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In todays world of work, equality and diversity issues have raised concerns from both the business and academic aspects of life. Its awareness has increasingly grown to become a concept that is said to present high advantage for businesses which incorporate this in their work practices. However, the adoption of diversity has posed a threat by replacing itself under the disguise of individualisation, thereby, knocking off the initial struggle for its cause by activists and scholars; who are in a bid to eradicate oppression in the workplace and society.
The birth of equality and diversity has also created career opportunities for many which spans across managerial levels to governmental positions and has given rise to enhancement of equality policies; however creating poor management recognition due to high performance expectations placed on these workers. Walsh (2007).
This has become one of the issues central to equality, whilst striving to create a diverse work group in an organisation. The question, in an organisational context, then becomes if equality is achieved by treating employees the same or differently in accordance to their distinctive personalities.
Therefore, the purpose of this essay, aims to critically appraise the concept of Intersectionality by focusing on the diverse categories of people's interests in an organisation and the benefits for the economy. The approach on studying several diversity groups of interests was chosen, realising from my studies that there are numerous sort of people's interests, and though grouped, are still somewhat related; hence it might prove difficult to focus on one group of people in this discourse of Intersectionality without mention to the other. To simplify this point for example, examining Feminism stems to further studies like Black Feminism and Lesbian Feminism. A particular school of thought cannot be fully examined without reference to the other, as they often times are inter-related.
Diversity among the human race is as old as the origin of man. There are several myths and theories explaining the origin of diversity such as the biblical theology story of the ''tower of Babel'' (Genesis: Bible), to scientific approaches, like the evolutionary theory by Charles Darwin (Darwin 1864). The concept of diversity in the spheres of life highlights our differences as individuals. Diversity exudes in different form. However, more common are race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, age and class; interestingly scholars are now even including introverts as a form of diversity discourse. They argue that in the western workplace culture (America in particular) some academic institutions, governmental organisations, and general workplace organisations have been lenient towards the extrovert personality in their work systems, neglecting the introverts.
The uniqueness and capabilities of the introverts are some-what diluted in such societies, hence the society does not recognise their capabilities and benefit from their full potential. Most popularly in advocating for introverts interests is Cain (2012) lecturer and writer who raised the awareness, of the unconscious marginalisation of introverted people in the corporate society and sheds light about their unique potentials.
Several scholars are of the opinion that employers need to embrace diversity, and it should be part of the discourse in modern day business and organisational practices. Concerns emanating from the opportunity that diversity creates in terms of increased productivity and knowledge in the work place are said to be advantageous for businesses to gain recognition and competitive advantage in their business environment. Scholars such as Wentling (2010) , state that, when diversity is valued in an organisation it would create an environment that respects and values the differences in peoples, as well as acknowledging and recognising, the unique contributions these individuals with differences can create; thereby building and maximizing the potential of all employees. Moore (1999) includes in his view, that diversity should mirror the population of the state it serves in all dimensions. According to the scholar, he argues that the value of workplace diversity is that it creates an entity that is strategically better and advantageous when compared to individualistic ones. The scholar also further states that employers in today's world would have to expand their vision for diversity and consider its growing effect strategically, when making future plans.
In this discourse for diversity, more attention is placed in the United States as the country remains at the frontier when it comes to diversity issues and a melting point for most human cultures. The cultural background of the United States has evolved from over 10, 000 years, from the native inhabitants to European settlers, the African American settlers who came in as slaves, as well as the Latin and Asian Americans (Kellogg 2003). The nation has also had its first African-American president ( President Barak Obama) , and more women are now holding positions of business influence in the United states for example Hillary Clinton.The United States of America is and can be classed of as a country, that easily embraces people with different cultural or ethical backgrounds. In addition, the country prides itself as one that consists and embraces ethnic diversity. Evidently the country boasts of an astounding number of people from well over 100 countries.(insert refference or quote). The demographic makeup in the countries organizations, industries and schools reflect the increase in diverse people, with a percentage according to their census polls climbing towards 50% (Tierney 2012).It can be derived hence from this historical knowledge of the United States that, the concept of diversity should permeate workplaces and become a necessity to the success of a business both large and small.
Undoubtedly, people are different and by this have different needs, which may create an uncertainty on how other people interact with them. Sex, race, religion, disability, sexuality are areas of an individual's group classification in terms of personality. It therefore comes as no surprise that perhaps, as the concept of diversity grew, so did the need for more structured interest and social groups, which resulted to the move for equality.
In the discourse for equality in this essay, reference is given to the civil rights movement, in the 1950s, where a good number of African Americans led by Martin Luther King Junior focused on equal rights for African Americans. At the time in the United States of America, the country had continually endured economic oppression of Blacks, Latinos, and Asians, and denied them of economic, political and social opportunities. This oppression had caused widespread employment discrimination in the country as blacks who worked at the time were paid pitifully lower wages compared to their white contemporises. There was severe racism in the country and the civil rights movement leader, Martin Luther King Junior, enforced a non-violent approach to the opposition system (Jackson 2007).
Another example is the Gay and Lesbian right movement which became more popular in the 1960's. According to Larry Kramer, (gay activist) lesbian and gays have been around since the beginning of history (Kuhn 2011). The author enables us to understand the magnitude of the gay and lesbian marginalisation stating that the American history makes little or no reference to gay and lesbians. He explains further that they were discriminated in all ramifications, from the workplace, to their social lives. Reaburn (2004) is of the opinion that the interests of gay, lesbians and bisexuals are now properly considered in revenue generating companies in the United States. Though, he opines internal pressure from mobilized gay and lesbian employers as the cause. The author states that more and more organisations are becoming aware of the partner-benefit of lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
Moving further in the discourse of equal right movement, springs the feminist movement. The movement began in the late 18th century. This movement was oriented around the station of women's rights. It involved suffrage, political equality, inequality in the work place compared to their male counterparts, sexual harassments and so on. Several campaigns for reforms on these issues were held. However scholars such as Holvino (2010), Frankenburg (1993) Hooks (2000) highlight the failings of the feminist movement. They explained the women of colour needs were not covered in the feminist movement approaches; hence the need for women of colour to have their own movement became necessary and evolved out of Feminism.
The women of colour were concerned that their experiences were more oppressive than middle class Caucasian women, for instance most of the Caucasians were middle class and relatively well to do. However, the women of colour were not as well to do like their white female counterparts. Some women of colour even complained of racism in the feminist cycles (Hooks 2000). From the Feminist movement emerged the black Feminism.
They strive for equality however, has often concentrated on individual social groups, fighting for recognition based on race, sexuality or age, some of which is discussed above. However, this is often not sufficient in the fight for recognition as other personal attributes or traits may be overlooked.
Till today there have existed several equal right movements however the term Intersectionality, has served as an umbrella to all forms of movement and has thus opened global human rights awareness on all minority interests. Unlike the equal rights or human right movement which focus on one social group (oppression), Intersectionality focuses on all. Intersectionality theory posits that all forms of oppression and marginalisation in any given society, do not act autonomously but interrelate however creating ''a cycle of oppression'' in the society.
(McCall 2005) explains Intersectionality as ''relationships among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relationships and subject formations''. Iceland (2007) supports further defining Intersectionality as ''equal opportunities for all'' and that Intersectionality serves as an equal right theoretical tool. Iceland (2007) quoting Davis (2008) and Lyke (2005) states that Intersectionality sets to explain ''how different socio cultural categories such as gender, ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, age, nationality and so on interact and mutually transform one another while interplaying''.
Intersectionality cannot be discussed without reference to Kimberlé Crenshaw who coined the word in 1989. Her intention was originally targeted for the purpose of educating people, in how women of colour were been treated by the system of oppression which she held was marked by race and gender (Crenshaw 1989). 'Intersectionality as she defines it is ''a theory to analyse how social and cultural categories intertwine. The relationships between gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, class and nationality are examined'' (Crenshaw, 1989).
According to the author she simplified her definition illustrating that one line cuts through another, such as streets crossing each other. To further throw more light on Crenshaw's definition, Eaton (1994) defines the concept as "intersectional oppression [that] arises out of the combination of various oppressions which, together, produces something unique and distinct from any one form of discrimination standing alone". Naples (2008) makes us to understand that Intersectionality was first heard from the coloured feminist who critiqued approaches that constructed women's concerns(feminist movement) without attention to the ways that race or class defined women's conditions. Wentling (2010) further explains that these ''oppression'' can be serve as internal barriers in the work environment, and these internal barriers emerged as a result external barriers.
The external barriers can be simplified from the feminist movement point of view which felt that women were being marginalised in the workplace as a result of the male breadwinner/female homemaker idea in the country and had now shaped both government and employment policies in businesses. The barriers from the environment could range from discrimination to stereotyping. Both external and internal barriers can be equally detrimental to the advancement of a working environment. Krudsen (2002) also states that oppression in the work place seems to be triggered by formal external factors which could be legislation, audits, inspections and inquiries. Intersectionality consists of theoretical concepts that aim to create equality in the work place. Scholars argue that humans are born free and therefore have an equal right to dignity and rights. Scholars also postulate that there is no one group better than the other, there is a need to therefore eliminate every form of discrimination in the society as this should create a strong global economy. As the global world has now brought the birth of a demographic change, the global marketplace and thereby creating greater tolerance for differences. It may be too essential to raise the awareness of diversity in the workplace (Dessler 2004).
As businesses compete in a global economy, the value of different perspectives and talents should aim to be vital to an organization's survival and growth. This has brought the need for human resource managers to embrace and comprehend the concept of workplace diversity, its barriers and benefits. Workplace diversity is a concept that will continue to evolve as more industries move toward a global marketplace. The globalization of business has changed the American workforce thereby the need to emphasize the importance of managing diversity in the workplace. Managers are now expected to have a firm understanding of managing a diverse workforce to competitively position an organization for business opportunities. Intersectionality has had major impacts on the work environment. A critical analysis on the relationship between Intersectionality, Globalization and Global wealth increase is analysed.
McLuhan (1962) coined the term global village. He thus predicted several years ago that time and space would not hinder people of different countries and cultures around the globe from interacting with each other, these interactions could be economic, political or social. McLuhan argued that this new actuality would have implications for forming socio-economic society. The internet has been the most dominant consequence of the global village, with the popularisation of the internet, and media gadgets collapsing time and space, it is fair to say that we now live in a global world. Therefore, cultures and peoples work in a closer net. Green et al (2012), states that the world's increasing globalization requires more interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds than ever before. People therefore no longer live and work in a narrow-minded organization.
Individuals have now become part of a worldwide economy with competition coming from nearly all continents. For this reason, profit and non-profit organizations need diversity to become more creative and open to change. Maximizing and capitalizing on workplace productivity and intersection of diverse interests would therefore be an important issue. The management processes in an organisation would have to be reformed so as to achieve suitability in the global environment we now find ourselves. Healy et al (2011) opine that in the work place globalization has been a leading cause of interests in different types of people. They do contain more of a global appeal and aim to cross across all nationality borders; a few examples of global movements are Global Fund for Women, International Gay and Lesbian, International Alliance of Women, Human Resource Managers without borders and Lawyers without Borders.
Stromquist (2005) argues quoting (Robinson, 2003), that Globalization must be considered in the study of Intersectionality because "it is the underlying structural dynamics that drives social, political, economic, and cultural processes around the world". The author further simplifies that gender constitutes of most social relations and remains a common ground to constructing power in a global economy on a daily basis. In 2001, a world conference against Racism was held in Durban South Africa "compound discrimination, double or multiple discrimination." The conference raised issues of Racism in the work place; however a crucial aspect here was the intersectoral analysis, as the importance of their crosscutting nature.
Intersectoral analysis as they concluded is crucial in these times of globalization for it enables everyone and for this purpose of study human resource managers need to understand the conditions that result from where there is a segregation of women or race.
Globalization is having a visible impact on social and economic development. Globalization presumably should give every individual an equal chance. However Stromquist (2005) makes us to understand that globalization is still not eliminating the persistent oligarchic and patriarchal forces that prevent women from moving into the spheres of economic and political power. For instance if we say Gender and power go together, the author makes us realise that masculinity is still holding a steady advantage under most circumstances in the workplace. Furthermore, schooling in most countries addresses gender ideologies only marginally.
The prevailing norms and practices even in today's global economy do not permit much effort in gender issues as a crosscutting theme and mechanism in public policy or in the labour market. However though Intersectionality has contributed to several subordination improvements, the issue of gender is proving to be an increasingly complex concept because it presents multiple forms as it intersects with other powerful social markers. Beurs van Berlag (2009) in an argument for diversity claim that to create profit and organizational wealth, the formula would be to combine values that are not easily joined with scarce resources. Chow (2011) reminds us that China has not always been a country of economic boom but has initially suffered economic crisis. The author further states that there had also been detrimental effects on women migrant workers in China. The author states that the Intersectionality of gender, class, age/generation, and regional differences has played at China's advantage. The immigration laws are lighter than before, and the women / men roles are not as defined as before.
In addition Intersectionality also impacts on training methods in an organisation. (Marquies et al., (2006) states that innovative culture from diverse cultures has always shown to have a positive effect on human capital motivation. Regions of Asia and Africa were the focus of early imperial endeavours. However, India has always been an area of commercial interest for centuries in the United States and Indian immigrants first came to the United States in the 19th century. It is also noted that they hold the highest qualification compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. From this, we can speculate that this inters cultural relation, between the Americans and the Indians has brought forth the influx of Indian cultures in the American Organizational system (also existence in other developed countries).
To simply this, for example an Indian culture that has found its way into the corporate American organizational culture is yoga. Wolfson (2006) leads us into the term ''corporate yoga''. The author tells us that there is a current boom in corporate yoga in top American corporations such as Nike, HBO, Forbes, and Apple. Yoga first of all is a flexibility exercise, which originated from India. It has been said to aid concentration, relief stress and general wellbeing. Scholars are of the opinion that the incorporation of this exercise for office personnel's could be that they claim to have better focus on their jobs and overall well-being. Additionally, some companies claim that it has lowered their health care costs ( Weiner president of Weiner, Edrich, Brown Inc) .This attitude may explain why yoga is a growing inclination at corporations. Another popular trend that is fast paving its way to achieve organizational goals is the Feng Shui from ancient China. Feng Shui according to the free dictionary is ''The Chinese art or practice of positioning objects, especially graves, buildings, and furniture, based on a belief in patterns of yin and yang and the flow of chi that have positive and negative effects''.
Few organizational theory students disagree with the need for any organization to be properly structured to meet both internal and external objectives. However scholars such as Southerst (2004), Blum (2004) and Gunn (1997) to mention opine on the growing trend amongst western organizations. Gunn (1997) states that some western companies, such as Dresdner Kleinwort Benson have been known to even consult both the lunar calendar on timing and feng shui experts. Southerst (2004) also informs us that New York real estate mogul Donald Trump regularly hires a feng shui consultant for his office tower projects.
Management has proved to be dynamic. The global environment proves to be a major factor in the way management styles develop and are implemented. Management style is the set of philosophies or principles by which the management exercise control over the workforce and bind diverse operations and functions together in order to achieve organizational goals. Scholars now state that there is the Western management style and the Asian management style to mention a few. The western management style according to Cheng and Bolon (1993) is that which allows its staffs to enhance their professional skills, while the Asian management style is characterized by leadership, collectivist orientation and greater power distance between the managers and staff. Hempel and Chang (2002) argue that all systems of management should be studied and the best form from each system should be applied.
Diversity in management styles has its shortcomings even in today's global world and some scholars still opine that each country or culture should stay with its own unique management style. A culture expert Geert Hofstede, Dutch psychologist and management researcher illustrated this point with an experience of his early career. According to Hofstede he had interviewed unsuccessfully for an engineering job with an American company. He later wrote of ''typical cross-cultural mis-understandings that crop up when American managers interview Dutch recruits and vice versa''. According to him American applicants who set up companies or organizations often oversell themselves in this part of the world. The American Curriculum Vitae according to the Dutch employers are taken to be too worded and filled with exaggerated promises on things they are quite implausible to realize. Dutch applicants on the other hand to American employers are perceived to undersell themselves. The researcher makes us to understand that the Dutch writes modest and short Curriculum Vitae and hopes that the interviewer would discover their skills and attributes in an interview.
The conclusion of this thereof is that American interviewer's interprete American Curriculum Vitae's well and vice versa. The researcher opines that the persistence of cultural value differences is particularly relevant for large multinational companies that are exposed to multiple national cultures in their daily operations. Therefore, the suggestion here is that in managing diversity in multinational companies these factors have to be considered and tailored in to their approaches
Additionally, another area to consider that diversity has enriched, is the academic area of developed countries. Unlike several years ago, there is a strong diversity culture growing in universities, from the faculties, to staff and students. Studying in a university which practises diversity provides its students with several knowledge, not only in the core course but interaction with physical ability, sexual orientation, religion, race, ethnicity. Ability to cope with these differences puts a candidate at an advantage than someone who is not exposed to the richness of the global environment. Some scholars who argue for diversity in the university opine that diverse working groups are more productive, creative, and innovative than heterogeneous groups, and suggest that developing a diverse faculty will enhance teaching and research.
According to the Women in Science & Engineering Leadership Institute University of Wisconsin-Madison journal (2010) diverse groups in higher institutions produce higher quality of work , better level of critical analysis of decisions , students are also exposed to minority viewpoints .Minority viewpoints provide for unconsidered resolution, whether or not the minority opinion was correct or ultimately prevailed.
Another case that the intersection of diverse groups has brought about distinct competitive advantage is the case of Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart brand stores are an American, multinational, retailer corporation and regarded as one of the world most valuable companies. Anton (2010) opines that the organization took into consideration it's internal and external factors and therefore struggled to build its foundation addressing the results. The company is known to employ the elderly, disabled and as a matter of fact these categories of people welcome customers as they get into the store. This warm welcome approach entices other minority sets of people and encourages them to come into the shop (and spend their money). Managers now have to consider their international customers to improve their customer satisfaction approach as this consideration would bring a greater quality into their services.
Conclusively, as equality, diversity and Intersectionality embrace the recognition of the complexities that arise with human differences, means its implementation in an organisation must be carefully done. This reason stands due to the arguments that may arise between management and staff on the overall benefits this concept creates.
By this it is therefore important to note that these processes are not an end in itself, as the world evolves so would organizational management processes evolve too, but it may serve as a means to achieve common organisational goals and objectives which ultimately boosts performance, productivity and sets a stand for an organization to gain recognition and competitive advantage in the global industry.
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The initial start of writing this essay opened up a new chapter entirely for me on views about limitations of gender, race and age. Most interestingly was how women groups are said to differ even though they fall under the same umbrella; categorised as the female gender. With clear disparities in social class, background and current lifestyle, it is quite clear people are not often times seen to be considered to be the same.
The assignment was quite a daunting task in that, most terms found in the research were new to me and I had to read to understand before applying.
As I am currently aspiring for a masters degree it was clear I had to critically analyse issue to create simplicity for the reader to understand. The subject in particar organisational behaviour was quite difficult to relate with from the start of lectures.Realising the importance of understanding this module through taught lectures, created a wider view of my knowledge in people management practices within organisations. A lot of issues raised in lectures about various company practices were evident in my previous employment history where I had worked as an HR administrator.
According to Edwin B. Flippo, Human resource management involves planning, organising, directing, controlling of procurement and developing resources to the end, that individual, organisation and social objectives are achieved. Clearly HRM deals with planning, organising, directing and controlling personnel function in an organisation. In this regard, management's perogative becomes creating a strong workforce to achieve organisations goals.
However, Scott, Clothier and Spriegal, argues that The objectives of Human Resource Management, in an organisation, is to obtain maximum individual development, desirable working relationships between employers and employees and employees and employees, and to affect the moulding of human resources as contrasted with physical resourcesâ€-. In order to achieve the above objectives, human resource management undertakes the following activities : (i) Human Resource Planning, i.e., determining the number and kinds of personnel required to fill various positions in the organisation. (ii) Recruitment, selection and placement of personnel, i.e., employment function. (iii) Training and development of employees for their efficient performance and growth. (iv) Appraisal of performance of employees and taking corrective steps such as transfer from one job to another. (v) Motivation of workforce by providing financial incentives and avenues of promotion. (vi) Remuneration of employees. The employees must be given sufficient wages and fringe benefits to achieve higher standard of living and to motivate them to show higher productivity. (vii) Social security and welfare of employees.