The term diversity refers to all human characteristics that make people different from one another. These differences may be represented by observable characteristics, such as gender, race, ethnic background, and age. However, these differences may also be represented by nonobservable characteristics, such as education, functional background, organizational tenure, socioeconomic background, and personality.

Diversity as a workplace issue was triggered by reports published in the late 1980s indicating that the representation of women and ethnic minorities in the workforce would experience accelerated growth rates in the years ahead. Such changes in the demography of U.S. workforces implied that organizations would be required to change the ways in which people were managed. For example, as the White male demographic decreased in relative size, organizations desiring to attract and ...

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