In this way, management should make an effort not only to understand the market within which they operate, but also the representation of this market in their employee base. Through making a conscious attempt to look beyond immediate personality preference, the manager can benefit the small or medium business by cultivating not only his own, but the rest of the employees' intercultural undersatnding and empathy.
To do this, it is suggested by HR Magazine (2005) to focus on the skills needed to do the job rather than a specific personality type to "fit in" with the company culture. If the company is to diversify and grow - issues that are important to the small or medium business - it is important to change paradigms and widen perceptions in terms of race, religion and culture.
The Quest for Equality (within organizations)
Equality is perhaps the greatest and most long-standing quest of the American nation ever since its inception. It has also been one of the most difficult ideals to achieve. The pursuit of the great "American Dream" has left many a hopeful immigrant in degradation and poverty. One needs only to examine the literature - both fiction and non-fiction - to come to an understanding of the wide scale suffering undergone by many minorities.
This is still a painful issue in many minority circles and can lead to issues such as the above-mentioned perceived racism even when not intended. When employing persons from these groups, it is therefore necessary to cultivate paradigms that result in problem solving rather than problem creation.
Trust, Respect, Equality = Problem Solving
From a minority point-of-view, the African, Hispanic and Asian-American can gain great benefits from working for an employer that values diversity. This means that the specific traits and values inherent in every specific individual in terms of race and other minority paradigms will be determined and used for the best advantage of the company. This can take many forms, from determining customer requirements, to creative thinking in terms of problem solving (Lockwood, 2005).
Minority employees working in small to medium businesses can contribute in many valuable ways if there is mutual trust and respect. The contribution of such employees may lead to valuable expansion opportunities for the company and in turn bring individual promotion opportunities for the employees themselves. Furthermore, such performance in an environment of trust and respect may also lead to enhanced performance from colleagues, regardless of racial or religious differences. This can then lead to the ultimate equality that is the ultimate American ideal.
Some indications of whether a company values diversity have been found to include diversity at the top management levels, the highest salaried employers, and the workforce as a whole. This diversity, if reflecting the environment within which the company operates, is likely to cultivate the most beneficial environment for a minority person to work. As mentioned above, this is more easily achieved in the small to medium, relatively young business. These businesses are likely to be in touch with the most recent of business and employment requirements.
As equality and trust are becoming increasingly important in general American society, these issues are also becoming vital to the survival and growth of a new business. Indeed, many a large business have been taken to court over matters of discrimination and inequality in hiring practices. In order to avoid this from the beginning of the business, it is necessary for the entrepreneur to avoid personalizing the hiring issue in favor of what is best for the company and its future growth.
According to Hartenian (2000) the feeling of inclusion is important for the employee to experience job satisfaction and in turn to deliver the best work possible. While it is easiest to create diversity within the small to medium business, it is equally easy to assume or ignore the concerns and needs of every employee. This is detrimental to the business as a whole and therefore continuous monitoring of the workforce is necessary in order to create the atmosphere and commitment needed for success. Concomitantly, when true equality and diversity are reached within the business, all involved benefit. The best creative talent of the country is utilized for an improvement in the business, which in turn provides quality service and grows as a result. Furthermore, the benefit of such a practice translates to providing an example to the rest of the business world in terms of the benefits of diversity.
Managing Diversity & Individual differences in the New Millennium
As mentioned above, the new Millennium brings with it not only a number of challenges in terms of diversity, especially in the light of terrorist attacks and the like, but also opportunity for the entrepreneur. It is a millennium of hope for all ethnic groups within the United States. In terms of the workplace, the small and medium business is the ideal environment in which such hope can be manifest.
Minimizing bias is the most important commitment that the small to medium business owner needs to make for the purpose of creating the true diversity that has always been the American ideal. This can be done through thorough leadership and management. Barriers to acceptance, for example, can be broken down by creating the opportunity for intercultural personal relationships within a company. These cultivate interpersonal trust and understanding by helping employees learn from each other rather than making preconceived judgments.
The small to medium business provides the ultimate platform to accomplish this. Employees who are valued for their input and specific cultural and ethnic strengths are most likely to be happy, remain in their place of employment, and give their best service for the benefit of the company.
Diverse Strategies, Inc. (2004). "Corporate Culture and Diversity." EthnicMajority.com
Hartenian, Linda S. (2000, Dec.). "Cultural Diversity in small business: implications for firm performance." Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship. Online Database: FindArticles.com
HR Magazine (2005, Feb.). "Making Diversity Work: 7 steps for defeating bias in the workplace." Online Database: FindArticles.com
Lockwood, Nancy R. (2005, Jun). "Workplace Diversity: Leveraging the power of difference for competitive advantage." HR Magazine. Online Database: FindArticles.com.
Misner, Ivan. (2006, July 24). "Get the Right Networking Mind-Set…