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Workplace Diversity

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Executive Summary

Workplace diversity has gained ground in the management of the employees and organizations are using it to gain a competitive advantage over others. Workplace diversity utilizes the principle of using the different capabilities and talents to achieve the company’s goals and objectives. Organizations are also using workplace diversity amongst employees to reach out different communities of particular cultures, religions and other characteristics. This has partly been influenced by the increasing role the minority groups are playing in the consumption of goods and services for certain companies, and the increasing position of the minority groups in the economic channels. For example, the African-American, Hispanics, Asian-Americans minority groups in the United States have reportedly been estimated to have a more increase in incomes than the whites.

The importance of the workplace diversity has come up as a need for multinational as well as international companies to gain competitive grounds in the local arena. The local arena is characterized by different languages, cultures, traditions, age, and other factors differentiating people. Companies are therefore capitalizing on diversity even in recruitment to be able to meet such and other needs. This paper looks into the issues of workplace diversity: the opportunities presented by the workplace diversity including the ability for the firms concerned to reach out people of diversities, the opportunity for the firms to cut on the turnovers through workplace diversity, the likelihood of having high public rating and perception, the possibility of acquiring best talents among others; the advantages of the workplace diversity including cuts on turnover, the increase of customer base, increase in sales, retention of talents among others; and challenges of workplace including high costs of turnovers, consumption of time, strain associated with the indirect relationship of workplace diversity with financial gains, among others; and the role of workplace diversity policy and how the management can observe/achieve and establish workplace diversity and other related issues of diversity.

Objectives

To establish the importance of the workplace diversity in an organization. The paper seeks to discus the role of the workplace diversity in an organization, how it has and can be utilized for the benefit of the organization.

Main Findings

The paper links good and responsible workplace diversity with higher financial gain such as high sales because of the market coverage. Firms are utilizing workplace diversity to achieve competitive advantages over other firms as they include cultures, talents, ideas, and creativity in to the program. The market’s focus towards diversity is shifting from that of compliance to that of inclusion. The paper also finds out that workplace diversity is not only the utilization of the abilities and talents of the workers in execution of their responsibilities, but also to reach out to other diversified communities. The paper finds out the importance of using workplace diversity in the reaching out of diverse populations including the minority groups which are increasingly becoming important to the financial agenda of the firms. The management cannot be neglected in its role of ensuring that there is workplace diversity. the study discuses the role of the management in being held responsible over results associated with diversity, and formulation and utilization of an appropriate role to ensure workplace diversity. The management of workplace must be achieved through proper efficiency, visionary and competition. Proper utilization of the workplace diversity ensures that the firm gains through proper work relationship amongst the employees. This achieves proper information distribution, amongst other benefits.

Workplace diversity can help the firm achieve greater employee satisfaction, resulting in high public rating, less absenteeism and the related cots, improved retention or retention of the talents, and improved worker morale and motivation.      

Introduction

Work place diversity is an important subject to the Human Resources department of any firm. A complete work place involves many employees performing different functions and responsibilities but all exist to serve a single purpose. The role of the human resources department is to ensure that these are well organized so that their activities will advance the objective of the organization. The topic is of importance because individuals in the normal sense are expected to be different in terms of cultures, principles and even the responsibilities that are assigned to them. Diversity management may be used to come up with a heterogeneous, motivated, and engaged workforce that develops business solutions (Singh & Point, 2004). There are many factors that have increased risk in the loose of talents, including competition (Richard, & Johnson, 2001), retirement of baby boom generation, aging workforce (such as in sales (Towers Perrin HR Services, 2004) among other factors and it is important for firms to prepare for it. The topic discusses some of the advantages of diversity at workplace, challenges and opportunities presented by workplace diversity.           

Workplace diversity is being utilized by firms as a competitive advantage and such firms are harnessing on the opportunity by linking the strategic goals and objectives to the workplace diversity, as well as making the management to be responsible for the results (Lockwood, 2005). A good workplace will respect the diversity of the workforce as well as try to harness the benefits that it brings. It is important for an organization to understand the benefits and the implications of workplace diversity in order to work effectively towards its utilization to achieve its goals as well as avoid the dangers it presents.  The report was limited by the data that needed more specialization as what the role of various issues of workplace diversity like cultures, religion, amongst others individually affect the tangible financial performance of the firm. The data utilized in this research needed more analysis on the quantities and not the qualitative aspects of performance of the firms.    

Discussion

The employment landscape has been transformed by the issues surrounding the working environment. These include the aging of workforce, greater ethnic diversification, demand for education and skills, globalization effects and rapid changes in technology (Judy, Amico, 1997). Diversity has been described in view of many elements including age, race, gender, and other secondary influences such as education, religion and socioeconomics. The topic has also touched focus on issues such as functional levels, management and union, among others (Lockwood, 2005). Therefore the topic is very broad.

There has been an importance in the exploitation of the opportunity presented by workplace diversity, as a competitive advantage for firms. The secret lies in the realization that workplace diversity can achieve the desired benefits if it was linked to the organizational goals and objectives. The first strategy is to realize and handle employees as a resource to the firm and not just as to be used for production purposes. They must be empowered in their different talents and abilities that are geared towards the realization of the firm’s objectives and goals (Lockwood, 2005). In order to harness the power of the workplace diversity, there must be proper diversity management within the organization, in addition to the advancement of a culture that fosters an environment that is knowledge-based, respectful and inclusive (Lockwood, 2005). The workplace must avail every employee with the chance to learn, grow and contribute meaningfully to the success of the organization.

The importance of diversity programs at the workplace has been considered important, with 400 executives accepting that they are important to enhancing the effectiveness and sustaining competitiveness of the organization. This is because they assist in the creation, management and leveraging of a diverse workforce (Hart, 1997). An organization’s success greatly leans on the workforce relationships and human capital. The quality of the relationships among the employees is important in ensuring healthy flow of information amongst them, successful work teams, as well as exclusive customer experience. The organization can foster healthy relationship through ideals of integration, inclusion and differentiation. Teamwork is of great importance in the accomplishment of united goals and purpose within the organization, and influences the organizations output and product quality. The management should be able to utilize diversity programs through the appropriate policy that recognizes workplace diversity. The leadership will be faced by three critical issues on workplace diversity, namely sustained involvement, passion for diversity, and accountability (Lockwood, 2005). In order to gain a competitive diverse workforce, companies must explore three things; accountability, communication and visibility. The senior management must ensure that the organization is directed by individuals who are diversity-minded at the operational level. The issues of diversity management must be addressed while assigning duties and responsibilities to management team, as well as making sure that the management is conscious towards teaching on benefits and importance of diversity amongst workforce. Managers must be held and teach to hold themselves accountable to results relating to diversity at the workplace. Many human resource managements are adopting strategies that would see the retention of older workers, such as through flexible work arrangements, etc (Collision, 2003) and minority retention strategies such as mentoring and forums (Hewitt Associates, 2004).      

The workplace has been in the history dogged with issues of inclusion where discrimination and compliance were a major focus. Today, it is evolving to inclusion. Legal provisions have played a key role in ensuring diversity at workplace and the respect of the various represented groups. Such legislation included equal employment opportunity acts, disability acts, as well as those touching the affirmative action. Such legislation were aimed at ensuring that companies and firms were not discriminative, rather than opening the opportunity for the advantages that could come with diversity at workplace. Today, there have been study focus on how inclusion of cultural diversity, ideas, and creativity into organizational assets and how they can be used to benefit the organization.

Two major focuses on the workplace diversity has been assimilation and differentiation. The latter refers to the idea that people, regardless of their differences, must be included in the same society to promote equal opportunity (Lockwood, 2005). This was the major focus of the legislations aimed at eliminating discrimination at the workplace. Integration and learning have been exploited more increasingly in the recent past because they focus on utilization of the workforce to achieve various functions and purposes differently in addition to promoting the notion that differences must be celebrated. Differentiation is engraved in the philosophy that people must celebrate their differences.

The societal values supported in a given community including the workplace are essential to ensuring diversity. In the United States for example, inclusion of workforce is advanced through establishment of a culture that values equality, respect and opportunity for all people, as these values well marries with the culture cultivated in the American community; that everyone deserves a dignified and respectful treatment and that everyone deserves a chance (Gardenswartz

Rowe, Digh, Bennett, 2003). 

Utilization of the workplace diversity has come up out of the need for organization to not only utilize the talents and capabilities of the employees, but also the need and interest to use different people to achieve different targets, such as reaching out to their specific cultures, languages and religions. There are many advantages that can accrue to an organization that ensures work diversity. The organization can be able to adapt greatly and have flexibility in the dynamic market place if it ties its organizational goals and objectives to its workplace diversity. The talent of the workforce is very necessary in an organization because it determines the morale of the workers among other issues. An organization that ties the workplace diversity to the objectives and goals of the organization is bale to retain its talent (Lockwood, 2005). The members of the workforce would be allowed to work at places where they are best fitted and therefore it would be expected that this would result to increased productivity. The workplace diversity is also linked to issues of job satisfaction and performance, and therefore focusing on the linkage between organizational goals and strategies in an organization and the workplace diversity may help the company avoid a range of issues such as low productivity, absenteeism, and low turn over. The company is also able to reduce on the related costs through these strategies. In addition to realizing greater sales and profits, observance of the linkage between the company’s goals and objectives may help it have higher return on investment of various policies and practices as well as various initiatives. The company has already achieved a wider customer base and therefore may expect to have a greater or new market share (Lockwood, 2005).       

The organization must clearly understand the linkage between the workplace diversity and the financial gain. This is because advancement of the workplace diversity does not always have direct link with organization performance and/or such a link may not be linear. In fact, the linkage is as complex in that it can be both indirect and direct. Some organizations have established a workforce that reflects their clients, and the issues involved goes as simple as ensuring that they incorporate a workforce that is diverse in language-speaking. An example was when DuPont realized that it would gain sales when it translated instructions for an anticoagulant drug in Spanish language from English. The company has gone ahead to include about 15 languages for translation of the instructions. This indicates that there is a direct linkage between diversity and financial performance of the company. Companies are able to gain competitive advantages by focusing on the workplace diversity because of the associated gains in retention and recruitment, employee morale and corporate culture (Lockwood, 2005). Special assignments and projects have been applied by 31% of companies to experience diversity in these areas. Innovation has been increased among 34% of companies through the utilization of the different talents amongst the employees, while 40% of the companies make sure that all employees have an access to leadership development programs (Society for Human Resource Management, 2001). Companies have been able to gain high public rating and reputation when they capitalize on the external partnership amongst the suppliers and external communities. Companies are able to gain advantages such as good employee loyalty when they capitalize on the workplace diversity such that the employees start becoming proud of their organization. This is through the recognition of their contributions and utilization of their talents. It is possible that the companies which capitalize on workplace diversity will gain by experiencing better talents attraction in the community because it is considered as the ‘best employer’ (Lockwood, 2005). There is likelihood that companies will have a lower turnover when there is good utilization of the workplace diversity. For example, Ford which had a linkage with its first-tier diversity suppliers spent only 6% of its procurement with these suppliers. A further case for workplace diversity has been considered by the shifting of the purchasing power to favor the minority groups such as the Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Hispanics, as compared to the whites. While the buying power of the whites was estimated to increase by 140% in 2009, the buying power of the aforementioned minority groups was estimated to increase by 242%-representing $1.5 trillion (Humphreys, 2004). A strategy to gaining a competitive advantage over other companies may be to capitalize on how a company can increase sales among the minority groups in the market place to be able to effectively sell their products in the markets dominated by these groups. This strategy is the focusing on the employee diversity, which will be able to assist in the reaching out of the minority groups and relate to the people of the particular groups (Lockwood, 2005). This strategy has been utilized by companies such as Verizon Communications to attract the minority groups to consume their products. Companies are also utilizing workplace diversity to be able to reach various groups such as females and males to using their products.

Interest in the multinational and international company investment has also resulted to the need to capitalize on the work diversity. It is to be considered that the world is comprised of various diverse customers in terms of cultures and religion. It would be difficult for organizations to utilize people of one culture or religion or language to distribute the products. In fact, the manners in which some differentiating factors are arranged (for example cultures, language and religions) necessitate the utilization of employee diversity in reaching out new customer bases. The cultural environment influences the performance of the organization in an area and therefore, companies have used employee diversity to be able to avoid the dangers associated with venturing in places dominated by cultures unknown to them. This is because the people alienated to the specific cultures will understand the needs of the community as relates to sales, marketing, advertisement, and customer service.  

The indirect linkage between the workplace diversity and financial achievement has also been exemplified. The need to retain diverse labor in order to gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace has come up with increased labor costs. In order to support diversity at workplace, Nortel lost revenue due to turnover. Another factor to be considered is that the turnover costs involved in the attraction and retention of these employees are different from one industry to another (Lockwood, 2005). The bottom line is that organizations must be willing to organize and manage workplace diversity as a resource. It must also be considered that workplace diversity comes along with its own disadvantages. The human resource management will be expected to handle as many differences as there will be different individuals in the firm and different issues to involve different workers.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Different people have different cultures, languages, religions, age and economic status among other things. The market is market is affected by the forces of diversity just as the workplace is affected. Workplace diversity is an important aspect in company success today. Companies are utilizing workplace diversity as a competitive advantage against others because of the opportunity it present to them to utilize employees talents to achieving specialized targets in addition to utilizing them to reach communities of diverse language, cultures, traditions, age, sex and religion. The differences aforementioned have made it necessary for companies to utilize a diverse workforce that understands particular market because so as to be able to expand market and increase sales. Recruitment therefore has had focus on the issues of diversity, as well as the retention of employees.

Legal strategies have been utilized in history to ensure that there is reduction and elimination of discrimination at the workplace. However, advances have shifted from compliance to legal provisions to inclusion of individuals as relates to the cultures, languages, age, sex, religion among others. Among the first steps to ensuring workforce diversity is the establishment of the societal values that members of the society adorn, at the workplace. Inclusion of all the members of the society to a particular culture of the organization is important to ensuring diversity. Integration and learning have been utilized as the latest strategies to achieving workplace diversity. Organizations have discovered the importance of linking their organizational strategies and objectives to the workplace diversity. Various firms have been reported to utilize workplace adversity to gain certain advantages in the market. Such advantages may or may not be directly linked with financial benefits. The advantages of capitalizing on the workplace diversity have been many, including high sales as the customer base increases, good publicity and employee rating, low turnovers, better communications at workplace, great adaptability and rapid flexibility to changing forces in the market, retention of employee talents among others.

Although workplace diversity has been touted as a good means to achieving the aforementioned benefits, it is important to consider the challenges accompanying it. Workplace diversity sometimes is not linked directly with company’s financial gains, and therefore has been associated with high turnovers. There are costs to be sacrificed in the formulation of workplace diversity, including time consumed in the formulation and strategizing workplace diversity, if the resulting benefits cannot match up the costs. The more the diverse workforce, the more it would be expected to be hard for the management to come up with unified strategies to making the workforce achieve a common goal and purpose. In addition, it is increasingly possible to have resistance to change the more the workforce turns to be diverse. Resistance to change is a very big problem sometimes.   

The linkage between workplace diversity and the associated benefits is of great importance to the management team. The management must learn how to turn workplace diversity to an opportunity rather than focusing on the possible problems. The management of a company need to know the importance of diversity management and the policy in the establishment and advancement of workplace diversity must be the focus of every management. The diversity program will be based on capitalizing on the advantages presented by the workplace diversity, including the identification of the talent, empowerment of the talents, and the utilization of the talent in the advancement of the company objectives and goals. The management has a role in ensuring that the company’s goals and objectives are well connected to the workplace diversity. Workplace diversity management is also an important aspect. Workplace diversity must be embraced in the company’s recruitment, training, retention among other policies so as to be able to achieve the associated benefits. development of a policy that embraces diversity at the workplace is important and issues such as the identification of the needs of the employee society must be considered. The management must ensure that issues relating to diversity are not left out in important matters such as appointment of the management team-appointing of workplace-diverse-conscious management such as the human resource management, and ensuring that the managers are held responsible to results connected with workplace diversity. There is need to have a vision for workplace diversity. There is need to educate the working staff on the importance of workplace diversity such as how it can be used to achieve the company objectives, its benefits and challenges.

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