As we enter the 21st century, workforce diversity has become an essential business concern. In the so-called information age, the greatest assets of most companies are now on two feet (or a set of wheels). Undeniably, there is a talent war raging. No company can afford to unnecessarily restrict its ability to attract and retain the very best employees available.
Generally speaking, the term “Workforce Diversity” refers to policies and practices that seek to include people within a workforce who are considered to be, in some way, different from those in the prevailing constituency.
The world's increasing globalization requires more interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, and backgrounds than ever before. People no longer live and work in an insular marketplace; they are now part of a worldwide economy with competition coming from nearly every continent. Therefore, organizations need diversity to become more creative and open to changes in order to achieve organization efficiency and effectiveness. Maximizing and capitalizing on workplace diversity has become an important issue for management today.
II. Types of Diversity
a. Surface level diversity
are those differences that are easily noticeable such as age, gender, ethnicity/race, culture, language, disability, etc. Surface level diversity is easy to be measured and managers/recruiters can fall into the wrong practice of discrimination based on these factors. For example, thinking that performance degrades with age, they might prefer younger workforce. Surface level diversity is often difficult to change. For e.g. racial differences cannot be scaled down to zero.
b. Deep level diversity
Deep level diversity on the other hand, are not easily noticeable and measurable since they are communicated through verbal and non-verbal behaviors. Examples are personal differences in attitudes, values, beliefs and personality. Deep level diversity usually starts with identifying surface level differences and when people gets to know each other, they starts noticing the deep level personal differences and tend to accept or dislike it. For e.g. a person belonging to a minority ethnic group may be treated differently by the others since his culture and language might be different. But as everyone interacts with him more, they seem to forget the surface level differences and then they begin to notice his differing values and beliefs and later on, his personality differences.
III. Importance of Workfoce Diversity
a. To reflect the cultural diversity of the community at large. If the health workforce is diverse, that means equal opportunities for employment are being provided to all groups. b. Because people from different backgrounds introduce different kinds of ideas and initiatives, helping the workforce to be innovative. c. Because people from particular linguistic backgrounds may prefer to see a healthcare practitioner who can speak their language. d. Because our past experiences help us empathize with people in similar situations. If a refugee meets a doctor who arrived as a refugee too, they will be able to empathize with one another. However, someone may also benefit from dealing with a practitioner with a very different background and different experiences, because that can help them to enrich their thinking with new ways of seeing.
IV. Benefits of Workforce Diversity
a. As a Social Responsibility
Many of the beneficiaries of good diversity practices are from groups of people that are “disadvantaged” in our communities, there is certainly good reason to consider workforce diversity as an exercise in good corporate responsibility. By diversifying our workforces, we can give individuals the “break” they need to earn a living and achieve their dreams.
b. As an Economic Payback
Many groups of people who have been excluded from workplaces are consequently reliant on tax-supported social service programs....
References: 1. Williams C. (2007). Management (4th ed.). Thomson South Western.
2. Maret 12, 2013, from Rob McInnes, Diversity World - www.diversityworld.com
3. Maret 12, 2013, from http://www.diversityresources.compadvan.htm.
4. Robind and Judge. Organizational Behavior 13th Edition
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