This essay will first briefly discuss the concept of diversity management and its influence on the workplace and organizational performance, then it will analyse the diversity management in one of the most prominent high-tech companies of the world, which is Google, by integrating theory with practical examples. It will then make certain conclusions based on the analysis.
Patrick and Kumar (2012) define diversity management as the process of creating effective and positive work environment that respects and value the differences to maximize the performance towards achieving organizational goals. Bassett-Jones (2005) notices that ‘diversity management’ is mostly related to recruitment and retaining policy. However, Patrick and Kumar (2012) suggest that diversity includes two major pillars, which are acceptance and respect, in regard to individual differences, including those related to “race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies”. They also note that comprehending these differences results in more efficient and positive work environment. Moreover, effective diversity management seeks to define what “personal, cultural, and institutionalized discrimination” result in unfair disadvantages for certain workers (Patrick and Kumar, 2012). Different authors argue there is a number of different types of discrimination that exist at workplace. There might be core differences based on the personality and thinking style, and most of the types of diversity in IT industry are based on the primary dimensions, which are those based on age, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation (Patrick and Kumar, 2012; Prietoet et al., 2009). While there are no any prominent problems related to the discrimination that is based on sexual orientation and mental ability (as different sources suggest), Google has an evident issue of discrimination that is based on gender, and to less extend, age.
A number of studies show that effective diversity management leads to higher employee satisfaction. Another benefit at the individual level is decreased feel of isolation and dissatisfaction (Gilbert and Stead, 1999; cited in Kim et al., 2015). Hence, it is the major determinant of “employee integration” (Gilbert et al., 1999, cited in Kim et al., 2015). This becomes a crucial part of the overall commitment-enhancement approach in organizations leading to higher level of career satisfaction (Yap et al., 2010; cited inKim et al., 2015). A higher commitment leads to higher performance even in homogeneous cultures (Lee and Miller, 1999; cited in Kim et al., 2015). In the case of Google, it has been ranked as the number one best company to work for according to the Fortune' rating, mostly because of the opportunities for growth and development, the work environment and perks it provides to employees. Other factors are the “work that matters”, benefits for families, “genius” co-workers and unparalleled career opportunities despite the background. One area that often lacks the attention is that fact that effective diversity management should promote accommodating special needs, such as those related to child care, language training and flexible work hours, health and life balance that are often required by minorities. However, this is not true for Google, thanks to its generous perks and opportunities for disabled, while parents are provided with up to twelve weeks of fully paid baby bonding time, regardless of gender, not to mention $500 of “Baby Bonding Bucks” during the first three months.
However, different sources suggest diversity is an issue for HR management of Google. Laszlo Bock, Google’s senior VC of “people operations” that Google is “not where its wants to be when it comes to diversity;” women are 17% of technical workforce, “lower than expected 20-24 percent.” and only 21% of women are in leadership; however, the numbers are equally split for non-technical jobs. Meanwhile, Kravitz (2003, cited in Prietoet al., 2009) found that gender diversity enhances the overall performance of companies and their profitability, the maximum is achieved when there is an equal number of men and women, in any industry and type of work. Globally, the number of women in Google might be even close to zero in some countries. However, Kim et al. (2015) notice that in men-dominant cultures and organizations diversity management practices are perceived differently (as women value them more), the overall employees’ commitment and related improved performance are boosted for both genders. In Asian male-dominated countries, diversity is the major approach to improving the employees’ organizational commitment thanks to the embracement of all the employees (Kim et al, 2015). However, despite the bias that exists in Asian cultures, Google is very active in promoting diversity in its Southeast Asia headquarters, according to different sources. Hence, one important aspect is the country culture. As the company is increasingly multinational, diversity management at Google now has another aspect; effective implementation of skilled migrants’ as the workforce is difficult without an effective diversity management policy. Different studies have focused on the topic of diversity management in western countries, such as the U.S. or the U.K. However, a fewer number of studies focused on non-western countries, in particular, Asian ones (Kim et al, 2015). The possible reason is the belief that Asian countries are culturally more homogeneous and diversity is a less pressuring issue for them (ibid). However, amid a globalizing world and the growing issue of women's equal employment opportunities in Asia, the issue should be considered in detail, according to Kim et al. (2015).
Google is eager to promote diversity not only because of the moral imperatives ("Don't be Evil") but also because of the necessity of promoting creativity and effective work on the global market. Indeed, Cox and Blake (1991, cited in Prieto et al., 2009 ) suggest that creativity is evidently boosted by increased diversity of teams; however the team members should have similar ability levels. In general, the positive influence of diverse teams on the work group performance is widely recognized and proved by a number of studies (Prieto et al., 2011). Patrick and Kumar (2012) emphasise the widely recognized correlation between the measured success of diversity management and organisational performance, based on a number of studies, including those made in IT sector. Kossek et al. (2005) list an extensive number of objectives and indicators that are desired to be achieved via effective diversity. They are meeting the moral imperative, improving the reputation and recognition, reducing the labor costs, decreasing the legal costs related to lawsuits, creating and maintaining a wider pool of talent, offing better customer services and greater value to customers, improving innovation process, enhancing job satisfaction and job performance (Kossek et al., 2005). Meanwhile, Hofstede (1994, cited in Patrick and Kumar) notices that global leaders must understand the differences in national cultures and customs, which is the case of Google executives. Google should overcome language and stereotype barriers when working with foreign partners and customers/users of different cultures and background. Patrick (2010, cited in Partick and Kumar, 2012) states that diversity analysis shows not only the relationships within an organisation but also indicates the openness to the difference between different work groups and sub-cultures in an organisation. The interviews of Laszlo Bock, HR executive at Google, resonate with the notion of Rodriguez (2006, cited in Patrick and Kumar, 2012), who notices that embracing diversity enhances productivity and personal development on the individual level; the mechanism is related to the habituation of coming out of comfort zone. After eliminating negative perceptions over some groups, a person is easier to eliminate negative perceptions about him/her (i.e. “I am bad in creative tasks; I can't learn programming as I am a woman/have humanitarian mindset”). In addition, the mentioned benefit is improved value to Google’s customers and users all over the world; Patrick and Kumar (2012) note that organizations with diverse employees are better in comprehending the factors of external environment and serving diverse customers, especially in IT-related services.
Kasselet al. (2005) say that while diversity initiatives and training can enhance creativity, commitment and general performance, a comprehensive analysis of existing culture and climate should be done to develop diversity management strategy that would suit an organization. Studies conducted by Google indicate there are some issues with the effectiveness of diversity management in the company. Van Knippenberget al. (2004, cited in Christian et al., 2006) state that diverse workgroups require more time to become effective, which might affect the overall group performance if measuring since start-up phase. Moreover, Van Der Vegt and Bunderson (2005, cited in Christian et al., 2006) notice another perspective, as both too little and too much expertise diversity in multidisciplinary teams may harm team performance; whereas the moderate level of diversity both recognizes the difference but also help to learn from a different perspective. Their research also shows that diverse teams should create “collective team identification” promoting interdependence and challenging goals, otherwise differences might tear a team apart. Bassett‐Jones (2005) suggests that the issue of diversity management is crucial in the discourse of high-committed organization that promotes creativity and innovation with the help of certain routines and approaches to creating work teams. The problem is, that diverse teams often have a lower commitment towards a common goal (Bassett-Jones, 2005). Diversity management should not be solely focused on including the minorities into the group as it might lead to negative outcomes. Horwitzand Horwitz (2007, cited in Prieto et al., 2009) notice that racial and gender diversity might negatively affect the group performance, manifested in lower commitment, higher turnover and absenteeism, particularly among minorities. Homan et al. (2007, cited in Prieto et al., 2009) suggest that diversity might enhance group performance, but a major part of diverse groups failed to benefit from this, according to research. The belief in the benefit of diversity is important here, and certain training might help to reduce the “pro-similarity beliefs” (ibid). Moreover different personalities, values and attitudes decrease performance and increase the level of conflict. This creates the “us-them” distinction, fostering subgroup conflicts; Homan et al. (2007, cited in Prieto et al., 2009) notice that one possible measure is to move the conflict outside an organization, creating “us-them” distinction between a company and the external environment. The distinctiveness of Google is also permeated in the culture that promotes “us-them” distinction, For example, 97% of Google employees agree that they are special and have unique benefits there, while, 96% say that they are proud to say they work at Google, as online sources suggest.
Jayne and Dipboye (2004, cited in Prieto et al., 2009) notice that diverse workforce is not a prerequisite of improved performance; it does not enhance the talent pool, improves commitment, motivations, not it improve group performance. It might lead to these outcomes only if an organization has senior management committed to change, the specialists have to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, to tailor diversity management programs accordingly, the diversity management strategy is based on business results, and there are well-established metrics to evaluate the results of diversity management activities (ibid). Senior management in Google is indeed interested in achieving honesty, as proved by the fact that 95% respondents say that managers are honest and ethical in their practices. According to the model of effective diversity management by Gilbert et al. (1999, cited in Patrick and Kumar, 2012), top management's involvement and promotion of diversity as the part of the new organisationalstrategy and new HR strategy are crucial, while the broader culture should have positive attitudes towards diversity (i.e. acceptance of minorities and multiculturalism). Google’s top management is eager to promote diversity, as different initiatives, such as $150 million package to promote diverts and first diversity report indicate.
Another important, but often forgotten factor in the case of Google and similar IT companies, is a diversity of age; better management of age diversity can benefit companies in a number of ways (Notter, 2002). This is particularly true for IT companies, as most of them are very youth-oriented with the low aver`age of employees. Indeed, Google is regarded as one of the best places to work for Millennial among MNCs. Age diversity is a silenced problem of Silicon Valley, with Google’s employer’s average age is 30, which is actually higher than in other prominent tech companies. This is the second major discrimination-related problem apart from gender.
In conclusion, it is evident that external factors, such as changes in demographics, market forces, lack of high-qualified workforce and legislation will result in growing pressure to use diverse workforce, but in most effective manner. The pioneers in the transition towards the effective inclusiveness will be able to benefit from better performance and increased innovativeness of their business (Bassett‐Jones, 2005). It is evident that with the desire of Google’s top management to promote gender and ethnical diversity in the tech industry, together with recommended promotion of age-related diversity, Google will be able to maintain its innovativeness and attractiveness for the global workforce.
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