Beyond Race and Gender

Beyond Race and Gender

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Thomas Jr., R. Roosevelt AMACOM, 1991
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IN THIS SUMMARY

Beyond Race and Gender is not a "how-to" manual, nor does it prescribe a specific program, rather it describes an ongoing process based on a working definition of managing diversity. Thomas moves away from assimilation, the traditional approach that essentially manages (or mismanages) diversity by ignoring it. Indeed, Race provides a methodology for managing. For the author, it is a business issue that speaks directly to the bottom line.Because of its complexity, and because managing diversity is new to human resources management, many misconceptions abound. Some change agents are unsure of how to secure commitment from senior management about the pragmatics of initiating such a complex process. Of particular difficulty is separating the general assumptions of managing diversity from those of affirmative action and valuing differences. These concerns are reflected in some frequently asked questions, such as: Are the negative imagesassociated with affirmative action the motivation for creating diversity management? Is managing diversity new, does it replace affirmative action, or is it just warmed-over affirmative action? Can an organization skip affirmative action and valuing differences and go straight to managing diversity? Can diversity be managed without valuing differences? Are minorities and women naturally better at managing diversity? What will prevent minorities and women from again ending up at the bottom of the diversity pile? How do you measure the success of diversity management?Avon’s successful, ongoing attempts to change their corporate culture as a means of implementing a diversity-managing process-are key components of this work and provide an excellent example of practical application. (Avon is one of the first corporations to participate in Thomas’ American Institute for Managing Diversity.) However, for those whose only knowledge of Avon is the door-to-door sales representative (as pictured in the "Avon calling!" commercials), more background is in order. The focus here is definitely on management’s role in managing diversity.