Today’s workplace is characterized by widespread diversity due to the high level of interaction between diverse people from all over the world. While the traditional workplace was homogenous, today’s workplace is likely to be made up of workers with differing cultural, ethnic, religious, and economic backgrounds. As we develop into a global economy, workplace diversity will become an increasingly critical factor in organizational success.
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This diverse workplace creates some opportunities as well as challenges for the company. This paper will set out to discuss diversity in the workplace with an emphasis on how to create a non-discriminative workplace. The paper will also highlight the importance of maintaining a diverse workplace and offer ways in which the company can maximize the potential of its diverse workforce. The inherent merits and challenges of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs will also be reviewed.
How to Create a Diverse Discrimination Free Workplace
The productive workplace is built on the value of mutual respect between individuals. Each person is expected to appreciate and respect the differences of other employees. In this non-discriminative environment, all the employees will be accorded the respect that they deserve as human beings (Estlund, 2003).
The employees will also be given an equal opportunity to participate in workplace affairs and obtain personal success regardless of their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. In such a setting, individuals do not show prejudice or stereotype others based on their race or ethnicity.
A company can encourage the creation of a non-discriminative and productive workplace by taking stringent measures against discriminatory behavior. The company should have a code of conduct that dictates how employees should act (Estlund, 2003). This code of conduct should ensure that individuals are not allowed to engage in abusive or discriminatory behavior against others.
The ideal diverse workplace appreciates the fact that people from different people have varying practices and values. The company does not seek to promote the majority culture and its practices. Instead, an inclusive atmosphere is fostered, and individuals are encouraged to appreciate each other’s diversity. Harold (2011) asserts that managing diversity involves understanding each other and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each.
Diversity in the workplace means that people have different values, beliefs, and practices. Issues are likely to arise due to the differences that exist among the diverse work group. Lynda (2004) explains that issues are likely to occur since most conflicts are rooted in opinion clashes between or among individuals. The diverse workplace will be made up of people who have a wide range of different opinions due to their varying backgrounds.
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Handling these issues in a productive manner is crucial to the productivity of the workplace. Use of effective conflict management methods will help in the handling of issues. By using strategies such as negotiation and mediation, company management can ensure that all conflicts are managed amicably.
The workplace should have a policy for conflict management (Lynda, 2004). This policy should stipulate the procedure to be used when there are issues related to diversity. By having a well-defined plan for dealing with issues, each employee will know what steps to take to deal with any situation that might arise in a diverse workplace.
Importance of a Diverse Workplace
A company can gain some significant advantages by maintaining a diverse workplace. To begin with, the organization will be able to benefit from a wide pool of talent from a diverse workforce. There has been an increase in the number of minority ethnic populations in all workplaces in the US. The country has also witnessed a rise in the number of skilled migrant workers. A company that does not embrace workplace diversity will not benefit from this rich pool of potential employees (Estlund, 2003).
The globalization phenomenon has led to an increase in the interaction between people of different cultures. The company is, therefore, likely to interact with customers from a diverse mix frequently. If the business ignores workplace diversity, it might find itself unable to attract certain groups of customers and employees in the global marketplace (Estlund, 2003).
Having a diverse workforce will ensure that the company can effectively attract and deal with a diverse mix of customers. By investing in a diverse workforce, the organization can gain a better understanding of the global marketplace. With workplace diversity, the company has new language skills and an increased global understanding.
To gain the advantages of the diverse workplace, the company needs to ensure that the organization operates effortlessly. The company should make use of diversity and inclusion management strategies to help the diverse workforce work together effectively (Harold, 2011). This strategy will include enrolling employees in programs where they can learn how to work together cooperatively.
Communication will play a crucial role in ensuring that the effective operation of the diverse workplace is achieved. Estlund (2003) suggests that team-building activities can be used to enhance communication among employees. These activities will also lead to the development of a personal relationship among the employees. Personal relationships lead to the good rapport that translates to better attitudes in the workplace.
The company can offer mentoring programs for a diverse workforce. The IRC (2013) states that mentoring is important since it helps the employees to gain a better understanding of the business culture. Mentoring offers employees who are not familiar with the prevalent culture a chance to learn in a conducive environment.
The value of mentoring to individuals in a diverse workplace is great for mentors to ensure that the employee experiences growth and increased productivity at work. Mentoring programs will ensure that the workers are encouraged to improve and experience growth in their careers.
Maximizing Potential of the Diverse Workforce
The company’s productivity will increase if it can obtain maximum value from the diverse workforce. The company should avoid employing racial and ethnic minorities just for the sake of diversity. Instead, efforts should be taken to ensure that the most proficient racially and ethnically diverse employees are recruited. By bringing the best talent into the company, the business will benefit from the increased innovation and creativity offered by the diverse workforce.
The potential of the diverse workforce can be increased by giving racial and ethnic minorities decision-making positions within the company. The IRC (2013) elaborates that when minorities are promoted to decision-making positions, they are empowered to influence the operations of the company. In addition to this, such steps inspire the other minorities in staff jobs to increase performance since they are sure that the company has a track record of developing their careers equitably.
To increase the potential of the ethnically and racially diverse workplace, the company should take steps to increase the rate of staff retention. High staff turnover hurts the profitability and productivity of the company. Research indicates that companies incur significant costs in replacing existing employees (IRC, 2013). The productivity of the company is also affected as new workers sometimes have to be retrained to be effective in their new positions.
The company should look for ways to engage the diverse workforce. In a typical organization, employees demonstrate low productivity since they are disengaged. A perceived negative work environment causes this disengagement (IRC, 2013). The company can develop a vibrant environment where employees feel engaged and appreciated. This will ensure that employee productivity increases and the level of employee turnover are kept at a minimal.
Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity Programs
To deal with discriminatory practices, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity programs can be implemented in the workplace. Affirmative Action is a series of anti-discrimination measures implemented by the authorities to ensure that particular members of society have access to some positions. Equal Employment Opportunity policies are programs that seek to eliminate any discrimination that might be practiced based on race, sex, religion, or age in the workplace (Lynda, 2004).
A major advantage of these measures is that they ensure that vulnerable employees are protected from discriminatory practices that might be carried out against them by the employers. Affirmative action plans ensure that minority communities can compete on an equal footing with the majority communities. Issues of social inequalities can, therefore, be addressed through these policies.
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Equal employment opportunities ensure that minority groups are given equal and fair treatment at the workplace (Lynda, 2004). These programs ensure that individuals with similar qualifications and employed in similar occupations are given the same salary and benefits in spite of their race or sex.
An employee cannot offer better work conditions for a particular group of employees while discriminating over others who are employed in the same circumstances. An employee who violates this can be charged with discrimination in a court of law (Lynda, 2004).
Affirmative action might lead to resentment of certain individuals in the workplace. Specifically, affirmative action gives preference to certain individuals based on their ethnic group instead of their abilities. A person might, therefore, be offered a position in the company or promoted at work not because of his abilities and proficiency but rather because he belongs to a certain minority group (Lynda, 2004). This goes against the equal opportunity philosophy that the people of the US strongly believe in.
Affirmative action and equal employment opportunities might lead to reduced motivation by individuals joining the workforce. Due to the assurances offered by these programs, people might demonstrate reduced drive since they are going to be given equal or preferential treatment (Lynda, 2004).
For example, individuals from minority groups might expect promotions not out of merit but because of affirmative action plans. Women in male-dominated workplaces might expect promotions or equal pay even when they do not merit them due to equal employment opportunity policies.
This paper set out to address the question of workplace diversity with a focus on how to create an effective diverse workplace and obtain maximum benefit from it. The paper has demonstrated that learning to respect differences is essential for the success of the diverse workplace. It has also documented how a business can obtain the maximum benefit from its diverse workforce.
The paper has acknowledged that the government can play a role in promoting diversity through policies such as affirmative action and equal employment opportunity programs. However, these programs have some challenges that make them unattractive at times. From the discussions offered in this paper, it is clear that a company can benefit from embracing diversity in its workplace.
Estlund, C. (2003). Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy. NY: Oxford University Press.
Harold, P. (2011). Knowledge Workers Demography and Workplace Diversity. Journal of Marketing & Management, 2 (2), 38-73.
IRC (2013). Maximizing Potential: Getting the Best from Diversity. Retrieved from: http://www.ircsearchpartners.com/data/sharedfiles/The%20MultiCultural%20Workplace%20-%20IRC%20WhitePaper.pdf.
Lynda, A.C. (2004). Equality, Diversity and Discrimination: How to Comply with the Law, Promote Best Practice and Achieve a Diverse Workforce. Washington: CIPD Publishing.