Diversity at the workplace and HRM

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Introduction

Human resources perhaps rank the highest among the list of factors necessary for the success of a business. Previously, people’s decisions were only limited to hiring, firing, and paying staff. However, that has radically changed, giving way to human resource management as a discipline whose primary concern is to ensure that the organization gets the maximum possible value from its human resources (Bratton & Gold, 2017). It is a holistic discipline that handles a whole bunch of personnel issues from workforce planning, hiring, training and promotion, and so much more.

The typical workforce today is characterized by diversity. One is likely to find people from all races and ethnic groups, gender, and different age groups working side by side at the workplace. Having different groups at the same place implies diverse interests and factors that serve as motivators means that an organization must actively seek to cater to those aspects if it is to develop an environment in which the employees are highly motivated and being the most productive (Stewart & Brown, 2014). It also poses a challenge for entities in that they need to find ways to meet the needs of the various groups all at once. Ultimately, there is no single solution for this, and organizations must continually strive to satisfy the needs of all their employees. There is growing the interest in the theory and practice of management science with regard to the effects of diversity on workplace harmony, human resource policies, and productivity. Analyzing recent changes and current trends can provide pointers for the future with regard to the way in which human resource managers will handle workplace diversity.

Literature Review

As earlier noted, recent years have seen a growing appreciation of diversity at the workplace and how it affects the various organizational dynamics. There is a growing body of literature on the same including empirical studies that have addressed varied issues related to the topic. A look at what various authors have written on the topic will provide useful insights and unique perspectives on the issue and help in predicting how things might look in the future.

The Need to Embrace Diversity

Diversity is a trend that is continually being entrenched in America. Authorities like the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have been keen to ensure that organizations take steps to provide opportunities for historically disadvantaged groups such as racial and ethnic minorities (Dowling, Festing, & Engle, 2017). With that in mind, organizations have had to do much more to ensure that they are in a better position to manage diverse workplaces and not lose out on any productivity gains in the process. Managing diversity at the workplace requires that entities make several decisions and that they take deliberate steps to ensure that they create an environment that is inclusive for all the people.

Changes in Recruiting

Managing workplace diversity requires a holistic view and the management of the various aspects involving people in the organization. One of the most important considerations is recruitment which has to be tailored to suit the needs of an entity (Dessler, 2017). For example, an entity may want to recruit from historically-black colleges if it wants to achieve a racially-diverse workforce. Another possible action would be affiliating with organizations that promote women engineers and architects to tap into more female personnel for the workforce which is male-dominated. Additionally, the organization should always indicate that it is an equal-opportunity employer when advertising its recruitment as a way of encouraging all people to apply. An organization may be concerned about the way in which embracing diversity will affect the quality of its personnel. However, being proactive and taking steps to ensure that it deals well with diversity when recruiting will provide a guarantee that the organization not only hires a diverse workforce but one which is the most competent.

Diversity in Leadership

There is a growing realization that the face of the workforce in an organization should be reflective of the composition of its markets. Therefore, entities should seek to understand employee diversity much as it attempts to address the varied needs of its diverse markets. One of the changes being witnessed in many organizations is the embracing of diversity in the leadership and top management of the company. Having a diverse leadership means that the organization can tap into the unique knowledge and perspectives that each personnel brings to the table, and there is strong evidence to support the same (Hays-Thomas, 2017). In the period between 1990 and 2008, the purchasing power of white Americans is estimated to have grown by 139 percent. The figure pales in comparison to comparable statistics for African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics which rose by 187%, 337%, and 349% respectively (Mor-Barak, 2017). It would make sense for a company to include persons from all racial groups as that would position the organization at a better advantage compared to companies that fail to embrace diversity. Another consideration is women who make up half of all workers and who have seen their incomes grow exponentially over the years. Companies that appoint women to top positions stand to benefit from a better understanding of that market.

Changing towards diversity

Perhaps the greatest chance with regard to diversity is the attitude that organizations and their human resource departments have towards the issue. Previously, firms only addressed diversity as a matter of compliance with the legal requirements. However, that is slowly changing with many now treating a diverse workforce as a strategic asset rather than a legal nuisance that they cannot avoid. The perception of diversity too seems to have changed. There is a notable shift in the conversation among HR practitioners with regard to the way they consider diversity. The focus is not merely limited to meeting diversity quotas in the recruitment but on cultivating an environment and a culture that allows and promotes inclusion in organizations. The ultimate goal is to increase productivity and innovation by harnessing collaboration among the people in the organization as well as through effective communication regardless of the differences in worker backgrounds such as race, religion, and culture.

As companies continue to embrace inclusion, there is a realization that the ability of an organization to attract a diverse workforce is a competitive advantage that all entities should strive to attain. Diversity is something they ought to be celebrated, and it should be a goal for every firm. It should be a goal for every firm. Entities should employ a host of measures that will actively promote and entrench diversity. First, they should create a work environment and advocate for a culture they encourage everyone to contribute their all towards the achievement of the entity’s goals. A firm should also seek to leverage the similarities and differences among its employees as a source of strategic advantage. Thirdly, it should promote the ability of people from different cultures and backgrounds to work together.

Organizational Implications

The realization that diversity is something that firms need to actively address has seen a change in the way firms handle the matter. Previously, entities adopted a melting pot approach whereby they never talked or did anything about the issue while assuming that employees would naturally want to assimilate (Bratton & Gold, 2017). The notion was based on the assumption that people would leave their cultural values and their ways of life once they get to work which is usually not the case. The reality is that people barely change their ways and it is up to the organizations to find ways of accommodating everyone. Therefore, it becomes necessary to take deliberate steps aimed at creating harmony among the many different groups that may be represented at the workplace to ensure that everyone feels included and that there is no one who feels left out.

One of the steps that human resource managers undertake is training on diversity for the employees. While it is not a mandatory requirement of the law, such an undertaking is necessary for an organization that would like to achieve greater integration and cohesion among its diverse personnel. The kind of training is formal, and it is necessary to survey the work environment to ascertain whether such an intervention is necessary. It is crucial for the HR manager to define the company philosophy on diversity clearly as well as spell out the expectations that the company has of its people regarding the matter (Stewart & Brown, 2014). Developing what is expected then forms the basis for the assessment as well as that of what is needed to for the entity to promote and uphold diversity. The most important targets for such training would be managers and supervisors. The person in charge of the HRM must decide after the evaluation whether there is a requirement for formal training or whether informal activities would suffice in promoting organizational diversity. Such engagements would include team building activities and other engagements meant to promote bonding and cohesion among the staff. If handled correctly, they have the potential to remove any feelings of bias or dissatisfaction among particular groups.

As companies move towards promoting and maintaining diversity, there is a realization that it is important to have everyone on board. Harmonious existence among people with existential differences can be hard, and it requires deliberate action to cultivate and grow (Hays-Thomas, 2017). The HR department may find itself needing to come up with a couple of rules and procedures that the people in the organization need to follow to preserve the peace at the workplace. For example, the entity may prescribe a code of conduct that is supposed to govern relations among people who are different. For example, the code may specifically prohibit racial abuse or slur against people who are of a different race. Biases against some people based on aspects such as race and ethnicity may exist and could create problems if someone expresses them. Therefore, an entity can decide to make it clear in writing that an action likely to show bias against one or more groups would not be accepted at the organization.

Diversity as a Source of Competitive Advantage

Noteworthy, there is a growing drive by different organizations to be recognized as entities that promote diversity and inclusion. Firms feel the need to be perceived as inclusive while also carrying out activities that will help it boost its diversity ranking (Dessler, 2017). Ultimately, a company that is known to promote diversity will likely attract a larger talent pool and will inevitably have an upper hand in selecting and hiring better-qualified personnel compared to one that does not embrace inclusion. Having people from different backgrounds may bring about wider perspectives on various matters at the workplace, leading to much better decision-making.

Conclusion

Diversity is an important aspect of today’s workplace. Organizations are expected to actively seek inclusion and to create an environment which values and promotes diversity. Human resource managers must realize that they have a responsibility of formulating the policy of the organization on diversity as well as spearheading efforts to promote the knowledge of inclusivity among the members of staff in the entity. The need to promote diversity means that it is no longer enough to just assume that people will naturally bond and assimilate. HR managers must strive to provide an environment that allows people to express themselves without any hindrance and to have the opportunity to grow like everyone else. The ability to attract a diverse workforce is a competitive advantage for any company. If people drawn from different groups would be willing to work for an organization, that is a demonstration of the company catering to diverse people.

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  1. Bratton, J., & Gold, J. (2017). Human resource management: theory and practice (3bd ed.). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Dessler, G. (2017). Human resource management. Boston: Pearson.
  3. Dowling, P. J., Festing, M., & Engle, A. D. (2017). International human resource management. Andover: Cengage Learning.
  4. Hays-Thomas, R. (2017). Managing workplace diversity and inclusion: a psychological perspective. New York: Routledge.
  5. Mor-Barak, M. E. (2017). Managing diversity: toward a globally inclusive workplace. Los Angeles: SAGE.
  6. Stewart, G. L., & Brown, K. G. (2014). Human resource management: linking strategy to practice. Hoboken: Wiley.
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