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Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

            The greatest challenge confronting HRD in the 1990's is cultural diversity. Because a culturally diverse workforce will represent a growing proportion, it is imperative that training and professional development opportunities be implemented to support their advancement. Human resource professionals will be challenged to provide innovative approaches to solving culturally induced organizational problems while meeting the workplace learning needs of minority employees. Considering the multi-cultural transformation that the United States' economy is undergoing, diversity will have a monumental impact on the workforce. Of course, before the human resource management professional can implement diversity training, top management will have to express a commitment to diversity and realize that it is a long-term and gradual process. Any intervention that will take place will have to be more than simply having a series of tapes of cultural diversity, but an interplay of many different intervention strategies. Specific intervention strategies are outlined later in this paper.
             According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts for the years between 1986 and 2000 (Braham, 1989), women will account for 51% of the growth; Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority will represent 15% of the entering workers; Blacks will represent 13%, and Asians and other minorities will account for 6% of all new workers. This proliferation of cultural backgrounds brings to the surface a variety of values, work ethics and behavioral norms in the workplace which may conflict with those of the traditional workforce. In dealing with the complexity of a culturally diverse workforce (Ross-Gordon and Martin, 1989), the human resource manager's role will be that of assisting in the upgrading of skills needed by the nontraditional workers to succeed within the organization; creating an environment that permits diversity to grow; dispelling myths concerning cultural differences; diffusing stereotypical attitudes; and preparing trainers to present effective "managing-diversity programs.

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