Administrative theory and practice management
As Dougherty (2008) reports, whites will make up less than half of the U.S. population by 2042, sooner than expected. Therefore, organizations will have to adjust to the new situation. Market globalization reinforces the importance of intercultural communication, since majority of big corporations employ people from a variety of backgrounds.
For this reason, management of diversity is one of the most important human resources tasks. Visionary and effective diversity management reduces the probability of conflict in organizations and increases the organization’s efficiency, productivity, and employee satisfaction.
‘Managing diversity’ is a concept that refers to ‘a planned, systematic and comprehensive managerial process for developing an organizational environment in which all employees, with their similarities and differences, can contribute to the strategic and competitive advantage of the organization, and where no-one is excluded on the basis of factors unrelated to production’ (Performance Associates, 2004, ‘Managing Diversity: A Definition’, para. 1).
Development of healthy, tolerant and productive organizational culture is only possible under the conditions of visionary intercultural management: ‘When there is weak leadership and management of diversity within an organization, a variety of problems and issues can arise’ (Sonnenschein, 1999, p.25).
As a leader of my company, I have to pay greater attention to values shared by people from different backgrounds. Not only does everyday life differ across the globe, but also leadership style and workplace ethics vary from country to country. I should acknowledge the impact of diverse workforce on market and realize the fact that successful companies should go to great length to avoid multicultural business clashes.
In the contemporary workplace, failure of an organization can be in many cases attribute to ineffective management of diversity. A successful manager is characterized by tolerance and cultural sensitivity.
As concerns practical measures aimed at utilizing the potential of a diverse workforce, there is a number of ways to manage diversity in the workplace. First of all, the process starts with recruitment. Underutilized minorities, women, and disabled citizens often possess unique skills crucial to a company’s success.
It is important to make the job look attractive to the abovementioned groups and encourage them to come to an interview. It is also necessary to ensure that interviewees are not stereotyped on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, skin color, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Finally, it is a must to make all the appropriate arrangement for disabled employees starting with the day of interview.
However, managing diversity is different from affirmative action. Many companies construe the concept of managing diversity as color blind (and sex, disability etc. blind) judgment of applicants based on their qualifications. It means that being different would not harm someone’s chances of recruitment but will give him or her no unfair advantage over the rest of the applicants.
Secondly, developing intercultural skills among managers and employees is of paramount importance. In a multinational environment, employees are likely to have different experiences and sums of knowledge. Problems might include misunderstanding of basic terms of cooperation and prejudices against other team members. To avoid them, management should establish a clear framework for cooperation and enforce ethical standards.
Intercultural awareness and competence among managers and employees can be achieved through specific training programs. Managers can understand the culture of their employees better by gaining insights into its origins, including history, religion, and politics.
Knowledge of the issues of race, ethnicity, and religion are invaluable for effective leaders. The most effective way to comprehend a different culture is to compare and contrast it with one’s own your cultural identity. People with a deep understanding of their cultural self are likely to possess strong intercultural skills.
Teambuilding and enhanced communication are the first steps towards the effective use of cultural diversity for competitive advantage. Teambuilding activities can improve socialization and counter negative perceptions employees might have about their colleagues, especially those from a different background.
Finally, there should be certain institutional adjustments made for effective management of diversity. Many companies have set up special position of Equity Officer responsible for monitoring workplace situation; employees can also report cases of discrimination to this person. If discrimination cannot be stopped by conventional dispute resolution methods, Equity Officer is mandated to take appropriate legal action.
It is of paramount importance to communicate to employees that any violation of equity or workplace ethics will be immediately and severely punished.
If a company succeeds in building an inclusive work environment, it will be able to attract and retain a talented workforce, reflecting the growing diversity of worldwide business community, and encourage creative thinking and cooperation. In such an environment, mutual respect is the key principle, and every employee’s contribution is valued.
Diversity management can be an effective way to tackle many problems facing many contemporary organizations, including high stress levels among employees, low job satisfaction, absenteeism, and high turnover.
People centered organizations strive in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. Given the fact that the half of American population will be nonwhite in several decades, my company should adopt a corporate culture where no superiority or domination of a certain ethnic group is tolerated.
The change process might be complicated, since all employees are Caucasian and have tenure with the company. The inclusion of employees from other ethnic groups should be gradual; this process should be constantly overseen by the manager.
New hires might feel uncomfortable in the all-white environment, therefore they should be given support and assistance from the management at the initial stage of their employment. Yet it is also of paramount importance not to make other employees perceive this support and assistant as discriminatory against them.
While the transition might be complicated, I can build on such assets of my company as strong corporate culture and effective communication between the management and employees.
Therefore, diversity should be regarded as a strategic resource for successful organizations. Managing diversity is one of the most crucial human resources tasks in the contemporary workplace, given the changing demographical landscape of America and worldwide globalization.
Dougherty, C. (2008). “Nonwhites to be Majority in US by 2042.” The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 30, 2008, from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121867492705539109.html
Performance Associates. (2004). ‘Managing Diversity.’ Retrieved May 3, 2008, from http://www.performanceassociates.co.nz/diversity.html
Sonnenschein, W. (1999). The Diversity Toolkit: How You Can Build and Benefit from a Diverse Workforce. New York: McGraw-Hill.