With globalization, diversity, and how to lead a diverse workforce is gradually becoming one of the most important issues in business. Diversity in the workplace affects both the productivity and efficiency of employees in several ways.
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The purpose of this paper is to discuss diversity and diversity management at my current workplace. Specifically, the paper examines diversity challenges in the organization, benefits of diversity in the workplace, barriers to effective diversity management, and how to manage diversity. My present workplace is composed of a diverse workforce, which makes diversity management complex. The information presented in this paper would be beneficial to managers and supervisors within the organization since it gives some guiding principles and recommendations on how to manage diversity.
Presently, globalization is one of the major trends in business. Most companies are extending their business activities internationally, which leads to interaction between people with different views and cultural backgrounds. People are no longer confined to work in one place; rather, they shift from one location to the other. The major globalization challenge is competition offered by corporations from other parts of the world.
Therefore, organizations that carry out business activities internationally need to develop good management strategies to avoid losses. Diversity is one of the most important issues in international business strategy. According to Mor (2011), diversity is defined as any element that is used to differentiate people from each other. It means to acknowledge, understand, accept, value, and celebrate differences among people with respect to gender, age, cultural background, social class, race, ethnic background, and religion. Diversity in the workplace is the distinctiveness that every person brings to the workstation, group, or organization.
Examples of these unique attributes include ethnicity, belief, education background, and gender. Other factors that contribute to diversity include age, cultural background, work-related experience, social class, and physical appearance.
Valuing diversity in the workplace involves creating an environment where every employee feels respected and included in business activities. It means accepting variation among employees and treating them in a way that maximizes their potential. Mor (2011) asserts that diversity means accepting that other people, races, cultures, and beliefs are equal. According to him, diversity is acknowledging that there are different views, solving problems approaches, and perceptions, which vary from person to person. Workplace diversity involves learning and relating to people who have different views, backgrounds, and beliefs.
This paper describes diversity in the workplace, the benefits of diversity, and the diverse challenges experienced by my current organization. In addition, the paper will discuss how to effectively manage workplace diversity. My current workplace is an international manufacturing corporation that deals in both men and women’s clothing. The organization has 2000 employees working internally and in other countries.
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The information presented in this paper would be useful to company managers, supervisors, and team leaders. They are the targeted audience since they need to know how to manage workplace diversity. Since diversity management is still a major challenge for most people, company executives and decision-makers need to learn the essential skills required in a diverse work environment. Company executives and supervisors must be ready to learn and teach their employees to appreciate diverse cultures among associates and clients. It is important to treat everybody with dignity and respect to create good business relations.
Diversity Challenges in the organization
There are several challenges in managing a diverse workforce. Managing Diversity goes beyond simply understanding and respecting the differences among people. It involves acknowledging the differences in people, opposing discrimination, and encouraging inclusiveness in the workplace. Within the organization, there are several aspects of diversity. First is gender. There are both men and women working in the organization.
Presently, the number of women employees has increased significantly. Partly, this is because of the change in a family structure where dual-income families as well as single mothers who strive to meet family expenditure has increased. Most men and women no longer take traditional roles in society. Another aspect of diversity is cultural differences. Being an international organization, there is cultural diversity among both employees and customers.
The workforce and customers from different cultural backgrounds interact as they work together and or make business transactions in the organization. In some cases, employees go to work in foreign countries where they meet people from different cultures, beliefs, races, and values. They need to interact with them as they are an important part of the business. It is necessary for an expatriate to understand and appreciate other people regardless of their ethnic and racial backgrounds.
Age is also an important aspect of diversity in the workplace. There is age variation among members of the workforce. Both young and old people are involved in the organization’s activities. Even though there is a retirement age for employees’ assets in the legislation, the workforce is composed of different age groups. Employees must respect, appreciate, and value both young and old people as they all contribute towards the success of the organization.
In addition, employees have different educational backgrounds and work-related experiences. While some employees are high school graduates and bachelor’s degree holders, others are masters and doctorate holders. Besides, employees graduate from different institutions in the world. They bring in different beliefs and views learned from different institutions to the workplace. Similarly, the workforce has different work-related experiences; while some workers are fresh graduates from college, some have several years of experience at work. Some employees from other organizations, typically business competitors who join the organization, are also diverse.
This is because they bring in different views and organizational culture learned from their earlier workplaces. The last aspect of diversity in the organization is religion. Since the organization is conducting its business activities internationally, employees interact with people from all types of religions; Christians, Islam, Hindu, Buddhists, and many more. Employees need to work with people from different cultures, educational backgrounds, races, gender, age, and religion to achieve the missions and visions of the organization.
The major challenge to diversity in the workplace is communication. Since members of the workforce come from different backgrounds, language barriers could thwart efforts towards diversity. These challenges must be overcome for the success of diversity programs. Poor communication of the main intentions could lead to misinterpretation and lack of team spirit. Resistance to change is another challenge to diversity in the workplace.
Always there are some associates who fail to understand the changes that happen at the workplace with regard to team composition. The traditional views and discrimination are so engrossed in their culture and mentality that they cannot accept new ideas. Most supporters of diversity in the workplace would find this a major challenge. However, with the outcomes of employee assessment and study data, managers and supervisors need to develop and implement the right strategies to exploit the benefits of diversity.
Negative perceptions and conduct can obstruct organizational diversity since they can destroy working relations, harm morale, and work efficiency. Negative perceptions and behaviors in the place of work comprise of biases, discrimination, and typecasting. These should not form the basis for hiring, retention, and termination of employees as they can result in costly litigation.
The legislation is one of the major drivers of diversity. Federal and state laws give equal opportunities to all people regardless of their gender, cultural backgrounds, race, educational background, experiences, and religion. Under federal and state laws, it is illegal to discriminate against anybody at the workplace due to his or her gender, cultural backgrounds, race, educational background, experiences, and religion.
Additionally, the laws and regulations state the rights and obligations of workers and their bosses. The laws hold both parties accountable for their actions. Also, managers may face problems associated with losses in employees and work performance because of prejudice, victimization, and criticisms from the society. In addition, the organization may also face legal consequences due to the discrimination of employees.
Benefits of diversity in the workplace
Diversity has several benefits for both employees and employers in the organization. Even though employees are interdependent in the place of work, respecting and appreciating differences among people can improve productivity. According to Shakhray (2009), diversity can decrease lawsuits and enhance marketing opportunities, employment, innovation, and business image. In the era of globalization, flexibility and innovation are important to gain a competitive advantage. A well-managed diversity has the potential of improving the resourcefulness of employees. This is key to the success of the organization.
Diversity is more beneficial when an organization needs to develop its policies to reposition itself in the market. For instance, when an organization wants to launch a new product, develop a novel idea, marketing strategy, create a new business activity, and or evaluate developing trends from different perspectives, diversity is essential. A well-managed diversity would also be important in the organization since it encourages team spirit.
This would result into improved innovation, flexibility, and delivery of services to customers. According to Griffin & Moorehead (2014), a well-managed diversity could give the organization a competitive advantage over its competitors. This is because both employees and customers would be satisfied with quality of services. Therefore, an organization that can develop a good strategy and adopt change would definitely survive in the present time of globalization. However, this requires both ability and agility to learn managing diversity. A more diverse labor force will boost the effectiveness in the organization. It will increase the morale of employees, improve productivity and enable business to get access to new market segments.
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Currently, most companies consider diversity issues important to their success. It is predicted that it would become even be more significant in future because of growing differences among U.S citizens. Organizations need to focus on diversity management and develop plans to become completely inclusive since diversity can lead to greater efficiency and competitive advantage. According to Shakhray (2009), diversity is a vital competitive asset that organizations must not ignore.
Managing and appreciating diversity is an important factor in effective workforce management. Most likely it would result into better co-operation and higher productivity at the workplace. Changes in demographic trends (employee turnover) will make it necessary for the organization to analyze their management strategies and create new and effective ways of managing people. These changes will improve the quality of customer service.
In 2010, the Ministry of Manpower conducted a study on “Inclusive and Harmonious Workplaces”. The research was done by carrying out a survey on 100 top performing companies in the U.S. In the study, 87 percent of corporations surveyed accepted that harmony in the place of work is important to business productivity. The study further revealed that if diverse workforce is managed well, it would outperform a uniform workforce since they become more innovative, and efficient at solving problems. Nevertheless, when a diverse workforce is poorly managed, communication and understanding can fail, leading to low production.
Paludi (2012), state that organizations should consider management of diversity because it can improve their repute with job seekers. This would allow them to draw and keep up the best employees in the market. Workers who feel included, respected, appreciated and rewarded would be more engaged and interested in working. An international survey was carried out on about three million workers on diversity, employee gratification, and organization productivity. The study showed that creating an all-inclusive work environment was one of the key factors towards employee motivation and commitment. Greater commitment and motivation of workers results into fewer turnovers.
Diversity in the workplace also provides a collection of talents, skills and experiences that would enable the organization to give better services to clients in every part of the world. A diverse work team that feels comfortable expressing their views could offer a greater collection of ideas and skills. The organization can pull from that team necessary effort to meet business goals and client needs more effectively.
The growing diversity in institutions of learning and places of work presents a persistent demand for effective management of diverse people. People’s attitude towards diversity, views on how to manage diversity and standards of diversity, are important issues. A part from addressing recruitment of employees, it addresses what happens to the employee in the workplace. Globalization makes diversity an important subject. Immigration, employee relocation, gender, race, and cultural differences continue to radically change personnel composition which further makes diversity management necessary.
Barriers to successful diversity management
Effective management of a diverse workforce has several barriers that managers must overcome. First is an unsupportive and unreceptive workplace for diverse workers. In the workplace, diverse workforce are barred from participating in social events therefore preventing them from creating networks and good relations with other workers. Secondly, female employees experience difficulty to balance work and family issues.
In the contemporary society, the responsibility of women is taking care of children and household duties. Even though the attitude is gradually changing, women are still bearing great domestic responsibilities. Another barrier to successful diversity management in the workplace is that diversity is not given priority in the organization. The workforce and managers do not view diversity as a necessary effort towards the effectiveness of the organization.
In addition, employees resist change because of fear of failure, uncertainty and pressure from other workers. Finally, employees fear discrimination in the workplace. This makes them hesitant in applying for employment opportunities where they would interact with different people. The managers and team leaders must overcome these barriers by appropriately enlightening and managing changes in the organization.
Managing workplace diversity
Successful business managers appreciate that certain skills are essential to create a fruitful, diverse workforce. First, managers and supervisors in the organization need to understand causes, manifestation and consequences of discrimination at the place of work. Secondly, business leaders need to identify their own cultural partialities and inclinations. Diversity is not all about the variations among groups of people, but the differences between persons.
Every person is unique and does not represent a certain group. The leaders of the organization must be willing to embrace changes and manage diversity in the place of work for future effectiveness. Nobody has ever developed a single formula for success. Majorly, success is based on ability of the company managers to understand and accept the best practices in the organization. This can be achieved through team spirit and learning changing aspects of the workplace. According to Paludi (2012), effective management of diversity is an inclusive process required to create a work environment where everybody feel respected and appreciated.
To create effective diverse team, the company leadership needs to concentrate on personal responsiveness to diversity. Both organization leadership and employees should acknowledge their personal prejudice. Consequently, the organization should develop, execute, and maintain continual training because one-day training would not change the attitudes of people. Again, the company leadership needs to understand that justice is not essentially equality. In some cases there could be exceptions to this rule. Management of diverse workforce is more than positive actions or providing equal opportunities at the workplace. Managers of the organization must expect a slow change in the attitudes of people, but simultaneously encourage the process of change.
Another important factor to consider when managing a diverse workforce involves encouraging conducive workplaces where employees and employers can communicate their views freely. Social events that bring employees together and regular meetings in the organization, are necessary as they give a good opportunity for the workforce to express their views. The leadership of the organization needs to implement strategies like mentoring programs to enable employees get access to information. In addition, employees should not be denied opportunity for essential, positive, and critical reaction to learning about faults and successes.
Hellriegel & Slocum (2010) highlights some useful steps in creating change within the organization. The first step involves assessment of workplace diversity. Top performing corporations use assessments and evaluation as a tool for diversity management. Systematic employee satisfaction surveys are effective and convenient to use and would provide a good assessment of workplace diversity. The assessment results can be used by managers to find out which challenges and difficulties are experienced in the workplace. In addition, the management team can analyze which strategies should be incorporated or removed for the organization to be successful. Analysis of the implemented policies would help the management to find out if workplace diversity plan is successful.
The second step involves developing a proper plan. Selecting an assessment method that gives an in-depth report could form the basis for decision-making. The findings of the study would act as the foundation for the plan. Policy makers must understand that the plan should be inclusive, reasonable, and measurable. The organization should decide the kind of changes to be made and set specific timeline to realize those changes.
According to Shakhray (2009), implementation of the plan is the last step to achieve workplace diversity. Personal commitment of decision makers and management team is necessary. Managers and supervisors need to integrate diversity policies in every sector of the business. Perceptions and acceptance of diversity starts with top managers and filter down to all employees. Management collaboration and involvement is required in creating a culture favorable in the accomplishment of the organization’s plan.
Globalization makes it necessary for an organization to have a diverse team composition. Diversity involves recognizing, understanding, appreciating and respecting difference among people. Diverse employees bring into an organization a wide collection of skills and experiences. This could be a great value to the organization if it is well-managed. Respecting and appreciating personal differences is beneficial at the workplace since it creates a competitive edge and enhances productivity.
Managing diversity is important because it creates a fair and favorable environment where everybody is free to give their views and get equal opportunities. The organization managers should develop policies intended to teach everybody in the workforce about diversity and related subjects. This should also include education on federal and state laws and regulations. In my current organization, the work team is composed of diverse cultures, age, gender, and religion.
Therefore, the management team needs to understand and adapt diversity to be successful internationally. The three major steps towards diversity management include: making assessments, developing a plan, and implementation of developed policies.
Griffin, W., & Moorehead, G. (2014). Organizational behavior: Managing people and organizations. Mason, OH: South-Western/Cengage Learning.
Hellriegel, D & Slocum,J. (2010). Organizational Behavior. (13th ed.). New York: Cengage Learning.
Mor, M. (2011). Managing diversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE.
Paludi, A. (2012). Managing diversity in today’s workplace: Strategies for employees and employers. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Shakhray, I. (2009). Managing diversity in the workplace: Seminar paper. Nordersteadt, Germany: Grin Verlag.