Cultural diversity in the workplace is becoming more and more prevalent. Corporations in all industries are encouraging minorities, women, elderly workers, people with disabilities as well as foreign workers to join white males in the workplace. The following analysis will focus on these groups and how companies are encouraging them to join an ever-expanding workplace. Even if affirmative action is dismantled, diversity of the workforce is clearly here to stay. Business owners and managers, experts say, will still need to maintain or step up efforts to recruit and advance ethnic minorities in the 21st century. That’s essentially because having a diverse work force and managing it effectively will simply be good business for various companies. This practice comes under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Affirmative Action (AA) and Diversity Management (DM).
1.1 WHAT IS DIVERSITY?
“Diversity exists in a group or organisation when its members differ from one another along one or more important dimensions” (Lewis, D. French, E. & Phetmany, T. 2000). Many different definitions exist for diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and gender, however, in broad terms; diversity can refer to any difference between two individuals.
2.0 DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT
One organisation that has successfully introduced DM practice is the British charity, Nacro. Nacro is involved in taking people from minority or disadvantaged groups and placing them in positions of employments that might help their rehabilitation or remove them from a cycle of previous criminal behaviour. The aim is to equip them with life skills and training that will benefit them as well as the community that they live in. This is an example whereby an organisation has made it their sole aim to target under-represented groups such as asylum seekers and Black Minority Ethnic (BME) candidates, that otherwise would not have been employed, thus moving away from the idea of AA to more of a business objective. (Anonymous 2006). On a local note, the workforce in Australia is a diverse population. Various issues have affected Australia’s past in terms of the heritage of the citizens. In the last 60 years, the proportion of overseas-born Australians has risen from ten percent in 1947 to over 40% today, that is almost half of the nation’s population being of foreign origin. The same proportion however does not apply to the majority of workplaces. (Lewis, D. French, E. & Phetmany, T. 2000).
2.1 AFFIRMATIVE ACTION
Managing diversity goes ‘far beyond’ meeting the legal requirements of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action. Whereas Affirmative action is based on mandatory compliance regulations designed to bring the level of representation for minority groups into parity, diversity initiatives within organizations are voluntary in nature. It takes Affirmative action a step further. Organizations that incorporate diversity initiatives as a part of their organizational objectives will be the most prepared, they will be to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Whereas Affirmative Action focuses on including those on the basis of race, gender, and/or ethnicity, Diversity initiatives, when well implemented, focuses on all elements of diversity. Management must embrace the inclusion of employees not only with regard to obvious differences of race, sex, and age but also without regard to such secondary factors of diversity as marital or family status, sexual orientation and disabilities (Stone, R.J. 2008). In any case, it will be easy to tell when affirmative action is no longer necessary. When an individual can look around the workforce and see that members of all groups are being employed and that they are being employed at the high levels as well as at the lower levels, then it won’t be needed anymore. It is possible that most corporations are on that road. The increasing presence of women and minorities has altered the way that companies...
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Chow, H.S. & Crawford, R.B. 2004, “Gender, Ethnic Diversity, and Career Advancement in the Workplace: The Social Identity Perspective”, SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 69, no. 3, pp. 22-31.
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