Diversity in the Workplace

A Guide to Credit for Prior Learning

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Lower-Level Credit:

Work in a private, public or non-profit organization where either the population in the workplace is diverse, or the population who the organization serve is diverse.

  • Serve in either a management or craft position within these organizations. At each level of employment, however, they have had to confront the meaning of diversity as it applies to their workplace, in the execution of their official duties.
  • Attend one or more training sessions in areas such as sensitivity training, affirming diversity, sexual harassment and other topics in the area of "social responsibility and ethics."

Typical Learning Experiences of Students Earning Upper-Level Credit:

  • Have at least a few years of experience working in private, public or non-profit organizations, often for more than two years, in a capacity which required them to deal with the issue of diversity in the workplace. For managers, this may mean dealing with direct complaints from employees or customers with respect to diversity issues and engaging in conflict resolution to bring closure to specific problems. For employees who are craft, it may mean dealing with customers of diverse backgrounds on an ongoing basis as part of their job responsibilities, e.g., working on telefonica hispanica or the Chinatown hotline.

Discussion Topics:

If students are familiar with some (but not necessarily all) of the following topics, they may be eligible for lower-level credit in the area of diversity in the workplace. If students are familiar with advanced questions, they may be eligible for upper-level credit. If knowledge of some of the topics is substantial, the students may consider requesting additional credit in more narrowly defined areas.

The Changing American Workplace

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • Describe some of the ways in which the workplace is changing, in terms of demographics.

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • Discuss how some of the approaches to handling diversity are changing (e.g., students may discuss how the melting pot approach differs from the affirming diversity approach).
  • Discuss some legal strategies to protect diversity.
  • Discuss some ways to build your own multicultural skills.

Understanding Different Cultures

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • Provide a definition of culture.
  • Discuss some universals found across all cultures.
  • What are some of the core values of the United States? How would you describe what a corporate culture is?

Handling Personal Prejudice

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • Give a definition of prejudice
  • What are some of the primary forms by which people express prejudice?
  • What are some of the negative effects of prejudice?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • What are the distinctions between personal prejudice and institutional racism or sexism?

Men and Women Working Together

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are some of the stereotyped ideas about men and women?
  • What have some of the biggest changes been in women's roles since the 1960s?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How do changes in women’s roles affect their workplace relationships?
  • What are some of the difficulties men have in adjusting to women's new roles?
  • What are some of the contemporary issues facing women in the workplace? (e.g., glass ceiling, sticky floor, comparative worth, sexual harassment.) Provide an example of these.

When People of Color Work Together

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • What are some of the common myths about African-Americans that other individuals must deal with?
  • What are some of the core values of the African-American community?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How have these ideas evolved over time?
  • What is the special legacy of discrimination this group faces? How does this affect interactions in the workplace?
  • How does affirmative action affect workplace interactions?
  • (Repeat for Asians, Latinos, gays, persons with AIDS, disabled persons, older persons, obese persons).

Workplace Responses to Diversity

Facts, definitions, concepts (lower-level):

  • Who is responsible in your company for enforcing anti-discrimination principles?
  • How is information about diversity disseminated in your workplace?
  • What recourse do individuals have in your company if they are the victims of discrimination?

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • How can companies demonstrate they value diversity?
  • How would you evaluate some of the responses of your company to the issue of diversity?
  • How can workplaces build on equal opportunity principles?

Strategies for Improvement

Relationships, knowledge of discipline, methodologies (upper-level):

  • What can you, as an individual, do in your workplace to improve the acceptance of diversity?
  • In what ways can you begin to sensitize others to the issue of diversity?
  • Why should we value diversity?

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