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After studying this chapter, students should be able to understand the following concepts:

A. Work Force Diversity

B. Sources of work force diversity

C. Managing the diversified work force


One of the greatest challenges facing organizations today is managing workforce diversity in a way that both

respects the employees' unique attitudes and promotes a shared sense of corporate identity. This chapter

explores the issues that are intrinsic to diversity management. In the United States, as abroad, the design and

implementation of HR programs cannot ignore the diverse nature of the work force. Thus, by the end of

this chapter the reader should have a better grasp of diversity issues and how to handle them successfully

A. Work Force Diversity

Any perceived difference among people: age, functional

specialty, profession, sexual orientation, geographic origin, life

style, tenure with the organization, or position. Diversity simply

refers to human characteristics that make people different. The

sources of individual variations are complex, but they can

generally be grouped into two categories: those over which

individuals have little or no control and those over which

individuals have more control. Unless effectively managed,

diversity among employees may have a negative impact on

productive teamwork. Affirmative action is not diversity

management. Affirmative action emerged from government

pressure on business to provide greater opportunities for women

and minorities. Managing diversity is an outgrowth of natural or

environmental trends such as demographic changes and

international competition. Moreover, diversity is considered an

asset in terms of improving organizational functioning and

reflecting the customer market.

B. Sources of work force Diversity

Today diversity refers to far more than skin color and gender. It is a broad term used to refer to all kinds of

differences. These differences include women in business, dual-career families, workers of color, older

workers persons with disabilities, immigrants, young persons with limited education or skills, educational

level of employees.

i. Racial & Ethnical Groups

ii. Older Workers

iii. Gender

iv. Education

v. Dual-career Families

vi. Religions & Culture

vii. Persons with Disabilities

viii. Immigrants

ix. Young persons with limited education or skills

x. Competitive advantage though work force diversity

xi. Marketing

xii. Creativity, innovation, and problem solving

xiii. Flexibility



i. Racial & Ethical Groups: Workers of color often experience stereotypes about their group

(Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, etc.). At times, they encounter misunderstandings and

expectations based on ethnic or cultural differences.

ii. Older Workers—as the world population is growing older, a trend that is expected to continue

through the year 2000. In addition, the trend toward earlier retirement appears to be reversing itself.

iii. Gender (Women in Business): Women represent almost 11.9 percent of corporate officers at

largest companies. However, the number of women in entry and midlevel managerial positions has

risen from 34 percent in 1983 to 46 percent in 1998, meaning many more women are in the

pipeline to executive spots. Today, there are more than 9 million women-owned businesses, up

from 400,000 in 1972. The number of nontraditional, single-parent households in the United States

is growing. Because more than half of all marriages today end in divorce, this trend is expected to

continue. Often, one or more children are involved. Of course, there are always widows and

widowers who have children as well, and there are some men and women who choose to raise

children outside of wedlock.

iv. Education: Another form of diversity that is now found in the workplace is that of the educational

level of employees. The United States is becoming a bipolar country with regard to education, with

a growing number of very educated people on one side and an alarming increase in the illiteracy

rate on the other.

v. Dual-Career Families: The increasing number of dual-career families presents both challenges

and opportunities for organizations. As a result of this trend, some firms have revised their policies

against nepotism to allow both partners to work for the same company. Other firms have

developed polices to assist the spouse of an employee who is transferred. When a firm wishes to

transfer an employee to another location, the employee’s spouse may be unwilling to give up a

good position or may be unable to find an equivalent position in the new location. Some companies

are offering assistance in finding a position for the spouse of a transferred employee.

vi. Religion and Culture: Due to globalization religion and culture based diversity is also increasing

in organizations.

vii. Persons with disabilities: A handicap, or disability, limits the amount or kind of work a person

can do or makes achievement unusually difficult. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),

passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

viii. Immigrants: Today the permitted level of legal immigration is increasing. Some are highly skilled

and well educated, and others are only minimally qualified with little education. They have one

thing in common—an eagerness to work. They have brought with them attitudes, values, and

mores particular to their home-country cultures.

ix. Young persons with limited education or skills: Each year thousands of young, unskilled

workers are hired, especially during peak periods, such as holiday buying seasons. In general, they

have limited education—high school or less. More jobs can be de-skilled, making it possible for

lower-skilled workers to do them.

x. Competitive advantage through Work Force Diversity: For many years’ organizations, the

original impetus to diversify their workforces was social responsibility and legal necessity. Morally

ethically it was right to do so. Today many organizations are approaching diversity efforts from a

moral practical, business oriented perspective,. Increasingly, diversity can be a powerful tool for

building completive advantage. Companies with a reputation for providing opportunities for

diverse workforce will have a completive advantage in a labor market and will be sought out by the

most qualified employees, In addition when employee believe their differences are not merely

tolerated but valued , they may become more loyal, productive and committed.



xi. Marketing: Companies are realizing that consumers, like the workforce, are changing

demographically. Just as women and minorities may prefer to work for an employer that values

diversity, they may prefer to patronize such organizations. A multicultural workforce can provide a

company with greater knowledge of th preferences and consuming habits of thus market place.

This knowledge can assist companies in designing products and developing market campaigns to

meet those consumer needs. A diverse workforce can also give company competitive edge in a

global economy by facilitating understanding of other customers, cultures, and market place needs.

xii. Creativity, innovation, and problem Solving: Work team diversity promotes creativity and

innovation, because people from different backgrounds hold different perspective on issues.

Diverse groups have a broader base of experience from which to approach problem; when

effectively managed, they invent more options and create more solutions than homogeneous

groups do. In addition, diverse workgroups are freer to deviate from traditional approaches and


xiii. Flexibility: A diverse workforce can enhance organizational flexibility because successfully

managing diversity requires a corporate culture that tolerates many different styles and approaches.

Less restrictive polices and procedures and less standardized operating methods enable

organization to become more flexible and thus better able to respond quickly to environmental


xiv. Diversity Management and Affirmative Action Programs: We can define the workforce

diversity management as set of activities involved in integrating diverse employees into the work

force and using their diversity to the firm’s competitive advantage

C. How organization Cultivate a Diverse Workforce:

An Organization’s plans for becoming multicultural and making the most of its diverse workforce should


I. Securing top management support and Commitment

II. Organizational Assessment

III. Attracting employees

IV. Developing Employees

V. Retaining employees

I. Securing top management support and commitment: Obtaining top-level commitment

and support is critical for diversity programs to succeed. One way to communicate this

commitment to all employees as well as to the external environment is to incorporate the

organization’s attitudes toward diversity into the corporate mission statement and into

strategic plans and objectives. Managerial compensation can be directly linked to

accomplishing diversity objectives. Adequate funding must be allocated to diversity effort

to ensure its success. Also, top management can set an example for other organization

members by participating in diversity programs and making participation mandatory for all

managers. Top management or diversity directors alone cannot do the work fof mamnagin

diversity. Many companies rely on minority advisory groups or task forces to monitor

organizational policies, practices, and attitudes; access their impact on the diverse groups

within the organization; and provide feedback and suggestions to top management.

II. Organizational Assessment: The next step in managing diversity is to assess the

organization’s workforce, culture, policies, and practices in areas such as recruitment,

promotions, benefits, and compensation. In addition, the demographics of the labor pool

and the customer base should be evaluated. The objective is to identify problem areas and

make recommendations where changes are needed.



III. Attracting Employees: Companies can attract a diverse, qualified workforce through using

effective recruiting process, accommodating employees’ work and family needs, and

offering alternative work arrangements.

IV. Developing Employees: Employees can be developed in a variety of ways. Here we will

focus on skills training and diversity training.

V. Retaining Employees: As replacing qualified and experienced workers become more difficult

and costly, retaining good workers will become much more important. A number of

policies and strategy will increase retention of all employees, especially those who are

“different” from the norm.


a. Managing Diversity means taking steps to maximize diversity’s potential advantages while

minimizing the potential barriers, such as prejudices and bias that can undermine the functioning of

a diverse workforce.

b. Boosting Workforce Diversity – Employers use various means to boost workforce diversity: start

diversity programs; have departmental diversity meetings; form special

networking and mentoring groups; and/or direct recruiting ads to one or

more of the online minority-oriented job markets

c. Equal Employment Opportunity Versus Affirmative

Action – Equal employment opportunity aims to ensure that

anyone, regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national origin,

or age, has an equal chance for a job based on his/her

qualifications. Affirmative action goes beyond equal

employment opportunity by requiring the employer to make

an extra effort to recruit, hire, promote, and compensate

those in protected groups to eliminate the present

effects of past discrimination.

d. Affirmative Action: Two Basic Strategies – The good

faith effort strategy is aimed at changing the practices

that contributed to minority groups’ or females’ exclusion or

underutilization. The quota strategy mandates bottom-line results through hiring

and promotion restrictions.

Challenges in Managing Employee Diversity

Diversity offers opportunities as well as challenges. The challenges include appropriately valuing diversity,

balancing individual needs and group fairness, dealing with resistance to change, ensuring group

cohesiveness and open communication, avoiding employee resentment, keeping the focus on performance,

retaining valued performers, and maximizing opportunity for all employees.

a. Resistance to Change: Although employee diversity is a fact of life, the dominant groups in

organizations are still composed of white men.

b. Segmented Communication Networks: One study found that most communication within

organizations occurs between members of the same sex and race. Therefore diversified workforce

organization may face the challenge of segmented communication networks.

c. Resentment: Equal employment opportunity that can be defined as fairness of employment that is

free from all sort of discrimination in majority of organizations was a forced change rather than a

voluntary one.

d. Backlash: While women and minorities may view a firm's “cultural diversity policy” as a

commitment to improving their chances for advancement, white men may see it as a threat.

How to avoid Backlash: Many organizations that have instituted diversity programs have experienced



adverse reactions from employee groups, particularly white men. Here are some guidelines for HR professionals and

company managers who are attempting to manage diversity without adversity.

i. Adopt an inclusive definition of diversity that addresses all kinds of differences among employees, including

(but not limited to) race and gender.

ii. Make sure that top management is not only committed to establishing a diversity program but also

communicates that commitment directly to all employees

iii. Involve everyone, including white men, in designing the diversity program.

iv. Avoid stereotyping groups of employees, such as white men, when explaining cultural or ethnic differences

v. Recognize and reward white men who are part of the solution rather than blaming men who are part of the


vi. Avoid one-time training efforts that stir up emotions without channeling them in productive directions. Use

ongoing training that encompasses diversity as only one facet of needed change in the corporate culture.

e. Retention: The job satisfaction levels of women and minorities are often lower than those of white


f. Competition for Opportunities: As minority populations grow in the U.S., competition for jobs

and opportunities is likely to become much stronger.

g. Lower Cohesiveness: Diversity can create a lack of cohesiveness. Cohesiveness’ refers to how

tightly knit the group is and the degree to which group members perceive, interpret and act on their

environment in similar or mutually agreed upon ways. Because of their lack of similarities language,

culture, and/ or experience, diverse workforce typically are less cohesive than homogeneous groups.

Often mistrust, miscommunication, stress and attitudinal differences cohesiveness, which inurn can

diminish productivity.

h. Communication problem: Perhaps the most common negative effect of diversity is

communication problems. These difficulties include misunderstanding, inaccuracies, and slowness.

speed is lost when not all group members are fluent in the same language or when additional time is

required to explain things.

i. Diversity also increases errors and misunderstandings. Group members may assume they

interpret things similarly when in fact they do not ,or they may disagree because of their different

frames of references .

j. Mistrust and tension: People prefer to associate with others who are like themselves. This

tendency often leads to mistrust and misunderstanding of those who are different because of lack of

contact and low familiarity. it also causes stress and tension ,and reaching agreement on problems

can be difficult.

k. Stereotyping: We learn to see the world in a certain way based on our backgrounds and

experiences. Our interests, values and cultures act as filters and distort, block and select what we see

and hear. We see and hear what we expect to see and hear. Group members often inappropriately

stereotype their “different” colleagues rather than accurately perceiving and evaluating those

individual’s contributions, capabilities aspirations and motivations. Such stereotypes inurn affect

how people employee stereotyped as unmotivated or emotional will be given less -stress –

provoking jobs than their coworkers. Those job assignments will create frustrated employees,

perhaps resulting in low commitment, higher turnover, and underused skills.

Key Terms

Affirmative Action: Steps that are taken for eliminating the present effects of past discrimination

Cohesiveness: Refers to how tightly knit the group is and the degree to which group members

perceive, interpret and act on their environment in similar or mutually agreed upon


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