The importance of managing workforce diversity

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The importance of managing workforce diversity

Introduction

The importance of managing workforce diversity for today’s managers is crucial for organization success. The role of organizational culture in developing an inclusive organization environment that embraces and takes advantage of the organization’s diversity cannot be underestimated. I would agree with the statement using the words of the former U.S president, John F. Kennedy. He once stated that “If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can assist make the world safe for diversity.” With the market for products and services becoming more and more globalized, businesses have to adopt the concept of diversity in their workforce to enable them serve customers from different cultural background. The world’s increase in globalization needs more interaction amongst individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures and beliefs than before (Barbosa & Cabral-Cardoso 2007, p.281). Individuals no longer work and live in an inward-looking market; they are currently part of a global market with competition emerging from almost every continent.

Just maintaining a diverse employee is no longer sufficient, Kundu (2003, p.217) argues that, for an organization to succeed in the present challenging economy, it should not just satisfy the demands of a multifaceted market, it should respect diverse cultures, philosophies and ideas. Owing to the challenges people sometimes hold in integrating different perspectives in organizational settings, managing diverse workforce in a place of work is essential (Iverson 2000, p.36). Organization’s or group’s diversity can comprise of diversity across culture, sex, religion, race, and age but can also consist of diversity across personality types and work skills. All of these diversities can influence group relations and performance. Based on the information discussed above, this essay defines workforce diversity, diversity management and discusses the importance of managing workforce diversity. Some of the significance of diversity management that will be discussed includes organizational culture, ideas, flexibility, innovation, talent attraction, improvement in decision making, and cultural intelligence.

Workforce diversity and diversity management

According to Ivancevich & Gilbert (2000, p.76) diversity refers to a coexistence of workforce from different socio-cultural settings in the organization. It comprises of cultural aspects such as ethnicity, gender, physical ability, color and age among others. In organizational perspective, diversity normally means a range of human resources, suppliers, and customers in terms of work experience, educational background, income, sexual orientation, geographic location, gender, physical qualities and abilities, e.tc (Cornelius, Gooch & Todd 2000, p.78). To rise above the challenges of workforce diversity, a new strategy rose in the 1980s which became identified as the diversity management. Ivancevich and Gilbert (2000, p. 75) defines diversity management as “the planned and systematic commitment by business to hire, retain, promote and reward a heterogeneous mix of workforce”. Diversity is advantageous to both the employees and organization.

Also as mentioned above, diversity brings considerable prospective benefits like better problem solving and decision making; great creativity and innovation that results to improved product development and effective marketing to different categories of consumers (Cornelius, Gooch & Todd, 2000, p.81). Diversity offers organizations with capability to compete in international markets. As a management prospect, various approaches to handling workforce diversity, discrimination and prejudice have been put forth, such as the pragmatic and managerial to more legalistic ways of valuing diversity. Hicks-Clarke & Iles (2000, p.324), argues that managing diversity actually start by creating organizational climate that supports the act. The organizational climate is strongly impacted by the organizational culture and the insight of organizational processes by people in the organizations.

The framework formulated here contends that to ensure that managing diversity becomes fruitful; the business requires developing an encouraging climate for the diversity. Climate alone facilitates satisfaction, positive attitude and commitment among the employees (Hicks-Clarke & Iles 2000, p.327). Organizations understand that they have to be decisive to efficiently manage an ever more diverse, global labor force so as to do well in its performance. In a nutshell, the better performance of any organizations depends on the capability of managing a diverse pool of talent which can provide innovative views, ideas and perspectives to their daily operations (Fujimoto, Hartel & Azmat 2013, p.149). Managing diversity implies facilitating the diverse labor force to carry out its potential in an impartial work setting in which on particular team has advantage or disadvantage over the other.

Barbosa & Cabral-Cardoso (2007, p.279) claim that organizations which pursue this direction will likely to also cut costs related to turnover, stress, absenteeism, lawsuits associated with discrimination, and low output of minority employees. The framework created here hypothesizes that to ensure managing diversity become successful; the organization needs requires creating a positive environment for diversity (Hicks-Clarke & Iles 2000, p.331). Managing diverse workforce well with focus on motivation, performance and retention is likely to lead to workforce who are contented with their work, their superiors, and, who are loyal to their organizations. According to Pless & Maak (2004, p.130) managing diversity requires building and promoting culture of communication in which trust and inclusion are part of day to day activities – by incorporating different views to problem-solving and decision–making practices, by paying attention to and making an effort to understand different perspectives, by valuing divergent views and arguing fairly, and by analyzing better argument amongst the validation arguments. To manage diversity effectively, the manager needs to understand particular differences and be able to employ them to the company advantage rather than allowing the differences to results to problems (Rajput, Marwah, Balli & Gupta 2013, p.137).

Organizational culture

The relation of culturally diverse employees is not without challenges, like the increased turnover amongst employees from the leading group, the declining team integration, and the communication obstacles (Day, 2007, p.214) so as to overcome the impediments and to capitalize on a diverse workforce, many researchers claim that organizations have to build cultures that value, support and welcome diversity. Because, it turned out to be prominent in the field of management in the 1980s, organizational culture is considered as an original and strong tool to analyze and understand the human actions in the place of work (Barbosa & Cabral-Cardoso, 2007, p.279). Organizational culture is described as the collection of practices, values, beliefs and norms which point out to its members the proper behaviors in every particular situation.

To be recognized in the place of work, novices are advised to embrace the existing organizational principles and artifacts (Stoner & Russell-Chaplin 1997, p.7), while existing employees tend “to be suspicious of, dislike and fear individuals with different ideas” it is healthy for organization to remain innovative (Willcoxson & Millett 2000, p.93). Businesses have a tendency to attract and retain people from similar demographic and social settings and to discriminate different ones in the recruitment, selection, informal integration and career development (Van Knippenberg & Schippers 2007, p.516). Diversity need a develop organizational culture in which each staff can embark on his or her career targets without being hindered nationality, gender, religion, race, lifestyle, disability and belief among other factors which are extraneous to performance. According to Willcoxson & Millett (2000, p.95) strong cultures particularly demand employees to formulate unilateral efforts so as to fit into the values and norms which are in place.

One unfortunate thing that contradicts the importance of managing diverse workforce is that in most organizational settings, members of strong cultures are allowed to share values, quality judgments and ideologies, while those who look to disagree with these shared cultural aspects risk being punished (Lewis 2001, p.22). Some managers think the people who contradict a decision are radical and may influence other members of the workforce to rebel against the top management. Actually, managing workforce diversity is not easy and requires a manager who has experience in working it different cultural background and has the cultural intelligence to solve problems of that nature (Hoobler, Basadur & Lemmon 2007, p.2). For an organizational culture to be managed properly it must first be defined, since the definitions of culture impacts strategies to managing that culture. Iverson (2000, p.31) posits that Just like managing it, defining organizational culture is not a simple job, for sometimes there is broad agreement concerning the elements of culture as an extensive construct.

Experts who look at the issue of managing diverse workforce from the pluralist perspective and recognize their existence in organizations with regards to professional affiliation, status, and social interactions, claim that organizational success comes from the effective management of diversity (Kundu 2003, p.216). They also argue that organizational cultures which brings together other cultures as evidenced in most supermarkets could result to development of project work, diverse ideas organizations networks or strategic. Managing diverse workforce also enhances culture of inclusion. Culture of inclusion means an organizational setting that enables individuals with numerous backgrounds, ways of thinking to work together and to carry out their high potential in order as to accomplish organizational objectives derived from sound principles (Pless & Maak 2004, p.130). The culture of inclusion removes the barrier where organization is viewed to belong to class of people such as the rich or from certain ethnicity, race or gender. This also make customer to be served on equal measures regardless of the status in the society.

Recruitment and Talent attraction

Examining procedures, the recruitment and selection of individuals from diverse backgrounds such as minorities, different nationalities and women, is a vital approach to improve diversity within the company (Kwak 2003, p.7). Leading business talents prefer to work with an organization which has a diverse workforce. However, for a reason to form a culture of inclusion it is not adequate to just recruit individuals from different cultural backgrounds into an organization. It turns out to be essential to hire those applicants who share desired values in reference to diversity and demonstrate behavior favorable and competencies to a broad and diverse job culture (Groschl & Doherty 1999, p.263). Talking of culture of inclusion, it can only be shown with the assistance of people who agree to this idea, who are devoted to bringing the organizational vision to life and those who feel relaxed working in a dissimilar work setting.

Kundu (2003, p.216) asserts that organizations which values and manage diversity efficiently by purposely recruiting diverse workforce stand a chance gain strategic advantage. This happens through an inclusive setting which utilizes the talents and creativity of diverse staff helping their recruitment and selection, motivation and retention, and by facilitating a better communication process with diverse clients in the market and the designing of superior products and/or services (Kwak 2003, p.8). With this present trend in organization, human resource Manager must manage the diverse set of talents tactically for the company. He or she should think of how a diverse labor force assists the organization in attaining organizational goals and reaching new markets so as to exploit the full potential of the diversity. For instance, when China was getting into new markets or exporting their items internationally in the 1980s, their corporations such as Haier were looking for the marketing proficiency of the Singaporeans (O’Leary & Weathington 2006, p.2. This is due to the fact that marketing talents of the Singaporean were capable of understanding the domestic Chinese markets fairly well and including being to understand the western markets owing to Singapore’s economic policies which are open and English language capabilities (O’Leary & Weathington 2006, p.5).

Improvement in decision making

Organizational resistant is normally caused by refusal in involvement of employees in making decisions which affect their daily work. Being that organization has people from different backgrounds; decisions that are made should be harmonized to carter for the wellbeing of everyone (Rajput, Marwah, Balli & Gupta 2013, p.137). The times and situations if the business arena has changed, and managers are encourage to promote culture of culture inclusion. In hierarchically and traditional corporations, significant and long term decisions are normally arrived at by a small team of top management strategists. However, this is just market strategies. Routine decisions which deal with human resource are carried on the basis cultural inclusion so as to avoid dissenting voices (Wilson 2000, 279).

As a way of including several voices, it turns out to be possible to significantly widen the knowledge base for decision options and to boost the number of potential directions resulting to problem solutions (Van Knippenberg & Schippers 2007, p.526). Generally, when arriving at crucial business decisions which question status quo, the look for consensual decisions in terms of a mass of parties is vital. Day (2007, p.215) says that although with diverse workforce the decision-making may take long time, the transformation into achievement will be more resourceful and successful because commitment and motivation of the people taking part are high whilst micro-political and resistant barriers become smaller.

Innovation

One of the major rationales to hire a diverse workforce is their broad base of cultural knowledge which can drive innovation (Van Knippenberg & Schippers 2007, p.521). The diversity of the groups is recognized numerous severally to be one of the major elements capable of influencing the innovation course. The hypothesis is that diverse workforce will produce a broader collection of ideas and discover non-traditional factors which can result to innovation (Rajput, Marwah, Balli & Gupta 2013, p.141). An individual whom people believe to be smart is generally somebody who holds several interesting perspectives and numerous efficient heuristics supported by people from different background.

A smart individual performs better and frequently, innovates due to several ideas he learns from different people. Whether a staff is in top management, middle level or an entry level, when everybody in the workforce they are considered to have the same background and the creativity that compels problem solving and innovation is the same (O’Leary & Weathington 2006, p7). A new viewpoint that does not match this “group idea” is likely to enhance the business in a distinctive manner (Kwak 2003, p.8). Recognizing that diversity normally have the potential to certainly influence the growth of innovation, business managers has to understand that success still needs cultural intelligence and sociability in the group settings. In some cases in which there is a great miss-match of cultural diversities within a group, it has been identified that there are prospective risks and concerns of the team failure (Groschl & Doherty 1999, p.166).

Flexibility

According to Iverson (2000, p.33) diverse workforces make it easy to improve flexibility and quick reaction and adjustment to change. People are unique and have different personalities. In this way, there are people who are multi-talented and can also multitask. Cornelius, Gooch & Todd (2000, p.75) argue that the changing business atmosphere requires people who are flexible and can work in different departments of the organization. Business processes normally differ and sometimes considerably depending on the framework of the location and the business itself. All these facets contribute to the management and an ordeal of Manager. It is not common to find these types of people and human resource managers are now keen and though in their recruitment and selection to identify flexible candidates for the job (Ivancevich & Gilbert, p.66). As such, they carry out recruit and selection for people different cultural to get set of talents. Diversity enables creativity and flexibility which is critical key to satisfy customer demands.

Cultural intelligence

Organizational culture operates as a means of social control which encourages behavioral homogeny and the integration of the leading values (Lewis 2001, p.23). This demand invents high degree of stress in individuals from marginal cultural backgrounds which want to safeguard their identity (Stoner & Russell-Chaplin 1997, p.7). Thus, cultural obstacles could prevent its members from marginal identity teams from exploiting their whole potential. These obstacles can be substantial like the stairs which bound people’s mobility in the wheelchairs, or like the failing to listen to somebody’s opinions and suggestions since he or she is a member belongs to the minority group (Willcoxson & Millett 2000, p.94). Dominant cultures especially demand workforce to grow unilateral endeavors to fit into the currents values and norms.

Even though, several managers look to have an intellectual responsive of diversity realities, showed efforts to take on in the strong actions needed to properly manage diversity concerns look to be lagging. Managing the diversity portrays cultural intelligence that the manager and the employees have towards each other. Stoner & Russell-Chaplin (1997, p.11) contends cultural intelligence help people understand that must not behave and act in a similar way to make the company successful. Certainly the most driving reason to recruit a diverse workforce is because of cultural intelligence. When colleague customers and employees are from different cultural background, the opportunities not only to understand also to appreciate the values other people embrace (Hoobler, Basadur & Lemmon 2007, p.4). Embracing these values and norms as part of the organization key message and product promotes understanding between different the cultures. When the business works with diversity in focus, opportunity for common value both in relation to society and profit is greatly increased.

Conclusion

To sum up the essay, it should be noted that workforce normally make great ideas and diverse skills and thinking towards what they are doing provided that the team is diverse and self-regulating. A group of workmate from the same cultural background and are almost identical are not likely to be intelligent. This not only summarizes the importance of diversity but also depicts it fault. Diversity in organizations, discovering and recruiting talents with diverse skills and knowledge, from different cultural settings, has been very efficient in unlocking creativity and improvement of innovation. However, it is not with no complexity and risks; a diverse group can easily create workplace organizational conflict that can rapidly reduce team cohesion, the more dissimilar the team is the more likely the conflict can occur. This is not inevitably a bad situation because sometimes friction in working groups can result to more productive results.

Identical groups are unlikely to attain increased degree of innovation which can be realized by diverse groups which tend to have broader networks and therefore enjoy a broader learning capability. Innovation and technology will help both identical and diverse workforce to communicate, knowledge share and collaborate in more efficient means and as a result, this has hold potential to reach greater degree of innovation. Improving diversity in a workforce also has it problems to the management problems like conflict and dissatisfaction. This means that diversity alone without sound management does not warranty any tangible and immediate improvements in organization. The greatness of this claims and weight of proof shows that attaining diverse workforce and efficiently managing this workforce can result to an improved and attract customers from different cultural background in markets across the world.

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