Why is organizational diversity important? Historically, diversity in the workplace has been
recognized as an employment equity issue. Now, however, diversity in the workplace is being
recognized as a benefit that will contribute to an organization's bottom line. Increased employee
and customer satisfaction end up as increased productivity, all of which are measurable
outcomes (Goff, 1998). Diversity goes beyond employment equity to nurturing an environment
that values the differences and maximizes the potential of all employees, one that stimulates
employee creativity and innovativeness (U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (U.S. MSPB),
1993). To create an organizational culture that supports workforce diversity involves several
important elements. These elements include a needs analysis, administrative and management
support and commitment, education and training, culture and management systems changes and
continuous follow-up and evaluation.
In many of my resources, a needs analysis was the second crucial element after senior
management support and commitment. I feel a needs analysis should be prepared first to provide
information to senior management in sequestering their support as well as to adequately
determine workforce and organizational needs for creating a diverse workplace. First, find out
what employees are concerned about. Most often used for this are focus groups and surveys.
The needs and expectations of a diverse workforce can vary by organizational and functional
levels, location, ethnicity, and gender (Baytos and Delatte, 1993). Second, determine the needs
of the organization. By asking certain questions, an organization can determine its needs based
on its culture and resources (U.S. MSPB, 1993). Does the organization have trouble retaining
employees who would add to its diversity? In an organization with diversity, which, if any, areas of
the workforce are being treated inappropriately? Has the organization impressed upon its leaders
and managers the benefits that come from managing diversity appropriately? By using a survey
that focuses on these questions you can ascertain where administration and management feel
the organization presently is regarding diversity.
Administrative and Management Commitment and Support
Administrative and management support is critical for diversity change efforts. An important role
for senior management is to provide leadership through development of a vision and goals for a
diverse workplace (Lapid-Bogda, 1992). To gain support from administration you need to directly
link diversity to the business. Be specific as to where the diversity issues lie. Are they employee
or customer issues? Or both? Provide data regarding the diversity opportunities in the
marketplace, workforce and organization (Prism International, 2000). Benchmarking best
practices related to diversity from other organizations, demographic data, briefings regarding
complaints, potential lawsuits, and hiring and retention problems are all relevant sources of data.
In general, the organizations experiencing the greatest success with diversity training are more
likely to view diversity as a business issue rather than a social issue (Profiting from others', 1994).
Link diversity to other organizational initiatives, such as quality management or career
development (Lapid-Bogda, 1992). Discuss both your initial assessment of what will be required
for implementation and institutionalization of diversity management and the known elements in
the organization that will promote and/or hinder the successful achievement of diversity
management (Prism International, 2000). Finally, administrative support and commitment is
essential also for the means to provide the programs and...