The Rockefeller Foundation’s Workforce Diversity


Workforce diversity is a function of the similarities and differences among employees based on factors like age, gender, ethnic heritage, physical ability or disability, race, and sexual orientation. Managing workforce diversity in a very huge manner contributes to the changing world of organizations and their management. We have chosen The Rockefeller Foundation as the organization to partake in the research on managing workforce diversity. The purpose of this research is to show the link between managing workforce diversity and other areas of management like managing motivation, human resources, and the external environment (O’Leary & Weathington 2006).

Diversity goes beyond employment equity to nurturing an environment and values of everyone in the organization and maximizing their potential to the realization of the firm’s short-term and long-term goals and objectives. Further, this report seeks to establish the different types of workforce diversity and their impact whether positive or negative on the organization. In addition, the report will establish strategies for managing workforce diversity in The Rockefeller Foundation.

In managing diversity the main issue is enabling people to perform up to their maximum potential. Furthermore, it focuses on the culture and infrastructure in organizations in which people provide the highest productivity achievable. (Ollapally & Bhatnagar 2009)

Literature Review

Studies indicate that organizations with a tailored approach to diversity and their management happen to be more successful than those that have taken it all together from the shelf, particularly those that have replicated everything from countries such as America. The focus on workplace diversity was a purely unexpected development that took place as a result of movements against affirmative action and fair employment opportunity (Ollapally & Bhatnagar 2009)

Many scholars argue that diversity and its management did not come to light in the US until the 1990s. Due to this, there arose two teams that are given the honor of changing or shifting affirmative action and employment equity opportunity into diversity management: one led by the likes of Roosevelt R. Thomas Jr. (Ollapally & Bhatnagar 2009) and the other by of industry such as Lew Platt, who was former CEO of Hewlett Packard.

To compete globally, America needs to create workplaces that tap the full potential of every employee (Jayne & Dipboye 2004) in his writing he tries to explain how affirmative action, although appropriate, does not deal with the root cause of prejudice and inequality in developing people and strengthening the organization. (D’Netto & Amrik S. Sohal 1999)

Link Between Managing Diversity and Managing Motivation

For us to establish the relationships that exist between the two, first we must define motivation. Motivation is not a particularly intricate phenomenon, and several theories try to explain how it really works. When it comes to managing the most vivid explanation of motivation is based on the needs of an employee, which is commonly known as the content theory of motivation. This theory attempts to establish particular factors that tend to motivate an individual. Sometimes the factors that motivate a person can be from within while other times they can be from the outside.

These needs can be stratified into either primary or secondary. Numerous researchers have developed theories in an attempt to justify “needs” as the primary basis of motivation. Let’s study one of the theories

Maslow’s Hierarchy

According to Maslow, need is a psychological or physiological deficiency that an individual feels the urge to fulfill. These needs consequently affect the behavior of the individual. On the basis of his understanding of needs, he formulated a theory that diverse needs motivate human beings, and there is a specific sequence of these needs. His understanding is that only a need that is unfulfilled can affect the behavior, and a need that is fulfilled is not a motivator.

Managing motivation is very important to any organization, and once a manager has identified the needs of different individuals in an organization it will be easier to know how to satisfy the needs. Managing diversity training concerns the ability to manage individuals who are impacted by many social variables of which national culture is but one (Schneider 1999).

Diversity is related to motivation in such a manner that different classes of people have different needs. For instance, a younger generation of employees might put social needs before safety needs while an older generation of employees might consider job security the most important need of them all. For a manager to be able to manage motivation he/she must understand diversity and how to manage it. A happy workforce leads to high productivity in the organization and that transforms into clients satisfaction. Finally, an understanding of this relationship is rarely translated into a need for individuals to look at their own articulation with these concepts and at the need for change from within (Schneider 1999)

Positive and Negative Impacts of Diversity

Diverse Experience

An organization with diverse cultural background contributes a great deal in terms of experience and perceptions when it comes to teamwork and group tasks. This pooling of skills and talents can benefit the organization by increasing the potential of teams in productivity and responding to the changing time in the rapid world of management. If handled in a proper manner, it can boost strengths and minimize weaknesses to maximize the effectiveness of the workforce.

Learning and Growth

Employee individual development is another benefit of well-managed diversity in the workplace. Exposing employees to new ideas, cultures, and perspectives really help them in reaching out intellectually this is important when evaluating external factors that affect the organization in term of viewing these factors. Working in an environment with co-workers from different backgrounds helps in overcoming barriers of ethnocentrism and xenophobia.

Integration Issues

Human resource is the most vital asset of any organization. However, people can be quite difficult to manage at times. The development of cliques and social groups is something that comes naturally. Because of this reason, organizations can run into informal divisions in their workforce, where employees from different cultural backgrounds avoid mixing with the rest. This can hinder efficiency in carrying out duties due to tension within the workforce. Such situations hinder sharing of talents, skills, and experience hence reducing productivity growth and effectiveness of teams.

Communication Issues

Another problem that may arise due to increased diversity is a communication gap. There can be several reasons, the most basic being the language barrier. If it is not managed properly, it may become a serious problem. However, the management can solve this problem by establishing standard communication protocols, and providing the workers any kind of language training that they might require.


The following points can be concluded from the analysis of the literature:

  1. Workplace diversity plays a significant role in keeping the employees motivated. There is a direct connection between the two, and the managers can use workplace diversity as an effective tool to keep the employees motivated.
  2. People from diverse cultural backgrounds bring with them a diverse set of skills and diverse experiences. This helps the organization by increasing its productivity. Furthermore, it also makes the entire experience more enriching for all the workers.
  3. Different people bring with them different ways of thinking, this makes the workplace more innovative and creative. And in today’s dynamic business environment such traits are very important.
  4. Workplace diversity has a lot of advantages; however, if not managed properly increased diversity can lead to integration issues. Several sub-cultures can develop within the same organization. Therefore, management should try to increase workforce diversity in a controlled manner.


Workplace diversity is a very effective tool at the hands of a good manager. It greatly increases the potential and effectiveness of the entire workforce. Managers should attempt to increase diversity to the optimum level, where the co-workers can interact in the most effective manner. However, one thing that should always be kept in mind is that diversity, if not managed properly, can also lead to a poorly integrated organization.

If employees from different backgrounds work together in synchronization, they can produce very good results. However, if the situation is not handled properly, the workforce may get divided into subgroups, which is very counterproductive for the whole organization. Moreover, while increasing workplace diversity the manager should also try to maintain the organizational culture, as it is a very important part of the organization.


D’Netto, B & Amrik S. Sohal 1999, ‘Human resource practices and workforce diversity: an empirical assessment’, International Journal of Manpower, vol 20, no. 8, pp. 530-547.

Jayne, E & Dipboye 2004, ‘Leveraging Diversity to Improve Business Performance: Research Findings & Recommendations for Organisations’, Human Resource Management, vol 43, no. 4, pp. 409-424.

O’Leary, B & Weathington 2006, ‘Beyond the Business Case for Diversity in Organisations’’, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, vol 18, no. 4, pp. 1-10.

Ollapally, A & Bhatnagar 2009, ‘The Holistic Approach to Diversity Management: HR Implications’, The Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, vol 44, no. 3, pp. 454-472.

Schneider, SK 1999, ‘Three Social Dilemmas of Workforce Diversity in Organizations: A Social Identity Perspective’, Human Relations, vol 52, no. 11, pp. 1445-1467.

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