People who are disabled very much face an uphill climb when it comes to surviving and thriving in the workplace. Indeed, the physical and/or mental challenges faced by the disabled are compounded by the way that organizations and the people therein react to them and that includes whether they are hired, what they are hired to do and how people treat the disabled employee upon hire. While much of the overall outlook is grim, a strong organizational culture that is installed and enforced properly via the following of social justice and similar principles can be a tool to make the disabled workers feel more welcome rather than as an outcast or someone that is not as worthy or capable.
One seminal work on the matter noted in the introduction that shall be covered in-depth in this report is that of Spataro. When it comes to organizational culture and how/why it focuses on diversity, he gives three types in particular. Those three types are differentiation, unity and integration. The salient point to be taken from each type is important to note. With differentiation, the main point is that there are characteristics that are valued or shunned by the relevant organizational culture. With unity, there is a common workgroup or team membership that pulls people together rather than a focus on any sort of demographical differences. With integration, the differences from person to person of any type are highlighted as a means to ascertain their value and the contributions that the differing perspectives can offer (Spataro, 2005).
As one might imagine, those cultural styles sometimes bring the best out of people. However, the opposite can also be true depending on the circumstances. Indeed, the focus of Spataro's work was the idea that some cultures are wired to lead to exclusion. When people are allowed to act in an exclusionary way, it can indeed be encouraged or at least allowed to happen. Further, one has to really define and center on what "diversity" is, for better or worse. Indeed, many people do not think of a disability as a source of diversity. However, it absolutely is and this can manifest itself to be true in both good ways and bad ways. Obviously, a culture of differentiation could cut both ways in a modern society. For example, there are many people (although not all) that argue having a balance of men and women is a good thing due to the inherent emotional and other differences that are present. However, differences being identified and discussed can lead to a certain "diversity" prisms being turned into stigmas.
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Of course, one of the main ones that would lead to this would be disabilities. As is further pointed out by Spataro, the fact that a disabled person is sought for their perspective can be a good thing and it is indeed a source diversity. Alternatively, a disabled worker can be included in a group that is bound by something other than the parts that makes up the whole. In such a situation, it would be common for someone's disability to be "no big deal" or otherwise inconsequential because they are fully part of the unified group despite whatever physical or mental limitations their disability thrusts upon them. In other words, if the fact that a person is disabled is the least bit focused on, it is done as a means to gain their perspective, insight and experience rather than unnecessarily focusing on the fact that they are disabled. Indeed, the disabled have very different lives in terms of how they do daily tasks and even their job. For that reason alone, their opinions and involvement should be sought rather than shunned. Regardless, an organizational culture that mistreats disabled people for any reason does not just "happen" and good organizations make it a point to organize and police themselves sin a way to as to avoid that and eliminate behavior (or people, as needed) that deviate from the mandated norm. In this way, organizational cultures will often shape and change the people that are in their midst. Of course, not everyone will respond and change. However, Spataro has a prescient point when it is said that "an organization's culture is a potentially powerful tool available to managers in affecting how employees respond to coworkers that are different than them (Spataro, 2005).
As one might expect, leadership plays a pivotal role in setting the tone for what the organizational culture is (or is desired to be) and it is no mistake that the biggest companies in the United States are on the cutting edge of this managerial tactic. Indeed, Phoebe Ball and some colleagues point out that the Fortune 100 values disability as diversity rather than something to left unspoken or otherwise disregard. The executives and managers of these companies ensure that their culture is about inclusion of all capable and talented people including those with disabilities. When looking at the broader Fortune 500, the level to which disability as diversity has permeated the relevant company cultures is hit or miss in that less than half of the organizations include disabilities in….....
Ball, P., Monaco, G., Schmeling, J., Schartz, H., & Blanck, P. (2005). Disability as diversity in Fortune 100 companies. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 23(1), 97-121. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.629
Pless, N. & Maak, T. (2004). Building an Inclusive Diversity Culture: Principles, Processes and Practice. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(2), 129-147. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10551-004-9465-8
Spataro, S. (2005). Diversity in context: how organizational culture shapes reactions to workers with disabilities and others who are demographically different. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 23(1), 21-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bsl.623
Tomaskovic-Devey, D., Zimmer, C., Stainback, K., Robinson, C., Taylor, T., & Mctague, T. (2006). Documenting Desegregation: Segregation in American Workplaces by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex, 1966-2003. American Sociological Review, 71(4), 565-588. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/000312240607100403