex, including unfair treatment due to gender, transgender status, or sexual orientation.

    Sexual harassment

    Harassment based on a person’s sex, and can (but does not have to) include unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical and verbal acts of a sexual nature.

    Similarity-attraction paradigm

    Individuals’ preferences for interacting with others like themselves can result in diversity having a negative effect on group and organizational outcomes.

    Social identity theory

    Self-concept based on an individual’s physical, social, and mental characteristics.


    Overgeneralization of characteristics about groups that are the basis for prejudice and discrimination.

    Strategic human resources management (SHRM)

    System of activities arranged to engage employees in a manner that assists the organization in achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.

    Surface-level diversity

    Diversity in the form of characteristics of individuals that are readily visible, including, but not limited to, age, body size, visible disabilities, race, or sex.

    Treatment discrimination

    A situation in which people are employed but are treated differently while employed, mainly by receiving different and unequal job-related opportunities or rewards.

    Work visa

    A temporary documented status that authorizes individuals from other countries to permanently or temporarily live and work in the United States.

    Workplace discrimination

    Unfair treatment in the job hiring process or at work that is based on the identity group, physical or mental condition, or personal characteristic of an applicant or employee.

    12.2 An Introduction to Workplace Diversity

    1. What is diversity?

    Diversity refers to identity-based differences among and between people that affect their lives as applicants, employees, and customers. Surface-level diversity represents characteristics of individuals that are readily visible, including, but not limited to, age, body size, visible disabilities, race, or sex. Deep-level diversity includes traits that are nonobservable such as attitudes, values, and beliefs. Finally, hidden diversity includes traits that are deep-level but may be concealed or revealed at the discretion of individuals who possess them.

    12.3 Diversity and the Workforce

    2. How diverse is the workforce?

    In analyzing the diversity of the workforce, several measures can be used. Demographic measures such as gender and race can be used to measure group sizes. Measures of such things as discrimination toward specific groups can be analyzed to gauge the diversity of the workforce. Other measures of diversity in the workforce can include examination of differences in age and sexual orientation.

    12.4 Diversity and Its Impact on Companies

    3. How does diversity impact companies and the workforce?

    The demography of the labor force is changing in many ways as it becomes racially diverse and older and includes more women and individuals with disabilities. Diversity affects how organizations understand that employing people who hold multiple perspectives increases the need to mitigate conflict between workers from different identity groups, enhances creativity and problem solving in teams, and serves as a resource to create a competitive advantage for the organization.

    12.5 Challenges of Diversity

    4. What is workplace discrimination, and how does it affect different social identity groups?

    Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee or an applicant is treated unfairly at work or in the jobhiring process due to an identity group, condition, or personal characteristic such as age, race, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or pregnancy status. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces laws and legislation related to individuals with those protected statuses.

    Harassment is any unwelcome conduct that is based on the protected characteristics listed above. Sexual harassment refers specifically to harassment based on a person’s sex, and it can (but does not have to) include unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or physical and verbal acts of a sexual nature.

    12.6 Key Diversity Theories

    5. What key theories help managers understand the benefits and challenges of managing the diverse workforce?

    The cognitive-diversity hypothesis suggests that multiple perspectives stemming from the cultural differences between groups or organizational members result in creative problem solving and innovation. The similarity-attraction paradigm and social identity theory explain how, because individuals prefer to interact with others like themselves, diversity may have a negative effect on group and organizational outcomes. The justificationsuppression model explains under what conditions individuals act on their prejudice.

    12.7 Benefits and Challenges of Workplace Diversity

    6. How can managers reap benefits from diversity and mitigate its challenges?

    By approaching diversity and diversity issues in a thoughtful, purposeful way, managers can mitigate the challenges posed by a diverse workforce and enhance the benefits a diverse workforce can offer.

    Managers can work to make sure that the efforts and initiatives they enact to increase diversity in the workplace come from a perspective that ensures and strives for equity and fairness, not simply one that will benefit the company’s bottom line.

    Using an integration-and-learning perspective strongly links diversity to the work and success of the firm by viewing cultural identity, different life experiences, skills, and perspectives from members of diverse cultural identity groups as a valuable resource

    12.8 Recommendations for Managing Diversity

    7. What can organizations do to ensure applicants, employees, and customers from all backgrounds are valued?

    Organizations should use objective and fair recruitment and selection tools and policies.

    Leadership should make employees feel valued, be open to varied perspectives, and encourage a culture of open dialogue. Women and racial minorities can increase positive employment outcomes by pursuing higher levels of education and seeking employment in larger organizations. All individuals should be willing to listen, empathize with others, and seek to better understand sensitive issues that affect different identity groups.

    Chapter Review Questions
    1. Define the three types of diversity and compare them using examples for each type.
    2. How are demographics of the workforce changing?
    3. What are some major challenges that women face in organizations?
    4. What is the model minority myth? How does it compare to how Blacks and Hispanics are stereotyped?
    5. What are some benefits of hiring older workers?
    6. Why would an employee “pass” or “reveal” at work? What are the positive and negative consequences of doing so?
    7. Explain the six benefits of workplace diversity described by Cox and Blake’s business case for diversity.
    8. Compare how the cognitive diversity hypothesis and the similarity-attraction paradigm relate to diversity outcomes.
    9. Based on the justification-suppression model, explain why individuals act on their prejudicial beliefs.
    10. Describe challenges that managers must face when managing diversity.
    11. How can employees ensure they are compliant with the laws and legislation enforced by the EEOC?
    12. What are some recommendations for managing diversity?

    Management Skills Application Exercises

    1. Do you agree that diversity can be a source of greater benefit than harm to organizations? Why or why not?
    2. Have you ever worked in a diverse team setting before? If so, did you encounter any attitudes or behaviors that could potentially cause conflict? If not, how would you manage conflict stemming from diversity?
    3. List three organizational goals you would implement to create an organizational culture of diversity and inclusion.
    4. Have you or has someone you know experienced discrimination? How did that affect you or that person emotionally, physically, or financially?
    5. Pick an identity group (e.g., gay, Black, or woman) other than your own. Imagine and list the negative experiences and interactions you believe you might encounter at work. What policies or strategies could an organization implement to prevent those negative experiences from occurring?
    6. Provide a concrete example of how different perspectives stemming from diversity can positively impact an organization or work group. You may use a real-life personal example or make one up.

    Managerial Decision Exercises

    1. As a manager for a hospital, you oversee a staff of marketing associates. Their job is to find doctors and persuade them to refer their patients to your hospital. Associates have a very flexible work schedule and manage their own time. They report to you weekly concerning their activities in the field. Trusting them is very important, and it is impossible to track and confirm all of their activities. Your assistant, Nancy, manages the support staff for the associates, works very closely with them, and often serves as your eyes and ears to keep you informed as to how well they are performing.
    One day, Nancy comes into your office crying and tells you that your top-performing associate, Susan, has for the past few weeks repeatedly asked her out to dinner and she has repeatedly refused. Susan is a lesbian and Nancy is not. Today, when she refused, Susan patted her on the bottom and said, “I know, you are just playing hard to get.”
    After Nancy calms down, you tell her that you will fill out the paperwork to report a sexual harassment case. Nancy says that she does not want to report it because it would be too embarrassing if word of the incident got out. To impress upon you how strongly she feels, she tells you that she will consider resigning if you report the incident. Nancy is essential to the effective operation of your group, and you dread how difficult it would be to get things done without her assisting you
    What do you do? Do you report the case, lose Nancy’s trust, and jeopardize losing a high-performing employee? Or do you not report it, thereby protecting what Nancy believes to be her right to privacy?

    2. Recently your company has begun to promote its diversity efforts, including same-sex (and heterosexual) partner benefits and a nonharassment policy that includes sexual orientation, among other things. Your department now has new posters on the walls with photos of employees who represent different aspects of diversity (e.g., Black, Hispanic, gay). One of your employees is upset about the diversity initiative and has begun posting religious scriptures condemning homosexuality on his cubicle in large type for everyone to see. When asked to remove them, your employee tells you that the posters promoting diversity offend Christian and Muslim employees. What should you do?

    3. You are a recently hired supervisor at a paper mill factory. During your second week on the job, you learn about a White employee who has been using a racial slur during lunch breaks when discussing some of her Black coworkers with others. You ask the person who reported it to you about the woman and learn that she is an older woman, around 67 years old, and has worked at the factory for more than 40 years. You talk to your boss about it, and he tells you that she means no harm by it, she is just from another era and that is just her personality. What would you do in this situation?

    4. You are a nurse manager who oversees the triage for the emergency room, and today is a slow day with very few patients. During the downtime, one of your subordinates is talking with another coworker about her new boyfriend. You observe her showing her coworkers explicit images of him that he emailed her on her phone. Everyone is joking and laughing about the ordeal. Even though it appears no one is offended, should you address it? What would you say?

    5. You work for a company that has primarily Black and Hispanic customers. Although you employ many racial minorities and women, you notice that all of your leaders are White men. This does not necessarily mean that your organization engages in discriminatory practices, but how would you know if your organization was managing diversity well? What information would you need to determine this, and how would you collect it?

    6. Your company’s founder believes that younger workers are more energetic and serve better in sales positions. Before posting a new job ad for your sales division, he recommends that you list an age requirement of the position for applicants between ages 18 and 25. Is his recommendation a good one? Why or why not?

    7. You work for a real estate broker who recently hired two gay realtors, Steven and Shauna, to be a part of the team. During a staff meeting, your boss mentions an article she read about gay clients feeling ostracized in the real estate market. She tells the new employees she hired them to help facilitate the home-buying process for gay buyers and sellers. She specifically instructs them to focus on recruiting gay clients, even telling them that they should pass along any straight customers to one of the straight realtors on the team. A few weeks later, Shauna reports that she has made her first sale to a straight couple that is expecting a baby. During the next staff meeting, your boss congratulates Shauna on her sale, but again reiterates that Shauna and Steven should pass along straight clients to another realtor so they can focus on recruiting gay clients. After the meeting, Shauna tells you that she thinks it is unfair that she should have to focus on gay clients and that she is thinking of filing a discrimination complaint with HR. Do you think that Shauna is correct in her assessment of the situation? Is there merit to your boss’s desire to have the gay realtors focus on recruiting gay clients? What might be a better solution to help gay clients feel more comfortable in the home-buying and-selling process?

    Critical Thinking Case

    Uber Pays the Price

    Nine years ago, Uber revolutionized the taxi industry and the way people commute. With the simple mission “to bring transportation—for everyone, everywhere,” today Uber has reached a valuation of around $70 billion and claimed a market share high of almost 90% in 2015. However, in June 2017 Uber experienced a series of bad press regarding an alleged culture of sexual harassment, which is what most experts believe caused their market share to fall to 75%.

    In February of 2017 a former software engineer, Susan Fowler, wrote a lengthy post on her website regarding her experience of being harassed by a manager who was not disciplined by human resources for his behavior. In her post, Fowler wrote that Uber’s HR department and members of upper management told her that because it was the man’s first offense, they would only give him a warning. During her meeting with HR about the incident, Fowler was also advised that she should transfer to another department within the organization. According to Fowler, she was ultimately left no choice but to transfer to another department, despite having specific expertise in the department in which she had originally been working.

    As her time at the company went on, she began meeting other women who worked for the company who relayed their own stories of harassment. To her surprise, many of the women reported being harassed by the same person who had harassed her. As she noted in her blog, “It became obvious that both HR and management had been lying about this being his 'first offense.'” Fowler also reported a number of other instances that she identified as sexist and inappropriate within the organization and claims that she was disciplined severely for continuing to speak out. Fowler eventually left Uber after about two years of working for the company, noting that during her time at Uber the percentage of women working there had dropped to 6% of the workforce, down from 25% when she first started.

    Following the fallout from Fowler’s lengthy description of the workplace on her website, Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick publicly condemned the behavior described by Fowler, calling it “abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in.” But later in March, Uber board member Arianna Huffington claimed that she believed “sexual harassment was not a systemic problem at the company.” Amid pressure from bad media attention and the company’s falling market share, Uber made some changes after an independent investigation resulted in 215 complaints. As a result, 20 employees were fired for reasons ranging from sexual harassment to bullying to retaliation to discrimination, and Kalanick announced that he would hire a chief operating officer to help manage the company. In an effort to provide the leadership team with more diversity, two senior female executives were hired to fill the positions of chief brand officer and senior vice president for leadership and strategy.

    Critical Thinking Questions

    1. Based on Cox’s business case for diversity, what are some positive outcomes that may result in changes to Uber’s leadership team?
    2. Under what form of federal legislation was Fowler protected?
    3. What strategies should have been put in place to help prevent sexual harassment incidents like this from happening in the first place?

    Sources: Uber corporate Website, (February, 2017); Marco della Cava, “Uber has lost market share to Lyft during crisis,” USA Today, June 13, 2017,; Tracey Lien, “Uber fires 20 workers after harassment investigation,” Los Angeles Times, Jun 6, 2017,; Susan Fowler, “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber,” February 19, 2017,

    This page titled 12.9: Summary is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by OpenStax via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

    • Was this article helpful?