Equality And Diversity Policy And Practices Business Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Recently, there has been an increase in workforce diversity and all organisations most especially the ones in the Western world strive to remain competitive in the labour market by extending their operations to the developing world as a result of globalisation. This study aims to examine the international transfer of global diversity policies and practices to local context like Nigeria.
The findings demonstrate the importance of flexible management practices for Multinational corporations in transferring their policies across borders. This study reveals some approaches to management of a diverse and equal workforce as well as its barriers.
Keywords: Global Diversity, equality, Workforce Diversity, Nigeria, Culture.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS 5
CHAPTER ONE: 7
1.1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY 7
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY 8
1.4: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY 9
1.5: OUTLINE OF RESEARCH 10
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK 11
2.1: INTRODUCTION 11
2.2: WORKFORCE DIVERSITY 11
2.3: EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY IN THE NIGERIAN CONTEXT 14
2.4: GLOBAL DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT 16
2.5: BUSINESS CASE FOR MANAGING DIVERSITY 19
2.6: BARRIERS TO DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT 21
2.6.1: DISCRIMINATION 21
2.6.2: STEROTYPES AND PREJUDICE 21
2.6.3: HARRASSMENT 22
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY 24
3.1: THE PHILOSOPHICAL POSITION OF THIS RESEARCH 24
3.2: RESEARCH DESIGN 25
3.3: STUDY LOCATION 25
3.4: RESEARCH INSTRUMENTS 26
3.5: SAMPLING DESIGN 26
3.6: SAMPLE POPULATION AND SAMPLE SIZE 26
3.8: ETHICAL CONSIDERATION 27
CHAPTER FOUR: DATA ANALYSIS, INTERPRETATION AND DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS 28
4.1: INTRODUCTION 28
4.2: DIVERSITY STRUCTURE OF THE COMPANY 28
4.3: INTERNATIONAL TRANSFER OF DIVERSITY POLICIES TO A LOCAL CONTEXT 29
4.4: DIVERSITY AT WORK 32
4.5: PROGRAMMES AND INITIATIVE THAT MAKES THE TRANSFER OF GLOBAL POLICIES WORKS. 34
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS 38
5.1: INTRODUCTION 38
5.2: SUMMARY OF FINDINGS 38
5.3: RECOMMENDATIONS 39
5.4: LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY 39
5.5: CONCLUSION 40
1.1: INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The management of diversity has become significant in recent years in the research area in order to certify the total involvement of women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and other less privileged people (Lepaka and Shaw 2008; Nishii and Ozbilgin 2007). Diversity management came into existence in the late 1980s in the USA as a likely criterion for tackling the issues of inequality and diversity at workplace and this has been adopted by so many countries around the world (Kelly and Dobbin 1998).Comprehensively, researches have been carried out on the management of diversity locally (Verbeek, 2011; Ocholla, 2002), but this is not enough to understand the interests of diversity management globally and the way their cross-national activities are managed and directed (Ozbilgin,2005). Cox (2001) defined diversity as the existence of differences in social and cultural identities with in employees working together in an organisation.
An al-encompassing definition of diversity may consist of economic status, physique, educational background, norms, culture, sexual orientation, economic status, duration of time spent with a firm and personality (Carr, 1993; Triandis 1994); Thus, accepting and appreciating the differences in people at workplace with the above features is what diverse workforce is. Recently, Companies across the globe have put alot more into diversity management programs so as to achieve results that include making the most use of talents, and giving the best they can give to demographically diverse customers (Horwitz, 2005). Organizations have recognized that the level to which these specific workforce alterations are successfully and proficiently controlled will influence organizational role and competitiveness (Von Bergen et al 2005). There is no doubt in recent years, globalisation has brought and is still bringing about the amalgamation of the world market. The Multinational companies are beginning to spread their tentacles wide and large across the globe and this has over the years brought about the need for organisations to be able to manage people coming from different cultures, background and also being able to adapt to such new environments from the parent company. This research will be contributing to the very few researches that have been done on the management of diversity globally by examining some of the strategies used by the MNCs and how best they are able to adapt and transfer their diversity and equality practices across the different jurisdictions they operate especially in the African sub-region. The case study company is a MNC with subsidiaries around the world including Nigeria which has over 250 ethnic groups.
1.2 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
This study will look into the equality and diversity policy and practices in organisations and its basic objectives includes:
To identify and examine how global diversity policies and practices works in local context.
To examine the barriers that has inhibited the employment, development, retention and promotion of diverse workforce in the organisation.
To examine some of the initiatives and programmes used in ensuring the success of international transfer of diversity policies to a local context.
1.3: RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The main question of this research is “how global equality and diversity policies are being translated and implemented in local contexts like Nigeria. Other research questions are:
What are the difficulties encountered in introducing and implementing global diversity policies locally?
What are the barriers that have inhibited the employment, development, retention and promotion of diverse workforce in organisations?
What are the major factors influencing diversity initiatives at work?
1.4: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is of great importance because, in as much as diversity and equality issues have been well researched in the western and developed countries, very limited work has been carried out in the African sub-region (Nyambegera, 2002). Hence, this study will contribute to further understanding in the topical area of equality and diversity management within the African context and why it is important for MNCs to acknowledge the effects of local and contextual issues such as culture, beliefs, perceptions etc could have on the effectiveness of their global equality and diversity policies. As mentioned earlier, diversity management have been researched but most of the researches have not taken into consideration global diversity management. Therefore, this project would make an important contribution to the few existing literatures in understanding the concepts of global diversity management and the international transfer of diversity policies to local contexts. Nevertheless, given that Nigeria is a developing country, this research would also help in understanding how MNCs operating in developing countries like Nigeria deal with and manage a diverse workforce.
1.5: OUTLINE OF RESEARCH
This research is presented in five parts. Firstly, is the introduction to the concept of the research topic. Secondly, the key literature of the research topic is discussed. The literature helped the research to think about significant issues to pay attention to when rounding up the pragmatic part of the research study. The third part shows and discussed the method of analysing and collecting data which includes the use of semi structured interviews. Having chosen to use qualitative research method is important because, it brings out some interesting and amazing findings which will be discussed in the fourth part of this research work. The findings of this research suggests that, the successful transfer of MNC’s policies and practices is dependent on how they are able to understand the beliefs, norms and culture of the any country they are planning to transfer their diversity policies to and make necessary amendments to suits the proposed subsidiary country’s way of life.
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
This chapter will review the past literatures on equality policy and practices and the international transfer of management of diversity policies in multinational corporations (MNCs). Thus, various themes like gender inequality in Nigeria, the management of workforce diversity, equality and diversity policy, culture, global diversity management would be examined.
2.2: WORKFORCE DIVERSITY
Broadly, Diversity management is defined as the logical, methodical and strategic obligations and responsibilities by the companies to recruits retain and promote workers from different backgrounds, beliefs and norms (Ongori and Angolla, 2007). It is argued that companies that encourage workforce diversity certainly will be successful within the international labour market (Jain and Verma, 1996). The importance attached to the management of diversity has been as a result of the increase in openness to national borders as well as the free movement of capital and labour across national borders which could result in companies having some of the most productive employees (Carrel et al, 2000). For an organisation to diversify, the work environment must be able to condone and allow employees to exhibit and make use of their potentials without been subdued by either nationality, gender, race, personality, religion, economic class, culture and other elements that are extraneous to performance(Bryan, 1999 as cited in Ongori and Angolla, 2007).
Triandis et al (1994) define diversity as any traits or elements which might or may possibly direct an individual’s perception that another individual is distinct from them or what gives an individual the notion that the other individual is different from him or her. This definition of diversity seems to portray a deeper insight to what diversity is and it can be described as what an individual thinks differentiates them from another individual. With present changes happening around the globe, the increase in globalisation and the management of workforce diversity as a means to expand organisational efficiency cannot be underestimated (Ongori and Angolla, 2007).
Gender can be described as what differentiates individuals sexually. Over the years, it has been seen that women are more disadvantaged in the labour market. Due to negative stereotyping (Loden and Rosener, 1991).
Disability on the other hand is defined as a physical or mental deficiency which has a significant and a lasting unfavourable impact on an individual’s competency perform everyday undertakings unexceptionally(Disability Discrimination Act 1995).Most of the physically and mentally fit people have little or no intimate interaction and communication with the disabled people, then there is a possibility then for the non disabled individuals in their growing up to have little or no contact with disabled people which serves as an important barrier to equal employment opportunity for the disabled (French,1996; Reynolds et al, 2001).Further to this, age discrimination has also been a major factor preventing the majority of employees from accessing top managerial positions (Oswick and Rosenthal, 2001; Kirton and Greene, 2010).Many top managers have been removed one way or the other from top and high paid positions in organisations as a result of their age as they are normally perceived to have less capabilities and skills to function well in such organisations (Kirton and Greene, 2010). For instance, the criteria employers use in their recruitment and promotional processes are normally discriminatory against either old employees or even the younger ones (Perry and Parlamis, 2006; Kirton and Greene, 2010).
Further to this, the sexual orientation of employees could also be problematic not only for management but also some employees as well. Many lesbian and Gay people nowadays tend to hide their identity in order to avoid discrimination because companies are frequently harsh and unreceptive towards the lesbian and gay men (Oerton, 1996; Mills, 1989).
Cockburn (1991), proposed the equality for lesbians and gay men as the most challenged and argued equality scheme and assignment as a result of the insufficiency of harmony over the ethical value of the gay rights scheme. In addition, it is still popularly assumed that individuals can decide to choose to be heterosexual or lesbian or gay; while one cannot choose in respect to gender, disability, age and ethnicity.
Race and Ethnicity heave also been an issue for managers of diversity. Taking the UK employment patterns as an examples, in 2006, the unemployment rate for black minority ethnic men was 11% and that of the white was 5% which makes the rate of the black and minority ethnic’s group unemployment 2times higher than their white counterpart while the rate of unemployment for black and minority ethnic women was 9% and there counterpart was 4% which makes it 2times higher as well (ECO, 2006). Hence, the rate of women`s unemployment generally in all the ethnic groups experience quite a low unemployment rates than the men. With the recent trend, it can be said that the rate of unemployment as a well as wage gap between men and women in labour market has reduced but absolutely not wiped out (Kirton and Greene, 2010).
For employers both in public and private companies to be able to manage a diverse workforce, it is of necessity to be able to understand, envisage and deal with the fascinating features of a diverse workforce. Although, many companies have adopted diversity, some others still regard it as only a matter of conforming to legal prerequisite.
“Effective diversity management has historically been used to provide a legally defensive position; that is, a firm with a diverse workforce could argue that they were not guilty of discrimination because of the prima facie case based on their workforce demographics representing the demographics of the local community” (Ongori and Angolla 2007; p, 73)
Lederach (1995) defined culture as “the shared knowledge and schemes created by a set of people for perceiving, interpreting, expressing and responding to social realities around them”. This definition of culture describes it as a general way by which people in an environment think or perceives things. Hence, culture has impacts on the way persons interconnect and act as it indicates a set of norms including thought patterns, motives, self-image impulsive reactions or feelings (Muir, 2007).
2.3: EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY IN THE NIGERIAN CONTEXT
Nigeria is the single largest geographical unit in West Africa with several ethnic groups of about 250 with considerable differences in the norms and values of each major tribe. Gender is a significant part of diversity because, women make up half of the world’s population of which Nigeria is no excerption with half of its population being women even though the majority of these women in question live below the poverty margin and owns little or no education, capital base. (Izugbara and Ukwayi, 2002). There has been little or no research on equality and diversity in companies in Nigeria (Omair 2008, Jamali et al 2005). Nigeria has listed inspiring steps with sense to reducing gender-based violence, sexism and beautifying women’s rights apart from many well-intentioned efforts to fill the space between female and male accomplishments in the area of education, economic activity and political participation. “Indeed, Nigeria is still undergoing a difficult political and economic transition after several years of military rule. The problems include pervasive poverty and widespread unemployment; deterioration of government institutions and inadequate capacity at all levels of government to deliver critical services effectively; sporadic violence between ethnic groups; a legacy of widespread corruption; little growth in the non-oil private economy and limited self-empowerment among local communities. Yet, Nigeria remains a society rich in cultural linguistic, religious, ethnic and political diversity” (Obayelu and Ogunlade 2006; p.2). Nigeria accounts for considerable gender inequalities in female labour market involvement, human capital, remuneration and health with pointers for women being profiled as significantly below those for men (Fajana, 2010) Women have the probability to be less buoyant than men and have lesser choices to riggle out of poverty (IMF,2004). Because women possess little formal education than the men they are likely to be inconsistently restrained to lower return and low output or efficiency employment in the informal economy. Subsequently, their capability to break away from poverty through employment is restricted as well. The table below gives an empirical evidence of the huge sexual differences in employment status in Nigeria (Fajana, 2010).
Figure 1: Gender Labour Force Rate
Source: Compilation based on data from World Bank Development Indicators
This graph above shows the huge difference in gender employment in Nigeria between 1991 and 2008 which is obvious that, men in Nigeria are more employed than women. However, the main cause of the problem of inequality and a high rate of unemployment in the labour market is the inability of graduates and skilful individuals to secure decent jobs after studying. Thus, in a country like Nigeria where there exist huge inequalities in gender employment rate, it is a major factor which MNCs transferring their equality and diversity policies to Nigeria to be able to take a good look at and find ways which the situation of the country’s inequality rate would not affect their international standard in negative ways.
2.4: GLOBAL DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT
Over the past few years, the word managing diversity or diversity management has been a popular term and matters concerning management of diversity have also gained attention as a result of the diverse workforce and also the rise and increase in globalisation which has increased the mobility of the global workforce (Konrad, 2003). Such a global diverse workforce has culminated in the emergence of regulations and organisational wide policies to try and manage diversity in a way that will be beneficial to the organisations and the society as a whole (European Commission 2003).
Seymen (2006) refers to diversity as a situation where differences exists in the background of various employees in an organisation irrespective of their demographic characteristics which includes, gender, age, sexual orientation, sex, ethnicity, educational background, and physique .Workforce diversity has no singular or a general definition, rather still, it has been debated or contended to be a multifaceted and byzantine term that is conceding a notion , idea and belief which conjure diverse views and opinions in various companies and culture (Omanovic 2002, Cassell, 2001).
Ozbilgin and Tatli(2008) defined global diversity management as the setting up, organising, managing and putting into practice of management strategies, procedures and development programs for the purpose of accepting varied sets of working in multinational corporations. The definition above may be described as putting together and management of HR policies and practices as well as initiatives that is acceptable across the Headquarter of MNCs and its subsidiaries. Global diversity management has to do with the management of the transfer of employment practices from a parent company to her subsidiaries overseas. Historically, the transfer of management practices from the developed to the developing countries is the mode of operation of the MNCs (Azolukwam and Perkins, 2009).
However, the increase in globalisation and also the concerns of growing demographic diversity have enhanced the need for understanding heterogeneity in organisations. Diversity management is a rebranded name given to one time equality policy and practices in organisations in Britain (Kirton and Greene, 2010). They further argued that, matters relating to orthodox equal opportunities such as gender or sex discrimination cannot be separated from the explicit issues such as individual or cultural discrepancies within diversity management. In other to give an overview of what diversity management is, diversity itself should be known. Consequently, Tatli, (2011) suggested that, managing diversity and equal opportunities are complementary rather than conflicting; this means that, the management of diversity and equal opportunities combines in such a way that they both enhance each other’s qualities other than conflicting. Wrench (2005) also stated that, diversity management is utilised amenably to conceal so many issues. He further explained that, it should not be allowed to become a Trojan horse that ease or simplify the attenuating of profits which have already been achieved in the procedure of anti discrimination or those that are still crucial for the future.
Lauring (2012) argues that global diversity management in multinational corporations has been confirmed a challenging issue as a result of recurrent failures in the making and growth of such programmes. However, he argues that, what differentiates the management of diversity globally from locally is basically because of the enigma of global integration and local responsiveness. Supporting Lauring’s argument, the successful transfer of policies across border to a local context is totally dependent on how it is been handled in the subsidiary Company and the failure of the MNCs to have a deep insight of how the subsidiary country operates including their ways and beliefs of doing things before formulating or transferring their policies affects the success rate of transferring policies.
Noon (2007), argues, that Diversity management is basically an idea that disregarded the significance of equal opportunities and covers up the importance of ethnicity in organisations. On the other hand, (Syed and Ozbilgin, 2009) argues that, they do not as a matter of fact agree with Noon’s argument and thereby, pointed out that the idea must be ascertain and espy both in the local and international context before its ability and strength can be enhanced and developed.
Dass &Parker (1999) argue that the difficulty faced by a company in terms of diversity management will be determined by their methods or attitudes they take. However, “At the level of international management pressures, as well as urgency of diversity management, interventions vary more extensively than at the level of domestic operations” (Tatli &Ozbilgin 2008; p.18).
An organisation’s subsidiary must be very distinctive in other to be able handle the domestic markets especially in terms of practices, norms and business cultures that differs from that of the parent country (Lauring, 2012).Though, nearly all multinational corporations strive to convey the well established management procedures that initially allowed the corporation to spread out of its local market to its overseas affiliates (Barkinshaw and Hood, 1998). The successful outcome of these practices in the parent company does not make such practices and policies successful in the subsidiaries overseas, as a result of the distinctions in culture and environment affecting the management situation (Dimitratos et al, 2010).
Sippola and Smale (2007) advocates that the transfer of diversity management practices which has more to do with culture, to overseas subsidiary company is possible but could be quite difficult. Nevertheless, “Parent companies may also be less dedicated to ensuring homogeneity in diversity management if legal or cultural differences can be used as an excuse for more dilute diversity management approaches”(Lauring 2012,p.3).He further stated that, in the case of international unification of diversity management, management practices would be developed in the parent company, but when exported to an overseas subsidiary, they become exposed to different circumstances that may not be in accordance with the genuine notion or intention. Looking at workforce diversity from a business panorama, it is argued that, the proficiency and the capability of a company to endure imminent tasks and encounters is doubled when there is better workforce diversity in particular when there is variation in employee’s skills, cultural facet, experiences, values (Thornhill et al, 2000).As a matter of fact, managing a global workforce efficiently is regarded has been essential and vital in acquiring benefits for business and in maintaining competitive advantage globally (Florkowski 1996).
Pragmatic evidence from a survey carried out by (Dunavant and Heiss, 2005) showed that 100% of those organisations see global diversity as a significant matter. The term global diversity has gained attention as a result of the increase in both national laws and international policies which is made for the purpose of eliminating discrimination and also as a related increase in the rate of important lawsuits against global organisations (Nishii and Ozbilgin,2007) in spite of that, since the types or categories of discrimination that are termed illegal throughout countries and there seems to be broad differences across countries in the way laws and policies concerning the equal opportunities are put in place and unravelled (Ozbilgin,2002).Furthermore, Nishii and Ozbilgin (2007) gave an example of a country like Japan where 99% of the entire population are of the same ethnic groups and hence, given a laid down goals for the firms is basically absurd and unreasonable .
2.5: BUSINESS CASE FOR MANAGING DIVERSITY
Before organisations can come to an agreement of operating a diverse workforce, they would be doing it to expect a positive impact on their organisational standard.
However, some of the benefits enjoyed by organisations with diverse workforce include a high rate of accomplishment in their transactions with international and domestic ethnic societies as well as a fair circulation of economic opportunity. That is, when a company operates on a diverse workforce, they tend to have different people from difference ethnic groups, different cultures and experience making it much easier for the company to have a good economic transaction with other countries (Blake, 1991; Cox and Blake, 1991).
An organisation that is culturally diverse has the tendency of been more competent and effective in networking, easily acting together and job performance than a non diverse workforce (Watson et al, 1993).
However, managing and having a diverse workforce can be of significance to the organisations for having access to authority in perspective of demographic changes in workforce and human rights legislation. Thus, employing disabled people, people of different race, background, sexual orientation, ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged group helps organisations to benefit from this position in the labour market and diversified market sections (Mueller, 1998; Fleury 1999).
“The increased mobility and interaction of people from diverse backgrounds as a result of improved economic and political systems and the recognition of human rights by all nations has put most organizations under pressure to embrace diversity at the work place (Ongori and Angolla,2007; p, 74).Matters relating to diversity will be more significant in a situation where effective and efficient communication, interface and dealings with people is the key method to business accomplishment as the economies keep moving from the manufacturing to service economies (Wentling and Palma-Rivas, 2000).
Additionally, the management of a diverse workforce helps in dealing with the issue of gender inequality, discrimination as well as the concerns for women mostly balancing their domestic and occupational role together without having to forgo one for another.
Managing a diverse workforce helps management to easily understand customer’s needs even from an entirely different culture or background from where the company is situated. Race matching can also be linked to the management of diversity in organisations. Race matching is where organisations specifically employ certain ethnicities or race just to attract those customers who are similar to them which could increase business for the company. For example, Tesco or Sainsbury employing black store managers in a branch located in a predominantly black community so as to get more black customers through the door as they will feel more comfortable and relate to them better and this can be a strategy for having competitive advantage. Nevertheless, there are some barriers which hinder the effective management.
2.6: BARRIERS TO DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT
As there exists benefits for managing a diverse workforce in organisations, so also there are still certain barriers that need to be tackled before an organisation can successfully manage a diverse workforce. Some of the basic and important barriers are:
Discrimination is defined as the unjust and prejudicial treatment of individuals on the grounds of what differentiates those individuals (Halle, 2008).Previous researches conducted on discrimination shows that women in companies are faced with more barriers in getting to the top position in the organisation than men (Auster; 1988; Fernandez 1998). Even though, there has been laws enacted by the government in various countries against discrimination, there still exists discrimination in the workplace (Wentling and Palma – Rivas 1997).
2.6.2: STEROTYPES AND PREJUDICE
Stereotype is defined as a “fixed and distorted generalisation made about all members of a particular group (Loden and Rosener p.58 1991) while prejudice can be defined as the bias to have a negative judgement regarding individuals who are different from other people in terms of either gender, race, ethnic, physical characteristics and capabilities (Morrison 1992). (Henderson, 1994; p.133) also defined prejudice as “a conclusion drawn without adequate knowledge or evidence”. Researchers like catalyst (1990), Baskerville and Tuckers (1991) found out that stereotyping, prejudice, discrimination were some of the basic barriers encountered by women in getting to the top and this can be traced to one of the contemporary terms in labour market which is the glass ceiling and sticky floor. Glass ceiling can be described as some of the insubstantial, impalpable and imaginary barriers that counteract and preclude some categories of people from growing and getting higher than a particular level at work while the “sticky floor refers to the way that some groups remain permanently on the bottom rung of the organisation ladder and remain fixed in low paid and undervalued jobs” (Johnstone (2002) p.4).
An explanatory definition of harassment is; any offensive conduct or remarks made to an individual as a result of their ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age, capability or gender (Poole, 1997). The Black’s Law Dictionary (Black, 1990 p, 1375) defines sexual harassment as a “type of employment discrimination, includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nat
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