How can dimensions of diversity impact a business?

Chapter 15 Video Title: Managing Diversity: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams –

>> I worked for a large furniture manufacturer down in North Carolina, who had plants in several states.
It became clear to me that there was a glass ceiling and I can only go so high. And I didn’t know if that was because I was gay or because I was Jewish.

>> I’m Mitchell Gold, Chairman and Cofounder of Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams Company. I thought that you know, basically being a white guy, I’m going to be at the top of the pyramid as far as job opportunities and a lot of other things.

>> Hi, I’m Bob Williams. I’m President of design of Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams. As a gay man growing up and all of a sudden realizing that you are a minority and that there are people out there that will discriminate against you because of who you are. And it kind of changes your whole perspective of what’s out there.

>> One time the president of the company was coming to town to visit and had invited me to dinner along with several other executives and their spouses.
And I told him, I said, “Scott I want to be clear that I am bringing Bob with me.” And he cringed and said, “Oh, no I don’t think that would be a good idea. My wife really doesn’t get that and doesn’t approve of that.” And I will admit that I was just speechless and went to dinner without Bob. But it was the last time.

>> What I find interesting is when you have a company that is not diverse, that is not open to people, that’s just a small symptom of the way they treat everybody. When we were building our new factory, the one thing that I was really wanting and Mitchell and I both felt strongly about was having a factory that maybe on the outside wasn’t a big fancy, brick, glass building but a place where people, when they drove by would say, “That’s a place where I want to work.” Because it’s a great place to work,
and that was really our bigger priority was making sure that it was well lit, that had great benefits for our people and that it would be a place where they would want to come and work and actually do the best job that they possibly could. That they wouldn’t be discriminated against because they were a male or a female, that they wouldn’t be discriminated against because if they were gay or straight. But a place where they would be judged on how good of the job they could do.

>> I think that we need to even expand what we even talk about adversity. I mean everybody’s got something. We have people that smoke. We have people that eat too much. I had an employee who had a hearing problem and didn’t want to wear his hearing aid and I said it’s no big deal, put your hearing aid on, let people know that you can’t hear. At least then they’ll speak louder or speak more clearly. Each type of person has to feel comfortable in the company. I don’t want the gay people in our company to feel special. I don’t them to feel separate. And it’s important to Bob and I that straight people don’t feel threatened because the company is run by two gay guys. I want it to be, everything should just be a smooth flow and again I think that’s how we can set the best possible example.

>>You know in terms of recognition, I grew up in a family where we didn’t start off doing something because it was going to get us recognition. It really was about doing the right thing. I think I’ve become a lot more open minded towards rural North Carolina, as an example for me. And I live in New York City. I grew up in New York City’s suburbs. And I think we have a perception of what things might be like outside of New York.

>> Hi, I’m Ed Custer, the Hospitality Account Director for Mitchell Gold Bob Williams. You know when I get down to North Carolina and I’m visiting the factory and interacting with my colleagues there I think I’ve open my mind to people who are incredibly passionate about their religious beliefs or just different backgrounds you know. Working with Mitchell and Bob who are so involved with so many different types of organizations out there, whether it be for gay rights, or for women’s issues or being more environmentally conscious, we’re very environmentally conscious as a company. We do things differently than a lot of other people do it. You know, anything out there. We’re so involved with so many different social issues. Really has opened my mind to be more active as well myself. Yeah, as a woman working for this company, I don’t feel that my gender has any correlation to my performance, my evaluations, my relationships with other coworkers. And that’s something that is very different in other organizations. Something I didn’t realize, it’s subtle, but important.

>> My name is Maria Thompson and I am the store manager for the Soho store in Manhattan. Our customers really appreciate that we’re a brand with depth. Those things play a big role in a customer’s
decision to go with Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, I think. In addition to great quality and delivery and all of those things. Our customers are diverse. So if we don’t understand the diversity of our customers and understand their needs and how they live, it makes it very hard to be successful. Yeah, I know it was great. We sent that letter out to everybody telling them how we’re going to get married…
Are you still gonna do it but maybe in Massachusetts or Connecticut? Yeah, were still talking about it. You know we were really looking forward to doing it in Californiabeing Christopher’s family is there and Chris always really wanted the beach type of wedding so we’ll have to think about doing it in the Berkshires now. Or doing it in Massachusetts, in Provincetown, ya. Growing up in the south, the one rule that was always pounded into me was you know, treat others the way you want to be treated. And I think that sometimes in the workplace we forget that especially as adults as we get older. And I think that’s important. It really should be the golden rule that every corporation, every company, every factory should do. I don’t think that LGBT issues are the final frontier of diversity. I’m hoping that it will be the thing that really says to America that we have to stop discriminating against people. Part of the American dream is if you work really hard, you can be all that you can be. But unfortunately I think immigrants in America will be the next frontier that we have to cross. I don’t think we’re done. I don’t think we ever will be done. I think the diversity is one of those things that’s going to change through time. It’s one of those things that there’s always going to be something new and different in the workplace, that people may not normally have been exposed to. So, yeah I think it’s really important to continue to speak about diversity.
Overview: Discrimination is behavior based on prejudiced attitudes. Mitchel Gold and Bob Williams encountered obstacles and challenges as gay men in business. They began their own company with a focus on embracing diversity in the workplace

Suggested Use: This video focuses on diversity issues in business and possible consequences and solutions.

Discussion Questions:

How can dimensions of diversity impact a business?
How does diversity coordinate with “doing what is right”?
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