White Men and Diversity Reading Room

The White Men and Diversity Reading Room provides perspectives, insight and guidelines designed to assist White men understand workplace diversity issues and companies to understand how to make sure that White men's workplace issues are not overlooked.

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Spotlighted Articles

  • Definitions of diversity are elusive. Some popular training materials that are

    Diversity Partnership Tips for White Women and People of Color to Engage White Men

    used in businesses and organizations define diversity as "the differences that make each of us unique." That's kind of nice, but vague. In an attempt to not scare anyone, especially white males, some diversity materials are downright bland. In diversity matters, blandness won't do it. When trying to develop a definition of diversity with a large number of first-line supervisors in a Central Pennsylvania manufacturing company, a diversity trainer/facilitator came up with, or distilled, the following:

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  • My own commitment to improving diversity in the legal profession stems from my exposure to the experiences of people different from myself—experiences I have never had. My exposure was deep and eye-opening, and it came in two different ways. The first started in 1995, when I became a member of the District of Columbia Bar’s Task Force on Sexual Orientation and the Legal Workplace. In the course of our work, the task force conducted a survey of two groups of Bar members to probe their assessments of the workplace experiences of gay and lesbian lawyers.

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  • Sometime during the first half of the twenty first century, a profound transition will take place in the United States: white Americans will lose their status as the numerical majority. In a nation where the term ďminorityĒ has traditionally meant people of color, this new reality will require a significant rearranging of our psychic maps, particularly for white Americans. How does an historically dominant ethnic group adjust to a more modest and balanced role? How do white Americans learn to be positive participants in a richly pluralistic nation? These questions have always been a part of the multicultural agenda: now they are coming more clearly into focus.

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  • The Right Hand of Privilege

    by Steven Jones, Ph.D.

    Many of us struggle to understand the concept of privilege, the idea that some individuals receive unearned advantages in life solely based on being a member of certain social identity groups. Some of us strongly resist the idea that we have unearned privilege. Part of the challenge in grasping the concept of unearned privilege is to shift from an individual view to a group and systemic level of seeing the world. Although difficult, it is important to engage in exploring the concept of unearned privilege.

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  • In my work as a diversity consultant I often hear women and people of color quietly talking with each other about their white, male colleagues and bosses, saying ďMost straight, white guys in the corporate world just donít get it about diversity.Ē And although Iíd like nothing better than to refute them, to defend my straight, white brethren, Iím afraid I have to agree: when it comes to diversity, we just donít get it. So, at the risk of falling into the trap of generalizing about an amazingly large and diverse group of white guys, I have to ask: what is it about diversity that we donít get and why donít we get it?

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Research Desk

  • Work done by Anne S. Tsui, and Terri D. Egan of University of California at Irvine, and Charles A. O'Reilly III, of the Stanford Business School found that men in homogeneous work units reported the highest commitment to their jobs. But, the researchers said, the commitment of white males fell off as work groups became more heterogeneous. As the homogeneous makeup of their work groups eroded, white male workers became less closely attached to their fellow workers; they had higher rates of absence and reported a lower intention of staying with the firm.

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  • Most organizational demography research has been theoretically grounded in either the similarity-attraction paradigm or social categorization theory (Williams & O'Reilly, 1998). While useful, some of this research has uncovered inconsistent or contradictory findings. the authors suggest that these inconsistent results may arise from assumptions that members of different demographic categories will react symmetrically to variations in work group demography. But, because of historical differences in their status and the experience of being in the numerical majority or minority at work, men and women, for example, are likely to react differently to being members of differently composed groups. For more information on this report: contact the co-author, Charles A. O'Reilly III

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