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Employee Diversity in Organization

Diversity as defined by United Nations is: Diversity takes many forms. It is usually thought of in terms of obvious attributes age differences, race, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation, religion and language. Diversity in terms of background professional experience, skills and specialization, values and culture, as well as social class, is a prevailing pattern. A high-performance organization relies on a dynamic workforce with the requisite talents, multidisciplinary knowledge, and cutting edge skills to ensure that it is equipped to accomplish its mission and achieve its goals. All employees, not just managers, have a role in making that happen. Such organizations typically foster a work environment in which people are enabled and motivated to contribute to mission accomplishment and provide both accountability and fairness for all employees. To accomplish these objectives, high-performance organizations are inclusive, drawing on the strengths of employees at all levels and of all backgrounds; an approach consistent with diversity management. Embracing and practicing diversity is more a way of life than a set of policies. It is no good for an organization to only have a diversity strategy or policies. Those policies must be turned into day-to-day realities for its people. Very often this will mean engaging in education, training and awareness programmes following through with healthy, effective change management programmes. Businesses have started to recognize diversity in the workplace as a business strategy that maximizes productivity, creativity and loyalty of employees while meeting the needs of their clients or customers. A company is as good as their employees; therefore it should spend a great deal of energy in hiring the most talented individuals. By branching out to a diverse workforce, employers have access to a greater pool of candidates thereby improving the odds of hiring the best person. In a competitive marketplace, an organization that puts people first - regardless of their race, religion, gender, age, sexual preference, or physical disability has an advantage over the other players.

Just as the workforce is becoming more diverse so is the market. Employees who have personality resemblance with their customers they serve; can benefit an organization since they will feel as if they hold a common ground. Furthermore, employees with different perspectives can help provide companies with a holistic view of the market to identify unmet needs and identify new opportunities. As the value of diversity continues to grow in the business community, recruiting and retaining diverse employees is becoming even more important to continued organizational success. The following eight practices as essential to successful diversity in organization: Top leadership commitment - a vision of diversity demonstrated and communicated throughout an organization by top-level management. Diversity as part of an organizations strategic plan - a diversity strategy and plan that are developed and aligned with the organizations strategic plan. Recruitment - the process of attracting a supply of qualified, diverse applicants for employment. Diversity training - organizational efforts to inform and educate management and staff about diversity. Mentoring employees - assimilate new employees into the organizational culture and make them comfortable with diverse environment. Employee involvement - the contribution of employees in driving diversity throughout an organization. Measurement - a set of quantitative and qualitative measures of the impact of various aspects of an overall diversity program. Accountability - the means to ensure that leaders are responsible for diversity by linking their performance assessment and compensation to the progress of diversity initiatives.

Role of a Manager in Managing Diversity

A good Manager has a key role in transforming the organizational culture so that it more closely reflects the values of a diverse workforce. Some of the skills needed are: An understanding and acceptance of managing diversity concepts Recognition that diversity is threaded through every aspect of management Self-awareness, in terms of understanding culture, identity, biases, prejudices, and stereotypes Willingness to challenge & change institutional practices that makes barriers for different groups It's natural to want a cookbook approach to diversity issues so that one knows exactly what to do. Unfortunately, given the many dimensions of diversity, there is no easy recipe to follow. Advice and strategies given for one situation may not work given the same situation in another context. Managing diversity means acknowledging people's differences and recognizing these differences as valuable; it enhances good management practices by preventing discrimination and promoting inclusiveness. Good management alone will not necessarily help we work effectively with a diverse workforce. It is often difficult to see what part diversity plays in a specific area of management. The manager should also understand that managing diversity is different from affirmative action. Managing diversity focuses on maximizing the ability of all employees to contribute to organizational goals. Affirmative action focuses on specific groups because of historical discrimination, such as people of color and women. Affirmative action emphasizes legal necessity and social responsibility; managing diversity emphasizes business necessity. In short, while managing diversity is also concerned with under representation of women and people of color in the workforce, it is much more inclusive and acknowledges that diversity must work for everyone.

Leadership Commitment

Leadership plays a key role in propelling changes in an organization which can influence the effectiveness of a diversity initiative. The kinds of actions required reducing gender inequities and racial inequities in organizations involve challenges to existing power relations and the dismantling of practices that have long been institutionalized as rational approaches to the organizations work. Through proactive actions such as the development of new baselines in policies, practices and structures, leaders can demonstrate their support for diversity initiatives. These actions that the leader undertakes signal the importance of the diversity initiative and allow the initiative to be viewed as a key priority within the firm. Once this signal is transmitted to employees, they are more motivated to buy-into the initiative and actively participate in it, which can enhance the diversity initiatives effectiveness. This motivation among employees is an intermediate psychological outcome which we will elaborate upon in the section that follows. This assertion brings us to the following proposition regarding effective diversity initiatives: Consistent and sustained attention and investment from the senior leaders of the organization will have a positive impact on psychological outcomes for employees which will increase the effectiveness of a workforce diversity initiative. Having leaders who proactively address the power dynamics that hinder progression for racial minorities in the firm will have a positive impact on psychological outcomes for employees which will increase the effectiveness of a workforce diversity initiative. Having leaders who signal the importance of the initiative to the firm will have a positive impact on psychological outcomes for employees which will increase the effectiveness of a workforce diversity initiative. Having leaders who counter resistance that can occur in reaction to the diversity initiative will have a positive impact on psychological outcomes for employees which will increase the effectiveness of a workforce diversity initiative.

Diversity Strategic Planning

Diversity strategic planning focuses on creating measurable ways diversity can support the strategic direction, goals, and objectives of the organization. Previously, diversity was not seen as an integral part of strategic planning. Diversity initiatives were often poorly conceptualized, lacked specificity, and were not linked to strategic organizational plans. Todays leaders realize that in order to be effective, successful diversity planning must be aligned with and provide support for strategic business objectives and operational decisions. The diversity strategic plan is built upon core values like respect for the dignity of the individual, integrity, trust, credibility, continuous improvement, and personal renewal. A Balanced Workforce Strategy guides the organization in a variety of situations and it covers all employee populations. It tracks employee populations and sets 10-year goals and annual targets. The BWF makes managers accountable for upward mobility. When layoffs occur, the BWF ensures that members of one group are not affected disproportionately compared to members of other groups. A strategic plan can be designed to provide a link between the vision for diversity management and the actions required for making it happen. One of the first requirements is to define diversity, and diversity management. Once this is accomplished, the definitions are used to form the foundation of the organizations diversity policy, vision statement, and strategic plan. The core elements of the strategic plan are strategic goals and objectives, a plan for conducting a cultural audit, training and education plan, a plan for recognizing diversity-related accomplishments, and measures of effectiveness. The strategic plan also addresses accountability for implementing diversity initiatives. Thus the strategic plan should have four basic features 1. Creating a strong foundation (values, philosophy, dedicated resources, and commitment) 2. Building a solid internal structure (initiatives to support and educate employees) 3. Building a solid external structure to infuse diversity into the community 4. Measuring the progress and results (incentives given for efforts).

Recruiting diverse workforce

Managers who are able to recruit diverse personnel often times are able to improve performance, strategy, strategic change, management turnover and organizational innovation in the organization. By hiring and making employees from diverse cultures a part of the decision making process, new ideas and recommendations will not be stunted or withheld. As a result, more minds, especially those with an understanding of other cultures, will be used in the innovative process. When innovation occurs at the intersection of different fields, cultures, disciplines, activities, and people, diverse workforces can be rich sources of innovation. Organizational workforces today are blended and managing those groups effectively will benefit the bottom line. Beyond being a legal mandate and moral imperative, Managers are recognizing that diversity throughout the organization provides competitive advantage. Yet, finding and retaining qualified employees remains a challenge facing all organizations. This is increasingly true for organizations seeking managers who understand how to maximize the productivity of each person. Focusing on what the employee does well and what they have to offer the organization proves to be more difficult than focusing on what an employee cannot do. Firms able to successfully manage diverse human talents will have major competitive advantage over companies and organizations that do not effectively do so. Organizations are finding it difficult to recruit managers equipped with the knowledge, skills and ability to take the essential strategic approach to managing a diverse workforce. Indeed, most companies still find it necessary to train and reinforce managers with the benefits diversity can bring to the organizations. Diversity is an excellent tool for strategic competitive advantage, when managed appropriately it can set an organization ahead of its competitors.

Training programs

Training and education, an often used approach, can fill a company's needs in areas such as awareness-building; skill building, helping employees understand the need for valuing diversity, educating employees on specific cultural differences, providing the skills necessary for working in diverse work teams, and providing skills and development activities necessary for diverse groups to do their job and have the opportunity for advancement. Training and education programs vary in style and content from organization to organization, and are heavily influenced by the organization's definition of diversity. All forms of training should include awareness-building, skill development, application, and support. Support is especially important because the potential benefits of training will not be likely to occur unless trainees return to a supportive environment for applying what they have learned. No single approach to working with diversity can be recommended for all organizational situations. However, obtaining top management support, integrating diversity into all company functions, using a combination of strategies; and creating a corporate culture that supports diversity can be used with any approach to improve outcomes. An effective diversity training program begins with identifying the specific organizational needs and culture. Every organization has a culture of its own, shaped by the people who founded it and staff it. And due to workforce makeup, diversity needs vary greatly. Effective diversity training is: integrated with the organization's education and training systems combined with other diversity initiatives within the organization delivered to all employees (including top-level managers) planned to include accountability

Goals for leadership training should include learning to create climates that promote cohesion, build quality performance and prevent discrimination and harassment. Similarly, employee programs may focus on building skills to foster quality work relations and customer service with a wide range of people.

Mentoring employees

Managers should act as mentors to help assimilate new employees into the new culture. It is a natural complement to diversity strategy or organization. Managers can select high-potential employees to develop and grow the mentoring relationship throughout the maturity of the mentees career at the company. Employees are strongly encouraged to participate in voluntary diversity programs and to seek out mentorship opportunities throughout the industry. The goal for the mentee is to gain knowledge and skills from his mentor that may otherwise take years to acquire while in his/her current position. Depending on the mentor/mentee relationship, the focus can be to learn a specific leadership skill or set of skills, to better understand the business and culture of the company, to broaden the mentees perspective beyond his/her functional area, to provide short- or long-term career development or any combination of these goals. Mentoring programs tend to succeed when: The manger establishes a clear and strong purpose of preaching diversity for the mentoring program at the beginning and continues to communicate the purpose regularly. The goals and purpose of the program are displayed on the organizations website, social board, at the mentoring opening session etc. The program driver matches the mentors skills, knowledge, and abilities to the mentees professional and personal developmental. The manager fosters a diversity culture within the organization that rewards the constructive investment of time and effort that mentors give to the mentor/mentee relationship The program incorporates feedback meetings with established guidelines to give mentors and mentees the opportunity to provide concerns or suggestions periodically

Employee involvement

Motivating and engaging employees in diversity efforts can create a sense of empowerment and ownership for the initiative at all hierarchical levels. Through innovative power sharing and democratic engagement, diversity barriers can be more effectively addressed. Enlisting those of differing ethnic, racial, and gender backgrounds to tackle the process of increasing diversity can be thought of as a methodology that facilitates the process of diagnosing barriers and collectively organizing to address these barriers. Organizations are able to better reap the benefits of demographic diversity by creating a sense of collectivism. Therefore, organizations that engage the employee base in the diversity initiative by utilizing partnerships and positioning the initiative as a collective effort, in which employees should behave in accordance, will be more likely to have an effective diversity initiative. Diversity Consciousness is defined as the act by which employees apply a diversity perspective to thoughts, feelings, and actions. It is created by employee motivation and their involvement in managing diversity. This perspective assumes that cultural differences result in diverse life experiences, knowledge, and insights among organizational members which informs alternative views about the work content and how to best accomplish the work at hand. The employees tend to cross race relationships with established perspectives about race relations that include attitudes toward other racial groups, orientation toward their own racial group and racial identity. Thus the level of diversity consciousness held by those in partnerships with minorities can affect the way they manage these cross-race relationships and can dictate the type of relationship that will develop. The individuals with a heightened level of diversity consciousness may be better able to capitalize on diverse opinions and alternative perspectives presented to them through the cross-race relationships they develop which can affect the actions they take to facilitate the diversity initiatives effectiveness. These individuals can better capitalize on cross-cultural learning and enact this learning through diversity consciousness actions, a critical behavioral outcome, which can enhance the effectiveness of the diversity initiative.

Evaluation and measurement

A manager could not develop a successful diversity process without periodically assessing and evaluating the status and accomplishments of the process. Any diversity strategy must contain well-defined measures to assess effectiveness and to evaluate whether outcomes support organizational objectives and targets. Such measures must be straightforward and unambiguous so that all employees clearly understand what is expected. Organizations must be prepared to reward individuals or groups that meet the stated goals and objectives, as well as to penalize those who fail to do so. Diversity measures are designed to serve as guides for organizations to assess their performance in relation to achieving diversity objectives. Over time, trends in responses can help an organization assess how their diversity management programs are working to achieve organizational goal and objectives. Some indicators of measurements that could be used to evaluate organizations in the area of diversity are:

Qualitative measures: a) Employee interviews, surveys and focus groups to identify employee perceptions on diversity-related issues. b) Needs assessments to develop strategies for increasing the diversity of the workforce and for maximizing output of existing human capital. c) A series of general organizational questions in such areas as climate, organizational commitment, promotions, job satisfaction, supervision and performance evaluations Quantitative measures: a) Employee attrition rates b) Workforce satisfaction c) Market share within new customer bases d) External awards and recognition for diversity efforts

Accountability Structures

In addition to the structural requirement of aligning management practices with the diversity initiative, the effectiveness of a diversity initiative is dependent upon having accountability structures that assign responsibility for the goals of the initiative to employees and link incentives to the goals achieved. One way of structuring diversity initiatives that can keep them on track and focused is to assign responsibility for the initiative to employees. Having dedicated staff members or task forces that monitor the success of the diversity initiative, establish metrics to measure the initiatives effectiveness, and create incentives for achieving diversity goals prevents employees in organization from balancing managing the initiative with the demands of executing on their revenue generating, client-building activities that are required to progress within the firm Accountability structures facilitate a diversity initiatives effectiveness by establishing responsibility for the initiative so that the initiative does not become a sidelined activity within the firm. In addition, these structures help achieve intermediate psychological and behavioral outcomes as holding specific individuals accountable for the diversity initiative can increase their motivation to achieve results and from a behavioral standpoint, can increase the likelihood that those individuals responsible for achieving results will engage in diversity consciousness actions, both of which can increase the effectiveness of a diversity initiative. The manager can establish various measurements to evaluate diversity initiatives, particularly in recruitment and retention. These measurements include: a review of workforce profile against diversity goals; analyses of any discrimination complaints; performance against supplier diversity goals; including analysis of feedback and input from an annual survey by suppliers; and a diversity index employed by managers to compare the performances of organizational groups relative to their affirmative action goals.