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Inclusive Workforce using Workplace Diversity

Published by MBA Skool Team in Human Resources Articles category , Last Updated: June 16, 2019Read time:

In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, when various terms and conditions for affirmative action and equal employment opportunity were laid down, diversity was merely a buzzword, a buzzword which primarily meant differences in gender, color and race. With the onset of time, the scope of characteristics that are included in diversity has increased tremendously. Some of the new elements that have now become a part of diversity are physical ability, ethnicity, age, religious belief, educational background, work experience and many others.

In a one liner, it can mean ‘any feature or characteristic that distinguishes one employee from the other’. The principle of ‘one-size-fits all' as a management approach cannot achieve equality of opportunity and fairness for everyone in the organization. Every individual is unique, though he has things in common with others yet he is different to others in all sort of ways. This uniqueness makes people have different needs, beliefs and values. People management practices that are effective, require that propositions for people are inclusive to support business needs as well fair but flexible.

Managers and Supervisors do not recognize the different ways in which the working environment is changing, diversifying and evolving. Management of diversity is a significant challenge for the organization and managers need to learn the various skills that are needed for managing a multicultural work environment. Managers and supervisors must prepare themselves as well their subordinates about the importance of giving value to multicultural differences in both the customers and peers, to make sure that dignity of everyone is treated with respect.

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Demographic changes such as inclusion of women in the workplace, organizational restructuring and equal opportunity legislations have made organizations to review their existing management practices and formulate new policies and methodologies to manage people in the most effective manner. This shift in the change of policies will provide the organizations to improve their work performance charts and increase customer satisfaction levels. With the increasing number of dual income families and single working mothers, and the changes in the family structure, the amount of employee participation by women is attaining its highest levels. Organizations must realize that workplaces are also driven by women. In the United States, the number of organizations owned by women is close to 28.8 percent.

Diversity at the workplace contributes to the bottom line of any given organization and in this context many organizations also conduct formal training sessions as a starting point to understand diversity. Leadership modelling behavior also acts as an effective technique for understanding diversity. Collaboration of the work force through mutual respect for the colleagues, irrespective of the parameters of diversity acts as another means for achieving appreciation for diversity. This collaboration of the workforce adds to increased productivity levels, thereby adding value to the parameters of organizational success.

Diversity at workplace increases the number of marketing opportunities, improves recruitment quality and creativity among employees, reduces the number of lawsuits (if any) and fortify the business image of the organization. Reputation of businesses today is not only based on their financial performance and the quality of services and products that they provide but also on the goals that the organization sets for itself. Stakeholders and professionals prefer businesses that value integrity and follow ethical business practices as these qualities add a great deal of talent to the organization. In this era of competitiveness, inclusion of diversity plays a critical role for any organization, standing to be an industry leader.

Globalization is the objective of today's market and diversity has the capacity to impact an organization's global appeal. Diversity at workplace expands the customer base of an organization by bringing in new virtues of workforce talent, framed due to the collaboration of various backgrounds and perspectives. With the help of demographic diversity inclusion, organizations can make the customer feel more comfortable with the company by mapping customer service executives’ specific to the customer demographic. Therefore, diversity helps in strengthening the relationship between the company and its specific customer groups, by easing out the communication bottlenecks.

Social integration at the workplace helps employees in becoming well-rounded members of the society as spending time with culturally diverse peers gradually breaks down the intrinsic and subconscious barriers of xenophobia and ethnocentrism. Exposure to new perspectives, ideas and cultures helps individuals add an intellectual value to themselves and gain a better understanding about communities and many places in the world.

If we ponder some of the economic implications of promoting diversity, then we recognize that business that have managed diversity effectively have had higher turnover rates. More than 85% of the organizations, having $500 million in revenue have agreed that diversity critically helps in encouraging innovation at the workplace. Since, diversity is more than just accepting and acknowledging people for their differences, it sometimes also becomes a challenging affair. Broadly, management of diversity involves the process of inclusion, recognition of value of the differences and competition against discrimination. These management parameters sometimes become very difficult for a manager, especially when the teams at the workplace are reluctant to the process of organizational change.

Unmanaged diversity has its' own implications where the differences between the co-workers can dampen the productivity and the cohesiveness of small teams at the workplace. Though these challenges with respect to diversity can be dealt with over the long term, the initial periods of orientations can be uncontrollable especially when there is a clash between the cultures. The formation of small social groups and cliques within the organization can hinder the effectiveness of various initiatives taken by the organization. Such initiatives include sharing of skills, experiences and knowledge. This bottleneck, though is a natural process but is difficult to control and can prove to be a negative entity towards the productivity and effectiveness of teams at the workplace. Discrimination during recruitment for hiring and stereotyping among team members and during the process of termination and retention are some of the commonly observed negative behaviors due to lack of managed diversity.

Training sessions organized by organizations for educating its personnel for better understanding of the importance of diversity, sometimes backfire as employees, feel forced to accept diversity, irrespective of their background and experiences. Recruitment managers feel concerned about the excessively emphasized policies of diversity as it leads to the hiring of organizational diversity at the expense of talent acquisition. This enforcement on the recruitment managers to hire diverse personnel, sometimes questions' their authority while making decisions and exercise independent judgments.

Employees, which do not form a part of a diverse group, many a times feel undervalued and unappreciated, due to the huge inclination of the organization's goal towards diversity. Inclusion of accommodations and policy relaxations for diversity concerned matters creates a feeling of biasness among the employees and thereby affects their faith towards the organizations. Some examples of such relaxations include the absences of employees for religious prosecutions, relaxations of organizational dress code, translation of materials into multiple languages and many others.

Managers must realize that while practicing techniques for management of diversity, he must focus on the individuals and not the groups, as that is the actual baseline for diversity. He should base his decisions on the framework and dynamics of the team as well as the organization. It is imperative that managers are aware about their personal biases and then focus towards the comprehensive process of creating environments that are conducive to everyone. They need to understand the differences between fairness and equality, and should be flexible enough to create exceptions wherever required. Organizations must implement management policies related to diversity in a slow and steady manner, if required in an on-training format as aggressive one day training sessions do not suffice towards changing people's behavior.

Diversity at workplace reflects the changing scenarios of the marketplace. Diversified teams bring high value additions to the organization. Dissolution of individual differences benefits the workplace by increasing productivity levels and providing a competitive edge for the same. Management of Diversity at the workplace benefits the associates, as it creates a fair and safe environment, which provides everyone an access to equal opportunities and challenges. Various tools and procedures should be used to educate and expose employees about diversity and its benefits as well as the related issues. Since, most of the organizations in today's generation are now inclined towards diversity at the workplace, organizations should focus more on how to materialize this aspect of business into success.

This article has been authored by Himanshu Aggrawal

Views expressed in the article are personal. The articles are for educational & academic purpose only, and have been uploaded by the MBA Skool Team.

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