Season one, episode two of “The Office” documents a witty, yet relevant resemblance of common stereotypes in the workplace during an in-office seminar on diversity.
“It’s Diversity Day, Jim… I wish everyday was Diversity Day.” -Regional Manager, Michael Scott.
This line within itself proves problematic. When Michael claims he wishes this day was celebrated every day, he implies that the workplace overlooks diversity on a day-to-day basis. Michael goes on to try and justify the presence of diversity in the office when the seminar instructor brings up the problem of race-ignorance within the workplace .
“This is a color-free zone here,” Michael says and immediately points out Stanley, an African American employee in the room and continues, “I [Michael] don’t look at you [Stanley] as another race.”
As a society, diversity in the workplace is a recurring and sensitive issue. Some corporations are blatantly unaware that their staff is comprised of all of the same race. Oftentimes, it becomes evident that the staff is all a common race, when companies promote a product and do not realize the marketing campaign is insensitive to another race.
Having a racially diverse workplace is highly beneficial in all fields of work. When it comes to business, it is key to have a variety of races to improve: risk management of language, social interaction and innovation. Different perceptions and backgrounds of employees broadens a company’s diversity into a racial and ethnically diverse workplace.
Often times in “The Office”, Michael Scott will make a stereotypical joke or comment, and direct a follow up comment with Stanley Hudson. This recurring theme highlights a key issues found in today's workplace and in society. Stanley typically brushes off Michael’s comments, but they are usually insensitive and inappropriate.
In another episode, the employees categorized as minorities are given the opportunity to attend a special program to further their education and move them up within the company. This episode shows conflicts within the minorities to compete for the spot.
Darryl is a strong presence in the show of a minority that moves up the ranks, creating more diversity within the office. He is intolerant of Michael’s jokes, and makes his ideas heard. He brings a new perspective from a different racial background, as well as a different role. Prior to his management role, he worked in the shipping dock. Darryl’s prior employment can be deemed stereotypical; however, he works hard and proves to the office their stereotypes are wrong.
Even though Michael Scott’s ignorant jokes may be tolerated on a tv screen, they should never be tolerated in real life. Darryl shows viewers how they can overcome hostile work environments and biased superiors and come out on top, squashing stereotypes and promoting diversity.