Diversity at the workplace is no longer a new idea but rather a well-known concept in the corporate world (Thiederman, 2008). Apparently, it is viewed by most organizations as an important tool for dealing with the ever-increasing competition. Because of its relevance to organizational performance, diversity is recognized worldwide as an important human resource practice. While diversity is a key success factor for some managers, dealing with diversity is completely foreign to some managers (Gröschl, 2011). As such, so much work must be done if an organization is to reap any benefits from the use of a diverse workgroup.
As human resource professionals go about their recruitment exercises, consideration is given priority, and deliberate efforts are made to recruit people from a varied background. The diversity may be in terms of race, color, nationality, gender, and age, among others.
Benefits of a Diverse Workforce
According to Shakhray (2009), people differ in many ways and can make varied contributions to an organization. The importance of diversity in the workplace thus makes it possible for an organization to leverage the strengths of different individuals for the benefit of the organization. A diverse workgroup will also provide a wide range of skills that can allow an organization to outdo its competitors. Age diversity also allows organizations to have a work team with different energy levels that may be become crucial at some point.
Given that a diverse workforce is made up of individuals with varied skills and capabilities, organizations may benefit from new innovations. Because of variations in education, culture, and life experiences, different people are bound to contribute to organizational performance in different ways (D’Almeida, 2007). Certainly, this benefit may not be realized in a work environment full of employees with a similar background.
Research also indicates that many people prefer doing business with organizations that embrace and manage diversity in a professional manner.
Managing Diversity in the Workplace
As noted by Thiederman (2008), diversity does not just happen. It takes strong leadership to ensure that diversity works in any organization. Apparently, managing diversity effectively implies hiring employees from different backgrounds, working with vendors from a varied background, and showing respect to all.
As a starting point, it is imperative for organizations to have a clear plan of how it is to incorporate diversity within their culture. In the United States, diversity at the workplace is being addressed from different quarters, including educational institutions. By training its workforce on the importance of a diverse workforce, the United States has consistently ensured that employers are supplied with people who are ready to work with others from diverse backgrounds.
Dealing with a diverse workforce poses two major challenges to managers (Esty, 1995). First, it is very critical for managers to learn how to handle interpersonal problems encountered on a daily basis as a result of using different languages, coming from various cultural backgrounds, and holding different values. Secondly, managers must have the ability to create an environment that can effectively support a diverse workgroup. Without an enabling environment, diversity would create more harm than good to organizational performance.
Although dealing with people’s behavior has been identified as one way of addressing the challenge of a diverse workforce, it is only part of what has to be done. Rather than allowing people to welcome the idea of diversity without seriously thinking about it, leaders must make deliberate attempts to engage with employees at a much deeper level and to educate them on the critical aspects of working within a diverse work setup (Thiederman, 2008).
The attitude of employees toward working within a diverse work environment is another important consideration that must be addressed at all costs. Employees should be encouraged to carefully consider their individual views regarding working in a diverse environment and deal with any negative thoughts that can affect their performance.
The evidence presented in this paper clearly indicates that bias can easily destroy an organization’s reputation. This being the case, it is important for every single organization to avoid bias and fully embrace the concept of diversity at the workplace. Showing biases and favoritism in the recruitment process is unprofessional and can turn out to be very costly in the end. Stakeholders and customers may also avoid doing business with biased organizations, and this could lead to loss of revenue.
Ostensibly, effective management of diversity at the workplace is vital if an organization is to reap the benefits of diversity. As has been explained, a diverse workgroup benefits an organization in a number of ways. Along with other benefits, diversity encourages creativity and innovativeness among employees and makes it possible for organizations to benefit from a wide range of skills and resources.
There are challenges that may be encountered as a result of diversity at the workplace, and managers should be well trained to deal with them in order to avoid misunderstandings. To avoid disappointments, managers should dedicate whatever time is necessary to help employees change their attitude toward working in a diverse work environment.
D’Almeida, C. M. (2007). The Effects of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace. Cambridge, UK: ProQuest.
Esty, K. C. (1995). Workplace Diversity. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Gröschl, S. (2011). Diversity in the Workplace: Multi-disciplinary and International Perspectives. Burlington, VT: Gower Publishing, Ltd.
Shakhray, I. (2009). Managing Diversity in the Workplace. Norderstedt, Germany: GRIN Verlag.
Thiederman, S. (2008). Making Diversity Work: 7 Steps for Defeating Bias in the Workplace. New York, NY: Kaplan Publishing.