Introduction Diversity refers to the presence of individual human characteristics that make people different from one another (Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn, 2005). Among these individual human characteristics are demographic differences, such as age, gender, sexual-orientation, , race and ethnicity, and religion. Diversity and demographic differences can impact individual behavior by creating discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices in the work place. The differences that impact individual behavior the most are age, gender, sexual-orientation, and race and ethnicity. Age Differences Ages in the workplace can vary from as young as 16 to ages over 60 years old.

This vast range of age differences within the workplace can create discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices among individuals. Such stereotypes and prejudices come from the misperception that as people age, their skills, , and though processing deteriorates and they are in turn unable to complete their work as effectively and efficiently as their younger counterparts. According to the United States' government site for equal opportunity, web setting age limits for employment has become common practice among employers. People over the age of 40 years are at the highest risk of age discrimination, but people of all ages can be victims of age discrimination. The government has created several acts, in which age discrimination is unlawful and not tolerated. In 1967, Congress created the Age Discrimination Act (ADEA), protecting individuals over 40 years old against age discrimination.

This act protects both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, "it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his / her age, with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment-including, but not limited to hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training" (ADEA, 1967). Two other acts that protect individuals from age discrimination are the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (ADA) and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA). The ADA protects individuals of all ages from discrimination when applying for programs and that receive federal financial assistance, and the WIA protects against age discrimination individuals applying for Title I-financially assisted programs and activities, and programs that are part of the One-Stop system. Gender Differences Like differences in ages, gender differences also impact individual behavior by creating discrimination and stereotypes. It also creates limitations mainly set for women.

The stereotypical woman works at home, taking care of the children, cleaning house, and cooking gor met meals. Even though that stereotype has changed some over the years, it still holds true, and the modern woman still faces discrimination. Like other demographic differences, type of gender can affect promotions, employment opportunities, and financial aid. Also, women are the top victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Some women are asked to perform sexual favors in order to promote or get ahead in the workplace. In addition to discrimination, gender differences impact individual behavior by creating limitations, especially in the military. In the United States, women are not allowed to serve in the front lines of war zones, they are not allowed to serve on submarines, and they cannot serve in special warfare teams, such as the Navy SEAL's. However, the U.S. has come a long way in promoting women's rights and allowing women to actually serve in the military. I, personally, would not care to serve on the front lines, on submarines, or on special warfare teams. Sexual Orientation Differences Sexual orientation is another demographic difference that can impact individual behavior.

According to the American Psychological Association's (APA) website, web sexual orientation is "an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. It is easily distinguished from other components of sexuality including biological sex, gender identity and the social gender role". There are three categories within sexual orientation-heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexual ty. Sexual orientation is different from sexual behavior. Unlike sexual behavior, an individual may not express his / her sexual orientation through his / her behaviors. For example, if an individual is gay, that person can choose not to act upon his emotions.

Sexual orientation is a rather recent discussion topic amongst today's society. Although homosexuality has been around for centuries, the debate over the issue is new. The fight for gay and lesbian rights against discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudice has merely just begun. Many homosexuals are victims of hate crimes based on their sexuality, being assaulted-physically, mentally, and sexually-or even being murdered. The general conservative public is not quite ready for such issues as homosexuality. Homosexuality raises questions in religion, law, and basic beliefs and values.

Is it right to be gay or lesbian? Does one have a choice in sexual orientation? Also, the fear of the unknown is another issue that the general public has with homosexuality. Race and Ethnicity Differences As with the other demographic differences, race and ethnicity differences can impact behavior, by creating discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudices. Although conditions have improved drastically, racial and ethnic groups still face issues of discrimination. According to Michael E. Fix and Margery Austin Turner, authors of The Role of Testing A National Report Card on Discrimination in America, Reynolds Farley reported in his Average Hourly Earnings for Persons with Positive Earnings in 1996 that the hourly earnings of black men are 65 percent those of white men, and black men work 77 percent as many hours as white men.

Gary Or field and Susan Eaton reporting in 1996 in their book, Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown vs. Board of Education that American schools and neighborhood were becoming more segregated into the 21st Century. Racial and ethnic differences also impact individual behavior by creating stereotypes and racial profiling. Racial profiling is the practice of police to set stereotypes on black males based on their tendency to commit crimes. By creating the stereotype of young African-American men as criminals, police are setting themselves up for trouble. They could easily misjudge the situations and make a wrong and deadly decision to act with force instead of words. Conclusion In conclusion, diversity and demographic differences, such as differences in race and ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation, can impact individual behavior by creating discrimination, stereotypes, and prejudices.

Although there have been many improvements throughout history -- amendments to the Constitution, anti-discrimination acts, and civil rights' movements -- discrimination still exists. Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American women to win a seat in the United States Congress, once said, "In the end anti black, anti female, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing - antihumanism".

Bibliography

American Psychological Association. "Answers to Your Questions About Sexual Orientation and Homosexuality". Retrieved on April 5, 2005 from: web Michael E.
and Margery Austin Turner (1998) The Role of Testing a National Report Card on Discrimination in America.
Retrieved on April 5, 2005 from: web Gary and Susan Eaton.
1996.
Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown vs. Board of Education. New York: The New Press. Schermerhorn, John R., James G. Hunt and Richard N. Osborn (2003).
Organizational Behavior, Chapter 4. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967.
Retrieved on April 5, 2005 from: web.