Race Discrimination




Ch.5 Summary

Chapter 5: Race and national origin (Canas & Sondak, 2010) introduces readers to the aspects of diversity in the workplace as a concept related to the race-protected class. At first, the authors give a definition of race and national origin as protected classes. Race is defined under the general categories specified by the federal laws and includes White/Caucasian, Black/African American, American Indian, Asian, and Pacific Islander (Canas & Sondak, 2010). The national origin class relates to the general categories of the persons country of birth, culture, ethnicity, or ancestry. The law prohibits discrimination of employees based on any of these categories.

After the introduction, the authors set the objectives of reading this chapter that focus on examining key issues arising out of the relationship between people of different races/national origins and the workplace (Canas & Sondak, 2010). To support the achievement of the objectives, they put some preview questions and provide a historical perspective of the U.S. legislation related to race discrimination. Then, the paper gives a recent example of such evolution taken from the Associated Press dated May 20, 2009, which shows the significance of the race discrimination issue nowadays. This example refers to the discussion by the NFL owners about expanding the Rooney Rule - the policy, which had already opened more opportunities to the minority candidates, to the General Manager position that allows expanding workplace diversity in the organization. To provide a more comprehensive understanding for the readers of all aspects of race/national origin discrimination, the chapter uses the experts essay and three case studies on the racial discrimination claims.


This section presents the essay The truth about mentoring minorities by David Thomas from the Harvard Business School. This essay provides readers with the hints for answering a preview question about how organizations can modify their style of mentoring the minority employees.

The essay begins with the statement that despite the efforts taken by many U.S. organizations to provide diversity within their executive team, most of them have failed. David Thomas has conducted the research on the minorities career progression in the U.S. Its findings showed the differences in advancement patterns followed by whites and minorities. The first one refers to them entering career tracks at different stages. The second difference implies minority professionals using stronger network of relationship with mentors for their career development. Analyzing the main stages of the career development, the author concludes that the U.S. companies have a two-tournament system that separates an access of whites and minorities to the top job by the way of longer screening process for minorities, as compared with white contenders.

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The next section of the essay emphasizes the key finding of the research. It implies that instructional mentoring is not sufficient for the minorities career development, and close relationship with mentors, that is typical for the minority executives, is strongly required. Then, the paper focuses on the ways of how to improve the skills of mentors working with minorities, because this process requires a different approach to cross-race relationships from those used for the white proteges. The main obstacles on this way are negative stereotypes, trouble with identification of their protege and role modeling, skepticism about the intimacy, employee discouraging due to increased public scrutiny, and peer resentment (Canas & Sondak, 2010). Besides, Thomson highlights other important finding minorities tend to advance further when their white mentors understand and acknowledge race as a potential barrier (as cited in Canas & Sondak, 2010). He argues that the key task of the mentor is to build a strong and effective network of relationships that is diverse in three dimensions: functional, demographic, and with the positions and locations variety.

The essay concludes that organizations should provide a variety of career paths based on individual needs and strengths instead of an unfair and faulty two-tournament model that breaks the principles of opportunity, diversity, and development. The discussion questions complete the essay.

Case study #1

This case study describes how a successful American company Abercrombie & Fitch, a national clothing retailer, came to a diversity management crisis. After studying the companys history and the main stages of its development, it becomes clear that their problems are a result of branding based on their obsession with the perfect look that created the image of an exclusively white company. This branding strategy was unbalanced with the employees rights and ultimately caused racial discrimination charges in 2003. Although the company never admitted guilt, they had to settle the lawsuit quickly and promote the short-term diversity initiatives. The author concludes the case study with the remarks about the currently insufficient progress in their diverse environment and with discussion questions.

Case study #2

This case study, consisting of two parts - A and B, illustrates how an organizations leader responded to a crisis caused by the diversity mismanagement on the example of Texaco, Inc. The first part discusses the details of their public -relation disaster in 1996 caused by the allegations of discrimination, which had led to the racial discrimination suit against Texaco. The evidence was a tape containing a recording of the managers humiliating comments about the minority employees revealing the lack of tolerance of the Texacos corporate culture to discrimination issues. It resulted in a public boycott of their products and a drop of its stock prices. The discussion questions conclude the part A supported by displaying of the Texacos press release concerning taped racial slurs in Exhibit 1.

Part B discusses a short-term approach used by the top managers to settle the lawsuit filed on behalf of their minority employees. In addition, the actions taken by the company included publishing the statement with the diversity plan and interviews with mass media, in which the discrimination cases were explained by bigotry and prejudice in the society. Based on the Texacos statements and announcements attached in a few Exhibits, this case allows readers to answer a preview question about using a long-term approach to providing systemic diversity changes in the organization.

Case study # 3

This case study, also consisting of two parts, describes how the Dennys restaurants chain known for diversity mismanagement regained public trust. The part A provides the details of the story that occurred with the group of the African-American customers at a Dennys Restaurant in 1993. Later, they filed a lawsuit against Dennys for discrimination against the minority customers. This story brought about strong negative public image that forced Flagstar, the parent company of the Dennys restaurants chain, to settle all lawsuits that were caused by the case. The paper provides a brief history of Flagstar and patterns of discrimination against customers, and describes a key leader who failed to implement the diversity policy. In addition, it discusses the key external factors that affected Dennys reputation. The rhetorical question concerning the revival of Dennys name under new CEO Jim Adamsons leadership and discussion questions conclude the case study.

Part B illustrates how the Flagstars new management team implemented a comprehensive diversity strategy. The section People provides the details of change management that allowed the company to become a model of the effective diversity development. Finally, the paper emphasizes the importance of permanent diversity changes within the corporate culture. Discussion questions and attached in Exhibit 1 list of the basic indicators of the companys progress under new leadership conclude the case study.

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