Managing Diversity in Organisations

What is meant by diversity?

Diversity is an important aspect of the organization today. Diversity can be defined in terms of the varied characteristics and experiences that are inherent in individuals. There is a misconception that diversity concerns particular persons or groups, and this is not the case. Diversity can be looked at concerning racial, ethnic, gender, age, religiosity, sexual orientation, or disability of an individual (Yukl, 2010). It is important to value diversity in an organization as this will prevent the organization from lawsuits related to discrimination. Diversity deserves being valued and respected given that all individuals cannot be similar in various aspects. Individuals are known to oppose whatever is different (Lessem, 1998).

Diversity can be turned into strength or weakness depending on how the concept is approached. This concept can lead to the successful growth of the organization or society, and can also lead to the emergence of discrimination, violence, and hatred in society. In the workplace, diversity is emphasized as it aims at creating a comprehensive culture that values and acknowledges the different skills and talents of employees. It has to be noted that diversity is centered on inclusion and not mere representation. Diversity can be said to be a mindset, and it should be an ongoing process that needs to be part of the organizational culture. Also, it should be a proactive and essential element in the organization (Yukl, 2010).

What benefits does diversity bring to an organization?

Diversity is associated with various benefits to an organization. It has been realized that, for organizational success to be effectively realized, diversity has to be embraced. In this respect, the organization has to value diversity among the workers and customers. Diversity has been associated with people empowerment. This is known to enhance effectiveness in the organization as it promotes the capitalization on the strengths of every employee (Yukl, 2010). Diversity should not be looked at in terms of policy and law as in the case of the Equal Employment Opportunity or Affirmative Action. Instead, diversity has to be looked at as acknowledging, valuing, and making use of the differences of various people in the organization to achieve organizational goals and objectives (Lessem, 1998).

It is important to appreciate the fact that embracing diversity gives an organization a competitive edge over others. Diversity promotes the formation of teams which are necessary for organizational successes. A team can be defined as a collection of individuals working to achieve a common goal and vision. This promotes synergy in the teams (Yukl, 2010). Diversity ensures that individual agendas do not affect the functioning of the organization. Successful teams can only be established by embracing diversity. This is because it has been noted that great teams must be composed of diverse individuals. Thus, it can be argued that diversity is critical to team success (Syed & Özbilgin, 2010).

What are the challenges in bringing diversity into an organization?

Bringing diversity in an organization may pose a great challenge to the organization. This is because individuals are inherently born with some bias which often acts as an impediment to the concept of diversity. The environment in which individuals are raised also promotes the development of bias among individuals. There is no doubt that the social environment plays a vital role in influencing the perception that individuals have in respect to others. The things that individuals learn and experience in life make them develop a particular view fn the world around them. The assumptions learned and experienced make individuals develop subjective perceptions referred to as bias. These biases are entrenched in individuals and may become an impediment to the concept of diversity when they are used in discriminating against other individuals in the organization (Peters, 2008).

How can the challenges be met?

Despite the challenges encountered in bringing diversity to an organization, it is important to note that these challenges can be overcome. The biases which are entrenched in individuals have to be erased to allow room for diversity. Diversity classes alone cannot eliminate these biases. Development programs aimed at embracing diversity are necessaryforn addressing the entrenched biases held by individuals. To develop diversity, it will require that the organization get involved in various workshops, provide various role models for the employees, and engage the employees on a one-on-one basis in matters related to diversity. Therefore, the leadership of the organization has to play a critical role in entrenching the concept of diversity among the employees of the organization (Syed & Özbilgin, 2010).

To embrace diversity goes beyonthe d mere tolerance of individuals from various backgrounds. However, this involves being proactive in welcoming and involving individuals fr a different backgrous inhe various organizational activities. This can be achieved by enhancing the development of a safe atmosphere that catert or all workers in the organization. In this respect, when an individual asks for assistance, it should not be viewed as a sign of weakness. In this respect, such actions will go a long way in fostering the development of team spirit. Diversity entails the need to seek information from individuals with diverse backgrounds. It also emphasizen the need to incorporate everyone toin organizational processes such as probl-m solving and decision making (Yukl, 2010).

Diversity is further enhanced by involving people from various backgrounds in informal gatherings. This can be during the lunch hour or during coffee breaks in which the leader can spur momentary meetings. Another important aspect to enhance diversity in the organization is through the creation of team spirit in which everyone feels not to have been left out. Through the adoption of the suggested options, it is possible that the challenges presented by bias in the organization can be overcome (Syed & Özbilgin, 2010).

What are your personal experiences and observatioctncerning to diversity in organizations?

Modern organizations have realized that diversity is not only a legal requirement, but it also enhances their competitiveness in the market. However, it has been observed that most of the organizations have defined the concept of diversity in respect to eial, age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, disability, and nationality among other aspects. Nonetheless, the concept of diversity should not stop at the various elements by which it is defined. For organizations to be able to effectively realize success, it is imperative that they have to engage in training and development of the employees on issues of diversity (Peters, 2008). Diversiconcerning to demographics alone cannot assure success in an organization; rather, the diverse people in the organization have to be trai as to be able to embrace diversity. It is noted that a good training program would help individuals in a diverse environment to work more effectively. Having realized the importance of training and development, some organizations have established a diversity council to foresee the implementation of diversity initiatives.

References:

Lessem, R. (1998). Management development through cultural diversity. London: Routledge.

Peters, B. A. (2008). Managing diversity in intergovernmental organisations. Wiesbaden: VS, Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Syed, J. & Özbilgin, M. (2010). Managing cultural diversity in Asia: a research companion. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Yukl, G. (2010). Leadership in organizations, seventh edition. New York: Pearson.