Diversity in the business context has a wide variety of meanings depending on the intensions of the person defining it. The term could be used in the contexts of business portfolios in defining the portfolio diversity score and collateralized debt obligation, market diversification growth strategy, workforce diversity and equality among many others things. In general, diversity is any dimension that helps differentiate things or people in the business world. In this essay, the dimension of workforce diversity is examined.
Workplace diversity encompasses age, sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, language culture, religion, family responsibilities etc. (HATCH, 2008). Diversity is taken to mean ways in which people are different in areas like education, perspectives; life experiences, personalities and social economic backgrounds. The idea of workplace diversity takes into consideration issues like the principle of equal employment opportunities. Such a principle addresses the disincentives faced by certain groups of people in the exercise of the employment roles and duties assigned to them.
Most corporate businesses in North of America reap enormous benefits from cultural religious and racial ethnic diversity. The best technological innovators in the country have employed diverse workforces since the 80s, and they now rank at the top of the industry. Diversity is viewed by these companies as a fundamental characteristic of their hiring policies. It is possible to find that most people at the workplace overlook the benefits of diversity in terms of opinions, styles music and other dimensional personal differences at the work place. (HATCH, 2008)
Corporates that turn to embracing workplace diversity often emerge prosperous in their industry. Until now, some companies cannot yet see the vast benefits derived from embracing diversity. An organization that embraces diversity through recognizing personal differences of its workforce, manages its employees in a manner that help build some sense of harmony among its workforce (McInnes, 2000).
Benefits of workplace diversity
In the current 21st century, workforce diversity has grown to be a subject of concern that is extremely beneficial to a business. Workforce diversity is taken to mean practices and guidelines that find ways to include people who were previously excluded within the existing workforce. Such people, who were previously considered to be different to some extent, are accepted and their differences or uniqueness is integrated into the systems of operation within an organization. There is not a single corporation that can afford to block its potential to lure the top cream work force available in the market. (HATCH, 2008)
Since the benefits of good diversity exist within the confines of those who are disadvantaged in a society, workforce diversity can fit in as a good corporate responsibility practice. Individuals get a rare opportunity to earn a living and live their dreams thanks to diversification.
Work force diversity serves as an economic payback i.e. most of those excluded in the workforce rely on tax aided social service programs. Workplace diversity particularly those achieved through inventiveness for instance; welfare-to work, could effectively transform tax users into tax payers.
Here with us are the forecasted changes in the demographics of a workplace labor force proclaimed ten years ago. The present day labor pool is distinguished from those of the past to a great extent. As opposed to then when labor was dominated by a set of white males, today’s talent is showcased by people of a vast variety of backgrounds and life experiences. Companies that consider themselves competitive cannot afford to discriminate their workforce since this would prevent them from hiring the best talents that may be available across the divide. (HATCH, 2008)
Most corporates are legally obliged to act in a non-discriminating manner towards their workforce and employment practices. Failure to comply with affirmative action or equal opportunities of employment could result to heavy fines to the company or and loss of contract held with government agencies, a fate they cannot afford to risk. In the presence of such laws, it is only wise to engage in a diverse workforce practices. (McInnes, 2000)
A corporate may use workforce diversity as a marketing strategy. The purchasing power globally is possessed by people from all walks of life including people of different races nationalities, regions, sex ages, sexual orientations etc. In order to ensure that the goods and services of this customer are tailored to their needs, companies are hiring people from different walks of life since they have specialized knowledge and insight of such goods and services. In addition, companies that interact frequently with the public find it easier to work with employees who are of similar structure with their potential customers.
As a communication strategy in business, companies are enforcing diversity in their workforce, customers and suppliers. Firms that opt to retain homogenous status in terms of workforce seem ineffective especially in executing the internal communications and interactions with the company employees (HATCH, 2008)
In the 21st century, a custom of turbulent change characterizes the workforce structure in terms of diversity. Companies that succeed have potential to find effective solutions to problems, see new opportunity, adapt to situations and capitalize on them. Such capacity is made possible by the presence of diverse talent knowledge and experience. It is discernible that companies that diversify their work force gain distinct competitive advantages obviously over those that fail to.
Workplace diversity enables a company to build a worldwide competitive workforce. Diversity helps come up with a microcosm of the globe which harnesses the managerial skills of the top management hence offering a competitive advantage to the managers. Such managers can access vital resources and can better deliver quality service. A culturally diverse workforce does not only harness professional skills, but also brings aboard people who can communicate in different languages thus helping to improve international customer relations of that company.
Increasing work force diversity (McInnes, 2000)
Promotion of diversity at the work place has its advantages. The process of recruitment should be approached in a holistic manner. Employee retention may be more difficult than their recruitment especially in companies located in diversified region where the minority workers may feel disjointed. Managers need to assist them in adjusting to the work culture and to the new community environment as well. (HATCH, 2008)
First, the manager needs to identify what the needs of the company are. He should also check if the workforce employed is similar to the community to ensure diversity and close customer relationship to the business. The work force should always match the population demographics it is assigned to serve. If not, a hiring policy should be enforced to help improve workforce diversity.
Asking around e.g. talking to local organizations such as churches, organizations, colleges etc. helps to connect the human resource manager with potential candidates. Another effective way is to ask referrals from employees since they may have friends in that industry that has eligible candidates.
The company needs to develop and employ an equal opportunity hiring policy. The aim of this is to ensure a recruitment practice that addresses all issues touching on sex, age, and that is minority neutral. The company should make the job more inducing to jobseekers through stressing on features that attract a diverse group of potential candidates. In doing so, the human resource manager should be acutely sensitive in giving a description of the traits that make his company a workplace of choice.
The company needs to offer diversity training at work premises. There is a need to make employees understand that there is fairness in the hiring process, and that the employee recruitment program is based on merit rather than quotas. This makes the hiring process more transparent and assists to eliminate skeptical minds and ideologies. Providing employee benefits such as daycare, subsidies on child care with flexible schedules plus providing employees with the knowledge that you take account for religious and cultural cerebrations and holidays also helps to boost the morale and output of an organization’s employees.
Coming up with organizations that value and use diversity in an effective manner is not a onetime thing but rather a continuous process. Managers need appraise on continuous basis the progress of the organization in terms of performance indicators and legal obligations. Company heads should analyze and give reports on of workplace outcomes from diversity related programs the programs should be reviewed every four years (HATCH, 2008)
Disadvantages of increasingly diverse workforce
Over diversity may, however, increases the costs of training an organization’s workforce. The increased training costs could be in the form of seminars, forums and lectures to promote workplace diversity in an organization. All levels of staff must undergo training that promotes diversity. For instance when looking for eligible candidates that ensure cultural diversity, workers are used by the organization to network in a bid to get the best employees from different categories people. In addition, remunerating a diverse workforce is an expensive ordeal since the workers involved are perceived to be of value in the industry and are likely to demand hefty allowances that may be beyond the organizations reach (McInnes, 2000)
Another detriment of diversity is the reverse discrimination. Affirmative action policies and strategies are strongly associated with reverse discrimination. For instance, it is usual to hear of discrimination claims by white males who are considered the majority at workplace. Black people have often argued that they have equal qualification with their diversity candidate competitors for positions at the workplace, and yet, they are ignored so that the minority gets the chance.
Workplace diversity impairs workforce’s freedom of speech. The workers in the organizations are from different backgrounds and cultural affiliation. One cannot afford to crack an innocent joke that may make a colleague at work feel offended by such joke or opinions that were innocently made without evil intensions. People making such statements may be viewed as acting in a discriminatory angle though it might not be the case
Diversity at work may also fuel competition rather than team work. Diverse workers who feel they are different from the rest due to the policy through which they were hired, may not be willing to accept other cultures turning them into rival competitors rather than teammates. This could be detrimental to the business since instead of workers performing tasks in harmony in order to complete them in time, they work separately to prolong the time taken to complete such tasks.
Failure to utilize diversity is another disadvantage. A competing team makes it difficult to identify and recognize abilities of the workers and opportunities to use these abilities to the organization’s advantage. A diverse workforce should help to reach a large client pool, but the inability to realize potential of diversity makes attainment of such a goal difficult. (HATCH, 2008)
In a diverse team coworkers may fail to respect others culturally or ethnically different teammate. Such a worker may choose their own methods in preference to ideas given by a different coworker. Teammate may, however, have a particularly brilliant idea or method only for his/her teammate to turn him/her down thus bringing about frustrations among team members. This lack of respect towards those that seem different from others perpetuates tension and becomes a communication barrier. The result is that the workforce divides itself into smaller groups with diverse goals that contravene and are inconsistent with the ultimate goal of the organization.
In conclusion, workforce diversity if well harnessed may yield desired results and give rise to highly efficient teams of workers with the best skills. Diversity may also yield work teams with the abilities to address the specific needs of their customers and teams that are competitive not only within the borders of the nation they are situated in but on the global level too. The use of diversity ensures the organization stick to the laws instituted by the nation’s authority and law thus avoiding suits and counter suits. Workforce diversity helps employ marginalized groups that otherwise would rely on government for help. Diversity helps capture the best talent available in the market forming highly efficient teams for the organization.
However, workforce diversity has its downside too. If not properly monitored it could lead to a disaster within an organization. For instance, when coworkers do not respect the opinions of their coworkers, work teams become divided forming splitter groups with different intensions from those of the organization. Diversity would impede free speech since workers have to watch what they are saying to avoid provoking others. If well controlled workforce diversity could help achieve organizations goals in an effective way giving rise to competitive advantage over firms that do not diversify their workforce.
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