The concept of diversity has broadened in scope in the recent past, evolving from the concept of mandated quotas and affirmative action, to the reality of a diverse workforce being capable of providing quantifiable business value. A variety of external factors have influenced the conceptual evolution of diversity within the workplace. For example, globalization of markets has provided the concept of diversity with an opportunity to demonstrate a clear competitive advantage. A native understanding of the cultural values, norms and business practices of a foreign market can give an organization a clear advantage over their competition. Another area where diversity offers advantages is in the area of innovation. It can be argued that "a multi-cultural workforce translates into a richer variety of approaches to work-related problems and processes. Such approaches, in turn, are conducive to innovation that raises business performance" (Rajan & Harris, 2003).
Another factor that contributes to the propagation of diversity as a practice in the workforce is the moral aspect to the concept. Many believe that, "(i)n a progressive society, all segments of the population should have a stake in its prosperity and equal access to its benefits, subject to the meritocratic belief that a job should go to the best qualified candidate, irrespective of personal identity" (Rajan & Harris, 2003). This value may have roots in the cultural upbringing of individual's within an organization. The concept of being measured and rewarded on the basis of hard work and accomplishments is a common theme in many societies.
The practice of diversity is evolving over time, and no one company has perfected their approach. Many times, organizations who boast strong diversity initiatives that address the diversity needs of a certain group are woefully inadequate in addressing the needs of others. Perhaps this is due to diversity having its roots
References: Feeney, S. A. & Lewis, M. (2004). Women at the top, better bottom line. Workforce Management, 83(3), 22. Rajan, A., & Harris, S. (2003, September 2). The Business Impact of Diversity. Personnel Today. p18.