Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Race In Business

As a student headed into the world of business and marketing I wanted to write my last blog entry about race in marketing and the job place. I found two articles on npr.com that struck appeal to me when looking into lawsuits involving race and ethnicity within the corporate world. The first article that was about how in Chicago, 400 Nike employees who filed a racial discrimination law suit against Nike four years ago. The employees claimed that they were segregated into lower-paying jobs and that racial slurs were used in the work place. Nike denied the claims but paid the employees $7.6 million to settle the lawsuit. Another article that was interesting was the one about how an Intel advertisement was pulled out of the media after there were many complaints about it being offensive. If you look at the ad in the link, you will see a white man standing in-between 6 “bowing” or pre-sprinting posed black men. The ad intentionally meant to say that the computers in the work place were as fast as sprinting athletes, that the performance was similar to Olympic athletes. The ad was taken wrong by the masses and withdrawn from the media. The other page I looked at was the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and what the laws are regarding discrimination in the corporate world. This was interesting because I took into account the other articles I had read, the ones I mentioned, as well as others I have seen. I thought about how the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the Civil Rights Act provide for a now enormous amount of protection for minority races in the work place. I know from studying business law that racial discrimination and consideration of race is extremely important in making many different kinds of decisions. I have founds that some decisions are based on increasing percentages of minority race figures within a company. It has become a somewhat bothersome “limit” or “quota” as far as the business world is concerned. I find it sad to see companies needing to flex so much to live up to the standards of the law. There are so many corporations, like Microsoft for example, that hire such a diversity of races that they would never in the life of the corporation be filed against for racial discrimination. They tend to hire for the abilities and skills of the person and not to increase race statistics incase they had a law suit filed against them. This is a good way to hire and practice business.
There is a problem with my findings this week. I also find it hypocritical that so much settlement money is being paid to minorities to settle law suits of racial discrimination instead of actually carrying out the suit. While I do not and will never know what happened with some law suits or will have been in the minority’s shoes, I look at some situations and wonder if people were really filing for just causes. If the company was never charged with racial discrimination, but just settled the suit with hush-money, isn’t that defeating the purpose of the commission? If the Equal Opportunities Commission was set up to protect women and minorities from discrimination, shouldn’t it also protect against the reverse privilege? I just have a question in the back of my mind as to how far a corporation should go to keep its reputation as an equal opportunity employer. I wonder about the legitimacy of some of the cases and the motivation of some companies. I also would like to address that visuals are so important in marketing today. Analogous meaning is not something that should be associated with a visual involving race in the world today. In a world that is stunted with anger from the past of an unfair racial situation, it is extremely important to take care and consideration of every race’s perspective on advertisements. The Intel advertisement had good intention, but was not taken well by society. It is easy to see how one person, experiencing life as a minority, may view it much differently than from the perspective of an average Caucasian businessman. In my blog this week I would like to address how fragile the topics of race and ethnicity are and how fragile they are treated in the corporate world. This topic alone can make or break a corporation’s reputation and business to the many different races throughout the world. It is so important to stay neutral and be very careful in the way which we communicate in the world. Communicating across multi-cultural planes will be a challenge in marketing, I wonder if in the future the general public and media will become a less apprehensive to this topic. (792)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Association and Generalization in Stereotyping and Prejudices

In an article entitled “Automatic and Controlled Components of Implicit Stereotyping and Prejudice” I found myself mesmerized by a psycho-analytical approach to understanding and explaining social bigotry. I thought it was an interesting perspective, an addition to what we are reading about, that is more scientifically measured. This article suggested aspects of human recognition and association. It described how children associate by color, which is a fundamental part of the human mind… sorting information and association. The author, Dr. Jeff Sherman explained how when adults were given a paper with the word BLUE written in red ink, the adults were tested and responded that the ink was blue. They stated the written word instead of the color. Children that were studied however responded correctly to the question saying that the ink was red. The author goes on to say that the children will eventually develop a habit to ignore the color recognition and observe the word instead. Sherman observed that this may be an underlying attitude that contributes to developed prejudices and stereotyping. He also wrote about how light is associated with “good” and dark is associated with “bad” which may also contribute. This was a fascinating article to look over with a more scientific angle on understanding the underlying factors of prejudice and stereotyping.
I also found an article that was more qualitative. It really helped me understand the roots of prejudice more. I thought it was fascinating that, “Ethnic and cultural pride begins with the emphasis of differences and quickly progresses to claims of superiority in some respect or another”. In researching different articles about stereotyping and prejudices, I found that most of them had to do with either classification or superiority. Different classifications were associated with behaviors and qualities of being and superiority justifies explicit, negative statements about those classifications and associations. Beginning with a rudimentary mental predisposition to sort by category and associate, everyone has and develops stereotypical thinking. An example in this article was how all people have developed the prejudice against moving cars… that they go fast and they will hurt or kill. This is a prime example of how the mind evolves over learned experience or the word of society. This article goes in depth with different kinds of stereotypes and prejudices and the differences between them.
What I got out of my research this week was a lot of self-reflection, observance of others, and a pain-staking realization that I am a participant in a negative and hurtful component of society. Stereotypes and prejudices are not only unfair to those who are victimized by them, but are hurtful to ourselves in truly believing generalizations about fellow people of humanity. It has the power to prevent people from what they believe “they can do” in their “classification” and it limits the freedom of mind and soul in society. As a last note, I would like to add another article that I found that I looked through. It was about how stereotyping and prejudices are especially harmful for children. This article explains why I now feel that stereotyping and prejudices are so harmful to our youth and our society. No one know what the future holds and it is not fair to train our youth that they are restricted by their race, gender, sexual orientation, or culture. It is not fair to spread the lesson to judge before knowing! (564)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Article

Here is the source of my article: http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/leadcom.html

Principles of Communication

Before even considering the multicultural or international aspects or conflicts in communication I believe it is important to understand the core aspects of communication in general first. I found an interesting article that highlighted many important aspects of communicating. I would argue that to understand the principles of effective communication would lead to a greater ability to connect with anyone, even trans-nationally.
In this article communication is defined well in a single and concise point, “communication is the exchange and flow of information and ideas from one person to another”. This is followed by great lengths of in depth information about the different types and aspects of communication including, context, culture, environment, feedback, nonverbal, hints, emotion, language, etc. I found it to be one of the most conclusive documents on the art of communication that I have ever read. One thing that I was reading in the article was about active listening. I would like to point out the vast importance of critical and active listening in the process of communication. In considering multicultural communication especially, it is important to listen and receive and reiterate what has been said to you in order to avoid misunderstanding or conflict in communication. While one can improve upon their communication skills by following the advice of an article like this, it may not help all of the situations in which you may find yourself in conflict communicating between cultures, however, it will definitely improve chances of being better at communicating! (247)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


After viewing abstracts of hundreds of definitions of culture I have found that there is no true definition of culture. Scholars and cultural anthropologists all over the world have been trying to capture in words how to describe the roots and being of people from the beginning of the human race. I have begun to compose an eclectic collection of thoughts and ideas gained via articles and books as to what culture is. Since I personally find myself severely lacking in a single culture, I have been trying to identify objectively what exactly would make “my culture” as well.
I found an article online that described my thought process a little more closely than did many others. At http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/16618/106/4 different anthropologists offer general perspectives as to what culture is. I was specifically struck by Geert Hofstede’s comment about culture being psychologically based rather than biologically (scientifically or socially based), however, as we all know psychology reflects both society and biology. I thought it brought an interesting perspective into play when delving into the topic of our minds and understanding the difference between perception and reality. I also liked how this article integrated the description of culture being learned, meaningful, and encompassing of both intellectual and material aspects of any society. I think that this article really touched on explaining that you cannot “textbook define” some things in the world, especially with something as vast and powerful as culture is. The article broke culture down into different elements which describe the combination of different theories’ emphasis on culture. This breakdown I believe is a very conclusive and coherent way to understand the roots of culture a little bit better.
The breakdown for further study in order to conceive the meaning or definition of culture:
Material Culture
Social Institutions
Humans and the Universe
Aesthetics (philosophy concerned with the perception of beauty and ugliness)
Language (317)