Exploring Diversity in the Workplace: Michelle Barfield's Case Study

Paper Type:  Case study
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  957 Words
Date:  2023-01-16


There are four layers of diversity, namely, functional level, external dimensions, internal dimensions, and personality (Rice, 2015). Diversity refers to differences that make people unique from each other. In the case of Michelle Barfield, the internal dimension of gender contributed to her sexual harassment. The officers had already developed a stereotype about female officers that was difficult to change. Majority of the workers in the Maximum-security Unit were male. The male officers believed that no female accepts to work in the unit unless they desire to engage in sexual affairs with either the officers or the inmates. External dimension also played a role in sexual harassment as the officers brought the issue of her interracial marriage.

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The second layer that contributed to the sexual harassment experienced by Michelle is a functional level work location. All the officers in the unit were from Phoenix, which was in the outskirts in Arizona (Kinicki, 2014). Additionally, the personality layer contributed to Michelle's sexual harassment because officers started making unpleasant comments about her personal life. Ace also played a role in harassment since when the colleagues learned of her marriage to a man of a different race, they treated her harshly. This worsened when prisoners become aware of the interracial marriage and the aftermath was negative remarks from the gang.

Potential Causes of Discrimination that Played a Role in Barfield's Experience

One of the potential causes of Barfield's experience in the Arizona Department of Corrections is the stereotype of the female officers. The males believed that a female should not work in the correctional facilities (Kinicki, 2014). The female is, therefore discriminated based on gender because they are perceived by their male counterparts as inferior. The officers believe that the female officers who work in the correctional facilities do so to have sex with the officers and the inmates. The inmates also are stereotypical about the female officers, thereby creating an unhealthy working environment.

The second cause of discrimination in the career is lack of social support. When Michelle started working at the correctional facility, she did not get any support from the officers or even the top management. She did have anyone to count on hence the reason why it was easy for the male officers who are filled with a superiority complex to harass her. Even the commander was not helpful because instead of coming up with necessary measures to protect her from the harassment, he discouraged her from filing a report (Kinicki, 2014). Michelle, therefore, did not have anyone to trust, so it was difficult for her to work in such an environment where social capital is difficult to develop.

Types of Organizational Practices Could Help the Arizona Department of Corrections Implement to Reduce Future Incidents of Sexual Harassment

Department of Corrections implement needs to come up with new strategies that will ensure there is no sexual harassment at the workplace. The measures include developing work ethics guidelines that state how all the officers working at the corrections facility are supposed to conduct themselves at the facility (Dcker, Taylor & Katz, 2016). The ethical code of conduct must have the consequences that officer who violate the law are supposed to face in case they are caught sexually harassing their colleagues. The code of conduct is a reference point by the employees in terms of the actions that are supposed to be taken when employees are found sexually harassing their colleagues. The code of conduct defines sexual harassment; hence, perpetrators will not have an excuse.

The other way to stop sexual harassment at Arizona Department of Corrections implement is to offer training to all the officers to make them understand the challenges faced by the victims (Dcker, Taylor & Katz, 2016). The training will create an environment where officers respect their colleagues and their sexuality as well. The training will make the employees understand that they risk being disciplined and can even lose their jobs in case of any sexual harassment. The training will increase confidence among the employees to reports incidents of sexual harassment for action to be taken.

Barriers and Challenges to Managing Diversity

One of the obstacles that happened to Michelle Barfield includes not being taken seriously by the corrections director Charles Ryan who failed to take the sexual allegations seriously (Kinicki, 2014). The director could have investigated the claims to ascertain whether the allegations are true and appropriate action taken. All the attempts by Barfield to his senior regarded sexual harassment fell on deaf ears; thus, her colleagues continued to harass her. Barfield was new at the correction facility; hence, he was not sure of the appropriate action that she could take to stop being harassed. The directors of the correction facility were skeptical about taking actions to colleagues.

Barfield also faced the challenge of a lack of support from any colleague to file a report to the human resource regarding the working environment and how she was sexually harassed by her colleagues (Kinicki, 2014). If she could have written the report to the human resource, her colleagues could have been reprimanded hence solving the challenge of sexual harassment. The sexual harassment was challenging to Michelle Barfield because the colleagues created an environment that made her feel insecure working at the correctional facility. Sexual harassment is traumatizing to the victims, and they get the fear where working leading to poor performance.


Dcker, S., Taylor, M., & Katz, C. (2016). A Case Study of the Response of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act Consent Decree. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/244085.pdf

Kinicki, K. (2014). Organizational Behavior 10th Edition Kreitner Kinicki. Retrieved from https://mafiadoc.com/organizational-behavior-10th-edition-kreitner-kinicki_59c573c91723dde092c9f594.html

Rice, M. F. (2015). Diversity and public administration. ME Sharpe.

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Exploring Diversity in the Workplace: Michelle Barfield's Case Study. (2023, Jan 16). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/exploring-diversity-in-the-workplace-michelle-barfields-case-study

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