A few days back, students from various colleges and universities celebrated diversity and tolerance in a way they never did before. They ate lunch at a table with the only purpose of meeting a different group of students. Unity in diversity is a spirit of America maintained by the American government by providing equal employment opportunities, quotas, and affirmation actions to the various diverse groups in the workplace, including government offices. The issue of diversity is all the more important in the workplace in America on account of the varied composition of the population, which is not only ethnically but racially diverse too. It also has emerged as the most invaluable asset, which is impossible to ignore, as said by the Co-chair of Business-Higher Education Forum.
In America, people are living in an increasingly diverse environment and mixed society with complex boundaries. There are many traditions, beliefs, and values that are integrated to form a unified culture. American Democracy formulated Equal Employment Opportunity to ensure equal access to public services for every citizen regardless of their age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, and disabilities, etc. However, the EEO approach is adopted due to external pressures such as legislative requirements, issues pertaining to ethical and human rights.
EEO is more operational and strategic based, as they are more concerned with the implementation of policies and procedures within the law framework. EEO, though it focuses on the underrepresented groups such as women, ethnic minorities, or persons with disabilities and encourages them to come forward through recruitment and training sessions yet it has also been charged for positive discrimination. But the diversity approach is accounted differently as explained by Wilson & Iles, “persistent inequalities in the public sector are underpinned by the fact that equal opportunities remain an add-on to the value system of an organization.
On the other hand, organizations (managing diversity) perceive consequent organizational practices as an investment.” The main aim of this approach is the overall development of the individuals rather than focusing them on different backgrounds, capabilities, or skills. Under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Affirmation Action was formulated in response to the discrimination in public as well as private sector departments with the only motive to prevent the dominance of one particular group in the workforce. This act was formed to generate equality among the diverse workforce, but it generated controversy. Cox vociferously rebuked the act when he said that, Affirmative Action is “explicit use of person’s group identity as a criterion in making selection decision.”
But critics suggested that the policy of affirmative action defies the principle of equality of individuals under the law. It is unfair to discriminate against members of one group in order to compensate others just because they had been discriminated against in the past. Thus, critics also refer to it as reverse discrimination, as it prevents hiring and promoting of whites and men in an organization. Moreover, it also has been the subject of litigation as various court decisions have also questioned the rights of employers to use race as a basis in hiring practices. This affirmative action has become a source of substantial conflict because a person is viewed as someone who has been hired and advanced for purposes of affirmative action.
In today’s world, it has become all the more important to embrace diversity as it increases the success of the organization, and any agency, private or public, to achieve this success should recognize, value, and use it to its advantage.
In the present context, the labor market in the USA has become very competitive, and in the next decade, 60% of the government employees will retire, so the Federal Government needs to use each available source of candidates to ensure that every agency has high-quality workforce so that they are able to deliver quality services to the American public. If any agency fails to recruit from the broad perspective of viewing the labor market, it surely misses a strategic opportunity, and it is the duty of managers to take this challenge seriously. The demographics of America are also changing, meaning that the public service is also changing, so while recruiting an inclusive workforce, individual differences need to be valued and appreciated. This diversity, in turn, would become the strength of an organization, thus contributing towards the growth and development not only of the individual but also of the organization as a whole.
In short, respecting individual differences can supplement marketing opportunities, increase productivity and enhance the business image. This is an era where keys to competitiveness are flexibility and creativity, and diversity is vital for the success of an organization.