WORK PLACE DIVERSITY
After studying this chapter, students should be able to understand the following
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
v. Dual-career Families
vi. Religions & Culture
vii. Persons with Disabilities
ix. Young persons with limited education or skills
x. Competitive advantage though work force diversity
xii. Creativity, innovation, and problem solving
i. Racial & Ethical Groups: Workers of color often experience
stereotypes about their group
(Hispanics, African Americans, Asians, etc.). At times, they encounter misunderstandings
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
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
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
widowers who have children as well, and there are some men and women who choose
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
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.
are offering assistance in finding a position for the spouse of a transferred
vi. Religion and Culture: Due to globalization religion
and culture based diversity is also increasing
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
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,
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
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
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
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
This knowledge can assist companies in designing products and developing market
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
Diverse groups have a broader base of experience from which to approach problem;
effectively managed, they invent more options and create more solutions than
groups do. In addition, diverse workgroups are freer to deviate from traditional
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
organization to become more flexible and thus better able to respond quickly
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
and support is critical for diversity programs to succeed. One way to communicate
commitment to all employees as well as to the external environment is to incorporate
organization’s attitudes toward diversity into the corporate mission statement
strategic plans and objectives. Managerial compensation can be directly linked
accomplishing diversity objectives. Adequate funding must be allocated to diversity
to ensure its success. Also, top management can set an example for other organization
members by participating in diversity programs and making participation mandatory
managers. Top management or diversity directors alone cannot do the work fof
diversity. Many companies rely on minority advisory groups or task forces to
organizational policies, practices, and attitudes; access their impact on the
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
and the customer base should be evaluated. The objective is to identify problem
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,
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
policies and strategy will increase retention of all employees, especially those
“different” from the norm.
STEPS TOWARD MANAGEMENT OF DIVERSITY
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,
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
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
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
• 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
culture, and/ or experience, diverse workforce typically are less cohesive than
Often mistrust, miscommunication, stress and attitudinal differences cohesiveness,
which inurn can
h. Communication problem: Perhaps the most common negative
effect of diversity is
communication problems. These difficulties include misunderstanding, inaccuracies,
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
stereotype their “different” colleagues rather than accurately perceiving and
individual’s contributions, capabilities aspirations and motivations. Such stereotypes
how people employee stereotyped as unmotivated or emotional will be given less
provoking jobs than their coworkers. Those job assignments will create frustrated
perhaps resulting in low commitment, higher turnover, and underused skills.
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