Over the past few decades, the business arena has experienced an increment in the number of organizations with a high rate of diversity. Diversity in an organization involves appreciating differences amongst employees based on various variables such as socio-demographics, and human capital (Paludi, 2012).
This aspect highlights the importance of firms’ management teams possessing sufficient expertise to guide the organization in adapting to the varying needs of its stakeholders who include the employees, clients, and the general society.
When executing their managerial roles, human resource managers should not perceive diversity as a hindrance to organizational success but as a potential source of competitive advantage. However, this goal can only be achieved if the prevailing diversity is effectively managed. Managing diversity in organizations is a major component in firms’ strategic management efforts.
Groschl (2012) asserts that managing diversity constitutes a corporate strategy that enables organizations to develop an internal organizational environment that promotes the inclusion of employees with diverse profiles. Therefore, an organization is in a position to optimize its efficiency.
The United States has become a cosmopolitan society over the past few decades due to the high rate of immigration. During the 1980s and 1990s, the United States was one of the major promoters of inclusion of diversity management in organizations operating to assist them in responding to the increasingly diverse workforce (Groschl, 2012).
In a bid to develop a broad understanding of diversity management, this paper details some of the issues, best practices and principles associated with diversity management. Additionally, personal experience has also been evaluated.
Reasons for increased diversity in organizations
As an employee, the need for managing diversity in the workplace especially for US firms has arisen from several factors, which have stimulated a high rate of diversity in organizations Firstly; various countries are increasingly formulating legislation that is creating an opportunity for a large number of individuals to become employable.
Such legislation relates to employment equity (affirmative action), and the creation of basic conditions for employment. Additionally, society is also undergoing a high rate of demographic transformation. The high rate of immigration has led to the US labor market becoming very divergent (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenewald, 2009).
Additionally, the intensity of competition in the business environment has stimulated organizations to consider developing competitiveness by diversifying their workforce to meet their desired goals. The need to attain a high rate of growth by venturing into the international market has presented organizations with a major challenge due to diversity experienced in the international market (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenewald, 2009).
Best practices in managing diversity
Shakhray (2009) asserts, “Diversity is an invaluable source of experience, talent and creativity amongst individuals” (p. 5). Therefore, managing diversity should not only be limited to the elimination of discrimination amongst employees. However, it also focuses on ensuring that the prevailing diversities amongst employees are utilized for organizational development.
Best practices include the most appropriate practices about the prevailing environment. Some of the best practices that organizations should consider taking into account in their quest to undertake diversity management are evaluated herein.
Top leadership commitment
Top organizational management should ensure that meaningful organizational goals and objectives are formulated. The organizational goals set to play a fundamental role in nurturing a strong sense of belonging amongst the employees. Considering the diversity in workplaces, it is paramount for top organizational leadership to ensure that they develop organizational goals that reflect the diversity in the workforce.
According to Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009), a firm’s management team should oversee the development of a good working environment. One of the ways through which firms should achieve this goal is by providing all employees with an opportunity to participate in the decision-making process. Firms’ top management teams should appreciate the divergent views and opinion of their workforce.
Additionally, top management teams should value diverse job needs and their contribution to organizational success. Task delegation presents another avenue through which organizations can portray their leadership commitment. Through their commitment, top management teams can be in a position to develop an environment whereby employees feel free to contribute towards the organization hence stimulating attainment of high levels of performance.
Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009) assert that it is fundamental for organizations to develop a diversity-training program whose objective is assisting employees in operating with a high degree of efficacy in a workplace characterized by a high degree of diversity. The diversity training programs should be designed in such a manner that they enhance identification of various forms of bias in addition to developing skills that will improve their ability to function in a diversified workforce.
The training program should also emphasize on ensuring that employees appreciate the differences amongst their colleagues. Consequently, a high level of cross-cultural understanding will be developed hence improving the effectiveness and efficiency of dealing with stereotypes. According to Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009), diversity training program should emphasize on two main areas, which include skill and awareness building.
The objective of awareness building is to increase the level of individual comprehension about prevailing myths, stereotypes, and organizational barriers. Awareness building is significant in ensuring that employees make a full contribution to organizational success.
On the other hand, skills building is intended to ensure that managers and lower level employees have sufficient skills to deal with varying viewpoints from their workmates. Some of the skills that are emphasized include interpersonal skills such as ensuring sufficient feedback, listening and coaching.
Diversity in organizations can hinder the effectiveness with which individuals collaborate in the process of executing their duties. In a bid to manage this challenge, it is important for organizations’ top leadership to consider incorporating the concept of team building. The core objective of team building is to ensure that individual employees work together.
Team building should not only focus on work-environment, but also in a non-work environment. The non-work environment should focus on developing a high level of interaction between employees, which culminates in the creation of a strong working environment (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenewald, 2009). Through team building, a high level of organizational coherence will be developed.
Consequently, the probability of organization attaining a high level of performance will be improved. The cohesion and collaboration amongst the employees will culminate in the creation of a sense of belonging. As a result, knowledge and idea sharing amongst team members will be increased, which is vital in improving the level of job satisfaction.
Nurturing a strong organizational culture
In addition to the aforementioned best practices, it is important for organizational management teams to consider developing a strong organizational culture. According to Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009), organizational culture is the ultimate determinant for organizations’ commitment to diversity management in their respective workplace.
Therefore, to deal with the diversity in the workplace, it is paramount for organizations management teams to ensure that they nurture an organizational culture that is appreciative of the divergent cultural differences. One of the ways through which this goal can be attained is by maintaining constant communication to employees on the value of diversity to organizational success.
The message communicated to employees is vital in ensuring that a strong organizational culture is nurtured. Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009) think that communication is an essential component in nurturing organizational culture. This aspect arises from the fact that it culminates in ensuring that a high level of understanding about organizational goals and processes amongst employees is created.
Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009) further assert that communicating organizational goals is an important aspect of diversity management, which must be undertaken to reinforce and consolidate best practices. To improve the development of a strong organizational culture, it is important for firms’ management teams to ensure that the prevailing cultural differences and conflicts are acknowledged.
Firms top management teams should ensure that their workforces understand that conflict is a natural part of organization life (Ferreira, Erasmus & Groenewald, 2009). Additionally, it is essential for firms’ top management to appreciate the distinctiveness of every employee.
Barak (2011) asserts that the recruitment of a diverse workforce is one of the strategies for managing diversity in the workplace. In situations where an organization is not characterized by a sufficient level of diversity, it is important for its management team to incorporate recruitment policies that enhance the development of the same.
Barak (2011) further asserts that diversity in the workplace can also be managed by adopting effective employee hiring and recruitment practices. It is essential for firms’ management team to review their human resource management policies. One of the ways through which this goal can be achieved is by making the recruitment policy broader.
The objective of such a broader recruitment policy is to ensure that the workforce is as diverse as possible. Implementing such a policy will culminate in an organization providing an opportunity for diverse candidates to be a part of the firm’s workforce. HR managers should be proactive in ensuring that a large number of potential applicants receive the message.
Consequently, effective channels of communication should be incorporated. The recruitment policy should provide an opportunity for both internal and external candidates to apply for job positions. The second aspect of recruitment policy that should be taken into account includes ensuring that the selection process is not discriminative.
The qualified candidates should not be discriminated based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation or culture (Barak, 2011). The recruitment policy developed should be appreciative of individual differences. Elimination of discrimination will create a working environment whereby every candidate has an equal chance of being a member of a particular entity.
However, this goal can only be achieved if optimal employee selection techniques are incorporated to eliminate any form of bias. Incorporating a strong employee recruitment policy is, therefore, an important step towards an organization’s effort to manage diversity in the workplace.
Formulation of strong organizational policies
The organizational policies formulated by an organization determine how its workforce is treated. In a bid to promote diversity in the workforce, it is paramount for a firm’s management team to ensure that the organizational policy formulated promote equal treatment of all employees irrespective of their cultural differences such as age, religion, sexual orientation and race.
In the course of executing their duties, firms’ management teams cannot shield themselves from people management challenges such as employee conflicts, sexual harassment and employee discrimination amongst others. Consequently, it is paramount for a firm’s management teams to incorporate effective policies to address such situations.
According to Ferreira, Erasmus, and Groenewald (2009), effective formulation of organizational policies to address such issues will culminate in the development of an environment conducive for working. The organizational policy formulated should be balanced to send a clear message to other employees on the need to respect and be accommodative of the cultural differences.
In addition to the proposed best practices for diversity management, it is vital for firms’ management teams to integrate the concept of succession planning. Succession planning will go a long way in ensuring that organizations develop a strong talent pool.
Additionally, succession planning is an important strategic management practice that firms management teams should consider incorporating in managing diversity. By incorporating succession planning, organizations are in a position to recognize the importance of some jobs in their firms’ long-term survival, which emanates from the fact that succession planning provides the firm with an opportunity to sustain a low rate of employee turnover.
In the process of undertaking succession planning, it is important for the organization’s management team to ensure that talent development is not discriminatory. All the firm’s employees should be allowed to develop their skills through leadership development.
Organizations are experiencing an increment in the degree of diversity within the workplace. Diversity can be beneficial to organizational success hence stimulating attainment of competitive advantage. However, this goal can only be achieved through effective diversity management. Therefore, organizations’ management teams should appreciate the importance of incorporating best practices about diversity management.
Some of the strategies that managers should take into account include ensuring that the top management is committed to creating a common vision irrespective of the prevailing diversity in the organization, which can be achieved through effective communication. Instituting the concept of teamwork in organizations strategic management practices will also play an important role in nurturing cohesion amongst employees.
Developing a strong organizational culture by ensuring that employees understand and respect individual differences is also vital in managing diversity. Diversity training also plays an important role in nurturing a strong level of understanding and appreciation of individual differences. Such training is critical in enhancing cross-cultural interaction.
The need to formulate strong organizational policies as one of the best practices for managing diversity cannot be underestimated. The policies formulated should form the basis for resolving differences and conflicts emanating from the existence of diversity in the workplace.
Succession planning should also be considered as a fundamental component of managing diversity. Succession planning should not be discriminatory but should provide all employees with an opportunity to develop their leadership skills. Integration of effective recruitment policy should also be considered as one of the best practices for managing diversity.
Barak, M. (2011). Managing diversity: towards a globally inclusive workplace. Los Angeles, LA: Sage.
Ferreira, E., Erasmus, A., & Groenewald, D. (2009). Administrative management. Lansdowne, ON: Juta Academic.
Groschl, S. (2012). Diversity in the workplace: multi-disciplinary and international perspective. London, UK: Gower Publishers.
Paludi, M. (2012). Managing diversity in today’s workplace: strategies for employees and employers. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.
Shakhray, I. (2009). Managing diversity in the workplace. Munchen, Germany: GRIN Verlag.