Discrimination in the workplace is a very complex, but, unfortunately, quite common phenomenon. This kind of discrimination is driven by another multifaceted process – the integration of diverse workforce. Due to the increased diversity in organizations, many managers and leaders fail to address it appropriately and apply suitable management strategies and techniques in order to make integration smoother and use it for the benefit of workers and the organization in general. Failure to manage a diverse workforce in a correct manner can lead to adverse outcomes in regard to employee performance, the internal organizational climate, and the external reputation of the organization.
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In addition, due to diversity management errors, the effectiveness of the entire establishment may become jeopardized. Moreover, workplace discrimination can manifest itself in a variety of forms and be directed against many different groups of people. This is the case because workforce diversity stands for the presence of various differences between employees. In that way, the victims of discrimination in the workplace can be employees with disabilities, older or younger generations of workers, as well as people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, religions, and genders. In the particular case of the selected public sector organization, discrimination in the workforce is based on the racial background of employees. As a result, employee satisfaction and organizational performance and effectiveness have dropped significantly. The present literature review is focused on the exploration of the effects of racial discrimination in the workplace and the ways workforce diversity can be managed.
Workplace Discrimination and Its Outcomes
As noted by Triana, Jayasinghe, and Pieper (2015), discrimination is defined as an unequal treatment of people based on their belonging to certain groups. The researchers explored the concept of discrimination in the workplace in regard to its political and social impact. Also, they paid special attention to the costs to which discrimination leads. To be more precise, discriminating organizations tend to be limited in their recruitment practices since they avoid targeting certain groups of candidates, they have poor reputation in their communities causing the loss of clients and income, and suffer from high rates of turnover and low job satisfaction among employees (Triana et al., 2015). In the study, researchers focused on the effects produced by workplace discrimination against employees and concluded that some of the major employee outcomes include an increased level of occupational stress, negative job attitudes, and the presence of coping behaviors (Triana et al., 2015).
All of these employee outcomes can be linked to the destabilization of workplace climate and the decrease of employee loyalty and trust towards managers and leaders. Adding to the findings of the aforementioned study, Combs and Milosevic (2016) mentioned employees’ disengagement from work as one of the main coping reactions to workplace discrimination. This statement is in agreement with the results shown in the research of Triana et al. As a result, seeing the wide range of organizational problems, losses, and costs to which unaddressed discrimination in the workplace can lead, one can conclude that the importance of diversity management is very high. Consequently, the further sections will be focused on the exploration of organizational responses and decision-making in regard to workforce diversity, the roles played by group collaboration and communication styles, and the impacts of ethics, and cultural competency on the way the problem is addressed.
Diverse Workforce Management
Workplace diversity is recognized as a phenomenon that will continue to spread and evolve as more and more organizations become affected by globalization and engage in the performance on a global market. The appropriate management of workforce diversity can, in fact, bring multiple benefits to organizations, whereas failure to respond to it from the side of the management may result in adverse effects (Darwin & Selvaraj, 2015). The decision-making in this regard is based on a variety of factors that are discussed in the further sections.
In particular, cross cultural sensitivity competency is viewed as one of the most important elements of a successful diversity management strategy in an organization aiming to eliminate the negative employee performance outcomes related to poor diversity management (Elsaid, 2012). For instance, this strategy could be put into practice by means of changing organizational culture and adding some values such as tolerance, open-mindedness, and thoughtfulness, and cultural sensitivity. This change would need to be facilitated by the organization’s HR department and professionals. However, prior to planning and implementing organizational change, it is said to be important to carry out an organizational assessment in order to identify the exact problems and their sources (Trenerry & Paradies, 2012).
To be more precise, Trennery and Paradies (2012) believe that there exists a variety of diversity management strategies with unknown or unclear rates of effectiveness. In other words, the effectiveness of diversity management strategies may depend on the specializations of workplaces, organizational structures, sizes, or the specific kinds of diversity they face. This is particularly true for public sector organizations that can be very different and have all types of structural specificity. In that way, the set of organizational assessment tools listed by Trennery and Paradies (2012) included various assessment instruments that focus on diverse organizational contexts, and thus are applicable to many different workplaces. From the practical perspective, this study is quite useful for a public sector organization leader willing to begin addressing the problem of workplace discrimination. However, just a mere selection of perspective from which an organization should be assessed is a separate and complicated issue.
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When it comes to workplace discrimination, perceptions tend to play the key role in how this phenomenon manifests. In that way, ethics and cultural competency are some of the most important factors that need be considered. For instance, in the study by Ordu (2016), the quality and success of diversity management in a public sector organization was measured through the focus on the workers’ perceptions collected via a self-report questionnaire. Using a method of this sort, managers are to take into account the levels of cultural competency of the employees. For the purposes of ethics, research participants were surveyed anonymously. This form of assessment could be useful and suitable for the present public sector organization affected by workplace discrimination effects.
The importance of taking into account employees’ views and perceptions was also mentioned by Sabharwal (2014) in his study focused on the exploration of the ways to promote inclusion beyond diversity management in order to achieve the improvement of organizational performance due to the facilitation of inclusion in the workplace and activating the benefits it can offer. The encouragement of the employees to express how they feel and share their perspectives and opinions about workplace diversity issues are the key elements here. In that way, communication styles employed while interacting with employees play an important role in the way information is presented and how the workers respond in terms of the agreement to improve individually, as well as to work in teams in order to combat the existing problem.
Moreover, a study by Hiranandani (2012) focused on the exploration of strategies used in organizations for the purpose of addressing and eliminating discriminatory practices and attitudes. In particular, the author noted that multiple ethical dilemmas arise when it comes to working out plans as to responding to discrimination in the workplace. For example, one of the major ethical challenges is the alignment and balancing of the interests and perspectives of the diverse workforce. Specifically, many of the ideas and views within a diverse staff can clash, so fulfilling some of them will result in discrimination against the others.
In addition, apart from the challenges of conflict mediation, there exist difficulties related to the changes of policy that need to be introduced in order to dismantle unfair practices within an organization (Hiranandani, 2012). As a result, many leaders may only focus on superficial solutions while ignoring the bigger picture because, in order to combat the problem at its root, an organization may need to be majorly reshaped and restructured. Finally, the issue of communication about the problem and the selection of the most effective way of interaction with employees about this sensitive subject is another problem (Hiranandani, 2012). This is the case because failure to choose an appropriate manner of communication about workplace discrimination and diversity issues may lead to a backlash among employees resulting in the breach of trust.
Evaluation and Conclusion
The reviewed selection of studies provides a deep overview of the problem of workplace discrimination and diversity management by means covering multiple aspects of these issues that include ethical dilemmas, the importance of cultural competency as a factor informing organizational decision-making, and the meaning of the selected communication style and manner applied to the problem. Most of the studies offered practical solutions and strategies that could be applied in a public sector organization for the purpose of assessing the current state of affairs in regard to the presence of workplace discrimination. Moreover, one of the reviewed studies was focused specifically on the selection of various assessment tools approaching the problem of workplace discrimination and diversity management from various angles so that multiple perspectives could be included and evaluated for a better-informed decision.
The authors of all of the studies mentioned the seriousness of ethical concerns that arise while the sensitive problem of discrimination is researched and explored within an organization. Moreover, the presence and involvement of culturally competent managers and leaders in charge of the assessment and change project were mentioned as a critical aspect required for the successful evaluation of the problem and the creation of an effective strategy designed for its elimination. All in all, the authors of the reviewed pieces of research were aware of all the ethical and organizational challenges and issues related to the problem and included the information as to the potential solutions to the dilemmas that can be faced by managers. In addition, in order to provide strategies and options applicable to diverse types of organizations, many authors focused on addressing different aspects of the issue and creating flexible approaches that could be implemented in various workplaces.
Combs, G., & Milosevic, I. (2016). Workplace discrimination and the wellbeing of minority women: Overview, prospects, and implications. Handbook on Well-Being of Working Women, 1(1), 17-31.
Darwin, J., & Selvaraj, P. (2015). The effects of work force diversity on employee performance in Singapore organisations. International Journal of Business Administration, 6(2), 17-29.
Elsaid, A. M. (2012). The effects of cross cultural work force diversity on employee performance in Egyptian pharmaceutical organizations. Business and Management Research, 1(4), 162-179.
Hiranandani, V. (2012). Diversity management in the Canadian workplace: Towards an antiracism approach. Urban Studies Research, 2012, 1-13.
Ordu, A. (2016). The effects of diversity management on job satisfaction and individual performance of teachers. Educational Research and Reviews, 11(3), 105-112.
Sabharwal, M. (2014). Is diversity management sufficient? Organizational inclusion to further performance. Public Personnel Management, 43(2), 197 – 217.
Trenerry, B., & Paradies, Y. (2012). Organizational assessment: An overlooked approach to managing diversity and addressing racism in the workplace. Journal of Diversity Management, 7(1), 11-25.
Triana, M., Jayasinghe, M., & Pieper, J. (2015). Perceived workplace racial discrimination and its correlates: A meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 36, 491–513.