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When It Comes to Working for the Japanese, Old Stereotypes Are Neither Useful Nor Valid

July 17, 1988

My eye happened to rove over a few phrases in an article that was published in The Times on July 11.

The story had such sentences as and phrases as "managers do not fit into the subordinate role that awaits them at many . . . companies"; "in some cases, they may endure snubs, such as not being consulted on important decisions"; "upward mobility is usually limited . . . rarely getting the top . . . jobs"; "being left out of the after-hours drinking sessions"; "a sense of insecurity and second-rate status"; "all the connections and all the power plays and how you rise in the drinking parties"; "blocked promotion to a more senior job, even though move recommended . . . by superiors"; "issues go to the core of fair treatment in the workplace."

Sounds like an article on the problems of low and mid-level managers and workers of the female, black and Latino persuasion, right? And their problem with discriminatory private clubs, right? Wrong. Imagine my surprise when I realized that the article, "Americans as 'Watched' Executives," referred to complaints by white male American managers in Japanese-owned companies. How ironic that some members of the class that has discriminated against women and racial and ethnic minorities in this country, now find themselves discriminated against.

Any bets on which mistreated group gets fair treatment in the workplace first?

MARY COOPER

Pasadena

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