United States demographics are shifting, impacting the mix of individuals employed by organizations. Workers’ cultural backgrounds and expectations—social, political and occupational—have the potential to enrich our national life and make our organizations more competitive. But before such benefits can be realized, business practices must be updated to reflect the changes in workers, and workers must learn to deal effectively with the differences in the workplace.
Understanding diversity helps facilitate personal growth and organizational change. However, comfort and ease in a workplace does not happen overnight. Every day we make assumptions about others. These assumptions may be based on past experiences, current perceptions, media stereotypes, or a friend’s opinion. We attempt to make sense of our world with the limited information we have at a given moment. If our assumptions are incorrect, we may run into trouble. When we are aware that people have different perceptions of the same issue, situation, or event, we can begin to focus on understanding the other person’s point of view and creating an environment that supports everyone.