‘The success and competitiveness of an organization depends on its ability to embrace workplace diversity.
‘ Discuss.In order to answer this question, it is important to explain what workplace diversity actually is. This wide concept comprises race, age, gender, background, education and personality. There are many people that comprise an organization and they come from different backgrounds and have different personalities.
Diversity also means respecting and accepting people with different socioeconomic status, political and religious ideologies and various other differences, big or small. This diversity and richness creates a pool of skills and capabilities in an organization that it can benefit from (Barak, 2013; Essay Tap, 2017). According to another research, diversity is not only confined to recognizing the differences but also about accepting, acknowledging and valuing those difference. These differences include differences with respect to age, race, class, disabilities, ethnicity and gender (Katharine Esty, Richard Griffin, & Marcie Schorr Hirsch, 1995).Workplace diversity, according to research, has both negative and positive aspects and the issue of the link between workplace diversity and success and competitiveness of an organization is highly debatable and it’s a normative concept.
At present, we are living in a globalized world whereby interaction with people from across the globe is inevitable. People are no longer operating in isolation rather there is a need of communicating with people from diverse backgrounds. Since the norm is diversification at work, it is important for both profit and not for profit oriented organizations to support and enhance workplace diversity in order to remain competitive in this competitive environment (Green, López, Wysocki, & Kepner, 2002).The work place environment has also changed overtime due to downsizing and outsourcing. This has also resulted in changes in human resource management. In addition to this, globalization, more working women and improvements in technology has resulted in several changes which include longer working hours and few people doing more. Law and regulations have started to protect employees and have made discrimination illegal.
This has resulted in changes in human resource management and now managers have to be more different in their organizational behavior (Green et al., 2002).This has been established that workplace diversity has taken place over the years and the pace and manner in which organizational behavior has changed, it is pivotal for businesses to embrace workplace diversity in order to remain competitive.
It has already been stated above that in order to conclude whether workplace diversity is linked to the success of the business, it is important to first discuss the benefits and disadvantages of workplace diversity.Diversity, according to literature, has been described as a double-edged sword that has both positive and negative outcomes. It entirely depends on the management as to how they embrace diversity and how they are able to extract the maximum out of it (Chrobot-Mason & Aramovich, 2013; Stevens, Plaut, & Sanchez-Burks, 2008).Diversity brings together a pool of people and we are living in a time where it is important to be flexible and creative. Diversity leads to a reduction in lawsuits and increases marketing opportunities. Having different people on board working towards a common goal makes a business more creative and enhances its competitiveness (Green et al.
, 2002).Diversity is also important since having more people on board from different backgrounds results in great pool of ideas. Diversity means more and different people, different exposures, different experiences and ultimately different ideas. During brainstorming, workplace diversity contributes towards generating unique and useful ideas for the business which can consequently makes a business more productive, creative and competitive. Diversity at workplace brings together a heterogeneous group that has more knowledge relevant to task and has skills and viewpoints that ae distinct and are not redundant as opposed to homogenous groups. This has the benefit of improving the overall organizational performance. (Roberge & van Dick, 2010)Diversity is also beneficial to the image of an organization.
If an organization is known to protect the rights of minorities, women and the like, it is likely to enable it to build up a positive image that will eventually help it to remain competitive.Another benefit of diversity at workplace is related with the motivation of staff. Once an organization involves minority groups at work especially females and the disabled, it is likely to have an extremely motivated and loyal workforce since the minority groups who are usually likely to face difficulties in finding work once find it, they tend to be loyal towards that organization because of its recognition and acceptance of their differences. This is pivotal to the success and competitiveness of the organization.Workplace diversity is also important in promoting a positive mindset and enhancing the acceptability of the people towards each other which eventually creates an effective organizational ambience and aids productivity. When minority groups like women, blacks, physically and mentally challenged people come together and gives useful ideas and use their capabilities, the attitude of acceptance is triggered which ultimately works for the benefit of the organization. Working together for a common cause aids productivity as a result. According to a study, when socializing is allowed to take place across different colors and races, it helps people feel more satisfied with the organization and has a positive impact on intellectual and social self-concept (Chang, 1999; Milem, 2003).
Diversity also contributes towards one’s own individual learning and self-development (Jackson, Brett, Sessa, Cooper, & et al, 1991).Whilst there are benefits of diversity at workplace, there is also a downside to it. While studies have highlighted the role of diversity in leading to a creative and flexible organization, an organization with a lot of different or dissimilar individuals is also likely to lead to less trust and attraction among the people, less frequent communication, low perceptions of organizational fairness, low task contributions and lower group commitment (Chattopadhyay, 1999; C. Kirchmeyer & Cohen, 1992; Catherine Kirchmeyer, 1993; Mor Barak, Cherin, & Berkman, 1998; Zenger, T. R. & Lawrence, 1989).
Too many people from different backgrounds and experiences could also prove to be a source of conflict for the organization. When many people with different ideas get together, it could lead to misunderstandings and contradictions which could affect the overall productivity of the group and can lead to dissatisfaction and reduced cooperation among group members. If things are prolonged and are not adequately controlled, it could also result in employee turnover (Chatman & Flynn, 2001; Chatman & Spataro, 2005; Jackson et al., 1991; Jehn, Chadwick, & Thatcher, 1997; Stevens et al., 2008).Another problem emerging from diversity at workplace is the creation of social categorization. This is when different people do not like to work together because they feel that the other person does not belong to the same social category. Similarities and differences are used to form groups and this social categorization leads to differences and problems which can pose a threat to the competitiveness and productivity of the organization (Roberge & van Dick, 2010).
These social categorizations, if build up more, turn into social hierarchies which create gaps between teams and reduce the level of attraction among them.One more problem that is likely to be associated with diversity is the fact that it could sometimes viewed as a nuisance. For example, if diversity involves people from different linguistic backgrounds, there could be a chance that some people might see it as a nuisance to learn new languages or they don’t feel the need to do so since they consider themselves better off without it. In such circumstances, creating diversity could be difficult and the management might have to lay off its efficient employee because of their inability to make extra effort. This is likely to halt productivity and efficiency of the organization.Diversity at workplace leads to cohesiveness. Cohesiveness is defined as interpersonal attraction among the group members.
According to literature, cohesiveness tends to be higher in case of diverse teams as opposed to similar ones. If there is high level of cohesiveness within the group, it is likely to reduce cooperation, friendliness and generate overall negative energy in the organization (Jackson et al., 1991).Another possible drawback of diversity is the fact that there is a chance that people within a diverse team is likely to be sensitive about a certain difference and could take it personally. For example, there is a chance that religion and race could prove to be differences that are sensitive for most people. If workplace diversity involves people from different religions and races working together, there could be a situation where these differences might not be accepted whole heartedly and could lead to problems with long lasting and harsh consequences.The notion of whether or not workplace diversity helps an organization become successful and competitive is debatable however, in order to arrive at a clear opinion, it is important to see the impact of workplace diversity in the short and long run.
The approach of the management and the team towards workplace diversity is a huge determinant of its success. The overall environment of the organization is another determinant of the success of diversity.As already stated, a major determinant of the competitiveness of the firm is its ability to adapt to the changing business environment. It needs to catch up with the changing trends and quickly adapt to them if it is to stay in business. With the current speed of globalization, distances being minimized, high level of mobility of human resources and the dire needs of creativity, workplace diversity is not only inevitable but is a crucial determinant of the success of a business. Rapid transformation and changing demands of consumers is a stimulus of business to continue to improve themselves through new ideas, new minds and creativity. Diversity is the way to provide an organization with pool of humans with distinct experiences, exposures and ideas and once they sit together and brain storm, it is likely to generate effective ideas which once put in place would increase efficiency and success of an organization.
Many studies have also highlighted that diversity might seem to create conflicts and dissatisfaction in the short-run but it enhances team and business performance, builds successful internal and external relationships and lead to acquisition of great skills and expertise. If the team members know that despite their differences, they have one common goal i.e. success of the organization, they are more likely to accept and value those differences and together work for the success and competitiveness of the organization. In such situations, it is the prime responsibility of the management to ensure that the group is coordinated and is aware of its objectives. The organizational environment created must allow for diversity to take place. For this purpose, the organizations can introduce mentoring programs and socialization sessions, particularly for minority groups in order to make them feel belonged to the organization. These would help employees become more accustomed to each other’s differences and will eventually come to accepting and valuing them.
The management can also provide platforms for greater team work to take place. Tasks can be designed in a manner that facilitate communication and human interaction in a manner that does not develop hierarchies and cause social grouping. The human resource management can be conducted in a manner that gives equal financial and fringe benefits to the staff regardless of their minority groups and make everyone feel equal and belonged to the organization. The best ideas need to be given importance instead of the race, age, gender and culture of the employee. One the contrary, if these efforts do not take place rather management is inclined towards certain groups and not towards others, this behavior can create inequalities and an unfair environment in the organization which could prove to threaten the competitiveness of the organization. Given the current law and order situation across the globe whereby discrimination at work is not only frowned upon but can also lead to legal repercussions, organizations are trying to develop workplace diversity so as to prevent themselves from legal consequences as well as from a tarnished organization image.
In such circumstances, it is important to have workplace diversity since it will, in the long-run, will provide cost savings to the organization which otherwise it would incur due to lawsuits and poor image.Management also needs to create awareness among the staff and facilitate them in terms of recognizing and appreciating diversity. If minority groups become part of the organization, management needs to conduct a proper introductory sessions whereby it needs to make those groups feel at ease and create an ambience which makes them feel wanted and valued.
Staff needs to be constantly reminded to appreciate the differences and exploit those differences in a way that it helps the organization and ultimately allows them to grow.As a whole, it can be concluded that workplace diversity is significant to the success and competitiveness of the organization. It, however, needs to come with effective management, a whole hearted effort on the managerial level and proper implementation of the concept of diversity from the top management till the bottom. Only if the top management embraces diversity can it be implemented in the rest of the organization. Diversity is an important part of the bigger picture and cannot be neglected.
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