Managing Diversity

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Managing Diversity in The Public Sector: A case Study of a Small City Council; by Mark Steger and Prof R. Erwee (20001)

Definitions of diversity range from distributive concerns based on the traditional categories of race, ethnicity and gender to the addition of a vast array of differences in age, sexual orientation, disability, employment status, tenure, function, educational background, lifestyle, religion, values and beliefs in addition to race, ethnicity and gender. Diversity is a two-edged blade. Although on the one hand it is brought about by differences in access to information, skills, abilities, values, beliefs attitudes, personality, cognitive styles and manner styles also. To raise progress, development, renewal and creativity, but on the other hand it also increases the likelihood of the feelings of group isolation, conflict and participant dissatisfaction, disappointment in the implementation of policies and programs.

In this regard managing diversity in the public sector requires careful and sustained attention if it is to be a positive force in enhancing performance. A diverse organisation is one which values difference. It is one which recognises that people with different backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences bring fresh ideas and perceptions. Diverse organisations encourage and connect these differences to make their services relevant and approachable. A diverse organisation draws upon the widest possible range of views and experiences, so it can listen to, and meet, the changing needs of its users, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters (Wilson 1999). The concept of diversity has been usually used in both wide and fine context. A wide-ranging view of diversity has consequences for the fundamental organisational culture and an obligation of differences whereas narrow definitions of diversity focus on eliminating biased practices based on personal characteristic.

Many organisations adopt equal opportunities policies because of external pressures. Differs between a narrow minimalist response to legislative requirements, and a wider concern that people should be treated equally, based on ethical and human rights or moral arguments. Managing diversity on the other hand is internally driven, from a commitment by the organisation and its key players (lles 2001). The driving force behind introducing diversity management policies is seen as the business case which is that a diverse workforce will result in more focused marketing, greater creativity and decision making and happier staff who stay longer. According to the research conduct by (Metcalf 2000) they are three different types of workforce diversity were identified:

Social category diversity relates to differences in demographic characteristics, such as age and race. * Informational diversity refers to diversity of background such as knowledge, education, experience, tenure and functional background. * Value diversity includes differences in personality and attitudes.

The basic concept of managing diversity accepts that the workforce consists of a diverse population of people consisting of visible and non-visible differences including factors such as sex, age, background, race, disability, personality and work style and is founded on the premise that harnessing these differences will create a productive environment in which everyone feels valued, where all talents are fully utilised and in which organisational goals are met. Although there a growing body of literature on the effects of workforce diversity on business success, research in the area remains scant and unsystematic regarding the definition of what constitutes diversity, the unit of analysis and dependent variables under investigation. So it is difficult to reach scientifically substantiated conclusions on the impact of diversity on business performance, despite the fact that organisations themselves identify business case arguments for managing...
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