The making and selling of an illusion: an examination of racial and gender diversity in post-civil rights U.S. corporations
MetadataShow full item record
“Diversity” has become one of the most commonly used words by U.S. corporations. Indeed, many companies claim that they have spent millions, sometimes billions of dollars to create an egalitarian workplace for all workers. Given the amount of money spent and the increased amount of research that corporations have done on the issue of diversity, we should expect some progress in terms of equality or equal rights for minority and female workers. However, while there has been a substantial increase in the rise of corporate philosophy espousing diversity, there is also overwhelming data that suggests minorities and women are still unable to obtain opportunities or to achieve success at the same rates as their white male counterparts. How can we explain the apparent contradictions? Furthermore, why are many companies that have historically barred minorities and women from their workplace now publicizing their support for racial and gender integration? I suggest that corporations are using the word “diversity” as an ideological tool designed to promote themselves at the forefront of equality in the U.S. Using in-depth interviews conducted with 40 middle and senior-level managers and upper-level executive officers from Fortune 1000 companies, I find that while the word diversity is frequently uttered by managers (and strategically used in various media outlets), most managers are unable to clearly define diversity. Moreover, while managers claim their companies are interested in diversity, there is no convincing evidence that would suggest this is true. Thus, my findings suggest that many corporations use “diversity” as a shield to hide the fact that nothing has really changed in the structure of U.S corporations. That is, U.S. corporations have been, and continue to be, exclusive clubhouses for upper class white males.
Embrick, David Geronimo Truc-Thanh (2006). The making and selling of an illusion: an examination of racial and gender diversity in post-civil rights U.S. corporations. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from