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Workplace Diversity Versus Workplace Discrimination: Understanding The Difference

 

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity, there is beauty, and there is strength.” – Maya Angelou

There is often a fine line between workplace diversity and workplace discrimination. As this quotation by Maya Angelou states, when workplace diversity is harnessed, the company can only grow from strength to strength.

On the other hand, as New Jersey discrimination lawyer Ravi Sattiraju notes, when a culture of discrimination in the workplace is tolerated, even encouraged, it results in a toxic environment which then becomes destructive. And, if left to fester, the business will more than likely close down.

Discrimination: The global backdrop.

While this discussion is fundamentally about workplace discrimination versus workplace diversity, the current global coronavirus, COVID-19, perfect example of how xenophobia or discrimination targets certain race groups. And, unfortunately, whatever happens in society seems to echo in the workplace.

7 March 2020 statistics show that there are a total of 102 180 infections across sixty-four countries, the majority in China. And, while the infection rate seems to be dropping in mainland China, it is growing in the rest of the world with new countries added every day.

There is also world-wide panic with global supplies of face masks and hand sanitizer flying off the shelves. And, there are people who seem to believe that all people of Asian descent are Covid-19 carriers because of their race and origin country.

Time.com describes how a Singaporean student was attacked by four men in central London while walking down the street. Their reason for attacking and assaulting him was because they did not want his coronavirus in the UK.

Miri Song, professor of sociology at the University of Kent, highlights the ease with which seemingly rational people become racist with the following commentary:

Whenever there’s… [a] …major incident with global or regional implications, and as soon as you can identify it in relation to some racial ‘other,’ particularly in predominantly white, multi-ethnic societies like England or the U.S., it’s… easy for people to use a…small excuse to start scapegoating… [based on] …their appearance,”

Workplace diversity.

Workplace diversity, on the other hand, is often seen as a business requirement. However, Laura Acevedo, in her article titled “The Advantages of Workplace Diversity,” suggests that diversity should be seen as a competitive advantage. In other words, a company that embraces diversity will have a unique advantage over less diverse companies. And, it will be in a position where it can successfully widen the brand’s target audience because the diverse staff complement will provide the knowledge, skill, and understanding of how to reach a diverse, multicultural target audience.

Finally, it’s essential to note that diversity, as described by Acevedo, “can apply to gender, national origin, physical attributes, sexual orientation, ethnic affiliation, and regional differences.

Final thoughts.

In conclusion, it is essential to note that discrimination is negative and harmful. By definition and practice, it destroys communities and corporate organizations. Juxtapositionally, embracing diversity is a positive and affirmative action. It builds up communities as well as global corporate entities, giving them a competitive edge of companies that do not incorporate diversity into their business model.

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Young Upstarts is a business and technology blog that champions new ideas, innovation and entrepreneurship. It focuses on highlighting young people and small businesses, celebrating their vision and role in changing the world with their ideas, products and services.

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