How Could Stereotypes Promote Diversity?

By Monica Norberg and Raine Isaksson.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It takes about 8 seconds for you to decide what kind of person is in front of you. Doing this you have classified the person using a stereotype. If your classification was correct or wrong, is something that, you probably will find out later. What happens if you made an inaccurate assessment and the person is not “allowed” to show her or his legal personality?
Stereotyping is usually classified as something negative, but how could we use the knowledge from a stereotype to highlight the opportunities of diversity? Diversity: is it only another way to make stereotypes? Using a stereotype – will that make me act, to the person in front of me, as a “type”? Using diversity – will that make me act differently? Will it make me see the person more as a human being than a “type”, or does it not matter?
This paper is based on a survey that shows how people categorize others. Expectations or prejudices are formed differently depending on which “stereotype” is in use. However, diversity is a “new” and modern word that could also lead us wrong even if the intention is good. A tentative synthesis of negative and positive components of stereotyping and applying diversity is presented.
Results from the survey indicate that, stereotyping is generally perceived as something clearly negative, and should not be used, but is never the less in use. Using diversity is generally perceived as more positive than negative. The expression about using diversity is also put into question as a fad. The free text comments input support the model proposed that by the help of awareness permits using both stereotypes and diversity in a positive way.

Keywords: Awareness, Classifying People, Diversity, Prejudice, Stereotype, Stereotyping

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp.89-104. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 733.509KB).

Monica Norberg

Lecturer in Leadership, Department of Quality Management, Gotland University, Visby, Gotland, Sweden

My work is as a lecturer in leadership at Gotland University. Most of my students are working people and different managers in different levels in organizations in Sweden and abroad. Since March 2010 I am also a doctoral in Doctor in Business of Administration, specialization Leadership, at Walden University. I have two master degrees, one in Public Administration, and one in Business Administration. Earlier I have been an army officer. I have also worked as a headmaster, as a manager in the health care, and as a team leader for people with problems with alcohol and drugs. My favourite interest is music - play the violin in a orchestra and in a folk/rockband (inpired by Irish music). I also teach young children how to swim.

Dr. Raine Isaksson

University Lecturer and Process Consultant, Quality Management, Gotland University, Visby, Gotland, Sweden

Raine Isaksson has a PhD in quality management from Luleå Technical University in Sweden. He has a background as chemical engineer with some 20 years of industrial practise working within the cement industry in various countries including 9 years in different African countries. Since five years, Raine works both as lecturer in Gotland University and as process consultant. His research interest focuses broadly on how to make improvement more effective and efficient. More specifically this work focuses on synergies between quality management and sustainable development. The working hypothesis is that many of the values, methodologies and tools in quality management should also be included in work for increased sustainability. Particular focus in this research is on the value of “focus on processes” and the practical applications of it in the form of system based process models and measurement templates. Raine is a frequent visitor of conferences dealing with improvement and has written more than 20 papers consisting of conference presentations and published articles.


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