A Fortune 500 Company has recently hired you as a Human Resource Manager. You are in charge of hiring new sales consultants for the fiber optics division of this organization. Due to the competitive marketplace, sales and revenues are at an all-time low. During your interview, you stated that you could serve as a valuable asset to this company. You noted your long-standing history of selecting the best candidates for sales positions and stated that you could bring the sales division back to its place as the leading resource of your organization. You want to perform well at this job because you have been unemployed for 12 months and need to pay off your consolidated debt in order to avoid bankruptcy.
Your job is to hire a sales manager to sell your latest fiber optics to leading wireless manufacturers of five key companies. This job requires that the sales representative be articulate, sophisticated, and knowledgeable about fiber optics. The job requires travel Monday through Friday in order for the sales representative to work with those in the prospective company. This job also includes spending leisure time after 5:00 P.M. with prospective clients.
Required: Read the case summary and accompanying character descriptions, then answer the following question:
Please state and explain your decision in a one-page summary. Make sure to include a title page. In your summary, be sure to reference course material (readings, lectures, or concepts from the flash cards).
Jake, CPA Changing to Sales
As my resume states, I was an accountant but have made a career switch to sales. I think working with people in sales would be more interesting than sitting at a desk all day crunching numbers. I am single and want to devote time to my career in order to be successful. (African American)
Lynn, IT Manager
As my resume states, I was a math major and I minored in computer analysis. I am very good with people and I am working on improving my English-speaking skills. I graduated first in my class and I wrote a paper on fiber optics in relation to cell towers that was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. I am a leading expert in the fiber optics field. (Asian)
Karen, Sales Representative
As my resume states, I have been in sales for five years. I have been awarded the Sales Representative of the Year at my last company. Currently I am relocating to Atlanta because I will be getting married next month. My credentials are stellar and I graduated at the top of my class in fiber optic engineering. (Caucasian)
Jyoti, Manager of Wireless Retail Store
I began assisting in sales at my last job and did extremely well. I managed a wireless phone company’s regional sales office. I trained salespeople and due to my expertise in sales, their revenues rose 60% last year. I am looking to expand into corporate sales because I know that I am an expert at sales and have a solid foundation in what customers want from their cellular service. I am single, therefore I am available to travel and work long hours. (Arab decent)
Lecture Notes for Reference
Our country often is described as a nation of immigrants. The founding immigrants, however, had three basic characteristics in common – they were primarily from Northern and Western Europe, they came from nations with approximately the same level of social development, and they were Caucasian. These were the groups that established the foundations of what became American culture. The founding fathers of the United States established as law and ideology that all men are created equal and each one should have the right to strive for success or failure without inherited advantage. Success in America was not guaranteed, but the right to try was encouraged. Even into the early 20th century, American ideology was that any immigrant or group who worked hard, persevered, and measured up to our ideals would eventually assimilate into the great American melting pot. This was a grand idea, but it was based on the assumption that the immigrants were, in spite of nationality, European and Caucasian. Persons of color were assumed to be savages, some “noble savages” perhaps, but savages nonetheless, and lesser persons as a result. It is from this ideology that a great deal of our inability to accept distinctive differences in others arises, and it is here that we need to try to develop some understandings of how this impacted the identity of many minority groups as both a part of this nation and as separate people.
As we discussed in a previous lecture, disadvantaged groups know more about those helping to keep them disadvantaged than the other way around. It is primarily a survival technique. Because each group’s experiences are unique, they will develop a view of themselves in relation to that of the more powerful. The greater the degree of disadvantage, the clearer the minority group’s perception is of its so-called place in the relationship. This may not always be the case for the dominant group. In slave-owning societies, many slave owners developed affection for their slaves and believed that they were caring for them as though they were children rather than property. If a slave expressed any reluctance or resentment, the slave owners were as likely to feel as hurt as they were angered. The slave, however, never had any doubt that he or she was a slave and that status dominated every aspect of his or her life and relationships with the slave masters. The master could afford to occasionally be magnanimous with his slaves, but the slave could never step even an inch outside of the slave identity without peril.
Physical Attributes and Identity
The closer the disadvantaged groups resembled the dominant group, the less need there was for sharp demarcations between dominant and subordinate groups. Ethnic Europeans, for example, could define themselves in terms of what they could do to reduce the differences between themselves and the dominant group. Assimilation was an attainable goal. In short, their self-identity focused on similarities with the dominant group, as opposed to maintaining a protective social distance.
In time, European ethnic differences declined in importance as second- and third-generation children of immigrants became less identifiable and more acceptable. The emphasis on identifiable physical characteristics, however, did not. Following the Civil War and Emancipation, color lines became critical to social interactions between the dominant Caucasians and the non-Caucasians. The distinctions were not just applied to former slaves, but also to persons of any race other than Caucasian. Miscegenation laws prohibiting marriage between Caucasians and non-Caucasians persisted well into the 20th century..
Persons of color – as members of groups readily identified by physical characteristics are known – find it difficult or impossible to assimilate completely, because it is always possible to identify them as belonging to a distinct category. They can and do, however, acculturate into society. There still remains that gap between their being American and who they are racially and/or ethnically. The only way to close that gap is to develop an identity that incorporates both aspects of who they are. Some of this appears in subcultural formations, as we discussed earlier, but the most important aspect is that this identity always reflects the group’s perceptions and understandings of its historical relationship with the dominant group and dominant ideology.
The end result for many minority groups is an identity that is neither one nor the other. For example, a second- or third-generation Japanese American visiting his or her family’s ancestral home in Japan would find that the residents would consider him or her to be American rather than Japanese, and at home in the U.S., he or she would be considered a Japanese citizen who lives in the U.S. The issue is not necessarily acceptability, but rather differential treatment by the dominant group. Many Latinos and other ethnic groups whose families have lived in the U.S. for multiple generations are often asked how long they have lived here because they speak English so well. The implication is that since they look different, they must be new arrivals.
Nearly all minority groups have experienced both prejudice and discrimination at the hands of the dominant group at some time in their cultural experiences. Because minority group responses to the dominant group reflect the relationship between the two, it should not be surprising that prejudice and discrimination will have a significant impact on the nature and shape of minority group identity. The result is that there nearly always will be components of caution, suspicion, distrust, or cynicism inherent in their view toward the dominant group; the minority group nearly always will identify itself, at least to some degree, as a group of outsiders. Dominant group cultural memories are not that long, and it is sometimes difficult for them to understand why minorities interpret actions or situations in ways that the dominant group believes were not at all appropriate in the circumstance. Prejudice or discrimination may not have been intended and, in fact, the dominant group may not believe that it even occurred. It becomes a matter of definitions. Dominant group ideology toward minority-group relationships rests in the present. What happened in the past is not applicable to the present. For minority groups, history is their experience and their identity. It has made them who they are and shaped the world in which they live.
What is important for us as professionals is that we understand that racial/ethnic, gender, and cultural identities are important and fragile things. When professional contact is made with different groups, it is important to understand that their side of the interaction will be informed by this identity. It isn’t important whether or not one agrees with this, but it is important to understand that it does happen and governs approaches and interactions accordingly.
An understanding of the rules and regulations of government behavior toward minority groups in the workplace is also useful. As an example, let’s consider awareness of gender discrimination in the workplace. At first glance, we’d likely note that such discrimination refers to overt forms of discrimination, such as outright exclusion of women or men in a given workplace solely due to their gender; sexual harassment; or violation of the Equal Pay Act, which prohibits sex-based wage discrimination for equal work. But such discrimination also takes less-obvious forms. For example, denying employment based on marital status, child-bearing ability or status, or pregnancy are all prohibited under federal law. Combining an understanding of the process through which minority groups come to identify themselves with knowledge of federal rules and regulations concerning forms of discrimination helps promote cultural competence in the workplace, both at the individual and organizational level.