The Impact of Diversity on the Business
Environment and Structure
Table of Contents:
Training on Diversity for managers/leaders…………………………………...7
Manager/Leaders role on recognizing diversity……………………………..11
Managers/Leaders role on recognizing………………………………………12
Managers/Leaders role on empowering diversity…………………………...12
Specific Company Examples………………………………………………….14
Team Decision Process………………………………………………………..25
Lessons learned from each individual member about team process……..27
Lesson learned from the team………………………………………………...31
Things the team would do differently and why………………………………32
Suggestions for an effective team process…………………………………..33
Suggestions for an efficient team process…………………………………...33
One critically important intangible factor involved with leading any
organization is the ability to recognize and embrace the cultural differences that
exist within the organizational structure. It is not enough in today’s market to
simply deal with diversity in the work place and feel that as long as there are no
conflicts it has been successfully managed. Managers must learn to leverage
diversity and use it as an asset to the company.
Considerations for leveraging diversity must include understanding the
market served by the company, the regional culture the company operates in,
local historical and dynamic conditions, laws, and they type of diversity involved.
Ultimately an organization that can embrace, harness and maximize the diversity
factor within its organization can establish a competitive advantage over its
competitors. By embracing and fostering the dynamic atmosphere that diversity
brings to an organization, the firm can reap the benefits of a myriad of thought-
processes, problem-solving techniques and experiences.
Maximizing diversity is one of the biggest challenges a leader can face.
Consideration also has to be given to the prevailing attitudes in many firms today
that management positions are being given to candidates due to the importance
of diversity in the United States today. Significant communication has to be made
to emphasize the qualifications of the candidates to dispel these assumptions.
The question being posed by this paper is whether or not companies
recognize, embrace and nurture diversity in their work place and perform better
as a result of this philosophy. Considering the globalization of the work force,
technological improvements that allow instantaneous global communications and
the prevalence of outsourcing in today’s business culture, it is hard to believe that
there is not a single firm today that does not have to face diversity complications
in operations. Combining this factor with the belief that employees are the single
most important resource a company can possess sets the stage for evaluating
the impact of diversity and determining if a strategic advantage can be created.
The federal government protects minorities and encourages diversity in
the workplace by enforcing several important laws. Some of these laws were
enacted up to 50 years ago and others are still being developed and updated
today. All of these laws are enforced by the Equal Opportunity Employment
Below are the federal laws that encourage diversity in the workplace:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – This act prohibits employment
discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA) – This law protects men and women
who perform equal job functions in the same organization from wage
The Age Discrimination Act of 1967 (ADEA) – This law protects individuals
who are 40 years or older from age discrimination.
Title I and Title V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) –
This law prohibits discrimination against Americans who suffer from
disabilities, but are qualified and able to perform a job function. This law
applies to individuals who work in the private sector, state and local
Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – These laws
prohibit discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities who
work for the federal government.
The Civil Rights Act of 1991 – This law provides a framework for monetary
damages in cases of intentional work place discrimination (EEOC 1-3).
All of these laws have been developed over time to protect individuals
from discrimination in the work place. These laws prohibit employers from
discriminating in all areas of employment, including: hiring and firing,
compensation, assignment or classification of employee transfer, promotion,
layoff or recall of employees, job advertisements, recruitment, testing, use of
company facilities, training and apprenticeship programs, pay, retirement plans
and disability or leave, harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin,
age, sex, religion, disability or age, retaliation against employees who filed a
charge of discrimination or are cooperating with a discrimination investigation,
employment decisions based on stereotypes about a specific group of people
(i.e. race, color, sex, etc), denial of employment due to an individual being
associated or married to a person of a specific race, color, origin, etc, and other
terms and/or conditions of employment (EEOC 1-3).
All of these laws combined, state that it is illegal to discriminate against
any person on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability
or age. These laws are designed to protect the individual and clearly state the
rules of equal employment for private and public sector employers. The EEOC
will investigate any charge of discrimination and individuals can file a complaint
at their local EEOC office or online at the EEOC website. Every complaint is
investigated thoroughly and where charges are deemed accurate, the
Department of Justice is engaged to pursue legal action against the employer
(USDOJ, 3). The DOJ may also issue a notice of a right to sue to individuals
after investigating an incident.
Even today discrimination is prevalent in the workplace. We repeatedly
hear about violations of federal laws that protect individuals from discrimination.
In 2001, Wal-Mart was found guilty for violating the ADA for the 16th time. The
company failed to allow an elderly employee to sit down periodically while
performing her role as a greeter. In 2006, Denny’s was found guilty in a class
action suit where they failed to provide reasonable accommodations for disabled
workers. These are just two examples of the more than 80,000 complaints that
the EEOC receives on an annual basis.
Without federal laws that protect the individual worker’s civil rights,
employers would be allowed to do whatever they want. Most employees take
these laws for granted, but they do promote diversity in the workplace and
protect individuals in certain demographic groups. Everyone deserves the right
to earn a living and maintain their pride and dignity while doing so.
A survey (appendix A) was conducted to collect qualitative information.
Each of the six members of the team was requested to obtain five survey results
from their work places. This was to provide a broad range of inputs from various
market segments such as; Government, Manufacturing, Global Services
Provider, Pharmaceuticals, Banking, and Energy. A total of 28 completed
surveys were reviewed. The survey was designed to address specific areas of
diversity such as personal definitions, discrimination, and equal employment
opportunity knowledge. Category totals were added and attempts to extract
meaningful data were made. Those results are discussed later.
In addition each member of the team conducted research on specific
areas as related to the topic. Research included review and analysis of
periodicals, magazines, books, and electronic references. Specific research
areas included legal aspects, managers/leaders traits, training, and
Survey results were inconclusive as a number of small factors worked
against directly correlating successful business practices with diversity. Some of
those factors included incomplete surveys by participants and ambiguously
asked questions which lead to inconsistent answering techniques. The result is
limitations in the data which is considered when presenting the final results.
However, the surveys did reveal some interesting correlations that directly reflect
potential trends in business practices and the general work force. Simply stated,
the fact that diversity management is discussed is enough to indicate its
importance towards developing, designing and leading high performance
Our survey’s resulted in 18 employee’s feeling that their company
embraced diversity. However, only six participants of the 18 had ever received
any diversity training and only eight of the 18 marked that they had been
specifically asked for their opinion because of their race or heritage. These
results seem to present a mixed result.
With respect to EEO, four people, from three different work locations,
commented that they had discriminated against another person in the work
place. By contrast seven employees indicated that they had been discriminated
against in the work place, including the four whom claimed to have discriminated
against others. Three of the four who had discriminated against someone in the
work place also indicated that they did not feel their company embraces a
diverse workforce attitude.
Exactly half of the surveyed (14) indicated that they were aware of EEO
policies in the work place. Of those, only seven had ever had the policies,
procedures, or EEO process explained to them and only five of those seven felt
that they worked for a company that embraces diversity.
Finally, some interesting notes from our survey include:
All but four of the 28 surveyed felt that they were perceived and
“classified” by their peers in the same manor as they saw themselves.
When asked to select criteria for defining diversity in the work place we
achieved the following votes resulted in the following: Race: 27, Age: 23,
Sex: 24, Education: 13, Skin Color: 16, Religion: 11, Weight: 9, Political
View: 6, Health: 4, Height: 2, and IQ: 1. Not unexpectedly, Eye Color,
Shoe Size, or Hair Color did not garnish any votes. One survey did not
include any votes. As expected race, age, and sex were the predominate
factors in defining diversity.
Discussion of Critical Factors Examined
1. Training on diversity for managers/leaders
As previously discussed, diversity continues to thrive as a crucial item on
many corporate agendas today. Companies view diversity as a significant
resource and foundation to generate additional earnings, but only if it is
handled correctly. This aspect is a prominent justification for why companies
spend an estimated $8 billion annually on diversity training (Hansen, 2003).
Companies turn to a vast array of diversity training products and services in
an attempt to improve their overall organization and better position their own
products and services to its diverse set of clients. The original diversity based
educational products were videos, books, personal workbooks and games.
The trend then shifted to Web-based learning where the firm, Diversity
Training University International, retains a large presence. An online diversity
diagnostic tool that assesses the culture of a respective organization and its
policies and procedures is an example of their offerings. Learning Tree is a
popular option for two to four day retreats and interactive diversity workshops
and conferences. Other well-known conferences that feature a multitude of
companies offering diversity management, staffing, and training resources are
the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM: scheduled in October
’07 in Philadelphia, PA), National Black MBA Association, National Society of
Hispanic MBAs, and the National Society of Black Engineers.
However, experts are starting to voice their opinions that a few day
workshops or a few hours of Web-based learning programs will not have the
desired impact due to some prejudices that are so deeply rooted (Takeuchi
Cullen, 2003). Accordingly, companies are repositioning ahead of sheer
diversity awareness and establishing responsibility within management. This
has also led to a new direction with several companies hiring diversity
consultants to join their team. Consultants are brought on for two to four
week sessions or they could be involved in two to four year initiatives.
Undertakings range from creating a corporate ruling body on diversity and
affinity groups to implementing development programs with focus groups and
advising on recruitment tactics. They also often conduct research in order to
create a benchmark of best practices on diversity of other companies.
The expansion in the attention that companies are placing on diversity has
led to several market entrants among diversity consultants. They are
competing for corporate contracts so the hourly rate can range anywhere
from $100 to $300 per hour depending on the magnitude of the initiative
(Frase Blunt, 2004). Thus, choosing the right candidate is a careful
proposition. Consultants’ backgrounds will usually consist of human
resources and management, but they could also have law or social justice
qualifications. The catalyst is a research and advisory organization, which
mainly centers on women in business and they have been in business for
over 30 years. The Conference Board, a New-York based research firm,
organizes various diversity councils and its Web site provides consultant
recommendations. PeopleClick Research Institute, in Raleigh, N.C., is an
example of a highly regarded member of the diversity consultant field. They
are a proponent of turning diversity into business results, but since company
objectives differ amongst each other it is difficult to benchmark the results of
the execution of a program. Consequently, they refuse to offer an off-the-
shelf concept and reckon that “diversity has to be integrated, not bolted on”
(Frase Blunt, 2004). Their tactics include a comprehensive involvement where
they perform an evaluation of the endeavor. Subsequently, they design the
strategy, conduct a companywide training development program and
holistically examine transforming systems, habits, and policies.
As discussed, there is a lot to offer in the way of diversity training; therefore, it
is important to analyze the impact on affected company’s performance.
However, no hard results exist to measure the effects of diversity on financial
performance. Thomas Kochan, a management professor at MIT, has studied
companies’ hard-earned reputations for their continued dedication to fostering a
diverse staff and administering to diversity. In fact, there seems to be signs of
decreased efficacy with the overall compliance data since racial harassment
cases filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have increased
five times the level of ten years ago (Hansen 2003). One of the problems is that
companies do not allocate any resources to conduct a methodical and organized
assessment of how their diversity programs affect a company’s contribution.
Much of the blame falls on HR executives since they are not demanding more
advanced material in what they require from the diversity consultants nor are
they requiring documented results from them within the hiring process. Their
unwillingness to analyze and discuss deeper the results is partly due to the fact
that they are more concerned with the legal obligation and want to assume these
programs are working on their own. Michael Hyter, CEO of J.Howard &
Associates diversity consulting firm, explains that for companies “it’s easier to
create activities and get credit for doing something than it is to create metrics and
measure in order to hold people accountable.” (Hansen 2003) Since these
programs are not built on scientific support, when budgets constrain the spending
these programs may come under heavier examination. They likely will find that
much of the resources invested in training are wasted due to programs being
focused solely on awareness and valuing diversity. This does not give people
the skills they need. It does not lead to long-term behavior changes as opposed
to training used for group procedures centered on problem-solving and the
exchanging of ideas within a diverse group. This is more evident in studies that
suggest a destructive effect of racial and ethnic diversity on business
performance because these types of analysis, training and supervision were not
in place (Hansen, 2003). If these programs are left to work by themselves and
get mishandled then they are apt to generate miscommunication, unsettled
tension and increased turnover, which would lead to performance reduction.
This is a result of a nonanalytical attitude assumed by companies. Diversity
concerns may be trivialized and played down as the flavor of the week because a
successful diversity initiative commands a genuine frame of mind and social
As referenced above, computing business results is challenging, but can
be attained by conducting comparative tests among departments in a
respective organization. They can monitor the progress of a group that have
received training against those that have not and judge against metrics such
as time-to-market, sales growth or error rates.
2. Manager/leader’s role on recognizing diversity
To some extent the goals of equitable and fair treatment driving equal
employment legislation are being rendered moot by demographic changes and
globalization. Employers have little choice but to willingly push for more diversity.
Globalization increasingly requires employers to hire minority members with the
cultural and language skills to deal with customers abroad. As a result,
companies are increasingly striving for racial, ethnic, and sexual workforce
balance. In general, race, sex, culture, national origin, handicap, age and religion
comprise the demographic building blocks of diversity at work and what people
often think of when asked what employers mean by diversity (Dessler).
3. Manager/leader’s role on developing diversity
Managing diversity means maximizing diversity’s potential advantages
while minimizing the potential barriers that can undermine the function of a
diverse workforce. In order for any diversity initiative to become successful,
senior management must provide support for the program, and it must become
part of the organization's culture. As a result of the far-reaching implications of
diversity programs and the potential for backlash (especially from white males),
the benefits of the program must also be clear. Conference participants identified
individuals (again, mostly white males) who held very extreme views of their
place in society and a much lesser place for females and non-whites. Even these
individuals were willing to go along with the letter of the diversity program
(certainly not the spirit) if senior management truly supported the program, and
held company managers accountable for complying with the requirements of the
program. Obviously, forcing employees to act in a manner that is different from
their thoughts and beliefs is not the best way to approach the problem, but
sometimes it appears to be the only way (Powaser).
4. Manager/leader’s role on empowering diversity
Diversity training historically has focused on the issues of gender and
race. The exercise of power has been viewed as a byproduct of diversity
success. Clearly, HR managers have a key role to play in catalyzing their
companies to move from a Wheel of Power and Control culture to a fairer model
which is the Wheel of Equality. This was developed by the Duluth Domestic
Abuse Intervention Project. The Wheel of Equality suggests ways to build a
better working environment for women or minorities in the corporate hierarchy. It
can also help explain the principles upon which a culture of diversity could be
built. Each of the Wheel's eight elements can help a company enhance gender-
related diversity programs. They include: honesty and accountability, trust and
support, respect, non-threatening behavior, negotiation and fairness, economic
partnership, shared responsibility and responsible parenting.
Honesty and accountability are important for any successful relationship.
An open communication channel is the key to unlocking a culture of honesty and
accountability. Performance appraisals should not only focus on the past but also
plan for the future. Without honesty and accountability, it's difficult to develop
trust and support. Keeping one's word is the most important ingredient of a
successful business relationship. Trust is not always given immediately in any
relationship. It can take years to build. It also can be irreversibly damaged in one
Respect implies much more than tolerance. True respect is based on
accepting who the other person is and caring about who she or he wants to
become. Respect for diversity implies embracing diversity wholeheartedly,
neither ignoring differences nor allowing them to become divisive.
Communication is fundamental to respect where one gender can learn from the
other and acknowledges there's more than one approach to a task.
Managers should learn to cultivate another equality element: non-
threatening behavior. It's the responsibility of a leader to keep meetings focused
on business, comments respectful and avoid put-downs or exclusionary tactics.
The use of negotiation and fairness is another essential element in building
efficient teams and organizations. Nothing breaks trust faster than a sense of
unfairness. There should be a basic fairness in the way employees are evaluated
Economic partnership is the basic business contract between
management and employees. People expect a balance between what they put
into a job and what they get out. They're looking for a partnership attitude, not an
unbreakable contract. Fairness, trust, honesty and mutual respect are all intrinsic
to the partnership. This means retraining employees with obsolete skills,
continuing development and education and investing in the economic partnership
of employer and employee. Shared responsibility also parallels the workplace.
Management should make sure that not only are the workloads fair and the
rewards appropriate, but that women and minorities truly have the resources that
they need to get their job done well.
The last element is responsible parenting. There's no way to encourage
participation by women at all levels of the work force without addressing the
child-care issue. Companies that acknowledge this issue and provide resources
are among the most desirable employers for both men and women with family
responsibilities. This particular segment has already received a lot of attention
through work-family programs (Harris).
Specific Company Examples
Common Denominators of Companies with Successful Diversity Initiatives
While different readings may have different breakdowns, we can find five
basic common denominators of successful diversity initiatives. They are:
1. Making a business case. It is hard to garner employee buy-in when a
business case is not made and generally the employees will do the minimum
2. Focus has to be made on retaining a diverse workforce. Hiring is
important but the longer term issue is retention. Some companies use
extensive mentoring programs to attain this goal.
3. Customization is a key element. A “one size fits all” approach to diversity
does not work well for varying companies or even different departments or
divisions within a company.
4. Buy-in from top management. If there is no enthusiasm for diversity from
top management, lower level managers will never truly embrace diversity
as a crucial part of the business plan.
5. The hiring process. Strategies must be developed seek a diverse pool of
applicants. This might involve recruiting in a diverse communities or
targeting schools with diverse populations. (Kim, 2005)
Diversity at PepsiCo
PepsiCo has a long history of diversity, starting in the 1940s. In keeping
with the five common denominators, Pepsi started with the business case. The
CEO, Walter S. Mack, realized that he could tap the huge potential of the African-
American market. He put a team of African-American sales professionals in
place to court the identified demographic market. This team was equally
qualified to its white counterpart in terms of education and sales experience. The
team managed to leverage diversity in such a way so as to beat rival Coca-Cola
in the targeted sales areas, including some northern regions that were
traditionally dominated by the Caucasian demographic. This was a very difficult
situation for African-American professionals as antiquated Jim Crow segregation
laws were still practiced in the United States. In spite of the difficulties, the
African-American team was a major player in the Pepsi organization of that era
that helped bolster sales during one of Pepsi’s most troubling times.
The marketing approach was not to stereotype the African-American
population but rather was designed to portray African-Americans as fun-loving,
middle-class consumers. Several major press campaigns were executed. The
first was a series called “Leaders in Their Fields” which compared African-
American leaders with Pepsi, a “Leader in Its Field”. Ralph Bunche, United
Nations diplomat, was the first leader profiled. Top African-American university
students were one of the other leader groups portrayed. Another marketing
campaign was a point-of-sale advertising. This campaign featured a middle-
class African-American family. The campaign was a success and incidentally,
the seven year old boy who posed for the photos was Ron Brown who later grew
up to be secretary of commerce in the Clinton Administration.
One of the original sales team members later became a vice president at
Pepsi. A few other team members secured positions of responsibility as well.
However, most of the team complained that they were never seriously
considered for higher positions. When Mr. Mack left the company the
“experiment” ended and the new CEO shifted his focus to other initiatives, putting
diversity aside (Capparell, 2007).
Today PepsiCo is again a leader in building diversity. By the end of 2004,
17% of midlevel management was people of color, up from 11% in 2000.
Women accounted for 29% of the management jobs, up from 24% in 2000. In
2004, approximately 1% of the 8% revenue growth came from products inspired
by diversity efforts. The products include guacamole-flavored Doritos, Gatorade
Xtreme, Mountain Dew Code-Red and a wasabi-flavored snack aimed at the
Asian population. In August 2006, Indra K. Nooyi, an India-born woman was
appointed CEO of PepsiCo, Inc.(Hymowitz, 2005).
Diversity at Coca-Cola
Like rival Pepsi, Coca-Cola has a long history of diversity. In 1950
$25million was raised for the United Negro College Fund. Coke officials were on
the board of the Tuskegee Institute in 1952. In the 1960s Coke worked with
Atlanta officials to support an integrated dinner for Martin Luther King Jr.,
following his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. Coke was the sponsor of the
famous “Hilltop” television commercial that featured a diverse group of people
holding hands singing “Teach the World to Sing”.
Today, Coke defines diversity both internally and externally. Internally the
1. Required annual training for all employees. Going back to one of the common
denominators, this begins with senior executives and managers.
2. Employee forums. This is networking groups and support groups.
3. KO discussion forums. These are groups that facilitate dialogue between
employees and senior management.
4. Project Hilltop. These are bi-monthly cultural celebrations.
5. Formal mentoring program. Corporate sponsored mentoring initiative.
Externally the initiatives include:
1. $1 billion commitment to diversity in a comprehensive empowerment and
2. Minority supplier commitment. This is an increase to more than 50% to an
average of $160 million with minority and women owned businesses.
3. Investment of approximately $50 million in local economies through urban
economic and marketing partnerships. (Velasquez, 2004)
Diversity in Unexpected Places
An unexpected place to find diversity until somewhat recently was the
recreational field of motorcycles. Twenty years ago the stereotypical profile was
very narrow and usually a rather “rough”, white, male character. Today we find
individuals from all walks of life enjoying motorcycling including older Americans,
professionals, people of color, women, etc. In the early 90s Harley-Davidson,
already in difficult financial times, realized that in order to help expand its market
that it needed to have an employee profile that reflected the corresponding
customer base. HD has aggressively sought women and minority managers and
extended the skills necessary to retain them. Women and people of color now
make up about 25% of the vice president and general manager positions. The
customer base is 10% women and 7% people of color. Harley-Davidson CEO
Jim Ziemer says “We have a long way to go but we also have opportunities”. He
continues, “We’re out there at African-American and Latino motorcycle
association rallies, and 40% of participants in our riders education program are
from women who want to learn to ride safely. There’s pent-up demand for our
product from these groups.” (Hymowitz, 2007)
Another field typically dominated by white males is NASCAR. NASCAR
was born in the deep south in the 1940s with a heritage dating back to illegal
production and transport of hard liquor. Albeit slow, the face of NASCAR is
changing. To tap the massive potential market available, NASCAR has to accept
diversity. In 2006 a native of Ecuador joined the NASCAR circuit as a driver.
This driver won one of the 2006 races and has already won one time in 2007.
Max Seigel, an African-American, recently became No. 2 executive at Dale
Earnhardt Inc. This makes Mr. Siegel the highest ranking official connected to a
NASCAR team. Mr. Siegel’s black gospel-music executive background is not the
usual profile. CEO Terersa Earnhardt claims that she was not specifically
looking for diversity when she hired Mr. Siegle. The business need drove her
decision making process. Ms. Earnhardt is quoted saying, “Most of the other
team owners are just so passionate about the need for speed and the
competitive aspect of it. That’s what drives them… I never could find someone
who could take the blinders off and see outside that.” (Thompson, 2007)
Diversity – What Doesn’t Work
Perhaps one of the best ways to illustrate why companies fail in their
diversity efforts and initiatives is to examine some misconceptions about
diversity. The following points are taken from a discussion between Juan
Johnson, Vice President and Director of Diversity Strategies for the Coca-Cola
Company and Mauricio Velasquez, President of the Diversity Training Group.
1. Diversity is a problem. On the contrary, it is an opportunity.
2. Diversity is an HR responsibility. Wrong idea. It is the responsibility of each
individual in the organization.
3. Diversity is about gender and race. Actually it is much broader.
4. Diversity is about minorities and women in the workplace. It is about you
(internal) and customers (external).
5. Diversity is about exclusivity. It is really about inclusively. It isn’t about getting
“them” into our organization. It’s about creating a culture where everyone can
thrive and contribute. It’s about reaching to a diverse consumer audience.
6. Diversity is a fad. If we examine our customer base and demographic
projections we had better embrace diversity.
7. Diversity is another version of Equal Employment Opportunity / Affirmative
Action. This is a distorted view of diversity. EEO/AA is legislated,
Government-initiated, quantitative and problem based. Diversity is voluntary,
proactive, qualitative and focused on opportunities. (Velasquez, 2004)
A subject not yet covered is business partnerships. In 2006, retailing
giant, Wal-Mart fired one of its outside law firms on the basis of the firm’s failure
to meet statistical hiring and recruitment goals with regard to minority and female
attorneys. This is significant when we consider that Wal-Mart is a consumer of
approximately $200 million in legal services annually and that the quality of legal
work done was not in question (Ramos & Baronas, 2006). This clearly illustrates
that companies that fail to embrace diversity stagnate or fall behind their
competitors. Wal-Mart is well aware that it in order to serve a diverse customer
base that it must seek out diversity oriented business partners. Our world has
evolved from small localized economies to a global business environment where
everyone must be included internally and externally. Astute companies know
that they must promote a culture of diversity not only within their organization and
projected toward the customer base, but also with their business partners.
Based on the research that has been conducted, the materials reviewed
and the prevailing culture observed in the business world currently, diversity has
an extremely profound impact on the success of any organization. In order to
design, develop and lead a high performance organization, the person in charge
must have an intimate knowledge of diversity and the issues associated with it.
Successful organizations are embracing and fostering diversity across the globe
and are maximizing the potential of their resources through this practice.
There are many different components to the issue of diversity, further
making the issue a complex one to understand. The root cause or main cause of
any issues relating to diversity issues always lay in the individuals that are
involved in the organization. Managers need to be vigilant in applying their
diversity policy and screening or testing employees to ensure that they are in
compliance with the policy or culture of the organization for it to be successful.
Continual review for compliance in this area will prove to be critical for an
organization’s performance as this attitude ties into the focus or direction of the
In the United States, organizations are fortunate as the history and
premise of the country’s infrastructure is based on diversity. America has often
been referred to as a melting pot of cultures and has a long history of dealing
with the complicated issues that diversity presents in the workplace and the
general population. Other countries are not as fortunate as they are still stuck in
the past with respect to how their culture and people view this issue. Diversity is
already making leaps and bounds in more civilized countries, however, still has a
long way to go before applied to organizations globally.
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Team decision process:
We implemented a team approach with one person designated as the
pivot point for tracking action steps, maintaining communication, and establishing
time lines. The team consists of mature professional adults so no formal
agreements were arranged. Every member of the team is already motivated to a
successful completion of this project simply evidenced by their participation in the
class. Generally, in a very informal manner, topic and issues were tabulated for
discussion and brainstorming. As the team came to a conscientious decision it
became a part of the action plan. Everyone was given ample time to express
their opinions and ideas. No formal discipline or enforcement was discussed for
individual who were considered not pulling their weight. Again, the motivation
was there for all team members and it was understood that other obligations may
play a part in an individual’s performance from time to time. In those situations,
the other members of the team supported the group’s efforts. It was understood
by all that at some point they may need the assistance and that was a key
element to maintaining the team effort and energy.
Team communication process:
Team communications were essential to our group considering the fact
that none of us resided conveniently near each other. Our daily work schedules
and other obligations required each of us to utilize various communication tools
both effectively and efficiently. In doing so we were able to quickly respond and
adjust to circumstances affecting our project. Communication links included face-
to-face, email, and telephone.
The primary communication process utilized by The Gentleman’s Club
was face-to-face communication. Each week the team took several minutes after
each class to discuss the status and development of the team paper. Live group
sessions were an integral part of our team’s communication plan. Though email
and telephone allows for communication over great distances and any time much
of the interpersonal relationship is lost. The Gentleman’s Club made it a point to
routinely meet in person. This helped with keeping everyone motivated and
allowed each team member to clarify any miscommunications that may have
risen from other communications.
The secondary communications means was email. It turned out that a
great deal of discussion took place by all team members via email.
Each team member provided a telephone number so that if immediate
communications were needed for any reason (emergency, questions, help, etc.)
we were available to one another.
Communication techniques considered but not utilized included regular
mail, instant messenger, and fax. Regular “snail mail” was never used for
obvious reasons of speed and cost. Instant messenger requires collaboration
and timing between team members. Fax services were not immediately available
to all team members.
Lessons learned from each individual member about team process:
Each team member learned valuable skills during this project. Many of us
have already had experience with team projects but every opportunity provides
even greater individual development.
Chance Craig: I gained more experience and appreciation of working with similar
partners from previous projects and the benefit of comfort and trust that comes
from that shared history. I felt that this project went smoother then many previous
team projects simply because of the previous experience I had with many of the
team members. Even with the introduction of new team member, I felt that the
team benefited from our shared common background.
Glen Halter: Although there are some educational and cultural similarities, there
are some significant differences in the group members. We all come from
different undergraduate schools and have various undergraduate degrees. We
have shared our different career backgrounds in the process. There is some
spread in our ages and therefore some of us have more career as well as life
experiences to offer. This diversity brings a richer, well rounded approach to the
team and the resulting task of developing the team paper together.
John Kaufman: The biggest thing I learned from this project is prioritization. This
class carries a large work load between case analysis, reading, the term paper
and class preparation and the only way to successful accomplish all of these
tasks is to prioritize them by deadline.
Matt Longo: I learned that our team was successful in completing the research
project because we were able to define roles from the start. Once each team
member was clear on their responsibility and then they were able to focus better
and deliver their part. The structure that was established early on in the process
provided efficiency. We were able to assign roles that fit the personality and
strengths of each member. Two key players were the point people. One person
was able to convey the holistic view and strategy of our project and was effective
in pointing the rest of the group in the right direction. Another was the point who
played a key role because they were able to cut through the other team
members’ research to wrap the entire project together.
Mark Poserina: The team concept worked well for this group. We had six
individuals all contributing unique skills to the group. One individual took a
leadership role on the team and assigned tasks and set direction. Another
individual was very well organized and compiled the paper and slides for the
team. The rest of us researched various topics and contributed significant parts
of the project. It was a pleasure working with this group and I look forward to
participating in team projects with them in the future.
Jason Russell: This was the first time in over 160 credits that I was not the
central team figure or team leader. It was a pleasure to finally find a group of
similarly motivated individuals who all strived to achieve a common objective.
Previous experience has left me mentally exhausted when trying to pull together
massive projects at the last minute because others could or did not pull their
respective weights. It was a pleasure to be a part of the “Gentlemen’s Club”. I
also feel that many of the similarities in our backgrounds and lives lead to the
cohesive team unit that we became. I have benefited most from the experience
gaining the knowledge that there are other students and managers that are
driven, motivated and looking to succeed without having to be pushed or had
decisions made for them.
Lessons learned from the team:
The main lessons, or experiences learned by our team was a greater
appreciation of teamwork, time allotment, task assignment and continuous
process review. We learned a lot about teamwork. As simple as it may sound
and despite all of our collective teamwork experiences, any time you are involved
in a process that depends on others cooperation for success your knowledge of
teamwork, what works, what doesn’t and what your individual strengths are
grows. As simple as it may seem, proper time allotment is a lesson that any team
must learn and continue to relearn.
The team learned to contribute to the overall goal by assigning tasks
based on each member’s strengths. Each team member possesses different
levels of competency. By evaluating this situation we were best able to apply the
appropriate human resource to each task.
Continuous process review is a necessity for any process. A constant
assessment of the team’s progress and adherence to the project outline was
critical to our team’s success.
Things the team would do differently and why:
This experience has taught the team some lessons for the future. In
retrospect we would have established a central role figure, conducted deeper
research on the topic earlier to ensure adequate research resources were
available and conducted additional rehearsals the presentation.
In establishing a central figure many of the smaller administrative tasks
would have been delegated thereby eliminating small pockets of confusion and
last second decision making. This person would act as the glue for the team.
This person would make minor decisions for the team such as fonts, power point
background selection, etc. This would free up the other team members to focus
on their portion of the paper without being distracted by minor details. Additional
responsibilities would include receiving all segments of work from each team
member and combining them into a single format.
Conducted deeper research on the topic earlier in the project to ensure
adequate research materials would be available. Some team members found
locating resources on their portion of the topic to is more challenging then others.
Had we conducted this investigation soon enough in the project, the team may
have been able to possibly adjust the topic to ensure sufficient supporting
Time constraints and conflicting schedules towards the end of the
semester didn’t allow our team as much group rehearsal time as we all would
have preferred. Individual rehearsal was the main thrust of our presentation
preparedness. Our team was only able to manage one group rehearsal prior to
our presentation. This led to a slight decrease of coordination between each
Suggestions for an effective team process:
An effective team is a team that meets its goal. This is best achieved by
planning objectives and developing tasks to achieve those objectives.
Additionally, a timeline needs to be established, areas of responsibility for each
team member must be assigned, and milestone set to gauge progress.
Beyond the basic outline of creating an effective team the following
suggestions are offered to improve the overall process. Individual project “buy in”
was the key to making an ordinary team an extraordinary team. When each
person of the team feels truly compelled and is personally committed to the
project’s success they tend to go the extra mile. The sense of pride empowers
It is one thing to establish a timeline, it’s another to maximize and leverage
a timeline to improve results. The Gentleman’s Club established an aggressive
time line for our paper. We took early initiative in selecting a topic and setting
milestone dates. This allowed the team members the opportunity to jump directly
into research. This approach allowed us to be “ahead of the curve” through most
of the project. By staying aggressive, we were able to build in flexibility to the
schedule to allow for unforeseen events without jeopardizing completion.
Additionally, if additionally work or rework was necessary we were able to
accommodate it. We considered this a key factor for our success.
Suggestions for an efficient team process:
Efficiency is the best use of time and resources. The most efficient team
process for The Gentleman’s Club, in accomplishing this one time project, was to
select the proper person for each task based on current skill sets, establish open
and free communications and set expectations.
Proper task assignment to each team member’s strength was a key factor
to our team’s efficiency. This allowed for the most appropriate skilled individual at
any given task to be assigned that task. This does not necessarily afford
individual growth of skill development in subjects of less competence by each
member. Cross training and is important but it isn’t always the most efficient way
of completing a project or reaching short term goals.
Establishing clear and open communication lines is extremely vital to
having an efficient team. Each team member must fully and completely
understand the goal, objectives, tasks, and responsibilities of the other members
and this can only be accomplished if everyone in on the same page. Small
miscommunications can lead to tremendous losses on time and energy by one
individual which will directly impact the entire project.
Setting expectations is very import to efficiency. A clear and concise
picture of each individual roles, project objectives and final results allows
everyone to visualize the game plan. This helps with establishing project “buy in”
developing communication lines and adherence to timelines.
In conclusion, this project paper went very well for us both as a team and
on individual levels. Each team member contributed greatly to the projects
success and hand a key role in defining the processes.
The team developed experience an alternative decision making process
with the “3 of 5 rule” approach. Most team members were accustomed to more
traditional decision making processes. The development of our open and free
communications forum was well received by everyone. Significant new lessons
were learned, as well as previously known but possibly forgotten lessons were
remembered. Each of us came away from this paper with an understanding of
how to improve not only our own performance in the future but also how to
improve team performance through effective strategies and efficient use of