When most people envision diversity, the first things which come to mind are age, sexual orientation, race and gender. In Workforce America! Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource, diversity is defined as: “otherness or those human qualities that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet present in other individuals and groups. “The dimensions of diversity are further expanded but not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, race, physical abilities/qualities, sexual orientation, education, geographical location, income, marital status, religion, work experience, military involvement. ” (Loden and Rosener 1991; 18-19) Principles and Objectives To address diversity issues directly one must question: What policies, practices or current strategies within our organizational culture have differential impact on different groups? What organizational changes should be made to meet the requirements of a modern diverse workforce and maximize the potential of all workers?
The Key Principles and objectives of The Organizational Diversity Plan
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- Promote awareness of workplace diversity within the organization (acceptance)
- Develop and maintain a highly skilled and efficient workforce where the value and motivation of employees is present across the board
- Develop a supportive environment where staff have a balance between work and their personal life
- Provide a prejudice and harassment free working environment
- Include diversity management principles in recruitment processes
The Solution Acceptance of diversity
First and foremost, management must acknowledge that their working environment encompasses a wide variety of people. It is often difficult to see what part diversity plays in a specific area of management and how it relates to the development and success of the organization. A manager must understand that in the modern world, where migration due to education and opportunities is prevalent, diversity is an inevitable issue and must be handled in such a way that the organization can benefit and succeed.
Development and maintenance of workforce: To develop an efficient team, a leader must be established within each team, group or department. The most effective team leaders build their relationships with workers through trust and loyalty as opposed to fear and power. A manager should consider the suggestions and ideas of all his employees. No idea should be considered as unworthy or idiotic. Employees should be made to feel like they belong and are part of the bigger picture. One should always seek chances to mediate and solve minor disputes before they get out of hand.
This leads to greater harmony and a step towards achieving company goals. In mediating, directives should be clear and concise and must take into consideration everyone’s differences and views. The contribution of each team member should never be undervalued and the manager must remind his employees about the importance of his/her job to the success and development of the business. Employees should work on creating solutions on their own. This develops communication and builds a stronger bond. As a supervisor your initial priority in problem solving is stimulating debate.
Employees are often afraid to disagree with one another and this may result in poor decisions made. Debate inspires creativity which further leads to a workforce which thrives on cohesion and efficiency.
Develop a Supportive Environment
The working environment is always an important variable in having a productive staff. Diversity introduces many struggles including trying to maintain a balanced environment for employees. One must accept the fact that there is life outside of the workplace regardless of timelines and working hours. Families must be attended to, social activity to be maintained.
It is up to management to forge a bridge between work and personal life in such a way that productivity is still maintained at a high level but with minimal stress. * The introduction of after work care for children of staff, will allow staff to continue to work outside of normal working hours but still be able to take care of their children. * Staff parties or outings are always a good idea to address the need for social interaction. This also gives workers a chance to understand different cultures and personalities of their colleagues. * Religious beliefs, and sexual orientations must be accepted and care taken to respect them.
Prejudice and harassment free organization: The main problem realized with diversity is discrimination which comes in many forms. There should be a zero-tolerance policy with relation to prejudice or harassment of any kind. Regardless of race or culture or gender, each employee was hired for a particular set of skills or envisioned potential they could offer to the organization and they should be allowed to display and hone them. Discrimination breeds separation and breakdowns in communication which impacts very negatively on the productivity and advancement of any business.
Where discrimination is identified as an issue, all efforts should be made to address the situation(s) as quickly as possible. Discipline must be swift and – in extreme cases – harsh in order to set the standard for further issues.
Diversity management principles in recruitment
During recruitment and interviewing processes, management must bear in mind that everyone must have the same access to opportunities and ensure that a nondiscriminatory standard is used for the selection process. This can be aided by:
- Forming diverse selection committees to ensure bias free selection
- Salary and incentives should be offered equally regardless of ethnic origin or sexual orientation
- Make sure there is equal opportunity for both men and women
Management of diversity is one of the key goals of the modern organization. It is extremely important to comprehend how the dynamics of diversity affect performance, productivity, motivation and success within the business and learn how to merge them. Some human resources policies and structures have created or presented barriers in an effort to mask the problem but this is far from the solution.
These blockades must be removed to allow free interaction and communication between staff and staff and employer. Diversity is not a problem, but actually an aid in the development and advancement of an organization. As with any introduced policy, there is a need for continuous monitoring and evaluating. The modern business environment and attitudes contained are constantly being changed and molded.
- Loden and Rosener – 1991 Oxford University Human Resources Department Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal – Ratsamy Phomphakdy, Brian H. Kleiner
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