Minorities that most frequently face discrimination and harassment in the workplace are usually determined by their social and gender differences rather than their professional competence. Discriminated populations typically include people of color, female and non-binary employees, as well as personnel, deemed too young or too old to be considered useful. A company that does not practice diversity and acceptance of different opinions, attitudes, cultures, and genders effectively limits its pool of potential employees while at the same time losing its market share and developing a bad reputation among customers. Upon revision of the findings gathered in the literature section, it is possible to identify several negative aspects of workplace discrimination, which have the potential of affecting the organization in short and long-term perspectives. These negative aspects are:
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- An increased level of occupational stress, negative job attitudes, and the presence of coping behaviors (Triana, Jayasinghe, & Pieper, 2016).
- Disengagement from work and decreased loyalty towards the managers and the organization as a whole (Combs & Milosevic, 2016).
- High turnover rates and decreased capabilities of finding and retaining new talent (Hiranandani, 2012).
The necessity for inclusiveness and diversity is stressed out in all sources analyzed in the literature section. The main reason behind the growing marketing need for diversity is the globalization of businesses and increased efforts made by the companies to expand into the foreign markets. Therefore, cultural sensitivity, cultural training, tolerance, and acceptance of all minorities, races, genders, sexual preferences, etc. is paramount for a healthy corporate existence in the 21st century.
The purpose of this practice analysis is to explain the solutions of the problem in the context of organizational policies and practices, identify and discuss the impact of diversity on the decision-making process, and evaluate the aspect of effective communication styles as applied to individual and group collaboration.
Practical Recommendations and Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Tolerance in the Workplace
Due to the pressing need for increasing cultural competence and diversity, various researches provide different methodologies and ideas for dealing with the problem. The reason why there are so many approaches is that the diversity situation varies from one company to another, as no enterprise is alike. As a result, it is increasingly difficult to provide a systematic approach that would take many different experiences and approaches into account. What may have worked for one company may backfire in case of another due to management and employee perceptions towards the problem. Based on the contents of the literature review, several key findings need to be taken into account when developing a diversity strategy or a set of recommendations aimed at improving the situation within a company or industry.
- 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).
- While there are many approaches to improving diversity and stopping discrimination in the workplace, their effectiveness is uncertain (Trenerry & Paradies, 2012).
- One of the major ethical challenges is the alignment and balancing of the interests and perspectives of the diverse workforce (Hiranandani, 2012).
Potential Solutions to the Problem
To solve the problem of diversity and discrimination in the workplace, one must first understand the root causes of discrimination. Discrimination is often formed by prejudices and false views that the employees and managers have towards one another. The problem lies in the system of beliefs and stereotypes that each of us possesses. Some of these stereotypes appear as a result of upbringing, others are enforced by the cultural influences and biases surrounding a particular group of people, while the rest is formed by our own personal experience with certain representatives of a particular social group. The first step to dissolving these harmful stereotypes is to acknowledge that the problem exists.
According to Hiranandani (2012), some companies undertake superficial measures at solving their diversity problems by introducing mandatory minimum quotas on how many men, women, and representatives of various minorities must be present in every segment of a company. However, as Kaiser et al. (2013) have pointed out in their research, the presence of enforced and mandatory racial and gender diversity structures may hurt cultural sensitivity and actual diversity acceptance within the organization. In many cases, the target population for diversity and tolerance training becomes more entrenched in its beliefs and actually becomes less sensitive towards other races and cultures due to the fact they perceive the mandatory sensitivity as enforced on their rights to think and behave as they wish. In some cases, the representatives of discriminated minorities receive the brunt of this reaction due to being perceived as incompetent and occupying their position only to fulfill a quota rather than being there for their skills and professionalism.
Diversity training has many similarities with HR strategies for accepting organizational change. This is because, in many ways, diversity seeks to change the way an organization operates by introducing a variety of employees with different opinions and backgrounds into the standard process, thus altering it into becoming something new. Thus, the second step in introducing a diversity strategy is to ensure that everyone in the organization, whether they agree or disagree with the change, understand the necessity of diversity training. They must be made aware of the discrimination in the workplace, its effects on the company, as well as about the benefits of having representatives of diverse cultures and cultural training when dealing with customers that represent said cultural and ethnic minorities. The ethical considerations must also be addressed. According to Pohlhaus (2012), the majority of the people, regardless of racial affiliation, recognize injustice and a series of injustices when they are forced to confront it, rather than remaining willfully ignorant.
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While mandatory racial quotas should be avoided when considering the HR recruitment strategy, to increase its diversity, the company must open its doors to representatives of various minorities and discriminated social groups when hiring new personnel. Since every company has to deal with turnover and employee rotation, implementing an open-door policy would eventually lead to a more harmonious and diverse workplace and eliminate the potential division over racial and gender quotas that may arise as a result of a more forceful and direct approach. While diversity is an important factor within an organization, there is more to every individual employee than just race and social background.
Lastly, the management team should address the existing discrimination within the organization and within the managerial apparatus itself. Bergsieker, Leslie, Constantine, and Fiske (2012) suggest an effective negative elimination strategy – stereotyping by omission. It revolves around the elimination of negative stereotypes and replacement with positive ones. Typically, most employees are aware of both, so shifting the focus from the negative to the positive could potentially improve the climate in the workplace, reduce discrimination, and facilitate acceptance and growth, thus benefitting the company in the long-run.
Impact of Diversity on Decision-Making Process
While diversity is, in general, considered to be a positive factor in decision-making, as it provides different viewpoints and unorthodox ideas into the fold, it also has the potential of generating controversy and conflict should different opinions collide. According to Hiranandani (2012), many ideas and views within a diverse staff will inevitably force the managers to choose between them, and in so doing result in discrimination against one or several members of the group, to satisfy the majority vote. While diversity significantly improves the strategic potential of the company when it comes to awareness and decision method, it also significantly increases the necessity for conflict mediation skills in junior and senior staff to dismantle unfair practices within the organization and maintain a balance between diversity and a focused vision of the company’s future.
Effective Communication and its Impact on Collaboration and the Ability to Form Alliances
As it was evidenced in all parts of the analysis and recommendation development, effective communication is a necessary part of every step of the diversity strategy. According to Shockley-Zalabak (2014), effective communication during change processes will enable the organization to avoid and minimize the negative effects of resistance to change, help address the issues of prejudice and negative stereotyping on an organizational level, and help avoid unnecessary conflicts and complications during decision-making and day-to-day functioning within a workplace. An effective inclusive communication strategy can empower the employees to seek help and advice from one another, while overlooking potential barriers that might exist between them, thus contributing to healthy workplace relationships between them. Therefore, being able to facilitate communication between different employees and members of the team is necessary before attempting to implement diversity training and anti-discrimination strategies on a corporate level.
Bergsieker, H. B., Leslie, L. M., Constantine, V. S., & Fiske, S. T. (2012). Stereotyping by omission: Eliminate the negative, accentuate the positive. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 102(6), 1214-1238.
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.
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.
Kaiser, C. R., Major, B., Jurcevic, I., Dover, T. L., Brady, L. M., & Shapiro, J. R. (2013). Presumed fair: Ironic effects of organizational diversity structures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 104(3), 504-519.
Pohlhaus, G. (2012). Relational knowing and epistemic injustice: toward a theory of willful hermeneutical ignorance. Hypatia, 27, 715–735.
Shockley-Zalabak, P. (2014). Fundamentals of Organizational Communication. Colorado Springs, CO: Pearson.
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.