International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work

International Handbook on Diversity Management at Work

Country Perspectives on Diversity and Equal Treatment

Elgar original reference

Edited by Alain Klarsfeld

Managing and developing diversity is on the political and business agenda in many countries; therefore diversity management has become an area of knowledge and practice in its own right. Yet all too often it is referred to as a unifying concept, as if it were to be interpreted uniformly across all cultures and countries. The contributors to this volume expertly examine the relationship between diversity management and equality legislation within the different participating countries’ national contexts. They advocate that such separation and sequencing between equality at work and diversity management is far from natural.

Chapter 15: Managing Diversity in the USA: The Evolution of Inclusion in the Workplace

Waheeda Lillevik, Gwendolyn M. Combs and Cheryl Wyrick

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Waheeda Lillevik, Gwendolyn M. Combs and Cheryl Wyrick Introduction Migration to the USA over the past century has created a diverse workforce, particularly in terms of race and ethnicity. Of particular importance to the development of equality and diversity discourse, are the employment rates of African Americans and of women. Even after nearly 50 years of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policies, employment figures show persistent gaps between these two groups and the rest of the population. Although historically African Americans1 constitute one of the largest groups of people in the US population, they comprise one of the smallest proportions of the workforce compared to other groups. The latest quarterly 2009 statistics for employment participation rates show considerable underrepresentation of minority subgroups in the labour force. The current overall unemployment rate in the USA is 9.2 per cent; this is much lower than the figures for African Americans (14.9 per cent), and for those of Hispanic origins (12 per cent) (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009). The unemployment rate for whites is 8.4 per cent (ibid.). The employment ratios of Hispanics and Asians tend to be closer to those of whites than to those of African Americans; 53.6 per cent for the black population and 60.1 per cent for the Hispanic population, as compared with 60.6 per cent for the white population (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009) and 62.2 per cent for Asians (ibid.). However, the employment participation rates are rather different when the level/class of work is considered. In...

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