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In recent years one of the mostly discussed topics in the area of human resources management is diversity. Although the diversity is considered to be a rather broad term concerning racial, religious, gender backgrounds, as well as the sexual orientation of the employees, over the years it has become an important issue especially for the large corporations that have different levels of operations processes across various divisions within a company that are closely interrelated.
In their study, Shen et al (2009) found that diversity of the workforce within a company is an important factor influencing not only the performance of the business but also the perception and the acceptance of the company among their customers in a broader term. The diversity of the employees recognizes the fact that people are, in more visible or invisible conditions, different from each other concerning age, race, religion, gender, culture, ethnicity, personality, disability, marital status, social status and in the last couple of decades even sexual orientation. For this reason recognizing these differences between the people and employing diversity within a single company is of crucial importance (Shen et al, 2009).
In addition to their findings, Tonks (2006) argues that company's practices and implementation of employees' diversity is another very important factor that influences the "state of heterogeneity" within an organization. Employment of heterogeneous workforce is especially important not only for small but also for big, international companies. It recognizes the differences between the people within a single company. More precisely it is defined as;
"â€¦the recognition that people in organizations are as demographically and socially dissimilar as the general population".
(Tonks, 2006 p. 35)
According to Day and Greene (2008) the diversity practices of a certain company can help increase the morale of the employees. In their study they found that the employees who relate the organization's philosophy with the high practice of diversity are more satisfied with their working environment, would more likely commit to the organization, stay longer, and recommend the company to others as a pleasant and friendly place to work. Additionally the company would be positively perceived by their current and prospective customers (Day and Greene, 2008).
Over the years the issue of gender diversity has become a very sensitive and rather popular topic among the human resources managers. In the past companies were mainly dominated by males especially for the higher level managerial and decision making positions. It was believed that women lack "the necessary managerial skills and attitudes to be effective managers" (Rynes and Rosen, 1995 p. 247).
According to Mills (2002) gender diversity is most of the times "written" within the organizational culture and climate. Although many companies argue that their practice of gender diversity is "neutral" and fairly distributed across the different levels of their operations and departments within their company, there is still a belief that in many cases the communication, collaboration and decision making within gender mixed teams is quite unequally distributed (Mills, 2002).
Although, there are many research findings supporting implementation of diversity within a company, little research has been done on evaluating the concrete impact of gender diversity on the efficiency and effectiveness of team collaborations and decision making processes within business organizations. Based on this research gap, the following sections of this research paper will try to investigate the influence of gender diversity, its implementation, advantages and drawbacks through a real life study case-the case of The Mondi Group.
In recent years there have been many research finding elaborating on the importance of employing diversity practices within companies, being small or big/international. Researchers argue that diversity can be defined in different ways related to company's culture, mission, vision, management practices, and implementations individually. Even though these findings are supported by many real-life examples, still there is a broad definition that is widely used to describe workforce diversity. Diversity can be defined as:
"Feature of a mixed workforce that provides a wide range of abilities, experience, knowledge, and strengths due to its heterogeneity in age, background, ethnicity, physical abilities, political and religious beliefs, sex, and other attributes".
(Business Dictionary, 2010).
According to Shen et al (2009), "a diverse workforce comprises a multitude of beliefs, understandings, values, ways of viewing the world, and unique information" (p.235). The rapid expansion of the companies on international level has forced many corporations to increase the importance of diversity within their operations. The impact of globalization and the altering effects of changes in demographics have pushed many of the international companies to develop and enact new policies for assimilating employees from highly opposite cultural backgrounds (Hanappi-Egger, 2006). Further on Hanappi-Egger (2006) explains that due to these rapid global changes, companies are also required to focus on the practices of effectively avoiding "cultural clashes" by reinforcing "employees' socialization" which in turn will result in successful diversity implementation and will provide room for creative problem solving.
In the last couple of decades many international companies have tried to implement diversity practices as main part of their human resources activities. Corporations have tried to create the "best practices" that will add value to their operations and create harmony and productivity in the workplace (DeMaria, 2009). In addition to this, Dhillon (2009) argues that the hardest part for the companies in creating the ideal working place with the right practices of promoting diversity is inclusion. She claims that inclusion is the main factor contributing to the company's success;
"It's about making sure the mix we [company] have works. It's about people feeling a sense of belonging, feeling respected, valued and seen for who they are. It's how we welcome people into our company. If we can do this, then our employees will be productive, engaged and do their best work" (Dhillon, 2009 p. 28).
Based on this the author claims that diversity and inclusion adhere each other, in a sense that when both of them are applied successfully the company can achieve maximum positive influence from diversity in general (Dhillon, 2009).
Given that diversity without inclusion can cause severe consequences for the organization as a whole, research suggests a useful framework for simultaneous implementation of both diversity and inclusion (Anon, 2005).The following Table 1 will present the fourteen principles that should be included in company's effective diversity programs.
Implement a really good development program that includes ongoing coaching and feedback, not just training.
Make a concerted effort to locate and hire diverse workers who either are recent college graduates or qualified employees at other companies.
Let employees and the public know details about the organizations diversity strategy.
Be realistic about the organization's diversity achievements and setbacks.
Involve business unit or line managers in the organization's diversity initiatives.
With global initiatives, prepare for national variation in implementing diversity and inclusion programs.
Make sure the right person is leading the organization's diversity efforts.
Implement a system to measure the effectiveness of the organization's diversity efforts.
Diversity initiatives can be measured when employers gather complete and consistent data throughout the process
Because diversity effort must be tracked against known benchmarks, look at competitors in your industry and see what benchmarks they use. Some common benchmarks are the establishment and involvement of employee resource groups, a specific percentage of business done with diversity suppliers and an atmosphere that welcomes differences.
When hiring, remember that people from different cultures do not all communicate in the same way. The interview process must also be adjusted for cultural differences.
Invite members of the company's affinity or employee resource groups to help with multicultural marketing plans, product development, and recruitment and retention efforts.
Be specific and realistic in developing the company's diversity and inclusion goals.
Embrace an attitude that diversity is a benefit.
Source: Anon (2010) Link Diversity to Business Goals for Best Results. HRFOCUS, p. 7
Implementing effective and efficient diversity and inclusion strategies is of great importance to create harmonious and productive workplace. Since over the last couple of decades the number of women in labor force has increased, more and more of these companies have tried to concentrate on enacting strategies and tactics that will ease the acceptance of women within the company's operations.
For this reason the next section of the paper will describe the importance of gender diversity within companies, as well as some of the benefits and disadvantages of its implications.
Although in the last several decades the gender diversity issue has become a widely discussed topic, especially when it comes to corporate culture and positive future developments of the companies, still there are a lot of research findings that suggest that by investigating the practices of international companies, there is lack of evidence that will support gender diversity implications.
As previously discussed diversity can have many dimensions and one of them is gender. Back in the 1950's the corporate world was mainly ruled by men since the percentage of MBA male graduates was 95% and was much higher than the percentage of women enrolled at universities and business schools (Jackson, 1992). In addition to this, the traditional stereotyping biases were also one of the reasons to keep women out of the corporate world picture. Women were supposed to stay at home and take care of their families while men were the ones providing for all of them (DeArmond et al, 2006).
Nowadays that picture has changed. The roles of men and women have been dramatically changed. Over the last twenty years the number of women enrolled at business schools and MBA programs has significantly increased. By the beginning of the 1990's the percentage of female MBA graduates has reached 31% and more than half of the business degrees were held by women (Jackson, 1992). Since the 1990's that number has increased even more. It is believed that today the number of women getting university degrees is more or less equal to the male population (Desvaux et al, 2008).
Since over the years the number of women with university degrees has increased their presence in the labor force has increased too. According to Jackson (1992) the involvement of women in the labor force was expected to bring significant changes, especially when it comes to filling in the gender gaps. She believed that employing more women and allowing them to work side-by-side with men, would change the stereotyped roles perceptions of women, and finally the "gender- based segregation" would disappear.
Unfortunately not much of that is true for the current situation in the labor force. Although the number of women in labor force is constantly increasing, the perceptions that women lack the managerial and leadership skills are still present (Konrad et al, 2006). According to Desvaux et al (2008) "women in developed economies have made substantial gains in the workplace during recent decades. Nevertheless, it's still true that the higher in a company you look the lower the percentage of women" p. 26.
Based on many research findings, since women are becoming more career oriented, companies are obliged to reconsider their current gender diversity policies and enact new ones that will effectively and efficiently strive to overcome the "society stereotypes" about the roles of men and women (Jackson, 1992). Data obtained from a research done in United States and Europe, suggests that most of the companies are putting efforts to overcome the roles difference especially when it comes to higher managerial positions. Further on the study shows that corporations that have already managed to promote female employees to higher senior-level positions, tend to have better financial as well as organizational performance. But despite these positive effects of gender diversity, the number of women holding executive positions is very low. The research findings show that in Europe only 11 percent of the women in labor force are holding higher managerial positions or are members of supervisory boards. Among the leading 1500 corporations in the United States, less than one third employed women in their executive positions, while in South Korea more than 74 percent of the organizations do not have female executives on board (Desvaux, 2008).
In order to overcome the gender diversity gaps, Manning and Curtis (2003) suggested that companies should concentrate on developing and implementing practices and policies that will help women become better leaders. They claimed that there are "six success factors" that can and already have helped female leaders become more successful in their workplace. The "six success factors" are in detail explained in Table 2.
Help from above. Women in high levels of leadership have typically received the support of influential mentors
A superior track record. Held to high standards, executive-level women have usually managed effectively and have developed an excellent record of performance.
A passion for success. Senior-level women have been determined to succeed. They worked hard, seized responsibility, and achieved their objectives.
Outstanding people skills. Successful women executives typically utilize participative leadership, employee empowerment, and open communication to foster trust and high levels of morale among subordinates.
Career courage. Successful women leaders have demonstrated courage to take risks, such as taking huge responsibilities.
Mental toughness. Senior-level women are seen as tenacious, demanding, and willing to make difficult decisions.
Source: Manning and Curtis (2003, p. 226).
It is strongly believed that in the near future women will be more actively incorporated within the labor force, treated fairly, and becoming even more career oriented than ever. As a consequence the roles of women and men in the society will dramatically change and men will take the roles that once were given to women. But until those changes really happen, women are still strangled between the choice of family obligations and successful career building (Greenwood, 2003).
Due to the fact that many of the research findings claim that gender diversity has become one of the major issues concerning the overall performance and success of the companies all around the world, the next section of the research paper will provide some insights on how the companies can benefit from gender diversity, and what are some of the drawbacks they might face.
Key advantages of gender diversity
"When more and more women joining the corporate world, the workforce at most organizations is becoming increasingly diverse. The success and competitiveness of these organizations are highly dependent on their ability to manage this diversity effectively".
(Kannan, 2009 p. 86).
As stated above gender diversity is of crucial importance for companies operating in today's fast changing business environment. It is of great importance since, according to many research findings, it can bring many positive advantages to a company as a whole. Shen et al (2009) claim that one of the biggest advantages of "valuing" gender diversity is that it can bring competitive advantage to the company which is perceived to be one of the main factors influencing the company's performance on the market and the perceptions of their current and prospective customers. In addition to this, their study also points out that gender diversity, especially when applied in groups, can lead to more effective brainstorming which in turn can result in more productive ideas and problem solving solutions.
Investigating the importance of gender diversity within companies, Inman (1999) identified several key advantages. However, one of the most important advantages according to the author is that "[gender] diversity provides new perspectives in problem solving and work situations, and contributes positively to companies competing in diverse markets" p. 12.
According to Causon (2008) having gender diversification as part of the company's "strategic goal" can help the organization create harmonious workplace environment. This in turn can help the corporations reduce "the costs of absenteeism and retention, and improve recruitment, public image and overall corporate image" (Anon, 2005 p.10).
Key disadvantages of gender diversity
Even though research indicates numerous advantages of gender diversity, still if not applied appropriately, many drawbacks can occur that can have serious consequences on the company's overall performance.
Research findings claim that in order to have viable gender diversity implications across all levels within the company, the first step is to eliminate stereotyping. According to Dearmond et al (2006) women in most of the cases are perceived as not having the needed assertive abilities and skills of leaders which according to the top management is of crucial importance for successful managing. In addition the authors disclose that the fact that women are more emotional than men and have the need to express their emotions more often to other people, can also be a reason for negative experience of women participating in gender diversified workplace (Dearmond et al, 2006).
Hanappi-Egger (2006) is one of the many authors that claim that negative stereotyping is seen as one of the main drawbacks of gender diversification within the companies. In his study he associates negative stereotyping with additional chain of difficulties consisting of discrimination, mistrust, harassment, and communication conflicts.
Stereotyping is most often found in organizations where institutional gendering is high. Given this, institutional gendering can be identified in organizations where women are given routine tasks and are not considered as possible leaders because of the "emotional issue". Under these conditions women negate gender, and start to behave more like the opposite gender which is further on perceived negatively by their colleagues. This gender diversity pressure creates the so called phenomenon of "Double Binds" (Gupta, 2009).
The case study of "The Mondi Group"
In order to be able to analyze gender diversity in more depth and investigate the actual impact and implementation of gender diversification tactics and the gender influence and involvement in teams and decision making processes within organizations that operate on a global scale, this section of the paper will focus on the case of The Mondi Group. The reason to choose The Mondi Group is because currently the company is the market leader in the paper producing industry, expanding their operations on a global scale, and employing highly diversified workforce worldwide (Mondi, 2010a).
Overview of the company
Mondi has a long history in the paper production industry. The roots of the today's business originate from South Africa where the first paper mill was opened in 1967 in Marebank. At that time the company was established as part of the Anglo American Group plc. After operating on the South African market for more than twenty years, in the early 1990's Mondi started their global expansion mainly through acquiring some of the European market leaders in the industry- Neusiedler AG. and Frantschach AG. in Austria, the Polish Cofinec, and the Russian Syktywar. In 2007 Mondi demerged from its parent Anglo American Group plc, and became independent company (Mondi, 2010 a).
Nowadays The Mondi Group is dually listed company on the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock exchange, with its headquarters located in Austria and the UK. The activities of the company are globally distributed but mainly focusing on Russia, Asia, and Americas for their future development and expansion. The business of the group is divided into two core business operations; 1) Mondi Paper Production where the main focus is on acquiring the pulp and all the needed materials for getting the final product, and 2) Mondi Bag Converting focusing on producing the bags tailored to their customer's needs and preferences.
Today Mondi Group is internationally one of the leading paper bags producing companies on the market. Due to their extensive global operations, the company's operations are separated into two main geographical divisions; Europe and International and South Africa. Since they are fully integrated company owning all of the resources and facilities needed to produce and deliver the final product to the end customer, currently they own 118 production sites in 35 countries, employing 33.400 people worldwide (Mondi, 2010 a).
4. Research method
Considering the fact that gender diversity is very popular within the companies on international level, still there is little evidence showing the actual results of its practices and implementation. For this reason the main focus of this paper was to concentrate on exploring the involvement and commitment of gender diversity within The Mondi Group and their practices and systems to enact it across all the levels of production processes, taking into consideration all the possible pitfalls and benefits of its implementation.
In order to fulfill the goals and the objectives of the research topic, the paper was focused mainly on the practices of gender diversity across the different levels of operations processes within The Mondi Group. Another topic that this research paper was focused on was identifying the distribution and the impact of gender diversity among all gender mixed teams inside the company. The diversity analysis across the different levels included the employees at the production plants and factories along with the employees working in administration and higher managerial and decision making positions.
The research was designed in this way in order to get more insight on how the operations and processes are aligned and how effective and efficient is the use of gender diversified teams when it comes to a company like The Mondi Group which is fully integrated and owns all the processes starting from the woods, reproduction of the raw materials, production plants, up to the logistics and distribution of the finished goods (Mondi, 2010 b).
Investigating the topic of gender diversity and its application, effectiveness and efficiency in implementation and its actual use, brought up many interesting facts that needed to be analyzed and probed more in depth. In order to concentrate on more specific issue of gender diversity one of the main objectives of the research was to clarify the use of gender diversity and gender diversified teams across the different levels of production processes within The Mondi Group. Namely the purpose of this goal was to examine the presence of gender diversification across all the stages within the company starting with the basic operational levels, including the production plants and factories up to the upper level administrative and managerial positions.
The second objective, on which this research paper was based, was to provide insights on how a global company like The Mondi Group can effectively and efficiently incorporate gender diversity across the different levels of their operations and decision making processes. The main goal was to investigate the success of the implications of gender diversity within the company and their sustainability within the company's international subsidiaries.
Based on the research objectives stated above, two main research questions were developed that allowed the research to be more specific and structured. For each of the research questions additional sub-questions were developed that allowed the study to be probed more in depth and the information gathered to be more accurate.
The purpose of the first research question was to identify how gender diversity can affect the operations of the mixed teams within a single company. In order to be more specific, the sub-questions were designed to explain the purpose and allow the researcher to go more in depth. The main goal of the first sub-question was to examine how efficient is the use of gender diversity within the mixed gender diversified teams. The purpose of the second sub-question was to probe the impact of gender diversity within mixed teams related to acceptance of decisions in the upper management decisions making processes.
The purpose of the second research question was to observe the impact of gender diversity on the communication processes within the mixed teams within a single company. To be more specific, a sub-question was developed concentrating on the pitfalls and benefits of gender diversified teams concerning conflicts, misunderstandings, commitment, and consent when working together within a single company.
4.1 Research procedure
With the purpose of achieving the objectives of the study a mixed research approach was used. The data needed to support the research procedure was acquired through primary and secondary data collection and analysis. Further on, the obtained data was carefully analyzed and compared and contrasted with previous research findings concerning the same issue.
With the intention to collect more precise and accurate data concerning gender diversity within The Mondi Group, and due to time constraints an expert interview with the Mondi human resources department employee was conducted. Being the expert in this field, this employee was able to fully understand the objectives of the research and give profound insight and opinion on the topic. Using the empirical research approach, the expert interview was based on open-ended questions which allowed the interviewer to ask additional follow-up questions when needed and the interviewee had a greater opportunity to elaborate on the given issues in more depth.
In addition to the primary research, the findings from the interview were supported by previous research findings obtained as a secondary source of information. These additional materials were acquired from various academic data bases (EBSCO) which guaranteed the reliability and validity of the information provided. In order to support the theoretical part of the research, additional books and published materials were also used as a source of reliable and accurate data.
The expected outcome of combining both primary and secondary data collection was to elaborate on effectiveness of gender diversity phenomenon on the companies and its implications concerning the company as a whole as well as the employees in that environment.
4.2 Analysis of the data
The process of analyzing the data was done by starting with the secondary data sources. The findings from previous research done on diversity management and gender diversity implications within companies operating in different industries on the market were examined in details and key issues were identified. Since the main topic of the thesis was "Diversity in Human Resources", by investigating the main concerns of these research findings the research was narrowed down to more specific aspects of diversity- gender diversity implications across the different levels of production processes within a single company.
Due to the fact that research findings suggested that most of the international companies have production processes distributed in many countries abroad at different levels, the research was further narrowed to the case of The Mondi Group. For the purpose of identifying the company's gender diversity implications, expert interview was conducted.
The interview was done in person, using internationally spoken language-English. Given that gender diversity is topic of interest for the company, the interviewee was open to sharing information and collaborating in providing detailed insights from the company's diversity policies. Due to the fact that the interview was done in English, transcription of the findings was done without any particular difficulties.
The main issue of analyzing the data collected was to identify the gender diversity implications and its influence on the company's performance including both leaders/mangers as well as employees that are part of the company's diverse environment.
In the following section the results obtained from both primary and secondary sources will be presented. The main focus of the research findings obtained from secondary sources was to emphasize the importance of gender diversity in gender diversified mixed teams. Further on, the findings from the empirical study were mainly concentrated on identifying gender diversity implications within The Mondi Group and its influence on gender diversified groups.
5.1 Literature findings
According to numerous research findings implementing gender diversity strategies and practices is not an easy task. In order to do so, companies are obliged to create working conditions where diversity will be more than welcomed. One of the steps towards achieving this goal is by creating "diversity climate". According to McKay et al (2009) diversity climate can be defined as "employee's shared perceptions of the degree to which a firm is thought to utilize fair employee policies and socially integrate underrepresented employees into the work setting" p.768.
In relation to diversity climate, Myaskovsky et al (2005) suggested that gender diversity is an important factor that influences the modern organization's culture and strategies. Understanding the diversity climate and the implications of team work diversity, in relation to their behavior and performance is vital for the success of these corporations.
Over the past several decades, companies all over the world have been emphasizing the importance of team work and collaboration. Nowadays since most of the companies are stressing out the significance of employing diversity within their corporate strategies, having gender diversified teams is subject that has to be carefully examined. Researchers (Myaskovsky et al 2005; Huber and Lewis 2010) have came to a common conclusion that gender diversified teams can have positive effects on;
the company's overall performance
innovative and creative decision making
inventive product development
avoiding group conflict.
Team work can be very demanding and difficult to sustain. It is not only the company's task to implement their practices and state their goals, but it is also team members' responsibility to work together as a group and achieve common aims. In their research study Huber and Lewis (2010) stated that cross-understanding contributes to better flow of communication and information sharing within mixed teams. Correspondingly, by being able to communicate ideas and understand what others think and know, believe, are perceptive to, and have preference for, gender diversified team members can more easily accept different opinions and judge their colleagues by the quality of their ideas not by their gender belongingness
Moreover, research has emphasized that no matter how strong the gender diversity culture and practices are, the main drivers of gender diversity inclusion and success are the managers and leaders of the companies. According to Cachoon (2006), mangers and leaders are the ones that have to show optimistic attitude and behave positively to accepting diversity, respect it and appreciate personality of the team members, not the gender. Stated differently organization's leaders have to welcome different opinions, perspectives, and foster diversity by bringing together diverse employees to work on organizations' objectives instead of stereotyping people on the grounds of their gender, race or color.
Empirical research findings
The answers obtained from the interview done with a human resources expert within The Mondi Group gave an insight on how gender diversity practices are actually incorporated within a real life business situation.
The findings showed that for a company like The Mondi Group which operates on a global scale, gender diversity plays an important role and it is successfully implied within their corporate operations strategy. The company successfully avoids stereotyping and discrimination starting from the very beginning , namely recruiting people that are performance oriented, open minded, ready for change, and flexible, regardless of their gender, race, age, or ethnicity.
When it comes to the company's diversity within the gender diversified working team, the findings show that all of their employees are treated equally. What they stress out is the importance of the power of diversity itself. They have realized that by having international operations, diversity is the main challenge that they have to deal with. For this reason the company embraces the positive influence of gender diversity, which brings new challenges and innovative ideas for future improvements of the company's operations.
Due to the fact that The Mondi Group has effectively implemented gender diversity and "diversity culture" among all the levels of production processes, gender is not considered to be an obstacle when it comes to team members communication, collaboration, information sharing, and group decision making. Within the company, the performance of teams is considered to be highly effective and efficient especially due to the fact that every team member is individually appraised based on his/her productivity, performance, and overall contribution in achieving organizations' goals.
In order to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts and improve commitment and consent between the members of mixed teams, The Mondi Group tries to implement as much diversity as possible. The findings suggest a method of incorporating not only gender, but also cultural and diversity of nationalities which are seen as a key competitive advantage of the company. Teams encompassing highly diversified employees play a big role in the company's international projects and business developments, since they help The Group understand the different customers' needs and overcome cultural barriers. Highly diversified team structures are especially important for the company's international expansions and saving time and costs associated with becoming familiar with the host country's cultures, regulations, and the ways the business is done.
Being a company that operates in highly technical segment of the industry, since its establishment, The Mondi Group has been mainly male dominated company. Due to the globalization influences and women entering the labor force, the company has implemented new specialized programs which will allow women to join their work force much easier. The Group has implemented the new program aimed at all the students that have enrolled at technical universities, especially women. The program is designed to offer scholarships to the future "scientists" who after finishing their studies will have the opportunity to join The Mondi Group. The main objectives of the introduction of this program are not only to broaden the potential candidates pool, but also improving gender diversity and increasing the gender diversified team presence across all the levels of production processes within the company. Another advantage which is even more future oriented is to put emphasis on supporting the promotion of women up on the hierarchical leader, assigning them to some of the highly technical and corporate level decision making positions.
Nevertheless, the results of the interview indicate that although gender diversity practices are considered to be important part of the company's overall strategy and policies, still it does not represent the only dimension of diversity that the company relies on. The Mondi Group sees gender diversity as a part of the overall diversity puzzle. Without having effectively and efficiently implemented diversity based on other factors besides gender, such as nationality, race, age, religion and culture, the company's management believes that they could not sustain their global success and their further international expansion.
For more detailed information on the interview, please refer to Appendix 1.
Strong evidence exists that globalization will persist in the future, thus pointing out that diversity will remain a significant subject of interest for companies' future developments and growth. Because of this reason most of the literature findings used in this research paper suggest that due to the growing number of women that are highly qualified and are joining the labor force, appropriate solutions and tactics must be undertaken in order to embrace the advantages of gender diversity.
Based on the secondary research results, several key recommendations will be proposed.
Management and leadership policies and practices
In his research Hanappi-Egger (2006) explains the meaning of phenomenon called "de-gendered diversity management". In his opinion the only and exclusive task of an organization is to achieve desired level of productivity. As such it is pointed out that the preferred way to achieve this is to utilize the skills and the maximum potential of the work force. With this he emphasizes the importance of successfully managing gender diversity which is primarily done by hindering stereotyping.
Some preferable tactics used to create useful policies that support gender diversity might be;
Eliminate any source of harassment and identity aggravation
Induce mutual learning within gender diverse teams
Value new ideas and solutions for tasks assigned to mixed teams
Create organizational/diversity culture
Knouse (2009) states that in order for an organization to develop and sustain diversity climate where no stereotyping is feasible, "â€¦an enforced line of action that both limits and enables certain behavior and processes â€¦" must be applied (p.349)
In addition to this it is of great importance to enact those policies in a way that will portray company's diversity values such as fairness and inclusion. Once the company's employees accept these values, the desired behavior towards diversity and gender mixed teams will be created.
In order to increase the number of female employees within a company, the human resources departments must persuade old candidates that diversity inclusiveness indeed describes their company's culture. Human resources managers should be trained in order to avoid gender biased-oriented questions such as relationship status and family planning. They should also have a "neutral" attitude towards stereotyping and prejudices and all the candidates should be evaluated based on their professional experience and competencies, not on their gender belongingness (Day and Greene, 2008).
Gender diversity training
An essential key to achieve productivity within gender diversified groups is to train people how to communicate with each other and overcome diversity barriers. One of the major steps is to communicate the company's diversity policies and enact their diversity culture, through effective leadership and management efforts that will promote these practices.
Another method that ensures smooth information sharing within diverse teams is the creation of the so-called "transactive memory systems". According to Myaskovsky et al (2005) this system trains team members to learn what information their colleagues have regarding specific task and reduces the information searching process.
However training is not only to increase the diversified team members' communication and information sharing but it is also concerned with overcoming stereotypes and gender prejudices that are more commonly expressed my male employees holding positions of power. Experts believe that males have to be trained in order to become aware of their own stereotypes and prejudices which will result in higher acceptance of female employees at top managerial levels and will create greater job promotion opportunities (Rynes and Rosen, 1995).
Concrete and straightforward method to achieve successful gender diversity management does not exist, coming from the fact that includes dealing with human beings which by nature show ambitions, change attitudes, and have different reactions to stimuli (Reichel and Mayrhofer, 2009).
Although in the last decades the business environment was mainly dominated by men, nowadays the situation has been dramatically changed by the rapid increase in the number of women entering the work force. According to Donovan (2010) diversity and female participation in the workforce are becoming the main driving forces of the business environment, since emphasize is put on creativity aspiration and empathy, which are all considered to be "female" characteristics.
Even though research findings show that women are welcomed among the "male" dominated business world, still there are some practices that have to be incorporated within the companies' policies in order to embrace gender diversity effectively. Since nowadays women are still torn apart between choosing the family or career, corporations' management is obliged to introduce flexible working times. According to Causon (2008) flexible working hours allow women to avoid the pressure of choosing between career and family and create the feeling of belongingness.
Nevertheless due to the fact that it is still a relatively "new" phenomenon that accrued mainly because of the globalization and emancipation of women in the society, there is not enough evidence that will lead to a common ground conclusion about the actual use of gender diversity within all the levels of operations within a company, and the actual benefits and pitfalls of it. Since this the case the issue of equal gender diversity implementation within the companies is an interesting topic that leaves space for further investigation, elaboration, and discussion.
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