Most workplaces today are becoming increasingly diverse as people of different genders, races, cultures, ethnic origins, and lifestyles find themselves working together. As a result, the workplace is becoming increasingly multicultural. Some organizations are just now encountering the effects of a diverse workforce, while others are trying to overcome the challenges created by diversity. However, no matter where an organization is in this development, the challenge is to ensure that its workforce’s diversity is a source of strength, not one of conflict. Effectively managing this diversity, then, is a critical component of success for today’s employer
Diversity in the Corporate Workplace
The corporate workplace is becoming more culturally diverse each day. Maintaining a synergy amongst coworkers in this diverse environment is becoming increasingly difficult for companies. Due to the fact that over the past 10 years information technology has grown at such a rapid pace in the United States as well as globally, this is also an area that cultural diversity is spreading rapidly as well. Many people from all countries of the world are jumping on the information technology bandwagon. Corporations are faced with the task of keeping costs down but at the same time trying to keep up with the advances of technology.
In addition, these corporations have the responsibility of managing the diversity of their workers, and on the executives to handle interaction between the two. One of the areas in particular that needs to be handled carefully is the area of ethnic origins. Executives should always make sure that workers are educated and that ethnic prejudice does not obstruct the company’s tasks at hand. With this idea in mind, the company should ensure that its workers are able to climb the corporate ladder without any type of ethnic prejudice standing in the way. Careful managing of employees and creating the proper environment for multi-ethnic synergy is not only critical but essential in the daily course of a company’s business.
Workplace diversity is a multi-faceted concept that continues to evolve as more industries move toward a global marketplace. Most people believe that every human being is of equal worth, and that he or she is entitled to the same privileges and opportunities, without regard to race, gender, disability, or age. This fundamental belief has led to changes in management practices primarily relating to the recruitment, training, and retention of employees who reflect the changing face of the American workforce. In order to understand the necessities and benefits of managing workplace diversification, the concept must be fully explored.
What is diversity? Can diversity really be managed?
In the broadest sense, the management of diversity is a business’s reaction to rapid cultural and sociological changes. The different ethnic backgrounds and values that its employees bring into the picture create a multicultural environment that calls for a management style that is conscious of this. Management needs to adapt and conform to an assortment of views and interests. Internally, diversity management means providing a climate where all employees feel that they are valued by and contributing to an organization. Input coming from everyone in the company must be treated with fairness. All judgment should arise in an unbiased fashion and with awareness of the existing cultural and ethnic differences. Externally, diversity management means that organizations are flexible and astute about changes occurring in world markets. The companies recognize the way they along with the products and services that they provide, are seen in different regions across the world.
This affects, and strongly influences the way the organization conducts business in each area. The hard truth; however, is that inequalities exist for employees within organizations due to stereotyping and preconceived ideas about a person-based on race, gender, religious or cultural origins, age, physical or mental limitations, and more. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other issues cannot be managed away. It is precisely these beliefs and perceptions that necessitate managing diversity at all. Putting these prejudicial views aside is very important in order to acquire the best out of the employees. The differences within an organization should be used constructively for management to see the full potential of its staff.
Diversity is good – just take the time to analyze that diversity in your company and then manage it (Dossenbach, 2001). This statement lets us know that all diversity can be managed if the correct steps are taken to make the program work. Managing diversity helps the company to better focus on the businesses’ case for diversity. Under this scenario, capitalizing on diversity is seen as a strategic approach to business that contributes to organizational goals such as profits and productivity. Diversity also does not involve any legal requirements and is not implemented just to avoid lawsuits. Managing diversity moves beyond valuing diversity because this is a way in which to do business and should be aligned with other organizational strategic plans.
Managing diversity is not affirmative action.
“Affirmative action is a diagnostic approach – a remedy for race and gender discrimination” (William, 2003, p. B.10). Diversity consciousness cannot be simply mandated into a system, integrated into a corporate culture, or prompted by financial incentives. It is reflective of an attitude that organizations and their staffs must adopt that allows them to change their basic concepts about workers and converts “them” into “us”.
Affirmative action and the language of equal opportunity came as a political response to the social outcry over the racial and social injustices that limited equal access to the workplace. One of the problems with affirmative action is that it began to be perceived as a public relations scheme more concerned about quotas than about individuals. Because of a long history of discriminatory practices, federal contractors have been expected to make a positive effort to recruit, hire, train, and promote qualified employees of previously excluded groups. Managing workplace diversity strives to ensure that when an individual is hired, that individual should be able to trust that he or she has been chosen because of his or her unique qualifications, not because of gender or ethnicity. “We cannot encourage diversity when we are blind to that which makes us diverse” (Marshall, 2003, p. B.07). We have moved from the use of words like fairness, inequality, and injustice toward terms such as ethnic diversity, political correctness, and cultural consciousness. Have we changed our perceptions of the problems of workplace inequality or just the way we describe it?
Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong but are manifested in other individuals and groups. Many dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification. Diversity as a concept focuses on a broader set of qualities than race and gender. In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a workplace that respects and includes differences, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals with many types of differences can make, and creating a work environment that maximizes the potential of all employees.
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