Defining Diversity: the Evolution of Diversity

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DEFINING DIVERSITY: THE EVOLUTION OF DIVERSITY by Camille Kapoor

1. INTRODUCTION: WHAT IS DIVERSITY?
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity within each individual (cited from http://gladstone.uoregon.edu/~asuomca/diversityinit/definition.html).

2. PURPOSE OF THE PAPER
This research paper was conducted to see the evolution of diversity definition across the industry, specifically in hospitality industry. This qualitative research use Diversity Task Force study which conducted in 2001 to confirm the definition of diversity, whereby diversity can be concluded as “all characteristics and experiences that define each of us as individuals” (Kapoor, 2011). On top of that, the purpose of this study is: • to illustrate the emergence of diversity concept into management discussions, • to discuss how the definition of diversity has broadened over time to become more inclusive, • to present current concerns with a broad-based diversity definition, • to put forth researcher’s own definition of diversity (Kapoor, 2011)

3. DISCUSSION ON FINDINGS
3.1 The Emergence of Diversity Concept into Management Discussions Based on the researcher’s findings, the entrance of diversity concept into management discussions was traced as early as 1978 based on Supreme Court Case of Regents of Universiy of California v. Bakke. In 1987, report by Hudson Institute known as Workforce 2000 stated that women, blacks, Hispanics and immigrants would make up 85 percent of new job seekers by the year 2000. In addition, this study also pointed out, “more and more individuals are likely to work with people who are demographically different from them in terms of age, gender, race and ethnicity”. The formulation of 1964 Civil Rights Acts, Executive Order 11246 and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1965 made it illegal for companies to discriminate in the hiring or managing employees on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex or national origin. It is also requires organization to take affirmative action to overcome past patterns of discrimination. In the following year, the protected classes expanded to include white women, veterans, people over the age of 40 and people with physical or mental disabilities. In 1990’s, researchers began promoting the “business case” for diversity; as part of the reaction of observation that more diverse workforce can enhance the overall business. Then, managing diversity become one of the economic interest and companies were warned that a failure to effectively manage their diverse workforce would lead to poor performance or even place the company’s image at risk. In late 1990s, the recognition that diversity is a reality can be seen and that a company’s successes rely on their ability to effectively manage their workforce diversity. Managing diversity focuses on understanding people as individuals, rather than making assumptions about the needs and potential of individuals based on whether that person is of a specific gender or ethnic group. Managing diversity could also be understood as an equality strategy because it claimed to be able to recognize employee’s differences, while ensuring “that policies and procedures did not treat them inequitably”. The above emergence on diversity concept further confirmed by Hanappi-Egger and Ukur (2011) in below summary table of National forms of...
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