“It’s hard to define what diversity is because everyone has an opinion” (Working Woman magazine, October 2000) Workplace diversity is a personal issue, and it focusses on the characteristics that are brought into the firm. Whether it is attributes or differences that separate these people, these cultural dimensions that are introduced to any workforce can provide businesses with different options for further business growth or it can hold a business back. Carr-Ruffino suggests that “workplace diversity can be a major source of innovation, global savvy and profitability – or a source of conflict and chaos.” (Carr-Ruffino, 1999) Diversity can become a crucial component of a business’s success or can turn out to be major downfall in the future and I plan to discuss the factors that ensure that successful management diversity is implemented to its full potential, meanwhile highlighting the possible future benefits/drawbacks depending on how well it’s applied. Therefore there is a major emphasis on management to ensure that it provides the firm with future advantages. But what is diversity management? Some suggest there isn’t enough research done on the matter. Thomas 1991 defines it as “a comprehensive managerial process for developing an environment that works for all employees.” This implies that everyone must buy into diversity management; it’s not just the management. Another view is that “it requires one to look at the culture and mind set of an organisation and different perspectives that people being to an organisation.” (United Nations, 2000) I will demonstrate what is crucial towards the success of successful diversity management, including examples of how firms have dealt with this worldwide issue. The Rise of Diversity Worldwide
So how much of an issue is diversity in the workplace? Well considering the higher numbers of diverse people entering the workplace, it was always going to be an issue. In the US, African-Americans comprise 10.1% of the US 112.4million employed civilians and forecast that 85% of entrants into the workforce would be minorities, woman or immigrants. (Clements and Jones, 2006) In the UK, 2006 showed there were more 55-64 year olds than 16-24 year olds for the first time. (Source: Employers Forum on Age) These figures further emphasise how diversity is more prominent in current society than ever before and must be tackled by businesses. Dissecting Diversity
So what are the components of diversity that must be focussed on? Diversity can be dissected into different areas, with the obvious differences between people being any visual attributes they may have that differ. These differences include the obvious features such as gender, race or age. These can be analysed using your vision but this is ignoring most of the types of diversity that exist in the workplace. A report by Deloitte, 2011 states that “diversity is really about diversity of ‘thought’ – where different perspectives and capabilities are the point of difference, rather than our visible characteristics.” It is a concept that must be grasped by businesses as it opens up many ways that diversity can be mismanaged. These different capabilities can help firms evaluate whether they are gaining the full value from their employee and help them gain valuable knowledge that can be used for future diversity reference. It helps find the common ground to understanding an individual and has therefore developed thought towards the opinion that demographics are a starting point but the full knowledge bank can be gathered through understanding the personalities that exists within the different cultures. This diagram below provides a visual representation of looking within an individual rather than using vision as a basis of judgement.
Diagram 1 (Deloitte, 2011)
Skills and attributes of Successful Diversity Management
In order to be successful in diversity management,...