Diversity in a workplace is when you have a variety of ethical differences between people in an organization. It sounds pretty self-explanatory, but diversity encompasses genders, races, cultures, ethnic origins, age, personality, tenure, education, background and more (Greenberg, 2005). It is imperative for leaders and supervisors of organizations to make changes to their cultural make-up so everyone understands what cultural diversity is and how it affects the company they work for. An organization needs to design a structure and control system that creates ideal use of the talents to achieve a diverse workforce and to develop an organizational culture that encourages employees to work together. Once an organization builds that structure, management can take the appropriate steps to guarantee a conflict-free work environment and continue to create positive outcomes for their business and staff.
I chose to research this topic as many organizations need to explore methods for leaders to manage cultural diversity successfully and effectively. My research will include how a company can successfully create a diverse environment, why it is important for organizations to grasp the differences in a diverse work environment and discuss the consequences that may occur if a company fails to incorporate effective methods for focusing and implementing a multicultural population.
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Diversity became an issue as the result of three powerfully significant trends reaching serious points: First, the global market in which American corporations do business became intensely competitive. Second, the makeup of the US workforce began changing dramatically, becoming more diverse. Lastly, individuals began to glorify their differences and became less cooperative to what makes them unique.
The evolution of diversity must include integration and awareness. People with diverse backgrounds and physical characteristics must be integrated into the teams that plan and carry out an organization's activities so that their ideas and skills are used and not merely acknowledged. This way of thinking led to the concept of managing diversity.
Managing diversity is a form of human resource management. It addresses the many ways employees are different and the many ways they are alike. Managing diversity goes beyond race and gender, and includes many other dimensions. It is not about white males managing women and minorities; it is about all managers empowering whoever is in their workforce.
Managing diversity is not a program, not an orchestrated set of actions designed to "do" something. It calls for more than changing individual behaviors. It requires a fundamental change in the corporation's way of life and implementing it takes years.
B.J. Bowes once said, "Diversity today is being viewed as a key means to strengthen the human capital of an organization and improve overall performance." Studies have shown that diverse work environments can positively affect and strengthen the organization, but what can organizations do to assure this type of environment (Bowes, 2007)? Respect. It plays a very important role in any organization. It is not only key among staff members, but also to gain a respectable relationship between all staff and various management levels. However, because of the hierarchy of command in a workplace, respect is not easily gained, maintained or redeveloped when it is lost (Belcher, 2012). Building respect requires more than just a job well done; it also takes time, patience and consistency (Belcher, 2012).
In order to broaden diversity, all employees must be aware of the synergy created between differences and similarities to achieve an effective workforce. Organizations engage in diversity and inclusion for several reasons: 1) to make up for past discrimination 2) to show that the organization is inclusive 3) to follow government regulations and 4) to create organizational synergy (Vaughn, 2005). At the end of the day, life and business is moving at a fast pace. Things are constantly changing, and the competitive world of business is all about productivity.
Synergy is about developing an environment in which each employee has an opportunity to actualize personal potential while nurturing team members (Vaughn, 2005). Effective diversity and inclusion takes advantage of individual and group differences by harnessing them in the service of productivity (Vaughn, 2005).
In order for a business to be successful with diversity, the following should be thought about and practiced on an everyday basis (Vaughn, 2005):
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Increase the number of women in the workplace
Increase the number of people of color in the workplace
Increase in the number of immigrants in the workplace
Increase in the number of aging people in the workplace
Increase in differences in workplace values
Changing family needs of employees
Increase in the number of employees who rely on the workplace for a social life
Increase in retraining needs of employees
Increase tolerance for different identity groups
If a company is successful with the management of diversity and creates their organization to which differences are truly valued, it is good for business. This creates a boost of moral by employees which in turn, is a strategic advantage. Organizations that have met these challenges and capitalized on these opportunities presented by a diverse work environment will show bottom-line results and a momentous edge over competition.
Samuel Betances once said, managing diversity is an on-going process that unleashes the various talents and capabilities which a diverse population bring to an organization, community or society, so as to create a wholesome, inclusive environment, that is "safe for differences," enables people to "reject rejection," celebrates diversity, and maximizes the full potential of all, in a cultural context where everyone benefits (Rosado, 2006).
Now, if an organization holds no diverse value, they must follow the below steps in order to become diverse (Vaughn, 2005):
Commitment to a Long-Term change effort
Commitment to the time, money and emotional energy needed
Obtain support from top management is critical
Offer only what can be fulfilled
Expect the discomfort that comes with change
Work to modify the systems the organization has in place
Help employees understand the bigger picture and get beyond individual needs
Set measurable goals
Show that the changes lead to something better than the existing state of affairs
Recognize that training is necessary, but not sufficient
Recognize that an end point does not exist
One of the biggest challenges organizations must face is educating all employees, from top management to the hourly workers, to understand that in order to become the best, becoming knowledgeable of diversity is a must. Diversity is about making people feel wanted, appreciated and welcomed. It makes the organization they work for effective by giving all the employees the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths in certain areas. It is not Equal Employment Opportunity or Affirmative Action. It is about the laws and policies created worldwide.
From the time we are born, we learn about ourselves, other people, our surroundings and the world. Family, friends, books, TV shows, teachers and others influence us on what is right and wrong. Learning this at an early age leads us all to bury this information within us and create our own perceptions about how we see things and how we react to them. As we grown, we learn and practice various bits of information which is how we create our own point of view, which many call - bias. Bias serves as a filtering system; that allows people to make sense of new information based on what we already learned in the past. The majority of the bias we create within ourselves are noble as they allow us to accept that something is true. If we allow our bias to create our opinions of what people can and cannot do, then bias is always negative. This is how prejudice is created.
A large amount of training is needed for most people to learn how to relieve the biases we have created within our minds as we were growing up. To develop diversity, it involves workshops, role models, mentors, etc. But, most of all, training teaches us how to create a well-developed leadership and also to discover the informal leadership that has been demonstrated prior to the training courses.
Embracing diversity is more than tolerating people those who are different. It means actively welcoming and involving them by (Greenberg, 2005):
Developing an atmosphere that is safe for all employees to ask for help. People should not be viewed as weak if they ask for help. This is what helps to build great teams - joining weakness with strength to get the goal accomplished.
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Actively seeking information from people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Also, including everyone on the problem solving and decision making process.
Including people who different than you in informal gatherings such as lunch, coffee breaks, and spur of the moment meetings.
Creating a team spirit where every member feels a part of.
When diversity is put into practice and all employees are on board, there is much success for that business. When diversity is accredited and respected, management finds new ways to maximize and capitalize on the different skills, styles and sensibilities of employees from different cultures (Dickerson, 2012). When employees are understood and accepted for their different cultural backgrounds and beliefs of their colleagues, they are more capable of working harmoniously with their fellow staff and engaging in productive activity. By honoring diversity and inclusions you are able to (Vaughn, 2005):
Recognize, appreciate and utilize the unique insights, perspectives and backgrounds of others
Avoid discrimination and disrespectful behavior
Create an environment of trust, respect and tolerance
Appreciate the business case for diversity as it affects your company's bottom line
When employees feel that they are respected and appreciated, they are more likely to be engaged and most likely to put forth their best efforts for the company in which they work. Having a leadership team that inspires their staff, rather than ridicule, plays a big part in motivating employees. Employees are able to distinguish the culture leaders worked hard on creating. This is why creating a diverse workplace is so important.
With understanding cultural differences, identifying commonalities and when everyone feels included and appreciated for their personal purpose within an organization, they are far more likely to engage fully, develop loyalty and enjoy job satisfaction. It takes awareness of different backgrounds, cultures and personality traits when managing diversity which is an important key in developing an effective management strategy and exploiting the involvement of every employee in the workplace.
One of the many ways to improve the moral within an organization is to treat each employee with the same respect as you would with any other employee. This means recognizing each person for who they are as individuals, valuing what they have to offer the company and how they can benefit it and making them feel as they are part of the organizations family. A combination of critical thinking and experience regarding diversity is the most powerful tool an organization can have in its favor to beat competition. The more an organization focuses on creating a comprehensive culture, the better opportunity they have to demonstrate agility in overcoming today's economic barriers.
Diversity within the workplace can be a positive tool as long as all staff is demonstrating adequate representation within the various groups or an organization. Should an organization fail to create this diversity, some may feel a sense of alienation and disconnect may be created minority groups. In most cases, diversity enhances business performance, and creates a sense of understanding throughout the world making it an enjoyable place to work. However, if diversity is not managed properly or a policy is not put in place within the company, there is room for possible conflict to occur, miscommunication, higher turnover, or other consequences. The causes of these problems are more serious than one can imagine and the solutions are difficult to achieve.
Should management avoid stereotypes and the generalities that they could produce, does not help this key issue. Taking the time to discover the deeper reality will create a foundation where improvement and understanding can be established. Diversity is part of our culture in America; it is necessary and even desirable.
Many managers and CEOs of various companies fail to understand the importance of the organizational design within their business. For this, they notice their business' performance and effectiveness decline. Although organizational structure and culture control behavior, managers are often unaware of the many factors that affect this relationship, failing to provide attention to the actions of their employees and their role within the organization-until something happens is a call for disaster and much bigger problems.
Diversity calls for the recognition of the contributions that individuals can make as individuals, not just as members of legislatively designated groups (Gadget, 2011). Diversity requires that management of organizations are to be very inclusive, not just tolerating those who are different but also celebrating those differences (Gadget, 2011). It calls for the opening of non-traditional occupations to men and women of all creeds, colors, religions, races and social groupings and for making reasonable accommodations the workplace and work life for this to happen (Gadget, 2011). It calls for diversity beyond just gender, race, or physical and intellectual abilities to include diversity in opinions, sexual preferences, social customs and more, and other aspects of the variations in lives and lifestyles (Gadget, 2011). There is a compelling generic business case for achieving and managing diversity in the workplace. Diversity can help organizations; identify and capitalize on opportunities.
Programs and training courses on diversity are considered to be one of the best investments an organization can invest in as they are known to be very beneficial to a business. Leadership professionals have become very successful as they have learned to contribute diversity programs within their businesses on all levels. We have to remember that having a diversified workforce is not something a company should have; actually it is something that they should have as the world is a diversified population (Gadget, 2011). Diversity in the workplace is becoming more and more widespread. Corporations in all industries are encouraging minorities, women, elderly workers, and people with disabilities as well as foreign workers to join the dominant workforce in the workplace (Gadget, 2011). Diversity of the workforce is clearly something that will not go away, rather overtime, will only grow more powerful. Business owners will still need to maintain and step up efforts to recruit and advance ethnic minorities each year (Gadget, 2011). Essentially, having a diverse work force gives any company more advantages to their competitors.
According to our textbook, Ford, Sears, and Kodak have all experienced problems adjusting to the reality of modern global competition and have seen their sales and profits fall dramatically. Due to this problem, they have terminated a large portion of their staff, reduced some of the products they produce, and reduced investments. A major reason for this outcome is that managers have lost control to the organizational structure and culture of the business. These companies became so big, so fast that the managers and employees were unable to change and adapt to changing conditions (Jones, 14).
Due to poor organizational design and lack of attention to create organizational design, this has resulted in a decline within the organization. Talented employees have left such firms in search of a more stable and well developed company. Resources become harder and harder to acquire, and the whole process of value creation slows down. Neglecting organizational design within a business until crisis hits forces managers to make the changes necessary to the organizational structure of the company. Unfortunately, for those who wait this long, the company could already be in a diversity disaster.
Without diversity, it is easy to find yourself resorting to the same people who have similar backgrounds to serve and manage; it's hard to focus on opening doors to seek another individual who has new and different perspective on how to get the job done. When you use the same group of people who all have similar ethnic backgrounds and knowledge, there will always be a lack of creativity in producing new products or maximizing on current solutions and problems. When the majority of staff have similar backgrounds, it's easy for groupthink to set in (Dickerson, 2012). There is a value to different perspectives that come from different experiences, including a minority experience (Dickerson, 2012). A greater diversity of backgrounds, for instance, would be more receptive to questions.
In her 2010 Statement on Diversity and Equal Opportunity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that "Diversity is one of America's greatest strengths." She charged every leader in the department with ensuring "that the workplace for which they are responsible runs on the principles of equity, fairness and inclusion." And she concluded that "In representing the United States to the world we need a workforce that reflects and respects the rich composition of our nation." (Dickerson, 2012)
Diversity has brought people of similar and different backgrounds together onto "the same boat," and this boat is the American workforce. In these changing times, marked by changing values and terminology, it will be important to keep abreast of the evolution of diversity for the overall good of society.
If diversity management is lacking or non-existent, culturally diverse workgroups may have certain dysfunctional outcomes such as, miscommunications, longer decision times, lower member morale and lower team cohesiveness than culturally homogenous workgroups (Gadget, 2011). There are negative consequences when it comes to diversity which creates a negative impact on creativity and innovation, problem solving, and workgroup cohesiveness. As a result, these negative consequences can reduce market share, profitability, and achievement of organizational skills (Gadget, 2011).
In conclusion, diversity in any workforce is growing in all countries, especially the United States. With having more companies engage in diverse work environments, organizations can produce better performance and products. It is important for companies to be well educated in diversity so they can have a better handle on any issues that may occur relating to it. Also, the demand of a diverse work environment is rising as there are different people being introduced into the workforce, and because these people have the ability to produce different results as there are different types of people working on a specific project. Upper management in organizations need to be educated on diversity (the differences of gender, age, sex, and religion in their work environments and also how to communicate with them) and how to manage it effectively.