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Corporate Tribalism

White Men/White Women and Cultural Diversity at Work

The 2008 elections shattered historical precedents and pushed race and gender back to the forefront of our national consciousness. The wide range of reactions to the efforts of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin dramatically reflected ongoing conflicts over diversity in our society, especially in the venue where people are most likely to encounter them: work. As more and more people who aren’t white men enter corporate America, we urgently need to learn how to avoid clashes over these issues and how to resolve them when they do occur.

Thomas Kochman and Jean Mavrelis have been helping corporations successfully do that for over twenty years. Their diversity training and consulting firm has helped managers and employees at numerous companies recognize and overcome the cultural bases of miscommunication between ethnic groups and across gender lines—and in Corporate Tribalism they seek to share their expertise with the world. In the first half of the book, Kochman addresses white men, explicating the ways that their cultural background can motivate their behavior, work style, and perspective on others. Then Mavrelis turns to white women, focusing on the particular problems they face, including conflicts with men, other women, and themselves. Together they emphasize the need for a multicultural—rather than homogenizing—approach and offer constructive ideas for turning the workplace into a more interactive community for everyone who works there.

Written with the wisdom and clarity gained from two decades of hands-on work, Corporate Tribalism will be an invaluable resource as we look toward a future beyond the glass ceiling.

256 pages | 4 figures, 4 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2009

Cognitive Science: General Works

Language and Linguistics: Anthropological/Sociological Aspects of Language

Sociology: Occupations, Professions, Work, Race, Ethnic, and Minority Relations


“Kochman and Mavrelis provide analyses, anecdotes, and examples from their research and training experiences that give richness and credibility to their reasoning. As a consequence, their discussions are vivid, insightful, and stimulating. Their arguments about the connection between the cultures of racial, gender, and ethnic groups and the conflicts that can surface between and among members of them are thought-provoking. And their timely conclusions will be relevant in the workplace and to society at large.”

R. Roosevelt Thomas, author of Building on the Promise of Diversity

“Full of interesting ideas, observations, and sensible suggestions, Corporate Tribalism offers an easily digestible but serious look at interethnic communication in organizational settings. Built on the authors’ own observations and experiences, Kochman and Mavrelis’s practical book will appeal to anyone working in human resources or diversity training as well as supervisors and managers in all kinds of organizations. This is a valuable work that deserves to be widely read.”

Robert M. Entman, coauthor of The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America

Corporate Tribalism chronicles the multiple gender-specific ways that power and privilege are configured in the dominant American work context—the corporation—and identifies the behaviors that are influential in making it dysfunctional. In this pioneering work, Kochman and Mavrelis systematically unmask claims of a meritocratic reward system, pinpointing and naming the practices that have been invisible to white employees both male and female, yet painfully visible to the members of every other social group in corporate America. By insisting on a multicultural approach to social inclusion in the workplace, they seek to compel employees to learn from each other, and, in the process, transform corporate practices.”

Signithia Fordham, author of Blacked Out

"This informative book provides insights into the social and cultural conflicts that may occur in corporate (and other) contexts when diverse groups interact...The authors' aim is not to provide routes for assimilation into the majority culture but rather to facilitate mutual understanding leading to effective communication."


Table of Contents



I. CWM and the New Social Order

Chapter 1. CWM and Corporate Diversity Initiatives

Chapter 2. Americanization

Chapter 3. Social and Cultural Conflicts in the Workplace

Chapter 4. CWM Cultural Style at Work

Chapter 5. Other Cultural Comparisons and Contrasts

Chapter 6. Multiculturalism and Social Inclusion

II. CWW at Work

Chapter 7. Cultural Underpinnings

Chapter 8. CWW and Women of Color

Chapter 9. Gossip and Community

Chapter 10. Other Cultural Contrasts and Lessons Learned

Chapter 11. Styles of Conflict Resolution

 Chapter 12. Networking and Getting Ahead

Chapter 13. Ten Things That CWW Can Do to Befriend Women of Color at Work

Chapter 14. The White Woman People Pleaser Tale of Woe





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