Diversity in the Workplace: Benefits and Disadvantages

Introduction

Technological advancements have allowed individuals from different cultures, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds to work and communicate together. The above experiences have enhanced diversity in the workplace (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2012). Diversity represents the manner through which individuals vary from one another. Customarily, individuals differ in sex, age, culture, race, religious conviction, and way of life. Similarly, individuals differ in how they reason, study, process facts, react to power or demonstrate respect. As such, diversity experiences have been exciting and frustrating to some (Marquis, 2007). Having a workforce made up of individuals from different cultures, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds have an impact on a range of features in an organization. The article below focuses on managing diversity in the workplace.

Notably, organizational and managerial behaviors are significantly affected by the level of diversity in the organization. Upholding cooperation and efficient relations in diverse organizations can be difficult (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2012). Managers must come up with ways of encouraging employees to embrace their diversity. If employees take advantage of their differences, the individuals and the company will benefit. As such, diversity in the workplace enhances innovation and development of constructive organizational culture. When individuals participate in divergent discussions, they will come up with innovative and better alternative means of solving problems.

History of workplace diversity

Workplace diversity in America was almost non-existent when the nation gained independence. World War I, World War II, the civil rights movements, and increased awareness among the minority workers gradually transformed the places of work (Marcus, 2009). However, it should be noted that the amendment and implementation of the federal regulations have not completely assured ethnic and gender parity in the place of work.

Fifth Amendment

Some laws safeguard the workers from being obliged to implicate themselves during investigatory meetings directed by their bosses. The above protection can be traced back to the fifth amendment of the year 1791 (Marcus, 2009). The law declares that no individual should be denied life, freedom, or assets in the absence of due course.

Equal Pay Act

Another law that has enhanced workplace diversity is the Equal Pay Act of the year 1963. The law was later amended in the year 1972. As such, the law outlawed wages based on sex for workers in a similar organization who undertake tasks, which need considerably equal ability, energy, and accountability under comparable working settings. The law further states that any individual who infringes on the law should be fined accordingly. Upon conviction, the person is subject to a penalty of $10, 000 (Marcus, 2009). The individual can also be imprisoned for up to a period of six months.

Civil Rights Act

The Civil Rights Act of the year 1964 is another law that seeks to enhance diversity in the workplace. The landmark law prohibited prejudicial treatment based on race, skin color, religious conviction, sexual orientation, or nationality. With the passage of the law, a drop in racial and sexual segregation was witnessed in the workplace (Marcus, 2009). Authorities mandated to implement the law were initially lenient. However, the powers were later enhanced during later years.

Managing diversity in the workplace

Definition of diversity management

Diversity management refers to the initiatives undertaken to make the most of diversity’s benefits while reducing the potential hurdles like preconceptions, which can weaken the operation of a diverse workforce (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2012). Management experts assert that diversity management is very vital towards development in today’s aggressive and competitive international marketplace. Companies that pursue global market relevancy ought to uphold diversity. Through this, they should change the way they think, perform, and innovate. Unlike in the past, diversity in today’s workplace is not about the number of individuals representing the minority groups, but rather the manner in which the company treats its employees.

Diversity in the current American workplace is exhibited through the workers’ dissimilarities and similarities. The above implies that managing diversity does not only involve the management of race, ethnic, or gender, issues but comprises other complicated issues that bring out the differences of the employees. The current American workplaces have a finite number of diversity mixtures. American organizations have diverse mixtures based on racial, ethnic, gender, profession, age, and religion. The workforce compromises of individuals from various racial and ethnic backgrounds. As such, the employees come from Caucasian, African American, Asian, and Hispanic backgrounds. Similarly, employees come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.

Programs that help to manage diversity in the workplace

Some programs should be implemented to improve diversity in the workplace. It should be noted that multiplicity is an important factor behind the success of several companies (Kreitner & Cassidy, 2012). Therefore, executives should ensure that they offer strong leadership, evaluate the situation, offer diversity-teaching programs, transform culture, and evaluate the existing diversity administration programs. For efficient implementation of the above, an organization needs a leader with unique leadership styles. A competent leader should possess leadership traits that adapt to every situation presented by a diverse team. Unlike in the past, current business environments are very complex. In this regard, leadership styles should be adapted to suit the changing work environment.

Currently, diversity training is essential in organizations. The exercise is directed towards the management team and the employees. It includes training accomplishments related to specific organizational objectives. The goals are tailored to meet the definite training requirements. To enhance the efficiency of the exercise, organizations are encouraged to adopt specific guidelines called A.G.E.M (Weeks, 2004). The strategies are made up of approach elements, goal elements, executive commitment elements, and mandatory attendance elements. If the guidelines are adequately followed, organizations will be able to experience transformative developmental alterations necessary for efficient diversity training programs.

Improving workforce diversity should be the key aim of managers. Boosting workplace diversity has benefits. An organization should come up with appropriate hiring and retaining rules to promote workforce diversity. The policies should be able to attract a competitive workforce from diverse backgrounds. Similarly, the organizational culture should be tailored to attract and retain a diverse workforce.

Human resource role in diversity management

Human resource role in diversity training

The human resource department is the core unit that should promote diversity training. Through this, they will be able to play an integral role in assessing the company’s need for diversity awareness and sensitivity training.

During the training, employees and managers should be taught to recognize diversity mixtures in their organizations. In doing so, human resource managers should be able to identify themselves with these features in their organizations. Equally, managers should be taught how to scrutinize the mixtures and their associated pressures. Through this step, the managers will be able to widen their outlooks and establish the effects, the combinations, and their related strains hindering their capabilities to satisfy the organization’s objectives. Similarly, the training should inform managers on how to choose a suitable response. Through this training, managers would be able to evaluate all the available alternatives.

Human resource role in promoting diversity

Human resources should also promote diversity within the organization. Its primary responsibility in diversity management is to come up and implement an effective organizational culture, which nurtures a respectful work environment. Organizational culture is defined as a system of collective values and beliefs held by organizational members. As such, organizational culture determines how organizational members interact with each other. In a firm, the culture comprises of an organization’s values, vision, norms, systems, beliefs, and habits. Similarly, organizational culture consists of an institutions’ collective behavior and assumptions. When new members join a group, they are taught how to perceive, think, and feel in every particular situation.

Universally, it is accepted that employees and leaders have shaped their businesses and institutions. Equally, leaders are the product of these organizational cultures. Over time, these leaders have learned and conducted business in agreement with their organizations’ expectations. For instance, when a Chinese firm employs a manager trained in the US, he or she is expected to learn and adapt to Chinese organizational cultures. Through this, he or she will be able to understand how Chinese workers carry on with their daily activities for active management. According to researchers, it is essential that leaders learn to adapt their leadership styles to accommodate diverse cultures. The failure of this will result in weak leadership, which may affect the productivity of a given organization.

Human resources should reinforce diversity policy

Similarly, human resource departments should strengthen diversity strategies or policies. Human resource departments should make sure that leaders and employees distinguish the importance of diversity policies and training. For instance, a manager should lead by embracing diversity. As such, meaningful diversity can be achieved if managers talk, think, and walk their talk. Managers should think critically to be able to manage a diverse workforce. By thinking, they would be able to come up with innovative ways of using workforce diversity to the advantage of the organization and the employees. They should be able to think about how to position every employee to maximize their potential. For instance, African American salespersons should be sent on assignments in areas where African American culture thrives. Similarly, other sales representatives from different races should be sent out to places they would be able to associate with the cultures in place. The above will enhance their interactions with the members of the society improving on their work environment and increasing the much-needed returns.

To walk their talk, managers should implement everything they utter. For instance, when they say diversity is an important factor in the success of their companies, they should embrace diversity at the executive level. Both the minority and the majority group members should be represented equally at all organizational levels under the directive of managers.

Human resource managers should be able to suppress consciousness associated with these diversity mixtures to eliminate issues related to language mixture, gender mixture, religion mixture, and racial mixture (Thomas, 2006). For instance, individuals in the workplace should be able to perceive themselves as persons rather than as women and men. Similarly, they should be able to see themselves as workers of a collective organization rather as being an Asian, Caucasian, African American or any other racial group. There should be a directive or policy to prohibit employees from discussing issues concerned with their race, religion, or political affiliation in the workplace.

Similarly, human resource managers should come up with policies that encourage relationships among employees. Through building relationships among the employees, the managers will enable the employees to understand and appreciate each other’s social, religious, or racial background. The above can be achieved by offering the employees with regular seminars, workshops, and other social events. Through this, they will get to know one another better enhancing mutual respect. Equally, human resource managers should foster mutual adaptation in the workplace to end issues related to religious mixtures. Through this initiative, every employee will be required to adjust his or her religious doctrines for the benefit of developing an appropriate work environment suitable for all religious groups.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted that diversity represents the manner through which individuals vary from one another. Typically, individuals differ in sex, age, culture, race, religious conviction, and way of life. Correspondingly, individuals differ in how they reason, study, process facts, react to power or demonstrate respect. Having a workforce made up of individuals from different cultures, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds have an impact on a range of features in an organization. Management experts assert that diversity management is very vital towards development in today’s aggressive and competitive international marketplace. Companies that pursue global market relevancy ought to uphold diversity. The human resource department is the core unit that should promote diversity training. Through this, they will be able to play an integral role in assessing the company’s need for diversity awareness and sensitivity training. During the training, employees and managers should be taught to recognize diversity mixtures in their organizations. In doing so, human resource managers should be able to identify themselves with various variety combinations in the organizations.

Benefits of a more diverse workforce

Improved creativity, enhanced ideas, and increased output are some of the advantages of a diverse workforce. Workers from dissimilar backgrounds have disparate viewpoints of addressing the common challenges faced by organizations. Organizations with diverse employees offer unparalleled services to their clients. For instance, different sales and service workers can successfully work together with clients from varied cultures. Furthermore, customers in some communities do not understand the English language. In this regard, workers who are fluent in various languages will come in handy.

Disadvantages of a more diverse workforce

Despite the above successes, it should be noted that there are several issues associated with the number of diversity mixtures resulting from a diverse workforce. The challenges are racial, ethnic, gender, religious, profession, and age difference hostilities. The communication barrier is identified as a leading disadvantage of a diverse workforce. Workers from diverse backgrounds often speak different languages. Without an official or a common language, it would be very hard for the employees to communicate and understand one another. In this regard, the language barrier in a diverse workforce can result in additional faults and challenges than you would possibly find in an organization that is not diverse.

References

Kreitner, R., & Cassidy, C. (2012). Management (12th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Marcus, G. (2009). A new literary history of America. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Marquis, J. (2007). Managing diversity in corporate America an exploratory analysis. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Pub.

Thomas, R. (2006). Building on the promise of diversity how we can move to the next level in our workplaces, our communities, and our society. New York: AMACOM/ American Management Association.

Weeks, D. (2004). The eight essential steps to conflict resolution: preserving relationships at work, at home, and in the community. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Perigee.