Introduction to Diversity in Organizations
Definition of Diversity in Organizations: – Cultural diversity in organizations is when differences in race, ethnicity, age, ability, language, nationality, socio-economic status, gender, religion or sexual orientation are represented within a community. The community can be a country, region, city, neighborhood, company or school. The group is culturally diverse if a wide variety of groups are represented. Cultural diversity has become a hot-button issue when applied to the workplace.
Diversity in Organizations refers to the extent to which the members of a unit, such as a group or organization, differ from one another. This includes a very wide range of individual characteristics, although the most attention has been given to gender, race/ethnicity and age differences. Variety in characteristics, such as nationality, culture, education, work, tenure, ability, sexual orientation, religion, values, personality, goals, and many others are attracting attention. The field primarily deals with the consequences and management of individual differences in organizational settings, including work groups and organizations. Its importance lies in the fact that the workplace is becoming increasingly diverse in many countries.
Workplace diversity means respecting and valuing the skills and differences that each staff member brings into the workspace. A diverse workplace is an inclusive environment that provides equal rights and opportunities for all workers, regardless of gender, colour, age, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and so on.
For an organization seeking a more diverse and inclusive workplace, it is important to understand what workplace diversity is. Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between individuals in an organization. Diversity includes not only how individuals identify themselves but also how others perceive them. Diversity within the workplace includes race, gender, ethnic group, age, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship status, military service and mental and physical conditions, as well as other specific differences between people.
Why does cultural diversity matter?
It can benefit a workplace. People with different backgrounds have different interpretations of events. They contribute unique perspectives. That allows the group to look at problems from all angles and create innovative results.
For diversity to bring strength, it must be valued and integrated into company practices and philosophy. This takes time and a commitment to celebrate diversity. It requires the willingness to be open-minded and non-judgmental about the value of differences.
Without that commitment, cultural diversity can weaken a group. Differences in interpretation of events can lead to miscommunication. If not addressed, awkwardness and hostilities arise. Prejudices will worsen that effect. People can jump to conclusions and misinterpret behaviors
What are the benefits of diversity in organizations?
There are many benefits to having a diversity in organizations. Organizations that are committed to recruiting a diverse workforce have a larger pool of applicants to choose from, allowing for more qualified candidates and reducing the time taken to fill vacancies. Businesses that do not recruit from diverse talent pools run the risk of missing out on qualified candidates and may have a more difficult time landing key roles, which increases recruitment costs.
The benefits of diversity in organizations include: –
- Increased Productivity: – A diverse workplace allows for more ideas and processes. This diversity of talent means a broader range of skills among employees, as well as a diversity of experiences and perspectives which increases the potential for increased productivity
- Increased Creativity: – As various cultures and backgrounds work together, the opportunity for increased creativity exists. This is because there are more people with differing perspectives and solutions to problems, allowing for a greater chance of a workable solution to a workplace problem.
- Improved Cultural Awareness: – A diverse range of cultures within the workplace allows companies to deal with the different nuances within a global marketplace. If a company does business with China, for example, having an employee who can speak Mandarin is an asset and can lead to improved workplace relations.
- A Positive Reputation: – Companies that have a diverse workplace are often perceived as better employers. Potential employees want an employer who accepts and is tolerant of all backgrounds and who treats their employees fairly
- Increase in Marketing Opportunities: – If potential employees or customers see that a company represents a diverse workplace, it makes them feel like they can relate to the company more. Using advertising that depicts mature-aged, differently-abled, or ethnically diverse people encourages applicants to apply, promotes a positive reputation, increases marketplace awareness, and generates a more diverse client-base
- Variety of Different Perspectives: – Diversity in Organization ensures a variety of different perspectives. Since it means that employees will have different characteristics and backgrounds, they are also more likely to have a variety of different skills and experiences. Consequently, employees in a company with higher workplace diversity will have access to a variety of different perspectives, which is highly beneficial when it comes to planning and executing a business strategy.
- Faster Problem-Solving: – Companies with higher workplace diversity solve problems faster. Harvard Business Review found diverse teams are able to solve problems faster than cognitively similar people. Employees from diverse backgrounds have different experiences and views, which is why they are able to will bring diverse solutions to the table. Thus, the best solution can be chosen sooner, which leads to faster problem-solving.
- Reduced Employee Turnover: – Workplace diversity is beneficial for employee retention. Companies with a diverse workforce are generally more inclusive of different individual characteristics and perspectives. Diversity and inclusion in the workplace cause all employees to feel accepted and valued. When employees feel accepted and valued, they are also happier in their workplace and stay longer with a company. As a result, companies with greater diversity in the workplace have lower turnover rates. By creating commitment to diversity and employees create a sense of belonging to the company and are less likely to leave.
There are many benefits to having a diverse workplace. Organizations that are committed to recruiting a diverse workforce have a larger pool of applicants to choose from, allowing for more qualified candidates and reducing the time taken to fill vacancies. Businesses that do not recruit from diverse talent pools run the risk of missing out on qualified candidates and may have a more difficult time landing key roles, which increases recruitment costs.
According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 67 percent of job seekers said that a diverse workforce is important when considering job offers and 57 percent of employees feel their companies need to be more diverse. These figures are telling that not only can organizations fill positions more quickly with qualified candidates by recruiting from different talent pools, but a diverse workforce also benefits their employer brand which is critical to getting the right talent.
Having a diverse workforce with multilingual staff and employees of varying ethnic backgrounds can also be helpful for organizations that want to expand or improve operations in international, national, regional and local markets.
How to Manage Diversity in Organizations?
Managing diversity in Organization or the workplace presents a set of unique challenges for HR professionals. These challenges can be mitigated if an organization makes a concerted effort to encourage a more heterogeneous environment through fostering a culture of tolerance, open communication, and creating conflict management strategies to resolve issues that arise.
For leadership to effectively manage diversity in the workplace, they need to understand their background and how their behavior and beliefs can influence their decision-making in a diverse environment. Tips for managing workplace diversity are as follows: –
- Prioritize Communication: – To manage a diverse workplace, organizations need to ensure that they communicate effectively with employees. Policies, procedures, safety regulations and other important information should be designed to overcome language and cultural barriers by translating the content and using pictures and symbols whenever applicable.
- Treat Each Employee as an Individual: – Avoid making assumptions about employees from different backgrounds. Instead, view each employee as an individual and judge successes and failures based on the individual’s merits rather than attributing tasks to his background.
- Encourage Employees to Work in Diverse Groups: – Diverse work teams allow employees to get to know and value each other on an individual basis and can help break down preconceived notions and cultural misconceptions.
- Base Standard on Objective Criteria: – Set a standard of rules for all groups of employees, regardless of background. Ensure that all employment functions, including discipline, adhere to this standardized criterion to ensure that every employee is treated equally.
- Be Open Minded: – To recognize and encourage employees to recognize that their own experience, background and culture are not the only ones with value to the organization. Look for ways to incorporate a wide variety of perspectives and talents into efforts to achieve organizational goals.
- Recruitment / Hiring: – To create a diverse workplace, it is important to recruit and hire talent from diverse backgrounds. This requires leadership and others who make hiring decisions to remove bias in interviewing and assessing talent. If organizations can break down bias and hire the most qualified people who have the right education, credentials, experience and skill sets, then a diverse workplace should be the natural result.
- Include a diverse interview panel to ensure candidates are selected purely on the basis of suitability for the position.
- Managers must be trained in what can and cannot be asked in an interview. For example, questions about an applicant’s personal life, such as which church they attend, their romantic life, and political beliefs, are off limits.
- Be creative when recruiting. For example, if an organization wants to hire more women in the engineering department, they can reach out to professional groups that cater to women in engineering and ask to advertise open positions in their newsletters or member communications.
Policies and Practices while Managing Diversity in Workplace
Organizations that embrace diversity also need to ensure that policies and practices are in place to protect the rights of employees and to stay in line with government regulations. It is important for an organization to think about the impact that company policies and practices have on a diverse group of employees.
Any feedback received, both positive and negative, is valuable. Companies need to be prepared to adapt and change policies that may be interpreted as constraints or may not be helpful to employees. In addition to written policies, it is also essential to ensure that an organization’s non-official “rules” are well explained to all employees in order to effectively communicate company values and culture to all employees.
Documenting Policies and Procedures: –
Proper documentation of diversity policies is an effective means of communicating an organization’s stand on diversity. Once concrete plans are ready to be implemented, the documents outlining each policy should be included in the employee handbook. Diversity policies should be reviewed with each new hire, and when updates are made to the policies, they should also be shared with existing employees.
The employee handbook should include variations in the following sections: –
- The code of conduct should outline the company’s policy towards diversity
- Non-discrimination policy tells employees about diversity
- Compensation and Benefits Policy
- Terms of employment and termination
Zero Tolerance Policy: –
Having diversity in organizations or workplace means that off-color jokes about ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religion need to be met with zero tolerance enforcement. Abusing, abusing and bullying employees for any reason has no place in today’s workplace. Policies should be put in place to handle misconduct and to let employees know that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
Organizations will also need to ensure that employees feel safe reporting any instances of inappropriate behavior by coworkers by establishing a formal complaints policy so that employees know how to report misconduct to the appropriate authority within an organization.
Sensitivity Training: –
Employees must be aware of how to coexist with a wide variety of people, as well as the cultural sensitivities to harmonize within a diverse workplace. Sensitivity training can help an organization manage diversity in the workplace by helping employees become more self-aware, which plays an important role in helping employees understand their own cultural biases and prejudices.
Benefits of sensitivity training: –
- Helps employees examine and adjust their attitudes toward people from different backgrounds.
- Employees can learn to better appreciate the ideas of others.
- Shows employees what actions are objectionable and why they are considered.
- Teaches employees how to calmly communicate that a coworker has offended them and how to properly resolve conflict.
- Explains to employees how to apologize if a coworker has inadvertently really hurt them