Wal-Mart is not the only company that has faced difficulties with issues of diversity.
In recent years, high-profile racial discrimination or harassment lawsuits have been
filed against Texaco, Lockheed Martin, Coca-Cola, and Boeing. Mitsubishi is still
reeling from the effects of a sexual harassment lawsuit charging that managers
ignored complaints that women were regularly groped on the factory floor and
made to endure crude jokes and lewd photographs.
Diversity in the population, the workforce, and the marketplace is a fact of life no
manager can afford to ignore. In addition, diversity issues are growing more com-
plex than they were 30 years ago. Among the groups now seeking full inclusion in
the workforce are many not even considered back then, including the disabled, the
obese, and non-heterosexuals. Managing diversity today entails recruiting, training,
valuing, and maximizing the potential of people who reflect the broad spectrum of
society in all areas—gender, race, age, disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orienta-
tion, education, and economic level.
Many companies, including IBM, Pfizer, Allstate Insurance, and Ford Motor
Company, are finding innovative ways to integrate diversity initiatives into their
business. These initiatives teach current employees to value differences, direct corpo-
rate recruiting efforts, influence supplier decisions, and provide development train-
ing for women and minorities. Smart managers value diversity and enforce the value
in day-to-day decision making.
Today’s companies reflect the U.S. image as a melting pot, but with a difference.