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In my current organization of higher education, there is a clear division between administration and employees that do not serve in administrative roles. Those that serve in the administration are often from the Caucasian descent. Meanwhile, those employees that do not serve in administrative roles are more likely to be African-American or Hispanic descent. This divide is something that the organization is working to combat this stereotype and have begun making hiring decisions that reflect their efforts.
I recently switched careers from a corporate office of a famous fast food restaurant. This fast food organization goes by the name of Waffle House. From a corporate level, there is a huge mix of diversity. All ethnicities age groups and educational backgrounds are presented and a working force in the majority of decisions made. This may be due to the origin of the company. The company was started by two middle-class veterans that wanted to have a family-focused business where all customers were valued equally. This ideal and belief were reiterated throughout my time here and many advances from human resources and the personnel departments were made to allow all employees to give feedback on the environment of the workplace. Waffle House corporate office is in Norfolk, GA however, they have personnel such as myself that traveled far and wide to all store locations.
I have resided mainly in Florence, South Carolina for my working years. The Waffle House organization moved me to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where I have resided for one year. After leaving Waffle House I moved to Conway, South Carolina which is right outside of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina where I currently reside. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Columbia, South Carolina and Queens Jamaica in the state of New York. I have traveled back and forth throughout my youth but have taken South Carolina as my home state due to the majority of my education being completed in Myrtle Beach.
Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina which has over one hundred organized neighborhoods the group of people that reside there is very diverse. However, I will note the number of people from the Asian descent was scarce however, all other ethnicities and cultures were present. Growing up the only major sense of inclusiveness outside the normal was my high school experience. Since attending college at a predominantly Caucasian University I was able to appreciate the diversity I was offered in high school. My high school experience was awesome, to say the least. We were able to effortlessly participate with a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultural practices. I feel the result of being in a diverse environment allowed me to become accustomed to interacting with those from different cultures and really moved me to make sure all backgrounds and ethnicities are taken into consideration when planning events or task in my current position (Columbiasc.net, 2018).
I do make an effort to learn more about other cultures and practices outside my own. I am thankful that in my role as the Coordinator I can implement cultural experiences for students to engage in. At my university, I also help put on an event called “Art’s International” it is meant to allow students to come and experience different types of art, food, and culture from different backgrounds. This event grows every year and has been a huge hit in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. We look at various types of groups to present and often have groups come to display their cultures dress and dances throughout the all-day event.
When I encounter a person or group of people in which I am not familiar with their culture I am sure to make them aware that I do not have knowledge of their culture to ensure there is no disrespect intended. By doing this it allows them to be aware that I am in need of guidance and that I have the desire to be respectful in honoring their traditions and culture. After they are aware I tend to ask questions about what they expect from outside parties and how their culture either differs or is alike the practices of my culture.
I would not tolerate bias or prejudice in the workplace if I can influence a change in the situation. If someone is showing bias or prejudice in their selection of opportunities for our students, I will be sure to correct the injustice once it is recognized. However, being in South Carolina I do encounter those that believe their prejudice is simply a preference. It is these people I tend to distance myself from and watch out for. As time has taught me those that do not want to be open-minded and respectful of other’s culture simply will not be. Time and time again I have attempted to change the mind of someone that chooses to wear blinders when it comes to culture and ethnicities and it has always resulted in an escalated conversation and a defensive response from those that are defending their opinions. This does not deter me from allow other cultures to be exposed or celebrated within the workplace, it simply allows me to know who needs more cultural enhancement.
If I had the head of my organization come to me and tell me the next open position would be for someone that fits in a minority group, I would be receptive to that information. Seeing that my organization has made great strides in hiring a more diverse group of qualified candidates I think it would be a positive thing for my current organization to seek out a more diverse set of candidates. I feel this would improve the cultural environment of the workplace and enhance the skills sets and background that we offer to our students through our staff.
My personal action plan would include continuously introducing our staff to the background and practices of different cultures, making sure no culture is bashed verbally amongst employees, and encouraging diversity through the celebration of different backgrounds. It is imperative that employees see the workplace as a neutral ground for celebrating different cultures and practices, not just those that are most popular amongst employees. According to Bureau of Labor statistics are approximately 155,163,000 people actively in the labor force. The Non-Hispanic whites are the largest portion of the active working labor force coming in at 64%, while African Americans are 12%, Asians 5%, and Hispanics are 16% of the workforce (Bls.gov, 2018).
As you can see there is no comparison of representation when it comes to Non-Hispanic whites and any other group ethnical group. This brings about a need for cultural representation for those that do not fit in the category of Non-Hispanic Whites as well as those that are not represented in either of the ethnic groups listed above. Offering a Culture of the month for employees to familiarize themselves with would be beneficial to both employees and those that honor that culture. In my current organization, we would provide a lunch to employees will cuisine dishes from different cultures each month. This may spark employees to try alternative cultures dishes at home with their families (Bls.gov, 2018).
According to The Balance journal article on the traits and characteristics of Workplace bullies nearly 54 million Americans have been bullied in their careers. Since violence is so easily recognizable as a wrong much of this bullying takes place in the verbal form. Comments concerning someone’s ethnicity, culture, or cultural practices are often the target of bullies to their victim. Implementing a zero tolerance on culture bashing, even if it is just in my presence will save others from falling victim to tasteless jokes, side comments, and jesters against their culture and background. This will also encourage the celebration of different backgrounds, cultures, and origins (Kane, 2018).
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