The issues and concerns faced in Diversity

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Diversity should be a major concern in any organization and valuing diversity in all aspects of operations should be a top priority. With diversity comes differences, and with differences comes the potential for problems and relationships. But, importantly, too with diversity comes the great potential for new perspective, creativity, and expanded problem solving that can be important in meeting the demands of our complex and dynamic work environments. The organizations that best understand and best deal with employee diversity and individual differences are poised to achieve competitive advantage. In the paper we shall define the term employee diversity in the first place. Then we shall turn our attention to elements of diverse work force, like various types of personality, values and attitudes of employees, their family issue, and demographic trends that managers should know in order to manage the diversity in the organization successfully. We shall also present the characteristics of successful management. As one of the key strategies for diversity management success is training, we shall examine various types of diversity training, like awareness-based and skill-based diversity training. We shall conclude the paper with the quotation of potential problems that may occur in the process of diversity training as well as consider several notes of caution for successful diversity training.

Definition, Parameters and Dimensions:

The concept of recognizing the wide variety of qualities possessed by people within an organization. It emphasizes the individuality of people, and the importance of valuing each person for his or her unique combination of skills, competences, attributes, knowledge, personality traits, etc. Advocates of managing diversity often present it as an alternative to equal opportunity. The latter is condemned for being obsessed with treating people the same, when people ought to be treated differently, in order to reflect their diversity. It is considered a new approach to fair treatment which values the individual: respect for the individual is stressed, and policies emphasizing individualism are preferred. Critics argue that the concept of managing diversity underestimates the extent to which people share common interests, values, and belief, and have similar needs. By focusing on the individual it ignores the importance of a shared, collective identity and the reality of social groupings. Moreover, rather than addressing fair treatment, it abandons the idea entirely and appeals to the selfish and self-serving aspects of human nature. In between the advocates and the critics are commentators who argue that management of diversity has an important practical application because it allows organizations with an increasingly diverse workforce to address the varying needs of both individuals and groups. Importantly, it can provide a means of putting fairness and respect for differences on the agenda in organizations with managers who previously have been resistant (or even hostile) to equal opportunities.

Managing diversity can be defined as a planned, systematic and comprehensive managerial process for developing an organizational environment in which all employees, with their similarities and differences, can contribute to the strategic and competitive advantage of the organization, and where no-one is excluded on the basis of factors unrelated to production.


In today's business environment, people are the most important source of sustained competitive advantage. Every person brings a unique combination of background, heritage, gender, religion, education, experience, etc to the workplace. Their diversity represents an enormous source of new ideas and vitality.

Unleashing and effectively using the productive talents, energy and creativity of a diverse workforce for maximum organizational effectiveness, is the fundamental goal of diversity management. Organizations are increasingly being built on intellectual capital rather than on buildings and machines. Often costly misunderstandings are precipitated by managers and staff in general, failing to recognize and overcome stereotypes of each other. Prejudices and biases that are acted out by employees or managers threaten internal work team productivity and external customer satisfaction.

One of the most common misconceptions about diversity is that it is really only Affirmative Action (AA) or Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) with a new name(only limited to women and provincial diversity in Pakistan). Although this is not true, EEO, AA and diversity management are not mutually exclusive and can ideally support one another.

Outlining the differences, though, is critical in getting people to respond positively: EEO and AA serve social and moral purposes. Diversity management, on the other hand, serves economic purposes. Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. That sounds simple, but diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.

Diversity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability and change. Diversity will increase significantly in the coming years. Successful organizations recognize the need for immediate action and are ready and willing to spend resources on managing diversity in the workplace now. Cultural differences can impact an organization in many ways; it can strengthen as well as weaken the workforce. With the recent globalization of organizations, it is essential organizations today understand the importance of cultural diversity in order to succeed. Due to variety of languages communication is a key ingredient in any successful business relationship. A business must understand how cultural diversity impacts the organization and how management and human resources address these issues from a corporate level. Any issues that are not addressed can impact the organization negatively.

Reason for Choosing This Topic:

My future aspirations are to work in the public sector. Before I take on the job I want to be fully equipped and want to ensure that my academic experience fully support me in gaining success in my professional field. Public sector face many challenges. One primary hurdle in efficiency of public organizations is the utter failure to manage control and utilize the diverse work force that you have. The faliure of managers in the public sector to celebrate diversity and to solve the problems that it gives rise to organizational inefficiency and low output.

It is my contention though, this research, to critically analyse the dimensions of diversity and to understand how this can be created into a tool for better output. Although the work might be little diverse and only along trivial lines in Pakistan, it is a serious problem and needs its due attention before the situation gets out of hand. Public sector demands interaction with a spectrum of sub cultres. More often than not, proving to be resistant to foreign actors. In situations like these a diverse work force can prove to be a decisive factor between success and faliure. Its is also equally important of the benefit of the organization that each employee is fully utilized, and for that understanding diversity-related dimensions are of paramount importance. It helps to understand the limitations as well as strenght of your workforces.


Individual differences belong to crucial issues challenging managers in the quest for high performance and organizational competitiveness by EDM. This is true not only in first world countries but also in Pakistan and in other developing countries.

EDM entails enabling people to perform up to their maxi mum potential, either in spite of their diversity or on its basis, resulting in their complementary attributes and interdependence. It focuses on changing an organization's culture and infrastructure for people to provide the highest productivity possible. Three key strategies for EDM success: 1) Education; 2) Enforcement; and 3) Exposure.

The education component of EDM strategy has two thrusts: one is to prepare the less-traditional managers for increasingly responsible posts; the other to help traditional managers overcome their prejudices by thinking about and interacting with people of a different sex, ethnicity, etc.

The enforcement component of EDM strategy puts teeth in diversity-related goals and encourages behavioral change / innovation.

The final EDM component, exposure to people with different backgrounds and characteristics, adds a more personal approach to ED by helping managers get to know and respect others who are different.

EDM includes the following.

Equal rights and opportunities,

Zero tolerance of discrimination,

Remedial action through reviews and adjustment measures,

Transparency in personnel policies and practices,

Open communication in departments,

Constructive performance feedback, and

Departmental accountability in promoting staff diversity.


Literature Review &

Data Analysis.


In general terms, diversity refers to the many ways in which people in organisations differ. These include: race, gender, age, physical ability, physical appearance, weight, height, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, personal background, nationality, cultural heritage, functional experience, occupational level, mental and physical challenges, family responsibilities, military experience, language facility, educational background, style differences, economic status, thinking patterns, political background, area of residence, IQ level, smoking preference, white/blue collar. In short: Diversity is all the ways in which we differ.


An organization's success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize the benefits. When organizations actively assess their handling of workplace diversity issues, develop and implement diversity plans, multiple benefits are reported to produce the following benefits:


Increases employee self-awareness of biases, stereotypes, and prejudices.

Increases employee understanding and tolerance for people who are different.

Employees who are more flexible and able to deal with change.


A variety of approaches to thinking and problem-solving.

Maximized innovation and productivity on complex tasks.

Improved communication skills and the ability to work productively in teams.


Access to a range of competencies not previously available

Increased flexibility, adaptability and pro-activity within the organization.

Access to a diverse range of markets, customers, suppliers and distributors, translating into bottom line results.

External recognition as an employer of choice and accompanying recruiting advantage

Organizations employing a diverse workforce can supply a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands.


Products and services that better meet customer needs. It is critical to the success of the diversity initiative that it be perceived as a business imperative and not a human resources initiative. It is important to establish a causal link between managing diversity and the organization's profitability, where the focus is on tapping new markets, improving international business, and revitalizing marketing, sales, and customer service strategies. In fact, diversity management may provide the competitive advantage in the ability to attract, train, and promote the best minds. Diversity accountability should also be linked to everybody's job descriptions and to performance management in order to stimulate the behaviour the company wants to foster. Without this, the managing diversity process might never be taken seriously in an organisation. Managers should also be willing to revamp policies, systems and practices as needed to enhance diversity. They should also assess diversity-related needs and resolve them; provide diversity awareness training, education and coaching to support desired goals and objectives; provide for and ensure necessary reinforcement and accountability in diversity areas.

Increased Adaptability

Organizations employing a diverse workforce can supply a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands.

Broader Service Range

A diverse collection of skills and experiences (e.g. languages, cultural understanding) allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis.

Variety of Viewpoints

A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more effectively.

More Effective Execution

Companies that encourage workplace diversity inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest ability. Company-wide strategies can then be executed; resulting in higher productivity, profit, and return on investment.

Challenges of Workplace Diversity

Taking full advantage of the benefits of diversity in the workplace is not without its challenges. Some of those challenges are:


Perceptual, cultural and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork, and low morale.

Resistance to change

There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The "we've always done it this way" mentality silences new ideas and inhibits progress.

Implementation of Diversity in the Workplace Policies

This can be the overriding challenge to all diversity advocates. Armed with the results of employee assessments and research data, they must build and implement a customized strategy to maximize the effects of workplace diversity for their particular organization.

Successful Management of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity training alone is not sufficient for your organization's diversity management plan. A strategy must be created and implemented to create a culture of diversity that permeates every department and function of the organization.

Leading From the Front

These attributes describe an effective manager and leader. The key within a diverse environment is to be able to practice these behaviors with all contributors, rather than only employees with whom you are most comfortable. Developing the diversity dimension of leadership requires a commitment to demonstrate the following behaviors on a regular basis:

Learn the professional aspirations of all team members and support their efforts to achieve them.

Many organizations have some type of career development or succession planning process. In order to make these programs more effective within a diverse environment, be sure that you are talking to all of your staff about their career aspirations. Even if your organization does not have many opportunities for individuals looking for upward mobility, your interest in their career and your assistance in their development will be greatly appreciated and usually motivates people to do their best work. If there are no opportunities within the organization and the employee ultimately leaves the company, your company then has a positive ambassador in the overall community.

Create opportunities for highly talented employees to be exposed to leaders who may not otherwise interact with them. Create opportunities where they present a report, attend a meeting in your place, or conduct various other activities whereby they can interact with leaders in the organization who, if impressed, can impact their career in a positive way.

Create cross-functional teams. As organizations have downsized, right-sized, and re-engineered their businesses, many management positions have been eliminated, thus requiring groups to work together as teams in order to complete the necessary tasks. When you create cross-functional teams, ideas flourish. People are exposed to each other's ideas and discover that different departments have different viewpoints. That exposure is beneficial to the overall innovation potential of the organization. When creating these teams, remember that putting people together does not automatically make them a team. Attention does need to be given to developing that group of people into an effective, trusting team.

Volunteer for community projects that teach tolerance, both directly and indirectly. By doing this, you set the example that you are continually enhancing your understanding and appreciation of people different than you. That behavior can encourage others within the organization to do the same. For example, you may choose to become a mentor within the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. This can enable you to better understand young people. The experience can teach tolerance and patience, and it can certainly will help you appreciate that which is important to people whose backgrounds may be different than yours. These leanings have many applications in the workplace.

Delegate fairly. Sometimes we have a tendency to delegate to the same people all the time because they do good work and we know things will be done well. However, if we are going to truly develop all team members, regardless of their packaging, we need to identify projects, tasks, and responsibilities that could further develop their skills. Once the task is delegated, be sure to coach and counsel, and be clear regarding your expectations and the results.

Communicate and support intolerance of inappropriate and disrespectful behavior. This must be an ongoing behavior on your part, one where you are constantly looking for opportunities to teach tolerance and respect within the workplace.

Evaluate performance objectively. Employees really want to do a good job. The problem is often they dont know what a good job is, because the clues from management and leadership are unclear. Often the clues are different based on superficial or stereotypical judgments regarding age, gender or ethnicity. As soon as a person joins an organization, she or he should be given a clear job description, and the specific goals and objectives for that individual should be developed. The criteria for measurement should be clarified. Throughout the evaluation period, feedback should be given so that when the evaluation review is actually conducted, neither the manager nor the employee is surprised by the results. It is not easy being totally objective all the time. However, if the skills and expectations for the job are clear, the measurement criteria is clear, and the feedback is continuous, then it becomes easier for you to be fair with each employee.

Consider individual needs when enforcing company policies and guidelines. The idea is to be fair. However, "fair" does not necessarily mean "the same." There are times when you must decide how to implement policies without showing favoritism while recognizing differences. An example might be with work schedules. Although within a department, and within the same job category, everyone is probably expected to arrive at the same time and leave at the same time, it would be appropriate, when necessary, to allow flex-time as long as it is clear that the total amount of time required for work is covered. Job sharing is also helpful here. If parents have child-related issues, effective managers consider those issues and determine whether or not exceptions are necessary while balancing the effect of making those exceptions and their impact on the overall department. Not an easy thing to do. Rather than try to develop the best idea alone, Solicit input from the employees involved and from other managers to determine what the most appropriate action is.

You may have noticed that nowhere in this article have I mentioned doing things based on ethnicity, gender, disability, age, and the like. It is critical that effective leaders and managers realize that everyone in the organization contributes to its diversity. The more you are able to connect with individuals, the more you will be able to create an environment that causes them to produce at their highest level, regardless of their packaging.

Affirmative Action VS Diversity

Diversity management is frequently confused with affirmative action and valuing diversity. Opponents of both concepts use the terms interchangeably, often throwing in the word "preferences" as yet another synonym. It is important to understand the history of each and to use the terms accurately. Affirmative action, valuing diversity and managing diversity are separate points on the continuum of interventions designed to stimulate the inclusion of people from different backgrounds in an organization.

Affirmative Action:

Affirmative Action is grounded in moral and social responsibility to amend wrongs done in the past to those Americans who were not of the majority population. These legal obligations are based on numerical measures and were designed to increase the representation of minorities and women in areas of employment where they were previously underrepresented. This effort was a direct result of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. 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. Again, the focus was and has been on increasing the representation of minorities and females in the workforce to reflect their availability in the labor market. It was surmised that creating such a initiative would rectify the social injustices experienced by the nation's minority population.

Diversity Management:

Managing diversity is different from both Affirmative Action and valuing diversity because it focuses on the business 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. It also does not involve any legal requirements and is not implemented just to avoid lawsuits. Managing diversity moves beyond valuing diversity in that it is a way in which to do business and should be aligned with other organizational strategic plans.

Affirmative action is based on an assimilation model that focuses on getting people into an organization rather than changing organizational culture (valuing diversity). Subsequently, managing diversity, while based on cultural change, is a pragmatic business strategy that focuses on maximizing the productivity, creativity and commitment of the workforce while meeting the needs of diverse consumer groups.

While these three interventions build upon one another, when affirmative action is tied together with valuing and/or managing diversity, diversity often becomes tainted by negative perceptions of affirmative action and is therefore frequently misunderstood. Backlash, resistance and polarization often ensue when these concepts are combined.

Sample Policy

IMF- Diversity Policy

Guidelines for Staff and Managers

In view of the international character of the Fund and the value that the Fund attaches to diversity, staff are expected to act with tolerance, sensitivity, respect, and impartiality toward other persons' cultures and backgrounds.

All staff are expected to treat their colleagues-whether supervisors, peers, or subordinates-with courtesy and respect, without harassment or physical or verbal abuse, and should at all times avoid behavior at the workplace that, although not rising to the level of harassment or abuse, may nonetheless create an atmosphere of hostility or intimidation.

As individuals, we all share responsibility for respecting and valuing each other. Individual managers, however, make these efforts credible by following high standards in their own daily managerial activities and serving as examples for junior staff.

A good Fund manager/supervisor makes a conscious effort to promote and encourage diversity within his or her department and division. This entails not only creating an open and encouraging atmosphere, but also developing new activities focusing on staff diversity, while integrating diversity aspects into existing management practices.

Effective managers make themselves available to staff members who may wish to raise concerns in confidence; they deal with such situations in an impartial and sensitive manner. Managers should endeavor to create an atmosphere in which staff feel free to use-without fear of reprisal-existing institutional channels for conflict resolution, and to express concerns about situations that are, or have the potential to be, conflict.

The Fund does not tolerate intentional or unintentional discrimination, unfair treatment, disrespectful behavior, or harassment on the part of any staff member.

Sources: IMF Code of Conduct, IMF Policy on Harassment, management's diversity statements





Diversity is beneficial to both associates and employers. Although associates are interdependent in the workplace, respecting individual differences can increase productivity. Diversity in the workplace can reduce lawsuits and increase marketing opportunities, recruitment, creativity, and business image. In an era when flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness, diversity is critical for an organization's success. Also the consequences (loss of time and money) should not be overlooked. here are challenges to managing a diverse work population. Managing diversity is more than simply acknowledging differences in people. It involves recognizing the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness. Managers may also be challenged with losses in personnel and work productivity due to prejudice and discrimination and complaints and legal actions against the organization.

Negative attitudes and behaviors can be barriers to organizational diversity because they can harm working relationships and damage morale and work productivity . Negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace include prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, which should never be used by management for hiring, retention, and termination practices.

Diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Diverse work teams bring high value to organizations. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful.


1. Hire more women and staff from underrepresented countries to mid-career and senior levels. Develop strong external networks and targeted recruitment practices. Ensure that diversity-related recruitment is designed. Document data on candidate pools, all applicants, offers made, and rejections to improve recruitment operations.

2. Appoint qualified minority staff to visible and influential positions in the area and functional departments and in HRD to accelerate the diversity process. Expand the nationality and gender diversity to ensure that a broad range of perspectives are brought to human resource management and to improve the credibility of the businesses diversity commitment.

3. Set transparent and consistent standards for performance assessments, merit pay, and time-in-grade requirements for exceptional working periods including parent leave, extended sick leave, leave without pay, and part-time work to ensure fair treatment of all staff and to support well informed career and life decisions.

4. Strengthen professional staffing in the specialized career streams' senior levels by improving external recruitment and developing internal pipelines of diverse candidates. If economists are appointed to positions outside their expertise, pay special attention to their diversity and require sufficient training in the respective professional field.

6. Annually review and report, by main diversity categories, starting grades and salaries of staff and

contract based employees in all career streams, using consistent standards and well documented employment histories.

An organization should keep a check on the perceptual, cultural and language barriers related to diversity and see that they don't give way to confusion and low team spirit. While working towards managing diversities in organizations, attempts should be made to identify the similarities, instead of looking for the differences. This will help the organization set up the basis for a healthy working environment. Proper steps should be taken to involve every employee while devising and executing diversity initiatives in the workplace. Take polite and sincere interest about the well being and emotional health of the workers. For the smooth running of any institution, it is very essential to keep the 'human aspect' in mind. It should be kept in mind that every person has his or her personal life and it is important to value that and give the person some space. Respect and value each person's contribution, overlooking their differences in opinions and beliefs. An organization should provide an atmosphere of openness and candor. Employees should never be dissuaded from voicing their opinions and ideas, regarding any matter. Try to create an environment within the institution wherein every person will enjoy working. An organization should always see that it promotes diversity in managerial and leading positions. Organizations can also arrange training, in order to improve policies and procedures related to diversity.


Assessment of diversity in the workplace

Top companies make assessing and evaluating their diversity process an integral part of their management system. A customizable employee satisfaction survey can accomplish this assessment for your company efficiently and conveniently. It can help your management team determine which challenges and obstacles to diversity are present in your workplace and which policies need to be added or eliminated. Reassessment can then determine the success of you diversity in the workplace plan implementation.


Implementation of diversity in the workplace plan

The personal commitment of executive and managerial teams is a must. Leaders and managers within organizations must incorporate diversity policies into every aspect of the organization's function and purpose. Attitudes toward diversity originate at the top and filter downward. Management cooperation and participation is required to create a culture conducive to the success of your organization's plan.

Ward off change resistance with inclusion.

Involve every employee possible in formulating and executing diversity initiatives in your workplace.

Foster an attitude of openness in your organization.

Encourage employees to express their ideas and opinions and attribute a sense of equal value to all.

Promote diversity in leadership positions.

This practice provides visibility and realizes the benefits of diversity in the workplace.

Utilize diversity training.

Use it as a tool to shape your diversity policy.

Launch a customizable employee satisfaction survey that provides comprehensive reporting Use the results to build and implement successful diversity in the workplace policies.


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