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The response to the shifting population demographics in countries around the world, issues that are related to workforce diversity have drawn significant attention by mangers, governments and persons who are part of the work environment. According to Edwards (2010), "Workplace Diversity is the inclusion of things, people, and places that are different". For example, having different races, gender, ages and ethnicities of people in one place is showing great diversity. The difference between people influences the ways in which they behave and feel. These differences also influence the ways in which people perform duties or work. Focusing on these issues helps businesses to make use of all capabilities in their workplace which will in turn have a positive influence on quality and productivity. This paper seeks to analyze and discuss How to Create Work place Diversity, Challenges in workplace Diversity, HRM role in workplace diversity, What are the advantages and disadvantages of workplace diversity, Ethical issues associated with workplace diversity, Appling the Concepts of Workforce Diversity to Grenada in terms of SGU and other related areas, and a logical conclusion is drawn from such assessment at the end of this paper.
How to create workplace diversity
It is not a simple task as managers to ensure that different people with different personality, experiences, perceptions and most importantly culture, to work together in the same environment. However, the commitment starts at the hierarchies developing a diversity plan. This plan should be developed in collaboration with human resources (HR) without totally affecting human resource primary responsibilities such as compliance regulations hiring the right individuals etc. This plan should address issues such as:
Removing artificial barriers to success: this includes the style of interviews. The company can develop a sort of panel interview format which ensures that the committee performing the interview is diverse and culturally sensitive. This committee would be knowledgeable and skilled to deal with person's individuality and different perspectives so that biasness and discrimination from the selection process can be alleviated.
Retain diversity at all levels: The meaning of diversity goes beyond race and gender to encompass daily life issues. Programs that address work and family issues, alternative work schedules and child and elder care resources are necessary for diverse group. This is because managing different people issues may arise other than work, issues such as family and others aforementioned; then the question can be ask, should managers engage in other issues besides work? The answer is simple, understanding different individuals and their situation opens avenues for the employee and employer to develop better communication. Thus it puts the manager in better position to assist wherever possible.
Understanding the communication styles of different groups: employees and managers need to be aware of different languages when interacting with different cultures. There are cultures that accept non-verbal clues while others do not accept it as part of their language. For example while negotiating with a Chinese, his/her constant nodding may be interpreted as he/she is in agreement with the negotiation process. However if the manger is not culturally sensitive he can misinterpret the Chinese because it's rather difficult for Chinese to say "NO" while performing business transactions as it can be seen as lose of face. Hence the reason, managers have to be culturally sensitive in order communicate effectively with employees.
The company can provide practical training: Training programs is pivotal as it would teach individuals how to resolve conflicts and value different opinions. This training would emphasize the importance of diverse ideas. Whether individuals of a particular organization are all white or black, workers care about and value of their opinions especially when communicated with their mangers. Additionally, leaders should be train to move beyond their own cultural frame of reference to take full advantage of the productivity potential inherent in a diverse population.
Measure the company results: The Company can conduct regular organizational assessments on issues like pay, benefits, work environment, management and promotional opportunities to assess progress over a long term bases. Such assessment ensures that the company provides similar benefits and services to everyone, and policies and practices are consistent to applicants and staff. The company then can gain feedback, measure, and build on the strengths of a successful diverse work of people and alleviate weaknesses.
In essence in creating such a diverse workforce the HRM and Manager should definitely work together to maximize the ability of all employees so that they can contribute to the organizational goals and objectives.
The diagram hereunder indicates the effects of poor management of diverse individuals working in the same environment. From analyzing the cases it can be agreed that it is very costly for any organization if measures are not taken to address persons with different culture which would encompass beliefs, values and morals and race.
a) Coca-Cola Settles Race Bias Case For 192.5 Million Dollars
"Coca-Cola Co. the world's largest soft-drink maker pays in amount of 192.5 million dollars to settle racial bias issues" (2000). The case covered hundreds of black workers who indicated that they lost out on opportunities such as promotion and pay. The case cost the company a huge financial lost. "The amount includes 113 million dollars in cash, 43.5 million dollars to adjust salaries and 36 million dollars for oversight of the company's employment practices". Coke also will pay 20 million dollars in attorneys' fees. Coca-Cola "it will take a 188 million dollars charge in the fourth quarter for the settlement with about 2,000 black workers who say the company tolerated a pattern of discrimination in pay, promotions and performance reviews"(People's daily 2000).
"The nation's largest wholesale baker was ordered to pay $120 million in punitive damages to black workers who said they suffered racial discrimination at a Wonder Bread plant" (Thomas, 2000)
In 2000 the Mondrian hotel in West Hollywood agreed to settle a claim brought in by nine bellmen of a hotel for 1.8 million dollars. The bell men was fired and replaced by handsome white employees shortly after the hotel reopened after renovations. The manger of the hotel stated in his memo that the bellmen were fired because of their ethnicity. The bellmen stated that they have never been criticized for poor performance and they have been working at the hotel for more than eight years (Thomas, 2000).
A male employee of the aforementioned company was awarded 1.3 million for sexual harassment from a male worker. The plaintiff exclaimed that he was attacked twice to have sex. The plaintiff also exclaimed that the issues was brought to the supervisor, however the supervisor added his own remarks "turn the other cheek". The award was based solely on a hostile work environment theory.
Challenges in workplace diversity
Provided hereunder are just a few challenges that successful managers sort to alleviate from their organization in order to minimize employee turnover.
Negative attitudes and behaviors with includes:
Stereotypes and preconceptions
Communication: the channel through which communication flows within the organization should be effective in order to eliminate confusion, misunderstanding of task and lack of group work or activities (team work)
Resistant to change: in terms of employees who will accept the fact that the general makeup of organizations are changing to encompass globalization. The belief that things should be done in a particular way should always remain. With this sort of mentally it is hard to make progress in an organization since new ideas will not be considered.
Implementation and actual managing of diversity in the workplace: mangers must be able to adjust mentally to the idea of workplace diversity in order to capture and understand person's race, religion, culture and communication styles. Most organizations have policies in place whereby individuals are aware that each person is unique. However, these awareness terminologies are written with measures being taken to ensure that it is enforced. Therefore the attitude towards workplace diversity starts from the managers and then reflects on the subordinates. Manager's participation is crucial to create an environment conducive to the success of the organization.
Human Resource Management role must parallel the needs of the changing organization. Organizations that are successful can attest to becoming more flexible, resilient, quick to change directions, and customer-centered. Within this environment, the HR professional must learn how to manage effectively through planning, organizing, leading and controlling the human resource and be knowledgeable of emerging trends in training and employee development.
Human Resource Management role includes:
Promoting the fight for values, ethics, beliefs and spirituality with the organization.
Planning a Mentoring Program: this means interacting with different departmental managers in the program to provide feedback to employees who are different from them. This program helps managers to look beyond their ethnocentric ways and take complete advantage of productivity potential.
Organizing talents strategically: the human resource manager is pivotal in this area because he/she has to organize a pool of diverse talents strategically for the organization to enable the organization to reach new markets and organizational goals.
Employ a 'Think Global, Act Local' approach in most circumstances.
Pros and Cons of workplace diversity
Increases adaptability: managers or HRM employing a diverse workforce can provide a wide variety of solutions to problems in terms of allocating resources. Additionally diverse groups bring experiences and ideas that are flexible in adapting to customer demands.
A broader talent pool and experiences available to employers: when managers are in the process of selecting employees, criteria such as age and educational experience should not be limited. As a result it increases the chances of finding the right employee-employer match.
A broader service range: a diverse group with different language and cultural sensitivity allows organization to provide services of consumers on a global scale.
Builds a globally competitive workforce: a diverse workforce has a combination of cultures. These different cultures can help eliminate language barriers and understand international consumer's needs.
Access to overseas market: a diverse group can be very convenient because potential markets for investments can be easily access. For example, if a Chinese individual is working for a Grenadian company, it will be easier to penetrate the market since the Chinese will have the knowledge of its culture, people, political stability and trade barriers (exports).
Decision making can be very time consuming: decisions can be very time consuming because individuals who are from diverse groups brings their own knowledge to an organization, hence the reason why all information received from the individuals have to taking into consideration before decisions can be made.
Impaired freedom of speech: individuals who are from different race and culture may not feel comfortable to interact with others within the organization because of their individuality.
Divisiveness of diversity:
Inability for managers to capitalize on the mixture of genders, cultural backgrounds, ages and lifestyles to respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively.
Ethical issues of workplace diversity
Portraying an ethnocentric view- (holding to the belief that your way is the right way). Having an ethnocentric view can cause severe harm to an organization because managers are not willing to allow the employees or individuals from different backgrounds to share ideas and knowledge. With this mind set the company can suffer huge turnover cost. As a result managers need listen to different opinion and learn to maximize the knowledge of different people to gain company's success.
Hiring Candidates: in this case the person with the best qualification may not be considered for a particular job because the job may be given to another individual who belongs to the same group even if the individuals is underrepresented in the firm.
Unequal distribution of workload, without a plausible reason: mangers may refer work projects to individuals of same ethnicity. A situation like this is unethical because it can be seen as discrimination or biasness.
Partial rules that apply to different departments:
Shared Values: the problem arises when individuals or mangers consider that only the workforce from same ethnicity can share the organization's value but individuals from different may have different values which are not conducive for the organization success.
Apply the concepts of workforce diversity to Grenada, in terms of SGU and other related areas:
Diversity on campus benefits students in so many ways. It's important that students recognize and appreciate the contributions that other groups have made in our society. Does diversity matter? Yes! It is the responsibility of a university to exhibit leadership by providing an environment that is inclusive for all. St. George's Universities has taken the initiative to incorporate diversity throughout their curriculums by expanding campus-wide activities that offer inclusion, engagement and participation. Institutions need to create a learning environment that fosters intellectual and social growth among all students. Diversity broadens the educational experiences of all students so that they are prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of a global society. It is recognized that Sgu is capable of promoting these qualities in students here in Grenada. Additionally, the university has taken the initiative to employ individuals from different backgrounds as lectures. By this initiative, each lecturer is given an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences which the students can take full advantage of. Grenada by no doubt has taking advantage of the skills and knowledge of individuals who have flown in from countries such as Cuba, America, India, Trinidad just to mention a few. For examples, the hospital uses technicians from these countries to work along with Grenadians to generate greater productivity and the Ministerial Complex has employed persons from India to operate computer systems. From this, it can be recognized that workplace diversity simply cannot be ignored.
One can ask the question, what would happen when Governments decides to really implement Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and mangers are not knowledgeable or capable of dealing with individual personalities, cultures, morals and values? Thus, managers need to equip themselves with strategies, tools and mechanisms to tap into diverse groups in order to maximize on people uniqueness and individuality.
It is safe to conclude that proper management of work place diversity is crucial for an organization's success. As previously stated companies must be culturally sensitive in order to maintain a productive workforce and maximize skills and talents of different individuals. Managers and Human Resource Mangers should be extremely well versed and comfortable with issues of workplace diversity. They need to help release any stigmas that may still face their company in regards to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, etc. With managers having complete control and all abilities to deal with diversity it will make for a better workplace for all. Additionally, a small island state as Grenada has seen the benefits of having a diverse workplace and reaps some of the rewards of having different ideas from different people.