Last Updated: 09-25-2019
The laws mandating equal employment opportunity have set the stage for achieving workplace diversity, but they are only a starting point. The equal employment laws only address diversity in the context of "protected classifications" such as race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation. They do not address other types of diversity, such as, generational diversity, different work styles, personalities, educational backgrounds, and other characteristics that influence how we act and interact at work. Also, the equal employment laws provide little guidance on how to accomplish diversity. There is even less guidance on how to maximize diversity for the benefit of employees, managers, administrators, or a public agency's mission. Legal mandates tend to shift the focus of diversity to what has to be done to avoid agency liability, rather than what can be done, to benefit from diversity. As a result, diversity is sometimes viewed as an obligation that must be complied with, rather than a useful tool to be embraced.
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