When I was first asked to choose an elective for Fall 2000, Managing Work Force Diversity caught my eye because I am a Work Study Intern/ Manager for Gap Inc. and I thought that this class might have some relevance to what I actually do at work. A lot of the topics that we covered in class, such as sexual harassment, stereotyping, multi-cultural workplace, and gender related issues relate a lot to my work environment. The topic that I think made me think differently was stereotypes and prejudgment.
Stereotyping and prejudgment happens a lot whether people think they are doing it or not. As a manager at Gap I have to deal with many people of different ages, race, gender, and even cultural backgrounds. Gap is a very equal opportunity company and through training I was taught to be equal to all employees and applicants. One thing that I noticed before taking BSAD 157 was that when I prescreened applicants who applied to the Gap, I often based a lot of my opinion on their appearance. I know that may sound hypocritical from being trained to be equal and turning around and judging people upon appearance, but I was fairly new at the interviewing process and had not received that much exposure to prescreening applicants.A perfect example is when one of my stock employees named Rusty had applied to the Gap. She was a middle-aged woman who applied in scroungy clothes and could not spell correctly on her application. My first impression was that she was not Gap material and she was kind of old to be applying for a position that high school students were applying for. So after I took her application we can either set up an interview or we can put it in the to be filed folder. I automatically put her into the to be filed folder and didnt think twice. I even mentioned to the other managers my thoughts on her. A couple of weeks later she had an interview. I dont know how she got one, but somehow she did and not only did she get an interview she was hired a few days later and was a part of our team. At first I thought that hiring her was going to be a mistake. Of course I was already prejudging her and thinking that she was not going to do a good job because of her lack of education, which was shown on her application. I also stereotyped her for being too old to do the job.
Rusty has been with us for about three months now and I must say that she is one of the best stock crewmembers that I have on my team and I must admit that I was wrong to have prejudged her ability to perform based on her age and lack of education. I realize now that it was not for me to judge her for lack of education because some people are not as fortunate to receive the education that I did. I also realized that Rusty works very hard for her money and her ability to learn on the job has nothing to do with her education and her age or her appearance. From this I learned that by prejudging people the way that I did only limits myself to finding excellent workers. I also realized that Rusty represents the people in the community that surrounds my particular Gap, therefore if I judged everyone the way that I judged Rusty, then I would not have a team at all.
In class I remember doing an exercise about a secretary who was blonde and the class was suppose to respond about what our thoughts were on him or her. My first impression was that it was a female, and that she was easy. After the professor mentioned to the class that she never said anything about gender I realized that I had stereotyped not knowingly. I think this happens a lot in society and after the exercise and discussion in class, it helped me to not think or prejudge the way that I did at work anymore. Now that I have more experience and knowledge of this sort of issue when I prescreen applicants I honestly keep an open mind and I find myself setting up more interviews and having a lot of success come out of those interviews.
At Gap we have a lot of policies that deal with all different types of diversity issues and I noticed that we discussed a lot of the same things in class. One of the biggest issues in our store is Zero means Zero. By this we mean that we do not tolerate one bit of sexual harassment, discrimination, or racism. We let our employees know that if anything that goes on in the work place that may offend them will be handled immediately. I think this is a great policy because in a lot of work places employees dont feel equal opportunity or feel comfortable enough to say something that bothers them. As a manager it is my duty to treat all employees the same and make their work environment comfortable enough for them to express their feelings if needed.
Managing Work Force Diversity was a very interesting class and I think I enjoyed most of it because I could relate to it. A lot of the issues that we discussed in class were all helpful to me in the sense that I could take what I learned from class and really apply it to real life situations at work. Currently I am very interested in pursuing a career in management and having taken this class really helps me to better understand the diversity or lack of that goes on in the workplace. I feel that I am better prepared as a manager to take one the issues that deal with diversity as they may arise.