Diversity

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  • 1. Author: Vasilica Maria Margalina
  • 2. - 28-04-2010 - Diversity in enterprise and its importance to managers As a result of globalization (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009) and other social and demographic changes (Konrad, 2006) the workforce is more diverse than ever and there is indication that this diversity will grow in the future (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). Interest in diversity and diversity management is growing in the academic communities and in business (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). Diversity is defined as “any attribute that people use to tell themselves that another person is different” (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006: p.2) The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Society of Management Accounts of Canada defines the diverse workforce (1996:307) as “a workforce made…distinct by the presence of many religions, cultures or skin colours, both sexes (in non-stereo-typical roles), differing sexual orientation varying styles of behaviour, differing capabilities, and usually, unlike backgrounds.” (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009) Managers and other organizational members experience and have to manage each day a variety of interpersonal differences (Konrad, 2006). Existing research point out that diversity can have both positive and negative effect on how workers and other organizational members interact and perform (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). A diverse workforce enables organizations to meet the needs of a large and diverse customer base, multiplied perspectives, leads to better decisions, more innovative ideas, quality improvement, increased productivity, a better performance and business growth (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009). But, at the same time, studies also suggest that diversity can negatively effects groups and organizations through increased interpersonal conflict, reduced workgroup and team cohesiveness, lower levels of commitment and less interpersonal communication (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). “In a world where diverse peoples are coming into increasing contact both at home and in the workplace” (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006), organizations cannot eliminate diversity because of its negative impact on the ledger balance. 2
  • 3. Due to changes in business, demographic changes (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009) of workforce and legal pressure to combat different forms of inequality (Öbziling & Tatli, 2008), more and more organizations adopt diversity management approaches. Diversity management can be defined as a management philosophy that seeks to recognize and value heterogeneity in organizations (Öbziling & Tatli, 2008: p.2). “Diversity management is a voluntary corporate approach to dealing with increasing demographic diversity in the workplace. (Ng &Burke 2005:.1196)” (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009: p.455). Diversity is a hard issue for managers and they should expect that diversity frontier would move forward (Konrad, 2006). Managing diversity successfully requires a long term commitment (Konrad, 2006) and the allocation of resources. Diversity managers occupy an important place in the process of managing diversity due to their professed role in the design and implementation of diversity management policies and programmes (Öbziling & Tatli, 2008). As mentioned before changes in business are one of the reasons for which organizations adopt a diversity management approach. Nowadays, business trends toward globalization, meaning that business activities span countries and continents. Due to the development of international cross enterprise relationships such as, acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic business alliances and partnerships, workers interact closely with global partners (Crossan & Olivera, 2006). The present business environment demands that many employees interact frequently across diversity. (Konrad, 2006) But organizations deal with both global and national demographic changes. Key demographic trends led to the necessity for companies to adopt some best practices in order to manage diverse workforce effectively (Konrad, 2006). The main key demographic trends are: • In the industrialized world women are participating in the paid labour force at historically high rates (Eurostat, 2004; Statistic Canada, 2003; U.S. Census Bureau, 2004). Also, more and more women continue working after having children. (Konrad, 2006: p.1). Providing with flexible work schedule, the possibility to work at home and providing an onsite child care centre is positively related with job satisfaction for both, families or single women with children (Konrad, 2006). 3
  • 4. • As a result of immigration, racial and minority ethnic population in industrialized countries is growing. According to Eurostat (2006), in 2004 about 25 millions of immigrants lived in Europe, about 5,5% of the entire population of Europe. Immigration also affects countries, like Canada, which very opened to immigration. Some organizations’ best practices regarding immigrants are: offer them language courses, recognizing foreign credentials and work experience, providing workshops and cultural training. (Konrad, 2006) • Religion is increasingly affecting the work place (Konrad, 2006). In 2000 North American Courts were increasingly recognizing the rights of minorities in the work place (Cash, Gray, &Rood, 2000). In the industrialized countries the problem increases due to immigration and the relation that in many cases is given between religion and terrorism. The most common religious accommodation requests are: schedule changes, dress, desire to evangelize, post religious pictures or pray on the job. Employers must provide these accommodations unless doing so could damage the business (HR Focus, 2004, October). (Konrad, 2006). • Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) ask for equal opportunities in the work place (Konrad, 2006). In addition of its protection against discrimination, IBM focuses on five rules (Turner 2004, December 20): create a climate that allows LGBT to express their sexual orientation, deal directly with inappropriate comments and behaviour, use inclusive language (e.g. “partner” when uncertain, don’t assume everyone is straight-will be wrong six percent of eight and help others to learn (Konrad, 2006: p.174). • Similarly people with disabilities request for work opportunities. Organizations are now, in many countries, required by law to give work opportunities, to provide reasonable accommodation and remove barriers, allowing people with disabilities to work. Managers must ensure that job description doesn’t limit the method of doing the job. It is indicated to provide health benefits and assistive technology. (Konrad, 2006) • In the industrialized countries, the population is aging faster that the total population growth. That means that workers remain active in the labour force for a longer period of time. As a result two and three generations are working together and must interact across generational differences in believes, attitudes, values and behaviour (Kyles, 2005; Loughlin &Bargling, 4
  • 5. 2001; Yang & Guy, 2006). It is important for managers to know how to address age bias at the workplace, allow them to ease out through phased retirement, portable jobs and part-time jobs. (Konrad, 2006) In the workplace people differ in their demographics, such as gender, age, race, disability status and appearance. But people also bring in the organization different set of abilities, skills, qualifications, achievements, their social and educational background (Konrad, 2006). Usually, in organizations individuals are identified by precise aspects of diversity, although within a group each person is unique (Osborne & Cramer, 2005, November). Managers must be trained and plan in order to can deal with this demographic changes in the workforce and customers. Managing diversity implies the creation of a just workplace and some legislation requires it, such as; Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Employment equality directive of the European Union, the United Kingdom’s Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 and similar legislation (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). There is a need to “conform to the basis rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom” (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006, p.2). To create a just workplace means that managers must ensure that organizational decisions are made through a rational and transparent process, that abilities and achievements are rewarded, employees in organization are treated with respect and dignity and are provided with reasonable explanations for the though decisions that are made (Konrad, 2006). Achieving a multicultural organization is a long term goal for organizations. Organizations worldwide, in their attempt to introduce a diversity management have faced problem, as stereotypes are deeply rooted in one’s culture and there are resistance to change (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009).To achieve this goal, managers will deal with psychological and organizational barriers that must be overcome. They also have to put in practice processes that provide employees with facilities and flexibility to bring their entire set of identities to work (Konrad, 2006). Managers have to manage properly the recruitment, the selection and training of minority employees (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). Diversity management involves systems for recruitment, selection, training and development, career progression and retention. And to properly manage diversity, managers must change the traditional human resource management system. The human resource managers must identify the positions where the internal work force is less diverse, investigate how the staffing 5
  • 6. process is implemented for those positions and identify the stages of selection (Konrad, 2006). At the core of diversity management in organization are issues regarding fairness and equal opportunities. To achieve performance, an environment of justice must be created in organizations. (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006) And to create this environment the organizational culture must change, which is a long process and values cannot be change either quickly or directly. The factors that managers can manipulate directly are: leadership, strategy and human resource systems. (Konrad, 2006) Managers must care about diversity and communicate that they care articulately, sincerely and often. Also, managers at all level must be aligned with top managers’ commitment with diversity and the creation of an environment of justice. Mangers must be provided with tools, knowledge and resources to manage diversity. (Konrad, 2006) Human resources practices and systems must be change in order to facilitate the flow of diverse candidates through the all organization’s career system in an environment of justice. (Konrad, 2006) Diversity must be aligned with the strategy of organization. Leaders must determine how workforce diversity increases the organization’s ability to achieve its strategy and the goals must be communicated often to all employees. Managers need to develop skills to motivate a diverse set of workers in order to achieve the best performance and must learn to value new ideas. They also need group process facilitation skills to ensure that divergent views and ideas are heard and processed. (Konrad, 2006) Nowadays diversity is reality and it creates new challenges to creating an inclusive and diverse work environment. In an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment it is critical to success to increase diversity and diversity training in organizations (O’Leary & Weathington, 2006). By giving an important role to diversity management in the organization’s strategy, diversity can become an important source of competitive advantage (Ollapaly & Bhatnagar, 2009). . 6
  • 7. REFERENCES Öbzilgin, M.F & Tatli, A., (2008), Global Diversity Management. An Evidence-Based Approach. New York: Palgrave Macmillan O’Leary, B.J. & Wheathinhton, B.L., (2006), ‘Beyond the Business Case for Diversity in Organizations’, Springer Science & Business Media B.V. Ollapaly, A. & Bhatnagar, J., (2009, Jan.), ‘The Holistic Approach to Diversity Management: HR Implications’, The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 44, No. 3. p. 454-472. Konrad, A.M., (2006), ‘Leveraging Workplace Diversity in Organizations’, Organization Management Journal. 2006 Vol. 3, No. 3, 164-189 Linking Theory & Practice: EAM White Papers Series. Osborne, C.H. & Cramer, V. M, (2005, Nov.), ‘Fueling High Performance Through Diversity’, Chief Learning Officer. MediaTec Publishing, Inc. p.22. 7