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Gossip, Bullying Have No Place at Work - Diversity Should Be Valued

Gossip, Bullying Have No Place at Work - Diversity Should Be Valued

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Published by Susan Klopfer
Companies that manage diversity see their results on the bottom line. Organizational behavior research has consistently shown that experiences of "out-group" members tend to be less positive than those of majority group members when managing and valuing diversity or MVD is ignored.
Companies that manage diversity see their results on the bottom line. Organizational behavior research has consistently shown that experiences of "out-group" members tend to be less positive than those of majority group members when managing and valuing diversity or MVD is ignored.

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Published by: Susan Klopfer on Sep 15, 2010
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Gossip, Bullying Have No Place at Work - Diversity Should Be Valued

By Susan Klopfer, M.B.A. (Excerpt from Profit From Diversity: Getting Along With Others; publish date set for Nov. 15, 2010. CreateSpace.)

Sara B. took one last look around her office, a comfortable nook where she had spent the past five years as administrative assistant to a successful company vice president. It had taken her several months to make this decision, and she knew there were some parts of her job that she was going to miss. In fact, her evaluations had always been quite good. While she had not gone job hunting, Sara still turned in her notice to the HR department. What would make a good employee leave a company without knowing what their future would bring? No one in HR had even asked her for an exit interview. For Sara, a gay woman, it was her daily feelings mixed with depression, anxiety and anger over the way she was treated by several of her co-workers, she would later admit. She wasn't alone -- the young, black woman who Sara replaced had left the company just one year earlier for similar reasons, Sara later found out. Perhaps both women wouldn't have made such hasty decisions, had someone in this company been concerned with managing diversity. But no managers or company stakeholders had ever really bothered to look at their company's absenteeism and turnover data; if they had, they might have discovered that it wasn't just Sara leaving the company without any plans. And a number of people were missing too much work, something else that could have shed light on its problems. Companies that manage diversity see their results on the bottom line. Organizational behavior research has consistently shown that experiences of "out-group" members tend to be less positive than those of majority group members when managing and valuing diversity or MVD is ignored. In Sara's case, she was never allowed to fit in after her cohorts learned she was in a lesbian relationship. While some were kind, there were several other women who gossiped and spread rumors about Sara. Several employees were even openly hostile with behavior that would be seen as bullying by any diversity competent human resource manager or supervisor.

Sara had never felt comfortable doing some of the things her co-workers did quite naturally, like putting up a picture on her desk of the woman she had married or the children they had adopted, as others had done with family photos. It is easy to demonstrate how an organization's economic well being is affected by discrimination. Data from the U.S. workforce, for example, shows that costly turnover and absenteeism are often higher among women and non-White men than they are for White males. One study found that the overall turnover rate for Blacks in the U.S. workforce were 2.5 times those of Whites (Hymowitz, 1989). A more recent study of absenteeism rates in the U.S. workforce shows that rates for women are 58 percent higher than for men and a range of research has been carried out into the incidence and effects of homophobic bullying. Sexual orientation discrimination encompasses the unfair treatment or persecution of someone based on their sexual preference. Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals are often victims of this type of prejudice. While women and minorities have seen significant strides made toward equality in the past few decades, the progress hasn't been as good for homosexuals. No matter what aspect of life is under the microscope, gays and lesbians still are affected by discrimination: employment, military, marriage, and membership in various organizations. Although progress has been slower in this area, some states and municipalities have enacted laws against sexual discrimination. Some companies -- just not Sara's -- have also begun to recognize the importance of truly taking a look at how all employees are treated by their co-workers and bosses. Diversity management was needed sooner, for Sara's sake. She hopes her next work experience will be better. Businesses, schools and organizations benefit when diversity is managed and valued. It's not only good for employees and their bosses, but customers appreciate this, too. Susan Klopfer, M.B.A., likes to share her knowledge about MVD. Visit her at http://www.susanklopfer.com. Look for information on her free online workshops on important diversity mistakes and how to avoid them. Also, special offers.

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