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Chapter11: Managing the Diverse Workforce

Multicultural Organizations

To capitalize on the benefits and minimize the costs of a diverse workforce, perhaps one of the first things managers need to do is examine their organization's prevailing assumptions about people and cultures. Table 11.7 shows some of the fundamental assumptions that may exist. Based on these assumptions, we can classify organizations as one of three types and describe their implications for managers.

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   Some organizations are monolithicAn organization that has a low degree of structural integration—employing few women, minorities, or other groups that differ from the majority—and thus has a highly homogeneous employee population. . This type of organization has very little cultural integration; in other words, it employs few women, minorities, or any other groups that differ from the majority. For example, in its hiring, an organization might favor alumni of the same college, perhaps even more specifically targeting members of fraternities who are enthusiastic about the school's football team. Such an organization is highly homogeneous in terms of its employee population. In monolithic organizations, if groups other than the norm are employed, they are found primarily in low-status jobs. Minority group members must adopt the norms of the majority to survive. This fact, coupled with small numbers, keeps conflicts among groups low. Discrimination and prejudice typically prevail, informal integration is almost nonexistent, and minority group members do not identify strongly with the company.

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TABLE 11.7

Diversity Assumptions and Their Implications for Management

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SOURCE: From “Diversity Assumptions and Their Implications for Management” by Nancy J. Adler, Handbook of Organization, 1996. Reprinted courtesy of Marcel Dekker Inc., New York.

   Most large U.S. organizations made the transition from monolithic to pluralistic organizations in the 1960s and 1970s because of changing demographics as well as societal forces such as the civil rights and women's movements. Pluralistic organizationsAn organization that has a relatively diverse employee population and makes an effort to involve employees from different gender, racial,or cultural backgrounds. have a more diverse employee population and take steps to involve persons from different gender, racial, or cultural backgrounds. These organizations use an affirmative action approach to managing diversity: they actively try to hire and train a diverse workforce and to ensure against any discrimination against minority group members. They typically have much more integration than do monolithic organizations, but like monolithic organizations, they often have minority group members clustered at certain levels or in particular functions within the organization.

   Because of greater cultural integration, affirmative action programs, and training programs, the pluralistic organization has some acceptance of minority group members into the informal network, much less discrimination, and less prejudice. Improved employment opportunities create greater identification with the organization among minority group members. Often the resentment of majority group members, coupled with the increased number of women and minorities, creates more conflict than exists in the monolithic organization.

   The pluralistic organization fails to address the cultural aspects of integration. In contrast, in multicultural organizationsAn organization that values cultural diversity and seeks to utilize and encourage it. diversity not only exists but is valued. These organizations fully integrate gender, racial, and minority group members both formally and informally. But managers in such organizations do not focus primarily on the visible differences between employees, like race or sex. Rather, managers value and draw on the different experience and knowledge employees bring to the organization and help it achieve agreed-upon strategies and goals.40 The multicultural organization is marked by an absence of prejudice and discrimination and by low levels of intergroup conflict. Such an organization creates a synergistic environment in which all members contribute to their maximum potential and the advantages of diversity can be fully realized.41 As you read the “Management Close-Up: Taking Action” feature, consider whether Marriott International offers the qualities of a multicultural or a pluralistic organization.

Management Close-Up


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When Jimmie Paschall became senior vice president of external affairs and global diversity officer of Marriott International in 2008, it was actually her second stint at the company. Paschall got her start in a Marriott gift shop, working part-time while attending classes at Howard University in Washington, DC. After graduation, Paschall parlayed her gift-shop job into a full-time position, working her way up the ranks eventually to become director of human resources for Marriott's lodging division. She left the company in 1999 to pursue another career opportunity but was enticed to return to Marriott nine years later.

   As global diversity officer, Paschall works to broaden the company's diversity efforts among its 300,000 associates, as well as its property owners, franchisees, suppliers, and customers. Her activities include building a system to capture the best practices in diversity and to identify how to generate and manage diversity in Marriott's global operations. Paschall also has a role in the Marriott Foundation for People with Disabilities and its national program “Bridges … from school to work,” which provides access to job opportunities for people with disabilities.

   As mentioned, diversity at Marriott extends beyond recruiting and retaining a multifaceted workforce. Several years ago, the company established its Diversity Ownership Initiative, which is aimed to help guide minority business owners through the process of hotel ownership. Marriott set itself the goal of having in five years 500 Marriott properties owned or operated by women or minorities. To date, more than 400 of its properties are woman or minority owned or in development.

   Marriott also pledged to spend at least $1 billion with diverse suppliers by 2010, and within four years it had exceeded its goal by nearly double. In addition, the company recently expanded its definition of diversity to include businesses in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.42



Global diversity officer Jimmie Paschall said that as a college student working in a Marriott hotel gift shop she received good advice from a colleague: If you can obtain many different experiences in the hotel business, you'll become skilled at seeing an issue from many sides. How do you think the ability to see an issue from several perspectives would be an asset to Paschall in her current role?



The text discusses both the challenges and the advantages of managing diversity. What special challenges and advantages might managers at Marriott face in the lodging industry? Do you think Marriott is a true multicultural organization? Why or why not?

40K. A. Jehn, “Workplace Diversity, Conflict, and Productivity: Managing in the 21st Century,” SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Diversity,

41A. J. Murrell, F. J. Crosby, and R. J. Ely, Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships within Multicultural Organizations (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999). See a review of this book by M. L. Lengnick-Hall, “Mentoring Dilemmas: Developmental Relationships within Multicultural Organizations,” Personnel Psychology 53, no. 1 (Spring 2000), pp. 224–27.

42“Marriott Nearly Doubles Billion Dollar Spending Goal with Diverse Suppliers,” Hospitality Industry, February 25, 2009,; Haapaniemi, “Diversity Goes Global”; Deann D. Holcomb, “Marriott Adds Global Hospitality to Diversity and Inclusion,” Minority Business News, August 12, 2008,; “Marriott Expands Diverse Hotel Ownership Portfolio,” National Harbor, July 31, 2008,; “100 Best Companies to Work For,” Fortune, February 4, 2008,; Anita Huslin, “Marriott's New Diversity Executive Comes Full Circle,” Washington Post, January 21, 2008,; Gaynair, “Marriott International Forms Diversity Position”; “Marriott Sets New Supplier Diversity Goal,” Smart Brief, August 16, 2007.

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