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AMERICAN BUSINESS CAN COMPETE BY LEARNING TO VALUE DIVERSITY

 AMERICAN BUSINESS CAN COMPETE BY LEARNING TO VALUE DIVERSITY
 PHILADELPHIA, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The United States has always been known as a melting pot, inhabited by people who came to this country at the turn of the century in search of the American dream.
 Following the Industrial Revolution, the decline of manufacturing and the shift to a service economy, many workers and their bosses grapple with increasing uncertainty, making it more and more difficult for people, whose differences were once tolerable, to barely get along.
 The implications of this growing intolerance for diversity in the workplace pose a serious threat to American business, which already is reeling from the freewheeling spending of the 80s, and the heavy debt that has forced unprecedented layoffs and countless corporate restructurings.
 According to Dr. John P. Fernandez, an author and management consultant, the ramifications of not effectively managing diverse employees will result in a severe shortage of qualified workers in the future, and a country filled with large pockets of "disadvantaged" people.
 "I've spent more than 22 years studying corporate America and issues related to handling diversity and I can tell you I've never seen a more critical situation than exists now," he said.
 "Because of the labor shortage and the need for workers with better education and more complex skills, corporate America will find it increasingly difficult to attract enough qualified workers to fill jobs. The problem will be aggravated because the population will be made up increasingly of African- and Hispanic-Americans whose education, in general, is not what it should be."
 Fernandez said over the next 10 years there will be a total of 21 million new jobs in the United States, primarily in the service sector. In the same period, there will be a "baby bust" -- with 25 percent fewer workers age 18-24 available to fill those positions. And while jobs requiring college degrees will increase from 22 to 30 percent by the year 2000, 80 percent of recent college graduates cannot read at an 11th grade level.
 "This, coupled with an increase in minorities and women entering and staying in the workforce, points to the critical need to manage, educate, train and retain workers with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds," Fernandez added.
 What can companies do to harness the talents of their minority and female employees?
 Some companies, like Xerox, now base employee bonuses on the success of their promotion of blacks and women, and others, like Du Pont, have formed task forces to examine minority retention rates.
 Fernandez noted that while companies are struggling with diversity issues among their employees, employees themselves can take steps to ensure they own success. Some of them include:
 -- Clearly understand your own strengths and weaknesses to help develop strategies to enhance your career.
 -- Understand the psychological mind-set of the people you are dealing with.
 -- Always perform to the best of your ability no matter how unfairly you are treated.
 -- Be an active participant in the managing of your own career.
 While the issue of managing employee diversity is one of the largest challenges facing U.S. business today, it also presents numerous opportunities, according to Fernandez, to tap into a resource of unlimited potential.
 Fernandez is president of Advanced Research Management Consultants, Inc., a Philadelphia-based human resource consulting firm. A former division manager of AT&T, Fernandez has spent more than 22 years studying issues of diversity, sexual harassment, childcare and productivity, racism and sexism, among others. He is a national lecturer and has written seven books on corporate/human resource issues. He holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Berkeley, and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. from Harvard University.
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 -0- 4/22/92
 /CONTACT: Dava Guerin of Guerin & Kapnek Communications, 215-830-1441, or, home, 215-635-5985, for Advanced Research Management Consultants/ CO: Advanced Research Management Consultants, Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:


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