How equal opportunities and managing diversity impact on organisations and their HRM practices
Diversity in organizations has been increasing, especially in the past decade. This has brought about the need for managers in organizations to ensure that they implement effective policies that will not only reduce discrimination but also increase the productivity of their diverse workforces. This report presents a research that was carried out using both primary and secondary approaches to establish the importance of inclusion and diversity management on organizations.
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Whereas the importance of diversity management is highlighted in this report, there is also evidence that points out the challenges that managers may face in managing diversity.
In any organization, human resources are among the most vital assets to its success. Thus, it is imperative for them to be manages in the most effective manner that will optimize their productivity. One of the trends that characterize the 21st century human resource force in the United Kingdom is the increase in workplace diversity (Michalle & Barak, 2010). The basis of effectively managing diversity at the workplace is acknowledging the differences that may exist among the company’s workforce and implementing workplace practices that create an inclusive environment for all employees. It is worth noting that there are different types of diversity in workplaces. These include gender, race and religion (Poster, 2008). Having able and disabled employees also represents a certain degree of diversity. Effective management of diversity benefits organizations by improving communication among employees and facilitating innovation and diversity. For businesses, having a diverse workforce helps in addressing needs of a diverse customer base and thus, an increase in returns (Tarmac, 2012). In regard to this, this report presents findings from primary and secondary research that was carried out to establish the importance of embracing and managing workplace diversity.
As aforementioned, this research was carried out using both secondary and primary approaches. The secondary approach involved reviewing literature that has been published on various databases about the subject of workplace diversity. A preference was given to peer-reviewed journal articles because of their renowned credibility in terms of the researched information they offer (Yin, 2010). Since the time and resources to carry out an exhaustive primary research was limited, semi-structured interviews were used to collect qualitative data from a seven colleagues in college. The data was collected through an audio recording for further analysis. This approach was selected because it is relatively informal and does not require a lot of time to get the required information (Yin, 2010).
Findings from Secondary Research
Many researchers have carried out studies the subject of workplace diversity. However, as pointed out by Herring (2009), this concept is relatively new, dating to the 1980s. Some of the factors that have contributed to an increase in workplace diversity include the increased immigration – especially to developed countries – which has led to an increasingly international workforce. The equality campaigns that have been on the increase have also led to an increase the number of ethnic minorities and women in the present-day labour pool. It is evident that if poorly managed, diversity will adversely affect productivity of human resources. Thus, human resource managers in organizations ought to implement effective diversity management practices so as to turn diversity into an advantage (The Times 100, 2013).
Importance of Managing Workplace Diversity
With the ever increasing diversity in global population and workplaces, it is vital to establish the benefits of managing diversity. Michalle and Barak (2010) argue that diversity increases the productivity of employees. This is because of the fact that a diverse workplace comprises of different talents, skills and experiences, and if these differences are combined and directed towards the achievement of a common goal, it is certain that it will be advantageous to the organization. In another research on workplace diversity, Herring (2009) established that effective management of a diverse workforce increases creativity and problem solving. By treating contributions of every employee at the workplace as important, regardless of their experience, race or gender, useful insights about how to approach a certain task in the organization can be found. Organizations that fail to take advantage of the diversity in their workforces may lock out ideas from employees that may be of phenomenal importance to the progress of the company.
Companies that have created a reputation for effective management of diversity have the advantage of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, which comes with diverse talents and capabilities. Inclusion in the workplace motivates employees by creating in them a sense of belonging. Acknowledging diversity in the workplace motivates the employees and also increases their levels of commitment towards the organization. In a study carried out by Groeneveld (2011) on management of workplace diversity and its impacts on employee turnover, he established that companies adhering to diversity policies in recruitment and other human resource management practices in their organization had much less cases of employee turnover than those whose diversity management approaches were not as ideal. Given that diversity will be almost inevitable in future, organizations have to ensure that they put the most effective diversity management practices in place. There is also a legal advantage of managing diversity in organizations and encouraging inclusion. Application of appropriate approaches in diversity management limits the chances of lawsuits by employees that feel excluded (Michalle & Barak, 2010). Not only does this save money that could have been spent on litigation expenses, it also creates a positive reputation of the organization to a wide range of stakeholders. Tadmor et al. (2012) argue that companies that target a market with diverse customers greatly benefits from employing a diverse workforce. For instance, if a company has a marketing team that comprises of people from different races, religions and genders, the possibility of such a team attracting a wide range of customers is higher as compared to a team that consists of people from the same gender, race or religion. Thus, effective diversity management may increase the returns of a company by attracting more customers.
Challenges of Workplace Diversity Management
Even though management of diversity has many advantages for employers and employees in organizations, Canas and Sondak (2010) argue that there are several associated challenges. Management of diversity involves the recognition of the value associated with the differences in the workforce, promotion of inclusiveness and elimination of any kind of discrimination that exists in the workforce. Ensuring that all these aspects of management are exhaustively addressed may be challenging for human resource managers, especially when diversity among employees is quite extensive. Some of the disadvantages that are associated with poor workplace diversity management include increased employee turnover, lack of synergy and ineffective communication among employees, and an increase in the chances of companies facing lawsuits and negative publicity (Tarmac, 2012). A recent example of a diversity issue that tainted the image of an organization took place in 2011, when a Liverpool hospital placed an advertisement for job vacancies. In their conditions for application, the included as statement that referred to equal opportunities as “usual rubbish” (Hough, 2011). Even though the statement was replaced after negative feedback from the public, it has drawn negative attention from different parts of the world, which has also affected reputation of the hospital. For effective diversity management, Herring (2009) suggests that managers have to first understand the diverse needs of their employees and identify areas from which discrimination may arise. They should then create the ideal policies that will ensure inclusiveness in the organization.
Findings from Primary Research
To establish the impacts of equal opportunities and diversity management in the workplace, mixed reactions were obtained from some of the peers that were interviewed. Whereas two of them were of the view that ensuring workplace inclusion may be unnecessary for organizations, five of the respondents were for the idea that managing diversity is among the most important human resource management practices of the 21st century.
Responses in support of Workplace Diversity
One of the questions that the subjects were asked was how diversity may affect the productivity of an organization. In response to this question, one of the respondents, who is a proponent of diversity argued, “There is no way that a company in the 21st century can survive without having a diverse workforce. Diversity does not only exist in the colour of the skin or the language we speak. Everywhere in the UK, there is diversity in religion, gender, and generations. What companies ought to do is agree that diversity is inevitable, and find ways to deal with it for their own advantage.” This response indicates that there is widespread knowledge about diversity and organizations ought to device the necessary approaches to increase productivity of their diverse employees. Another respondent added “Diversity in the workplace is good. Though it may be difficult at the start, continued co-operation with team members from different backgrounds makes it possible to understand and appreciate one another. If I am offered a job in two companies, one with a good reputation of inclusion and another known for discriminating against some workers, I will definitely choose the one that has created a reputation of inclusiveness”
Responses against Workplace Diversity
In response to the same question on how diversity may affect productivity of an organization, another respondent who thought diversity is overemphasized argued, “I think diversity in organizations is a good thing, but organizations ought to focus more on merit. If I have vacancies in my company and I am looking for the best employees to fill those positions, I should not be forced to select a ‘diverse workforce’ because the policies say so, instead, I need to select the most qualified candidates. If the most qualified candidates are from the same gender, ethnic or religious backgrounds, I should be free to hire them. This whole diversity debate may not be as constructive as we think it is.” The response given by this respondent is also quite sensible, which indicates that there are some disadvantages that are associated with workplace diversity policies.
Findings from primary research, as indicated, were mixed. Whether the response provided by the respondents supports or is against the importance of diversity in the workplace, they both acknowledge the existence of diversity issues in the 21st century. However, most of the respondents were in support of the implementation of appropriate diversity management strategies. This indicates that equal opportunities and management of diversity in organizations is among the most important practices in present-day human resource management. With a projected increase in levels of diversity in the UK population, as well as other parts of the world, it will be inevitable for organizations to have a diverse workforce (Canas & Sondak, 2010).
The 21st century has been characterized with a phenomenal increase in diversity among population across the globe, which has also affected the composition of employees in many organizations. This research had the aim of establishing the importance of inclusion and the management of diversity in organizations. Even though some disadvantages of employee diversity were established from the primary and secondary research that was carried out, most of the respondents and all the secondary sources accessed indicated that inclusion and diversity management is a very vital human resource practice. From the findings of the research, one of the recommendations that can be made for human resource managers is that all employees have to be informed on the importance of workplace diversity and how to effectively collaborate with their workmates from different backgrounds and gender.
Canas, K.A. & Sondak, H., 2010. Opportunities and challenges of workplace diversity. New York: Prentice Hall.
Groeneveld, S., 2011. Diversity and employee turnover in the Dutch public sector: Does diversity management make a differenceInternational Journal of Public Sector Management, 24(6), pp.594-612.
Herring, C., 2009. Does Diversity Pay?: Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity. American Sociological Review, 74, pp.208-24.
Hough, A., 2011. NHS hospital ‘usual equal opportunities rubbish’ job advert sparks investigation. The Telegraph, 5 September.
Michalle, E. & Barak, M., 2010. Managing Diversity: Toward a Globally Inclusive Workplace. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Poster, W.R., 2008. Filtering Diversity : A Global Corporation Struggles With Race, Class, and Gender in Employment Policy. American Behavioral Scientist, 52(3), pp.307-41.
Tadmor, C.T., Satterstrom, P., Jang, S. & Polzer, J.T., 2012. Beyond Individual Creativity The Superadditive Benefits of Multicultural Experience for Collective Creativity in Culturally Diverse Teams. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 43(3), pp.384-92.
Tarmac, 2012. Diversity and inclusion policy. [Online] Available at: http://www.tarmac.co.uk/about_us/about_tarmac/idoc.ashx?docid=ffe70bb0-4510-476a-8dd4-b352a63c1b48&version=-1 [Accessed 26 February 2014].
The Times 100, 2013. Competetive advantage through diversity. [Online] Available at: http://businesscasestudies.co.uk/tarmac/competitive-advantage-through-diversity/conclusion.html#axzz2MxtlEGBP [Accessed 26 February 2014].
Yin, R.K., 2010. Qualitative Research from Start to Finish. New York: Guilford Press.