Diversity’s Effects on the Organization Performance

Introduction

With organizations’ workforce becoming immensely diversified in terms of race or ethnic classes, it becomes imperative to examine how cute diversity management contributes to an ample performance of an organization. The paper argues that, despite the increased attention on the role of diversity in enhancing performance of an organization, much of the studies on diversity emanate from normative perception linking diversity to positive consequences.

Many organizations pay incredible attention to ensuring harmony between workforce differences, objectives, and strategic plans of an organization. This ensures that an organization establishes a central position in the dynamic operational business environment. Such an attempt is essential in enhancing the organization’s competitive advantage.

From this position, the paper argues that a workforce that has harmonized and integrated individual differences is critical in enhancing the profitability of an organization. This leads to the creation of a better performing organization. In this end, the paper holds that the ability of an organization to provide equal opportunities and equal treatment for its diverse workforce constitutes a substantive organizational behavior that is subtle for the both short-term and long-term performance of the organization.

In the evaluation of the roles of workforce diversity management in enhancing the performance of an organization, the American airlines is a plausible case study for linking theory on diversity management and its roles in fostering the performance of an organization with actual reality on the ground.

The choice of American airlines is particularly inspired by the fact that the writer works at the organization hence having an immense experience with the organization’s performance and substantial wealth of information about the organization’s workforce diversities.

Brief overview of American airlines

A subsidiary of AMR Corporation, the headquarters of American airlines, is situated at Fort Worth in Texas next to Fort Worth international airport. The organization operates an intensive domestic and international air transport networks. The organization was formed through conglomeration of small airlines in 1930. Its brand name then was American airways. The organization carries out flights in North America, Europe, South America, Caribbean, and even in Asia pacific.

This means that the American airline constitutes a key icon in the air transport operation across many regions within and outside America. Consequently, the organization’s workforce is also diverse geographically, age wise, skill wise, racially or ethically, gender, as well as with regard to ideas and beliefs.

As a supervisor in the organization, I have a noble role to ensure that all these diversities do not impair the achievement of the organization’s objectives and targets. This means that I need to ensure that the differences among the workers do not supersede the interests of the organization with regard to its enhanced performance.

The sphere of stakeholders of American airlines includes suppliers, employees, and customers among others. All these stakeholders are of different gender, and have different cultural affiliations. At the American airlines, corporate citizenship coupled with diversity is intertwined with the organization’s business, and are considered as normal ways of life.

Throughout the organization’s eight-decade history, the American airlines has recognized the necessity of articulating the concerns of workforce diversity as part of its organizational behaviors, which is critical for its continued increased performance in its core business activities.

Strong adherence to the philosophy of diversity at the American airline, as believed by the organization, is one of the plausible solutions to promote diversity sensitiveness. This quest is evident based on the diversity-related initiatives that the organization has pioneered over the eight decades of its presence in air transport business. These initiatives have their concerns engineered around the need to promote tolerance to diversity.

Preliminary problem statement

Over the past three decades, in the US, the evident increment in racial minority percentages has prompted many scholars to focus more on diversity issues. Introspection of the public administration literature reveal that a considerable number of scholarly researchers have endeavored to study the various issues related to diversity including federal agencies racial integrations (Cornwell & Kellough, 1994, p.102: Kellough, 1990, p.23: Kellough & Elliott, 1992, p.78).

It also includes initiatives for management of organizations diversities in both private and public sectors (Dobbs, 1996, p.38) and even the challenges in the implementation of diversity programs (Riccucci, 1997, p.27: Von Bergen et al., 2002, p.85). In the quest to increase knowledge in the fields of organizational workforce diversities, universities and other institutions of higher learning have aired their views concerning any engineering courses related to management of workforce management.

In the context of the American airlines, the case study organization used in this paper helps much in answering one critical question. How can the American airlines orient its diverse stakeholders to appreciate and equally embrace their diversities as a strength to foster the performance of the organization?

Brief narrative description of the organizational problem

American airlines employ several men and women of Hispanic, Asian-American, and African-American origin, both at senior and mid-level executives. The fact that the organization employs these people of valid diversities is the root cause of the problem of managing cutely the diverse work force in order to enhance the performance of the organization.

Irrespective of originality of any employee of the American airlines, his or her contribution towards the growth of the organization needs to be appreciated with a particular concern on delegation of responsibilities to persons who have recorded high tracks of performance in terms of increased organizational output. However, a challenge arises in the attempt to align all employees and other stakeholders to the organizational goals and objectives.

This challenge follows because the organization work force is diverse in terms of the beliefs upheld, which again stems from the cultural differences of the organization’s pool of stakeholders. To increase the output of an organization and hence its performance, it is essential that an organization has incredibly motivated workforce.

The workforce also needs to be highly integrated. This implies that the segregating differences needs to be eliminated. A further question warranting research is whether increased embracement of employees’ diversity has the implication of rendering the pool of American airlines’ employees greatly motivated, which, on the other hand, enhances their productivity.

Literature Review

Organizations depend on work teams to realize various solutions that are vital for success of the organizational business. For optimal output, it is essential that these work teams work in harmony. This calls for the teams to uphold common work ethics and norms.

However, this is a challenge upon noting that in the globalization age, such work team members are diverse with respect to age, skills base, ethnic or race, and even in terms of nationality amongst other diversity parameters. For this reason, Konlowski and Bell (2003, p.102), as well as Kearney, Gebert and Voelpel (2009, p.581), argue, “There has been a surge in research on how these teams should be composed to foster high levels of performance” (p.581).

Different researchers contend that cute management of diversity within an organization is an essential catalyst for enhancing the performance of any organization. For instance, Kearney, Gebert and Voelpel (2009) studied eighty three different groups from different organizations for their “tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavors—as a moderator of the relationships between both age diversity and educational specialization diversity, and elaboration of task-relevant information, collective team identification and, ultimately, team performance” (p.581).

The three researchers found out that education and age diversity were directly related to the outcomes they anticipated where a team’s quest for recognition was remarkably high. As the researchers inform, “both the elaboration of task-relevant information and collective team identification mediated a moderating effect of need for cognition on the relationship between both types of diversity and team performance” (Kearney, Gebert, & Voelpel, 2009, p.581).

On the other hand, Eden et al. (2011) integrated psychological and sociological perspectives in their research on the value that ethnic diversity has in an organization within the contexts of community diversities. In addition, “existing census data and performance indices coupled with patient surveys applicable in 142 hospitals within the United Kingdom places a heavy argument that ethnic diversity within an organization relates to decreased patients’ civility” (Cornwell & Kellough, 1994, p.102).

However, according to Eden et al., “the degree to which organizational demography was representative of community demography was positively related to civility experienced by patients and ultimately enhanced organizational performance” (2011, p.1103).

This finding suggests that biasness in intergroup work members manifested in the form of incivility perceptions toward an out-group member acts as an impediment to the performance of an organization. Arguably, to enhance the performance of an organization, it is necessary to harmonize such biasness through the creation of platforms for understanding work group diversities.

The implications of workforce diversities on the organizational performance are widely similar in many regions of the world. As opposed to many studies on the impacts of organizational diversity on western nations’ organizations, Li, Chu, Lam and Liao (2011) found “a significant and positive effect of age diversity and a significant interactive effect between age diversity and firm strategy on profitability” (p.247) in people’s republic of China’s organizations.

Profitability is one of the most reliable measures of performance of an organization. In case poor management of organizational age diversity results to dwindling profitability, it means then that the employees’ age diversity has substantial influence on the overall performance of an organization. While Li, Chu, Lam and Liao (2011) studied the impacts of age diversity on the organizational performance, on the other hand, Mors (2010) studied the impacts of skills and innovation diversity on the performance of organizations.

He explores the manner in which managers of multinational organizations can deploy informal relations to generate new knowledge within the organization. Precisely, he considers how “informal network diversities affect the ability of an actor to gain both integration and accessibility to diverse information, which results to enhanced innovative performance of the actors” (Mors, 2010, p.841).

He argues, “the most effective network strategy is contingent upon the context in which the partners operate” (Mors, 2010, p.841) and adds that “the findings show that partners operating in homogeneous contexts, where the primary challenge is to access diverse information, benefit from low-density networks” (Mors, 2010, p.841). However, where partners cross both geographic and organization’s boundaries, people possessing diverse networks have more opportunities of gaining higher levels of innovative performance.

Stemming from the preceding discussion, it is conspicuous that proper management of skills diversities of an organizations’ workforce is essential for enhancing the performance of an organization. Homan et al. (2008) also hold this position. These researchers studied the manner in which diverse work teams within an organization are afflicted by openness of members to experience and the extent in which rewarding structures places more emphasis on the differences existing in intergroup.

They argue, “Teams in which reward structure converged with diversity (i.e., “faultline” teams) performed more poorly than teams in which reward structure cut across differences between group members or pointed to a “superordinate identity” (Homan et al., 2008, p.1204). Pitts and Jarry (2007) employed a data derived from various schools to test the relationship that exists between ethnic diversity and organizational performance.

Teachers’ diversities and managerial diversities were also identified. Their results claimed that “manager’s diversity is routinely non-significant in predicting organizational performance, while teacher diversity has a consistently significant, and negative, impact on performance” (Pitts & Jarry, 2007, p.233). This confirms that cute management of employees’ Ethnic diversities is critical for the performance of an organization irrespective of whether an organization deals with service provision or in production of goods.

Preliminary solution options

The American airline employs diverse people. It also does business with stakeholders coming from diverse backgrounds. In the quest to orient and structure the American airlines’ pool of stakeholders into a manner that would portray the organization’s diversity as a strength and source of an opportunity to enhance the performance of the organization, the paper considers several options that are consistent with the findings of the discussions in the literature review. These myriad of solution options include:

  • Every employee needs to have a noble role to ensure that he or she embraces the philosophy of diversity by enhancing inclusion coupled with the creation of an Environment that can accommodate his or her work crews’ cultural differences and values. This is vital in ensuring that every employee at the organization develops to his or her full potential.
  • To structure the myriads of the American airlines stakeholders’ differences into a form that does not serve the purposes of distinguishing corporate citizenship and diversity, the organization deserves to deploy innovative strategies. This would ensure that community involvement, diversity and corporate citizenship are leveraged across the entire organization in the endeavor to facilitate the existence of a harmonious work environment and foster the performance of the core business of the organization such as procurement, sales, advertising, and marketing.
  • Best practices affiliated to management of employees’ diversity as one of the core organizational behaviors needs to be facilitated through hiring targets for leadership trainings on diversity and development of resource networks for employees without negating the consideration of diversity issues at the highest ranks of the organization’s management.
  • In an attempt to resolve the challenge of conflicts of interests among the customers, suppliers and community of the American airlines, emanating from differences in diversity among these stakeholders, the organization needs to endeavor to put into place strategies that would enable the organization’s management to understand the community, customers and the suppliers as block. Setting up of strategies with a high influence in the overall organization requires enactment of policies. Consequently, this can only be done by the organization management. However, the employees have a noble role to ensure that the established polices are followed and observed with precision. Indeed, this is the writer’s preferred solution. The claim holds because the need to understand better the customers of the American airlines rests on the needs of harnessing and orienting the differing customers’ experiences, backgrounds and even expectations to the goals and objectives of the organization. Therefore, this measure needs to be highly acclaimed at the organization since it has the capacity to make the organization acquire global competitiveness in terms of service delivery.

Preliminary analysis of what the company is doing to address the problem of organizations diversity

In 1973, the American airline portrayed its commitment to facilitating gender diversity when it hired the first female pilot. Later in 1986, it hired a female captain. In 1996, the organization went on to establish “’women in aviation resource group’ in Tulsa in Oklahoma” (Pitts & Jarry, 2007, p.233).

The main objective of this resource group was to enhance promotion hiring, creation of promotional opportunities and even professional development of women in the field of aviation. Since then, the organization has been implementing policies based on appreciation of embracing fair-mindedness in addressing issues pertaining to practices and values of gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual employees, and customers.

Indeed, the American airlines spearheaded all the local airlines in implementing policies seeking to accord equal benefits to same-sex partners. Such benefits included equal travel benefits, pensions and health benefits to lesbian and gay employees. In particular, the American airline is an advocate for employees’ nondiscrimination act.

In the quest to raise the caliber of contribution of workforce diversity in the performance of an organization, the American airline has established sixteen employees’ resource groups, which engage the diversities of the employees. This has the utmost repercussion of providing subtle avenues ideal for incorporation of the diverse ideas of the diverse employees into the business of the organization.

This implication is more conspicuous especially by noting that the resource groups have the responsibilities of developing business strategies, as well as aiding in the implementation of business initiatives. More importantly, they act as consultants. For instance, devising of in-flight menus for meals that were culturally relevant for airline services between Delhi and Chicago was principally the task of the American Indian employee resource group.

Extensive measures are being incorporated by the organization to ensure that an enhancement of experiences of all the organization’s customers is achieved. This is largely realized through the adoption of marketing programs that are sensitive to diverse segment of the customers of the American airlines. For instance, in 2008, the American airlines inaugurated a diversity inclusion page in the organization website: AA.com.

The main purpose of this page was to lay foundations for promotion of employees, suppliers, community, customers, corporate citizenship, marketing, awards and awards recognition, and diversity leadership initiatives. In the effort to enhance the diversities of the suppliers, customers, and the communities of the American airlines, the organization dedicates particular sales team specifically to address the concern of diverse stakeholders including lesbian, gay, African American, Hispanic, transgender, and bisexual communities.

Reference List

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Dobbs, M. (1996). Managing Diversity: Lessons from the Private Sector. Public Personnel Management, 25(3), 351-367.

Eden, K. et al. (2011). Why organizations and community diversity matter: Representativeness and the emergence of incivility and organizational performance. Academy of Management Journal, 54(6), 1103-1118.

Homan, A. et al. (2008). Facing the differences with open mind: openness to Experience, salience of intergroup differences, and performance of diverse workgroups. Academy of Management Journal, 51(6), 1204-1222.

Kearney, E., Gebert, D., & Voelpel, S. (2009). When and how Diversity Benefits Teams: The importance of team members’ need for cognition. Academy of Management Journal, 52(3), 581-598.

Kellough, E. (1990). Integration in the Public Workplace: Determinants of Female and Minority Representation in Federal Agencies. Public Administration Review, 50(4), 557-566.

Kellough, E., & Elliott, E. (1992). Demographic and Organizational Influences on Racial/Ethnic and Gender Integration in Federal Agencies. Social Science Quarterly, 73(1), 1-13.

Li, J., Chu, C., Lam, K., & Liao, S. (2011). Age diversity and firm performance in an Emerging economy: implications for cross-cultural human resource Human Resource Management, 50 (2), 247-270.

Mors, L. (2010). Innovation in a global consulting firm: when the problem is too much Diversity. Strategic Management Journal, 31(8), 841-872.

Pitts, D., & Jarry, E. (2007). Ethnic Diversity and Organizational Performance: Assessing Diversity Effects at the Managerial and Street Levels. International Public Management Journal, 10(2), 233-254.

Riccucci, N. (1997). Cultural Diversity Programs to Prepare for Work Force 2000: What’s Gone Wrong? Public Personnel Management, 26(1), 35-41.

Von Bergen, W., Barlow. S., & Theresa, F. (2002). Unintended Negative Effects of Diversity Management. Public Personnel Management, 31(2), 239-251.