Archive for August, 2013

Managing Diversity in Organizations

This is a section from the masters thesis “Managing Diversity in Organizations.”

Chapter 1: Introduction

“A Senegalese poet said ‘In the end we will conserve only what we love. We love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.’ We must learn about other cultures in order to understand, in order to love, and in order to preserve our common world heritage.”  This quotation by Yo Yo Ma at the White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy, November 28, 2000 depicts management’s responsibility in our current multicultural organizations. 

This paper is designed to assist managers in the awareness, necessity and complexity of diverse workforce populations.  It provides examples of appropriate and inappropriate diversity behaviors and discusses the benefits of workplace diversity in creating appeal to the marketplace.  It presents effective strategies for working with diverse cultures.

Diversity in the workplace is acknowledging, accepting, including and celebrating people who are different than we are with respect to race, ethnicity, spiritual beliefs, age, gender, physical and mental ability, and sexual orientation. (Green et al.)

A business which embraces diversity can operate more successfully in today’s marketplace.  To embrace a new concept we must understand the need for it and the most effective methods to incorporate it.  With the increasing popularity of the internet, competition for customers and employees is international.  Diversity in the workplace is essential in order to compete in international markets.  Organizations must be open to expanding their management style to embrace multicultural differences. 

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

In the 1990s and the first few years of the 2000s, managing diversity was focused on the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the workforce.  It is now recognized that diversity is much more inclusive. The inclusion of age, class, ethnicity, physical and mental abilities, sexual orientation and spiritual practices have added significant complexity to the role of managers. (Kerby et al.)  This economic study was conducted by the Center for American Progress, an organization whose focus is the efficient and congenial inclusion of workforce diversity in American businesses.  The facts are documented, extensive and current.

Diversity, with all of its complexity, is no longer an option.  In the effort to remain competitive in an international market, companies have expanded into other countries.  This organizational restructuring has created a more diverse workforce.  Globalization and technology has enabled a modern manager to be working with employees in several different countries, different time zones and with a far more diverse workforce.  A diverse pool of candidates expands the qualification, creativity and innovation of the workforce.  Of the 321 global enterprises with at least $500 million in annual revenue surveyed in a Forbes 2011 study, 85 percent agreed that diversity is critical to fostering innovation. (Forbes 1)  Forbes Magazine, founded in 1917, has been acclaimed as a leading source for reliable business news and financial information.  Forbes magazines, published in 9 different countries, provide global perspective.

Diversity is inevitable even for companies who choose to remain within American boundaries.  Census data tells us that by 2050 there will be no racial or ethnic majority in America.  Between 2000 and 2050 new immigrants and their children will account for 83 percent of the growth in the working age population.  Our nation’s changing demographics has had a tremendous impact on our country’s economy. “According to the U.S. Department of Commerce in the year 2000, minority consumers spent $1.3 trillion in the marketplace.  That number will nearly double to $2.5 trillion in year 2020.” (Powell 8) Diversity is a significant factor in our economy and a challenge for managers. This extensive document was produced by the Career Advancement Subcommittee of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age with the specific directive to provide guidance to the  Federal Communication Commission on policies and practices of diversity in America.

Modern managers must concern themselves with writing job descriptions which will be more compelling and culturally sensitive to attract more diverse candidates.  Benefits packages which include onsite daycare, flexible schedules and accommodation for religious holidays as well as policies which accept diversity-friendly professional apparel choices are more inclusive. Language issues create additional complexities in policies and job requirements. Managers may need to offer non-English speaking workers an employer-paid translator even though the worker has hesitated to request language assistance.  Americans may be more prone to voice their needs than workers from other cultures.

Awareness by the manager is insufficient.  Employees must be trained to avoid behaviors which may be offensive to others.  Proactive training can reduce turnover cost; training is essential with both current and new employees.  Retaining employees may be more difficult than recruiting.  Diversity training will lessen discrimination, prejudice and potential legal issues. 

Considerations in diversity management 

  • ·         Conduct a thorough anonymous workforce survey to determine employee satisfaction, challenges, obstacles and preferences.
  • ·         Test your assumptions before widespread implementation.
  • ·         Seek additional valid policies and procedures.
  • ·         Determine employee motivation, goals and recognition preferences.
  • ·         Insist on reaching out to attract a diverse poll of candidates.
  • ·         Clarify job responsibilities and expectations.
  • ·         Select the best qualified candidate for the work to be performed.
  • ·         Be conscious of behaviors.  Avoid racism and sexism. Handle disrespect immediately.
  • ·         Insure that advancement opportunities are equally accessible to everyone
  • ·         Frequently examine policies and procedures with consideration for fairness to all.

Management awareness and employee diversity training will minimize the challenges of communication, resistance to change, and restructuring policies. Embracing diversity with a positive attitude emanates from the commitment of top management and flows through the entire organization.  The resulting benefits of increased adaptability, more creativity, more innovation, more variety of viewpoints, broader service range and more effective execution enhance the culture and profitability of the entire organization. 

Chapter Three:  Methodology

Qualitative data – Demographic of subject: Elaine Love, Caucasian female, age 68, successful entrepreneur, owner of four different successful businesses: Candy Mountain Culinary Creations, Mountain Castles Property Management, L.E. Love, Inc., and Results For Life LLC

Interviewer: “Elaine, Your career has spanned several decades and a variety of industries. Part of your background was managing a chain of Goodyear tire dealerships in the 1970s in Detroit, Michigan.  As a feminine lady is a male dominated industry, were you treated differently?”

Elaine: “The “good old boy” network within Goodyear in Detroit in the 1970s was not welcoming to a feminine lady.  There were numerous incidents of verbal disrespect.  As part of my job as Chief Operating Officer, I attended district Goodyear meetings with the other store owners.  The March Tire chain was one of the largest in the Midwest.  The owner, Paul Van

Hull, was treated with high respect due to his status in Goodyear.  Ten of us would be seated at a table with the District Manager, Bob Long.  One of the men would glance at me with a grin and start telling a dirty joke or using foul language.  The object was to test my reaction and intimidate me.  The choices were to ignore it, leave the table, join in or speak up.  If they persisted, I would stand up to leave and Paul or Bob would say, ‘If Elaine leaves, so do I.’

This situation repeated for the six years I worked with March Tire.  My saving grace was that both Paul and the District Manager held such status that the “rude, crude and socially unacceptable” behavior of the owners would be curtailed.  It was a male dominated industry where females were not treated as equals.  They did not handle diversity appropriately.”

Interviewer: “You said there were incidents within your company; give me an example.”

Elaine: “It was 8 am on a Monday morning when one of the store managers called and said, “We’re sending a customer over to you.”  Shortly thereafter a man burst into my office.  He demanded in a loud angry voice, “I want to talk to the boss, right now.”

I stood and greeted him, “Yes, sir, may I help you?”

“I don’t want to talk to any ______ _______ secretary, I want to talk to the boss.”

“Yes sir, may I help you?”

He repeated his demand.  He had already yelled at the mechanic, yelled at the store manager and yelled at the Operations Coordinator before he burst into my office.  After a few rounds of his angry abrasive statements, he finally realized that he was speaking to the boss.  Red-faced, he sat down.  We determined his problem and arrived at an acceptable solution.

If I had dressed, acted or spoken like a man, he would have continued his tirade.  Was it fun to be treated so disrespectfully?  No.  When Paul came into the office later, he grinned and asked, “Anything happen today?”  He already knew what had happened.  They were amused and testing my reaction.  They would not do that to a man. It was not personal, it was gender abuse.

Interviewer: “That was the 70s.  Diversity training has progressed.  What are you doing now?”

Elaine: “I owned and operated 4 successful businesses after that in Colorado.  Mountain Castles Property Management in Steamboat Springs started from a controversial idea and progressed to win the First Resort International “Innovator of the Year” award.  That changed my career.  Due to my entrepreneurial success and this award, I have been coaching executives how to duplicate my results in their companies.  Part of that coaching is assisting them with their speeches at corporate conferences. Because they have such a diversified workforce, they must be conscious of appropriate and inappropriate words, phrases and gestures.”

“For instance, always offer the right hand in shaking hands or gesturing with an Arabic individual.  In some cultures, the left hand is considered unclean.”

“In Western cultures the index finger and thumb touching to form a circle means ‘OK’ or good.  This hand position is a rude gesture in Latin America, Germany and the Middle East.”

“In America thumbs up is a positive sign but in Arab countries the thumbs-up gesture is rude.”

“In this multicultural business environment, it is important to be aware of different meanings in different cultures.  Whether a manager is speaking one-to-one or to a group, diversity awareness is essential.  Awareness is the first step toward being respectful of other cultures.”

Interviewer: “These are small steps we can take to be more respectful of a diverse workforce.”

Chapter Four: Discussion

          The 1970s was prior to extensive diversity awareness especially regarding females in management positions.  At that point in time in Detroit, a person of color would probably have received more equal treatment among his male counterparts than a female would receive in a male dominated industry such as the automotive industry.  Females were considered appropriate candidates for secretarial duties rather than management.  Kerby stated in 2012 that “women only represent 18 percent of corporate boards among the senior management of Fortune 500 companies.”  (Kerby)  If the percentage is only 18 percent in 2012, it was most assuredly far less 40 years prior.

By today’s standards that level of verbal abuse would not be tolerated; however at that point in time it was probably considered quite acceptable.  Paul Van Hull, owner of March Tire, and Bob Long, District Manager of Goodyear, are to be commended for exerting their influence to halt the abuse of the other owners.  Paul did allow the “boys to be boys” within March Tire.  What could Paul have done differently?  He could have stopped the negativity sooner, especially within March Tire.

Elaine could have chosen to speak up for herself or get up and leave earlier.  In either case speaking up or leaving sooner could have been viewed by the other owners as the way to remove her from what they seemed to consider “their territory.”

The only penalty to the other owners was the potential loss of Paul’s or Bob’s goodwill.  Maintaining an excellent relationship with the District Manager was certainly in their best interest.  In that same way, it was the other March Tire employee’s best interest to maintain a good relationship with Paul.  In both cases, the men were willing to push the issue as far as

they dared.  Paul and Bob both provided generous leeway.

Fast forwarding to 2012, Elaine now coaches managers on diversity awareness in verbiage and gestures.   What she is teaching now is designed to prevent accidental offense to other cultures and thus smooth the inclusion of a diverse workforce.  Because of this diversity awareness training, managers know that certain common hand signals which are natural and positive to many Americans are offensive to certain individuals.  With such knowledge it is easy to avoid potential problems.  Awareness and training are critical in diversity management.  This added knowledge and social awareness avoids discomfort and potential legal issues.  Diversity training is not about managing groups but courtesy to individuals.  The entire workforce needs to function in a safe environment where they feel respected, valued and free to express their ideas without critical feedback or disrespect.

Significant progress has occurred between 1970 and 2012 in management’s sensitivity to diversity and training to avoid offense.  Promoting inclusion eases potential tension. There is 180 degrees difference between the attitude of the Goodyear tire dealership owners in the 1970s and the attitude of the managers seeking coaching in 2012.

The managers in the coaching program are implementing diversity management by making extra efforts to be considerate of their entire workforce.  These managers are to be commended for seeking knowledge and implementing it on a daily basis.  Some organizations pay for their

managers to receive individual or group diversity coaching.  Such training is recommended.  Managers will be less likely to seek that coaching outside their normal busy work schedules.  Corporate retreats provide relaxed atmospheres to conduct such open discussion and training.

Chapter Five: Conclusion

Workforce diversity awareness has changed dramatically in recent decades.  Modern managers must embrace the diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, age, spiritual practices, physical and mental ability, and sexual orientation despite all of its challenges and complexity. Embracing diversity requires commitment and the implementation of effective strategies.   Policies and procedures which are inclusive and respectful to the entire workforce must flow from top management down through the entire organization.  Diversity training assists in extending consideration and avoiding offense by promoting appropriate behavior to all.

Organizational restructuring and population changes within America have necessitated a diverse workforce.  In order to compete in a global marketplace, organizations require the creativity, innovation, adaptability, broad idea base and effective execution of a diverse workforce.  Diversity will continue to intensify as globalization expands.  Technology has allowed organizations to operate in multiple countries simultaneously.  As technology continues to advance, communication may become more distant and thus less personal.  Diversity awareness can bridge the gap and retain the human connection.

Remember Yo Yo Ma’s message that we conserve what we love and love only what we understand.  Until organizations make the extra effort to understand other cultures, embrace our differences and celebrate our combined strengths, we will never be able to reach our potential.

Works Cited

Forbes Survey: Workplace Diversity Key to Innovation. The Huffington Post Canada. 29 July 2011. Web. 27 November 2012.

Green, Kelli A., Mayra Lopez, Allen Wysocki, and Karl Kepner. “Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits, Challenges, and the Required Managerial Tools.” Solutions for Your Life. University of Florida IFAS Extension. 2012. Web. 27 November 2012

Kerby, Sophia and Crosby Burns. “The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace, A       Diverse Workforce is Integral to a Strong Economy.”  Progressive Ideas for a Strong, Just, and Free America.  Center for American Progress, 12 July 2012. Web. 27 November 2012

Ma, Yo Yo.  White House Conference on Culture and Diplomacy. 28 November 2000.

Powell, Michael K.  “Workplace Diversity: A Global Necessity and an Ongoing Commitment.” The Career Advancement Subcommittee of the FCC’s Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age. Best Practices Report.  14 June 2004. Web. 27 November 2012.

Stop Overworking and Start Achieving

elaine at Garden of the Gods Aug 2013.smDo you want to look older?  If you are like myself or most of the people I know, the answer is an emphatic NO.


Far too many of us, myself included, push ourselves.  We work long hours, probably do not eat as healthy as we know is ideal and do not give our bodies enough restful sleep.  We toss and turn with our mind churning out “What about this?  What about that?” or “What if. . .”  The annoying ring of the alarm is met with a groan.  “Can it really be morning already?”


Our bodies are tired, our mind is still creating a stream of thoughts at the rate of popcorn popping and our skin and eyes have a less than perky appearance.  Yes, we did it again; we acted in such a way that we achieved exactly the opposite result we desired.  We made ourselves look, feel and act older.  What for?  What did we gain?


Halt!  Stop! Cease and Desist!  Develop a Success Plan!


We know that our mind and our body need rest in order to refresh and create at our top capacity.  We know we want to look, feel and act energetic and mentally be on the top side of awesome.


Success Plan for Course Correction


  1.  Know precisely the goal you desire to reach.  Exactly what does it look like?  What will change in your life when you reach that goal?  Is it a monetary goal, a relationship goal, a health goal or a specific event achievement?


  1. Be very clear about exactly where you are now in comparison to your goal.


  1. Analyze every decision you make.  Will it take you closer to your goal or further from your goal?


  1. Design a success plan to map out the milestone markers between where you are now and your goal. Exactly what steps do you need to take to reach each mile-marker?  Be very detailed.


For optimum results create a success plan which follows the SMART goal guide.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Timely


Specific – The more specific you are in the actions required, the more attainable the goal will become.  In a health goal, list the desirable foods including quantities and times to consume each.  List the specific exercise, intensity, duration, and time of day.


Measurable – In the food and exercise example above, knowing the times and quantities make it very measurable.  Inches around your waist or pounds on a scale are measurable.  Money is a very measurable commodity.  A specific event is very measurable.


Attainable – Is the goal enough of a stretch to require motivation, consistency and dedication to achieve it?  It needs to be just difficult enough to make you stretch but yet within the realm of possibility to achieve it.  Losing ten pounds a month may be too easy.  Losing ten pounds a week could be overwhelming to continue for a sustained period of time.  Five pounds a week on a consistent basis would by twenty pounds a month.  (Hint:  I prefer to say releasing the weight rather than losing weight.  Lose it and you many find it again.  Release the weight and it will hopefully be gone for good.)


Relevant – Does your action match your goal?  Your goal of releasing fifty pounds in the next three months does not match with making reservations for an all you can eat dessert bar several times a week.  Just as saying you want to increase your sales calls to forty per week does not match with sitting on a beach with no cell phone service every day.


Timely – Set specific time frames.  From 8 am to 10 am you plan to telephone current clients.  From 10 to 10:15 you are taking a break.  From 10:15 to 12:15 you may designate prospecting – calling potential new clients.  12:15 to 1 pm could be lunch.


Setting specific time frames for specific activities and adhering to those times can lend organization to your daily routine.


Timely is also establishing the dates by which you intend to achieve each goal.  You established specific mile-marker goals to achieve and attached a date to reach each goal.


You can go to work early, stay late, skip lunch and bring work home with you at night.  Make it a firm rule that you will not do more than one of those per day.  Establishing specific time frames for specific activities will ease the workaholic tendency.


Give your brain and your body time to rest and refresh.  Your productivity and profitability will thank you. You skin, eyes and face will thank you as well.  Stop overworking and start achieving.




Now to WOW August 31

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How many times have you had challenges with computer issues?  If you are like me, you have encountered these dilemmas far more frequently than you would prefer.


Yesterday I finally took a long overdue day off work to go play.  Yes, I am aware of the “all work and no play makes Elaine a dull girl” saying.  Work-aholic is probably an accurate term.  In my defense, all of my time is not my career-related work; a major portion of my time seems to be devoted to Rotary (service above self) and church. Technically, it is all work; the difference is that only one portion is focused on my business and the balance of the time is focused totally on giving to others.


Friday evening a friend arrived from Texas on his Harley Davidson.  In an effort to show him the beauty of Colorado, we took off on a ride to Garden of the Gods, Royal Gorge and Pikes Peak.  The weather was typically cool in the mornings and in the low 80s in early afternoon.  Today started out the same.  The ride to Garden of the Gods was crisp, invigorating and beautiful.  Hiking around the Garden of the Gods was one natural beauty delight after another.


The ride to Pikes Peak and up the Pikes Peak Highway was majestic.  Even though the clouds rolled in, the view was spectacular.


“Climbing the Pikes Peak Highway to 14,115 feet through switchbacks on a motorcycle was challenging.  The scenic view was more breathtaking with every turn, yet focusing on the road was essential; there are no guardrails.  Even with clouds rolling in, the view was spectacular.  The ride down in a hailstorm was even more teeth chattering and nerve racking.  Not a nail biter because you needed both hands to guide the bike.  Ever ride a motorcycle with hail pelting you in the face while riding on frozen marbles?  It was all worth it.  Enjoy the view.”


The ride down was a bit more unexpected and a bit of an ordeal.  The thermometer registered 30 degrees, my body registered closer to fifteen.  Shiver.

 Colorado Springs Ute Pass

When you see this majestic beauty, you understand why I was a bit distressed when I accidentally saved the video as the wrong type of file and dutifully saved disc space by deleting the extra copies.


Obviously, there is a solution.


Did you know that there is a “restore previous versions” feature on most programs?  Open the “computer” icon, click on the desired drive and click on restore previous version.  You can find this delightful feature on many programs as well.  Caution, it restores from a prior backup.  If you have not backed up your files or have deleted a file before you performed a backup, you have a problem.


To my surprise, having downloaded the video from my Flip Video, that file was resting peacefully in the “recycle bin” and easy to restore to my computer and save as the proper file.


If you ever find yourself searching for a deleted file, the recycle bin or the restore previous version feature may be your friend.

 Colorado Springs


No matter what happens, persist.  There is an answer somewhere.  The best idea is to do your best to find the missing file before you shut down the computer or delete anything else.  When all else fails, call for help.


Persistence saved the day and delivered some beautiful scenery to you.


Computers can be a bit of a pain in the time schedule when you have a problem.  Can you actually imagine your life without one?  Remember typing letters on a typewriter and striving not to make a mistake.  Even if they can be a temporary hair puller, computers are here to stay and I am thankful that I have one.


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”Elaine spoke to our top leaders from 8 states, she gave us new and positive ways to connect with people
which is EXACTLY what we wanted. Thanks Elaine”
-Tom Fajardo, State Farm