Issues of diversity at workplace usually are usually matters associated with race, age, disabilities, job title, religion, nationality, culture, training, competency, personal habits, appearance and experience among other attributes. Most of the employers understand that diversity is a norm and they actually embrace it and even encourage it.
Most organizations have develop efficient ways of encouraging working relationships that embrace diversity among the people at the workplace because every firm now realizes that diversity adds some intrinsic or special value though there are special challenges that are associated with it as well. Some firms like General Electric (GE) have embraced diversity in a unique way and they do so by outsourcing.
Why Individual Differences are Important at Workplace
Diversity at workplace is an issue that businesses and other organizations are willing to accommodate as they spend money and time in trainings and education for their workers to ensure that they are strongly felt. Today’s workplace is having greater diversity than ever (Greene & Kirton, 2009, p. 47).
The workforce is making strides to enhance quality and attain equality at workplace and this way, companies have to value diversity. The main reason being that there will be greater awareness, positive treatment and education of the individual differences (Greene & Kirton, 2009, p. 47). To aggressively tap the individual differences into a workplace for competitive advantage, recruitment efforts seek to attain diversity and employ amenable people to work in teams.
Diversity is an opportunity for better performance. As a matter of fact, those companies which are doing very well on the international market or on the domestic market seem to all have integrated the culture of diversity in their operations. Diversity is an opportunity; this is because of the fact that it brings new challenges to the firm, fresh ideas, competition, and a variety of thoughts, innovation, creativity and appreciation (Linda, 2006, p. 476). All these features can be very profitable if channelled in the correct manner.
Production for instance, the way production process is carried out in one country could be very different in the next hence having a multinational corporation which employs different nationalities can encourage exchange of ideas that are beneficial to the firm (Linda, 2006, p. 476).
The advantages of diversity can summed up in the following benefits; increased innovativeness due to the broader range of ideas and decision making skills (Greene & Kirton, 2009, p. 49). There is also improved client service as diversity enhances communication and understanding. There is also competitive organization management due to the fact that they value diversity hence will attract and retain many employment.
What are These Differences?
Diversity at workplace is a very wide topic and covers several aspects or characteristics of individual workers. Therefore when talking about diversity, we mean the differences in terms of age, language, sex or gender, ethnicity (culture) religious beliefs and family obligations (Greene & Kirton, 2009, p. 49). Diversity also deals with other means in which people could be different for instance in education level, job experience, life encounters, social personality, behaviour, talents and marital statuses and so on.
Workplace diversity can hence be described as the recognition of the value of these differences among individuals. And managing them adequately at the workplace (Linda, 2006, p. 476). It should be treated as strength to the company by creating environments that value people and accommodate the contribution from these people who are from different backgrounds, perceptions and experiences.
Definition: diversity is the description of other human characteristics that are different from their own or the groups that individual belongs to. Diversity issues are related to elements like age, physical appearance, sexual orientation, nationality, competency, culture, individual habits, training and education, job position, race and gender (Linda, 2006, p. 477). The bias is therefore recognizing and valuing these differences among individuals.
Dimensions of Diversity
Diversity dimensions include factors like ethnicity physical qualities, race, age, education, income, religion and work experience among others previously mentioned. This therefore means the workplace diversity is a concern of the people and its focuses on the similarities or differences that various people bring to the organization in question (Linda, 2006, p. 477).
It can be broadly defined to include principle of affirmative action, equal opportunity job conditions. Dimensions that influence perspectives at work like education, marital status or professional experiences are also included in description of diversity (Linda, 2006, p. 479).
As diversity concept is regarded as including everyone, in many occasions diversity initiatives work to create workplaces that accommodate the various cultures at work. Diversity values concept bigger than just race or sex (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 81). This means it respects differences and the uniqueness of each person.
The relationship between diversity and workplace can be described in concepts of affirmative action and equal change employment for everyone (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 81). However it’s critical to understand that diversity is bigger than affirmative action and equality as traverses through to the work environment other than the employment practices.
Education employers and the workers on diversity are critical as it curbs discriminatory practices at work and enhances inclusiveness. Evidence from other companies has indicated that better management of diversity can increase responsiveness to the diverse organization layout and the ability to cope with the changes coming up and also the creativity (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 81).
Perceptual Process: every individual has a different way of interpreting the environment and the people around. This is because they also act differently and react differently to the world as they seek to have their basic needs appreciated.
Their ideas of how people should behave or some process in an organization should be conducted is derived from the inner person as he/she responds to the environment (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 82). These thoughts have to be appreciated and even be included in decision making process considering that the products will be sold or at some point will interact with diverse populations.
The role of every individual in diversity concept is to embrace the different cultures among the workforce. Each person is therefore expected to accept and understand the concepts of managing diversity (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 83); recognize that diversity is an aspect of success from management; they should be self aware in terms of understanding prejudice, culture and biasness.
Individual should also be willing to challenge practices that are discriminatory or are barriers to certain groups of individuals. It’s natural to need a set of guidelines as an approach to how people should behave so that one can know exactly what should be done. Unfortunately, with so many dimensions of diversity, this kind of recipe is hard to find or follow. Different strategy and advice can succeed in one case but not in another context.
Perspective and Managing Diversity
This is acknowledgement of the differences that people have and appreciating these differences is being precious. This way, good management practices are enhanced and discrimination is prevented (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 85). In management of diversity, polices, practices and mannerism of thought regarding culture are assessed as they have different impact on different groups. However, there has been a golden rule that you treat people the way you expect to be treated (Linda, 2006, p. 479).
On the other hand, it is also important to note that it is very difficult to say hallo to everyone at workplace or other such things. Individual perspective is very critical in this case (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 89). Though people could be sharing similar values like respect for others and equal appreciation, in diversity, this is shown by behaviour or various individuals.
Managing diversity hence concentrates on optimizing the ability of all employees so as to contribute to the objectives of the organization (Greene & Kirton, 2009, p. 57). In short, managing diversity is ensuring that all people are included and their differences acknowledged.
Diversity at workplace as a concept is inclusive of every employee and manager. In many ways, diversity is set to avoid discrimination of any sort. Diversity is a way of learning from others who have different characteristics and practises. This helps to build respect for everyone and dignity (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 86). Both employers and workers need to work efficiently in the diverse environments that the world present (Konrad et al, 2006, p. 78).
Good management in diversity can help in building an organization’s tenacity to deal with change, respond to cultural differences and meet the expectations of their clients. Workplace principles like diversity are critical to success of an organization and its assists in creating stronger relationships between organization and the communities, increase the workers contribution to the company and enhance quality of their products (Linda, 2006, p. 479).
Greene, A & Kirton, G. 2009. Diversity Management in the UK – Organizational and Stakeholder Experiences. Abingdon: Routledge
Konrad, A., Prasad, P., & Pringle, J. 2006. Handbook of workplace diversity; London, SAGE Publishers
Linda, B.B. 2006. “Understanding and Managing Diversity: Readings, Cases, and Exercises, third edition”, Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 25 Issue: 6, pp. 476 – 479