Managing Cultural Diversity

Topics: Management, Human resource management, Affirmative action Pages: 20 (6587 words) Published: October 17, 2012
HRDI 3:4 (2000), pp. 419–433

PEER REVIEWED ARTICLES
What is managing diversity and why does it matter?
Sharon Mavin and Gill Girling University of Northumbria at Newcastle

Abstract: In the UK, human resource practitioners and academics alike are becoming more aware of the emergence of managing diversity. But what does managing diversity actually mean, how does it translate into practice, and what does it matter? The following paper brie y debates the rhetoric of managing diversity and considers whether managing diversity is a distinct approach to managing people or a means of diluting equal opportunities in UK organizations. With respect to the realities of the concepts in UK organizations, empirical data from a survey of sixty UK human resource professionals and general line managers is presented. We pose a number of cautionary questions, including what does it matter and to whom? By doing so we intend to encourage further critique and challenges in respect to the concept of managing diversity in organizations.

Keywords: Managing diversity, equal opportunities, HRM/D, rhetoric, reality Introduction Today the workforce does not look, think, or act like any workforce of the past, nor does it hold the same values, have the same experiences, or pursue the same needs and desires (Jamieson and O’ Mara 1991). The composition of today’ s workforce has changed signi cantly in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, culture, education, disabilities, and values. Running parallel to these changes is the shift in thinking by human resource theorists and practitioners with regard to addressing equality in the workplace (Cooper and White 1995; Liff and Wacjman 1996). This shift is underpinned by the emergence of the business case argument for equal opportunities, as opposed to the persuasive debate for social justice or equal opportunities as ‘ correcting an imbalance, an injustice or a mistake’ (Thomas 1990). There is now a view that, after twenty years of the ‘ stick’ of legal compliance (which has achieved little), the ‘ carrot’ of underpinning the business case for equal opportunities will perhaps achieve more (Dickens 1994). The business case argument for equal opportunities in organizations is often termed ‘ managing or valuing diversity’ , but, as with most contemporary Human Resource Development International ISSN 1367-8868 print/ISSN 1469–8374 online © 2000 Taylor & Francis Ltd http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals

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management issues, the underlying principles and interpretation of this concept are open to mass interpretation, criticism, and indeed misunderstanding. D. Miller (1996) argues that the significant widening of the meaning of equal opportunities has brought with it more complex and confusing messages for employers and practitioners. By drawing on literature and empirical data, we consider whether managing diversity is a distinct approach to managing people or a means of diluting equal opportunities in UK organizations and pose a number of cautionary questions, including: what does it matter and to whom? By doing so, we intend to encourage further critique and challenges in respect to the concept of managing diversity in organizations.

What is managing diversity?
Thomas (2000) argues that, with the growing number of mergers and acquisitions, workforce diversity will become more of a priority for organizations and, therefore, in the future, people will become clearer on what diversity is and how to manage it. As with the debates surrounding de nitions of human resource management and development (HRM/D), managing diversity as a concept means different things to different people. It can relate to the issue of national cultures inside a multinational organization (Hofstede 1984); it can relate to the further development of equal opportunities or to a distinct method of integrating different parts of an organization and/or managing people strategically. Much of the literature regarding...


References: Bennis, W. (1991) ‘ Foreword, in D. Jamieson and J. O’ Mara (eds) Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Cassell, C. (1996) ‘ A fatal attraction? Strategic HRM and the business case for women’ s progression at work’ , Personnel Review 25(5). Childs, T. (1996) ‘ Managing diversity: the IBM experience’ , in E.Y. Cross and M.B. White (eds) The Diversity Factor: Capturing the Competitive Advantage of a Changing Workforce, Homewood, IL: Irwin Professional, pp. 215–32. Collett, P. and Cook, T. (2000) A Survey on Managing Diversity in the UK, an Economic and Social Research Council funded project (ESRC H52427500996), Department of Experimental Psychology University of Oxford. Untitled document http://users.ox.ac.uk/~hert0159/diversity/mngdiv. Cooper, M., and White, B. (1995) ‘ Organisational behaviour’ , in S.Tyson (ed.) Strategic Prospects for HRM, Institute of Personnel and Development. Copeland, L. (1988) ‘ Valuing diversity, part 2, pioneers and champions of change’ , Personnel July: 44–9. Cox, J.T. Jr. (1991) ‘ The multi-cultural organisation’ , Academy of Management Executive 5(2). Cox, J.T. and Blake, S. (1991) ‘ Managing cultural diversity: implications for organisational competitiveness’ , Academy of Management Executive 5: 45–56; in E. E. Kossek and S. A. Lobel (eds) ‘ Introduction ’ , Managing Diversity: Human Resource Strategies for Transforming the Workplace, Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Department of Education (1999) State of Victoria, Initiative of the People Services, HRMS and School Personnel & Resources Divisions, ttp://www.sofweb.vic.edu. au/hrm/MANDIV/managdiv.htm, November. Dickens, L. (1994) ‘ The business case for women’ s equality: is the carrot better than the stick?’ , Employee Relations 16(8). Ellis, C. and Sonner eld, J. A. (1995) ‘ Diverse approaches to managing diversity’ , HRM 33(1). Equal Opportunities Review (1996) ‘ Agenda 1996’ , 65(Jan/Feb). European Institute for Managing Diversity (2000) web page: http://www.iegd.org/ English/FramesHomePage.htm Ferris, G., Fink, D. and Galang, M. (1994) ‘ Diversity in the workplace: the HRM challenges’ , Human Resource Planning 16: 41–51; cited in E. E. Kossek and S. A. Lobel (eds) ‘ Introduction’ , Managing Diversity: Human Resource Strategies for Transforming the Workplace, Oxford: Blackwell, 1996. Ford, V. (1996) ‘ Partnership is the secret of progress’ , People Management, February, Institute of Personnel and Development. Galagan, P. (1991) ‘ Tapping the power of a diverse workforce’ , Training and Development Journal 45(3). Gill, P. (1996) ‘ Managing workforce diversity – a response to skills shortages?’ , Health Manpower Management 22(6): 34–7.
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Peer-Reviewed Articles Girling, J. (1999) ‘ To what extent is managing diversity a strategic approach to managing people?’ , unpublished HRM Masters Dissertation, Newcastle Business School, University of Northumbria at Newcastle. Guest, D. (1987) ‘ Human resource management and industrial relations’ , Journal of Management Studies 24(5): 503–21. Hall, D. and Parker, V. (1993) ‘ The role of workplace exibility in managing diversity’ , Organizational Dynamics 22(1). Harisis, D. and Kleiner, B. (1993) ‘ Managing and valuing diversity in the workplace’ , Equal Opportunities International 12(4). Hofstede, G. (1984) Culture’ s Consequences: International Differences in Work-related Values, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Jamieson, D. and O’ Mara, J. (1991) Managing Workforce 2000: Gaining the Diversity Advantage, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Kandola, R. and Fullerton, J. (1994a) ‘ Diversity: more than just an empty slogan’ , Personnel Management November. Kandola, R. and Fullerton, J. (1994b) Managing the Mosaic: Diversity in Action, Institute of Personnel and Development. Kandola, R. and Fullerton, J. (1998) Diversity in Action: Managing the Mosaic, 2nd edn, Institute of Personnel and Development. Kanter, R. (1994) The Change Masters: Corporate Entrepreneurs at Work, London: Routledge. Kossek, E. E. and Lobel, S. A. (eds) (1996) ‘ Introduction ’ Managing Diversity: Human Resource Strategies for Transforming the Workplace, Oxford: Blackwell. Liff, S. (1993) ‘ From equality to diversity: organisations, gender and power’ , papers from an IRRU Workshop, Warwick Papers in Industrial Relations, No 48, December. Liff, S. and Wacjman, J. (1996) ‘ Sameness and difference revisited: which way forward for equal opportunities initiatives?’ , Journal of Management Studies 33(4): 79–94. McDougall, M. (1996) ‘ Equal opportunities versus managing diversity, another challenge for public sector management?’ , International Journal of Public Sector Management 9(5). McEnrue, M. (1993) ‘ Managing diversity: Los Angeles before and after the riots”, Organizational Dynamics 21(3). Mavin, S. and Girling, J. (1999) ‘ Of course I know what managing diversity is!’ , paper delivered to the British Academy of Management Annual Conference: Managing Diversity, 1–3 September, Manchester. Miller, D. (1996) ‘ Equality management: towards a materialist approach’ , Gender, Work and Organization 3(4). Miller, P. (1996) ‘ Strategy and the ethical management of human resources’ , Human Resource Management Journal 6(1). Schneider, B. (1985) ‘ The people make the place’ , Presidential Address, Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, American Psychological Association;
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