Appreciating differences and developing an atmosphere that everyone will feel accepted and valued is a diversity management concept that should be used by all organizations. If carried out properly this technique will improve recruitment and strengthen relationships with customers by creating a common set of values. Fear of change can sometimes lead to resistance of diversity management. Schermerhorn, Hunt, and Osborn (2005) Race, gender, age, religion, and ethnicity are all factors of diversity.
In the workforce, the challenge for a manager is to promote a common feeling of company vision and respect of the employees' distinct perceptions and contributions. Managing diversity gets more critical as the workforce diversity increases and stereotyping and discrimination possibilities increase. Discrimination originating from the employer prevents utilizing contributions from the discriminated and is therefore counterproductive when a diverse workforce can help to bring organizations closer to their customers.
If a person understands his or her own culture he or she will be more likely to work well with people from other cultures. Most people are not aware of their own culture until confronted with a culture that is very different. Changing demographics can bring diversity into an organization but is often not fully respected, valued, or utilized. Minority cultures face misunderstandings and lack of sensitivity daily in the workplace and sometimes harassment or discrimination.
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Prejudice can result in discrimination that places individuals in a disadvantage by being treated unfairly and denied the benefit of organizational membership. Schermerhorn et al. (2005) There are some useful strategies that an organization can implement to address these issues. A cultural sensitization program can be organized to bring in a consulting firm to introduce employees to generalizations, stereotypes, and individual attitudes concerning culture. Participants would be involved in interactive exercises like games and case studies to help reinforce the learning.
The program addresses the issue comprehensively with tangible results. An e-learning program on cultural diversity can also be implemented to educate employees on cultural diversity through role plays, case studies, and assessments. The program would enable employees to learn and understand at their own pace. The use of role play and real-to-life scenarios helps employees that are likely to wake up to the realities in their own environment. Cultural fests could also be organized every six months as theme parties where activities could be woven around cultural themes originating from different countries.
Employees would be encouraged to present interesting aspects of different cultures in innovative ways through skits, role-plays, and costumes. Multi-cultural cuisine would also be provided at these fests. The fests provide an informal environment for employees to interact. People tend to unwind at such activities, which improves inter-personal relationships. When people begin to respect others at an individual level, they are more likely to be tolerant toward others sensitivities, be it personal or cultural.
Theme-oriented fests will give people an opportunity to appreciate the richness of other cultures. These ideas originate from the Understanding Issues in Organizational Behavior simulation. Today's managers increasingly see that an organization rich with unique talents and ideas makes good business sense. There are many different useful viewpoints to be used to solve problems in today's complex and competitive environments. Today's customer and supplier base is also diverse and a workforce that reflects that diversity may have the edge needed to succeed.
Employers who do not recognize and respect the impact of culture on behavior may contribute to the surfacing of workplace tensions and discrimination. Schermerhorn et al. (2005) Men and women have very little differences in analytical skills, problem-solving, motivation, sociability, competitive drive, or problem-solving ability. Women seem to have lower expectations of success than men and are more conforming. Although the absenteeism rates of woman are currently higher than men's the trend of men playing a more active part in childrearing may change that.
A woman is more likely to hand out rewards for performance and to be more democratic. Men tend to receive more recognition and rewards for leadership. More women are taking on leadership roles today and contribute to an enhanced leadership pool. Stereotypes can also affect older workers as being labeled inflexible or undesirable and lead more often to age discrimination lawsuits. Even employees in their forties feel that their skills and experience are not valued anymore. Small businesses do value the stability and experience of the older worker, relying on the decreased chance for absenteeism and turnover.
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