Managing Diverse Workforce
Workforce diversity includes the obvious differences we see when we look around: race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, religion and ethnicity. But it’s also the less obvious traits, the subtle differences that often register with us unconsciously, such as socioeconomic status, marital status, educational background, language, accent and appearance. We all have something that makes us unique, some special talent or ability that we bring to the table that differentiates us from our colleagues. That’s diversity at its best. Sourcing and managing people from a diverse background have become a critical part of an employment and management strategy. Workers who vary in age, gender, ability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background or culture, ethnicity and language, make a positive contribution to an organization’s workforce — they’re an asset to organization culture and the bottom line as companies and managers are realizing every day that passes. There is a common belief that a diverse workforce brings innovative and creative solutions to an organization from ‘outside the box’. An effective corporate diversity program is a powerful way to gain a competitive advantage and stand apart from competition. It can’t be overstated that diverse workforce brings real bottom-line value to any organization. Diverse workforce allows organizations to break barriers, attract new customers and build customer-base and help form strategic alliances with partners across the globe by having better knowledge of the target markets and establishing better communication capabilities and having ability to communicate in a variety of languages including understanding of cultural differences. Just over half of the employers polled in Canada said they anticipate a shortage of qualiﬁed workers in the next ﬁve years and approximately 67% believe they currently have a more diverse workforce than 5 years ago. These forward-thinking companies are not only placing an emphasis on making a positive contribution to their workforce – but on their bottom line.
Despite Workforce diversity is becoming common phenomenon across Canada, managers of today are increasingly facing the challenges of handling a diverse workforce and being sensitive to this diversity (Tjosvold, 1985).The rationale behind this research is to understand challenges organizations are facing as a result of managing diverse workforce. Additionally the research would try to look into various ways managers can overcome these challenges and make managing diverse workforce a real success. The concept of managing diversity originated in America following the growing need to manage cross-cultural and individual differences in an increasingly diverse demographic workforce (Cox & Blake, 1991). In Canada, immigration and large numbers of women entering the workforce promoted diversity management efforts since the 1990s, although the workplace composition differs from that in the USA (Miller & A. Rowney, 1999). Experts (Fernandez, 1993; Rice, 1994; Carnevale and Stone, 1994) indicate that business owners and managers who hope to create and manage an effective, harmonious multicultural workforce should remember the importance of the following: Setting a good example: This basic tool can be particularly valuable for small business owners who hope to establish a healthy environment for people of different cultural backgrounds. This is because they are generally able to wield significant control over the business basic outlook and atmosphere. The leaders must exhibit strong commitment to addressing issues like myths, stereotypes, and real cultural differences, as well as organizational barriers that interfere with the full contribution of all employees. Communicate in Writing: Organization policies that explicitly forbid prejudice and discriminatory behavior should...
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