(Posted on behalf of Boriana and Si)
The topic of diversity at the workplace has become increasingly important to organizations since the early 1990s as changing workforce demographics and increased global competition have become a reality (Cox, 2010). Workplace diversity means a workforce made up of individuals with different human qualities (e.g. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation) or who belong to various cultural groups (Daft, 2008).
In a Deloitte report (2004) diversity was consistently reported to be one of the least important issues that leaders are dealing with compared to other HR matters. Furthermore, SHRM (2010) confirmed that amongst Fortune 1000 companies, barely one-fifth of survey respondents indicated their organizations have structured and formal diversity policies. However, diversity is becoming increasingly important with the rapid globalization of the world so companies are rebuilding their diversity programs in order to keep up-to-date. Forbes Magazine (2015) reported that the five trends driving workplace diversity are: CEO’s are forced to address inclusion issues, diversity is imminently tied to innovation, diverse thinkers (able to critically analyse and solve problems) are emerging, increasing awareness, and introducing diversity technology (e.g. blind interviewing and more inclusive job descriptions). All those trends are closely related to the issue of awareness and lack of training that employees are experiencing. Other issues are age-related prejudices, same-sex workplace, cultural differences, and communication problems.
Diversity Awareness Training
One way of targeting diversity issues is by providing training for all employees as it is a critical component of systematic diversity initiatives. Furthermore, diversity training may include: increasing awareness levels, tackling legal issues, developing skills and improving organizational environment as well as culture. A successful implementation of diversity training can reap potential rewards (e.g. increased productivity and candidate pool, positive company image, and a reduction in lawsuits), whereas poor planning and execution may create problems that take years to overcome (e.g. resistance to change, ineffective implementation, and poor communication). Hite and McDonalds (2006) emphasised that training should be accompanied by commitment from upper management, including diversity initiatives in the strategic plan, identifying training needs before development, and using trainers with appropriate qualifications. Cox (2010) argued that incorporating those factors in diversity training are predictors to large-scale diversity change. An issue with awareness is that it has to be accompanied by the right training because individuals need to gain the skills to implement what they have learned (Ely and Thomas, 2006).
The future of diversity management
“The quest for ethical and responsible leadership is not only a response to recent business scandals and subsequent calls for more ethical managerial conduct, but also a result of the changes and new demands in the global marketplace”
(Schneider et al., 2014:292).
In the future, we all will work together and become one civilisation. Globalised citizenship would be the key word and diversity should be embedded in our everyday life that we should be able to feel the connection between people (Golmohamad, 2008; Reyson and Miller, 2013). It means a new universal principle: “
1)whereby nations and cultures become more open to influence by each other, 2) whereby there is recognition of identities and diversities of peoples in various groups and ethnic and religious pluralism, 3) whereby people of different ideologies and values both cooperate and compete but no ideology prevails over all the others, 4) where the global civilization becomes unique in a holistic sense, while still being pluralist, and heterogeneous in its character, and 5) where increasingly these values are perceived as shared despite varying interpretations, such as we currently see for the values of openness, human rights, freedom and democracy”
Cox, T. (2010) Creating the Multicultural Organization: A Strategy for Capturing the Power of Diversity San Francisco: Jossey-Bass
Daft, R. (2008) The Leadership Experience, 4th ed., London: Thompson
Ely, R. & Thomas, D. (2006) “Cultural Diversity at Work: The Effects of diversity Perspectives on Work Group Processes and Outcomes, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 46, Iss. 2, pp. 229-273
Golmohamad, M. (2008) “Global citizenship: From theory to practice, unlocking hearts and minds” .In M. A. Peters, H. Blee, & A. Britton (Eds.), Global citizenship education: Philosophy, theory and pedagogy (pp. 521–533). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers
Hite, L. & Mc Donald, K. (2006) “Diversity training pitfalls and possibilities: An exploration of small and mid-size US organizations”, Human Resource Development International, Vol. 9, Iss. 3, pp. 365-377
Reysen, S. and Miller, K. (2013) “A model of global citizenship: Antecedents and outcomes”, International Journal of Psychology, Vol. 48, Iss. 5, pp. 858- 870
Schneider, S., Barsoux, J. and Stahl, G. (2014) Managing Across Culture, London: Pearson