As an ardent people watcher, the issue of workplace diversity has always intrigued me. This interest in studying or rather understanding various cultures is much attributable to ample travel as a child. The constant moving around, changing innumerable schools, meeting a wide range of people from a wide range of cultures and adapting to their ways of living is much attributable to the life as an army child. Thus, this is my attempt at scripting the observations of workplace diversity in a logical progression for my readers.
You may find a lot of research analysts speaking of globalization. Yes. According to this learned lot, globalization happens to be root cause of workplace diversity today. But wasn't multifariousness prevalent in the undocumented times? Of course, it was very much in existence. In both the aforementioned examples, it is the merger of myriad cultures and ethnicities (trying to find ways to evolve) which has led to heterogeneity.
Many mistake or limit the understanding of workplace diversity to mere cultural interaction. It's goes a little beyond that, and stretches to the ways in which people experience unique group identity by relating to gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and age. All these factors culminate into dynamic homogeneity of a workplace despite the differences. Organizations are divided into three categories, depending on their structural integration. The first type of organization is called the monolithic organization, where the presence of diversity is minimal. The second type is plural organization, where the shade of diversity improves. The third type, is known as multicultural organization, which values diversity above employing it. Today, every organization and every institution encourages a multicultural environment for its innumerable advantages.
Diversity in the workplace is celebrated for its advantages, and the ways in which it benefits an organization. It is an asset which appreciates with age and yields positive returns. Among all the other advantages of diversity, creative thinking tops the list. With variant cultures, languages, and colors, it allows the workforce to think differently with insightful alternatives. This way productivity gets an exponential leap, breaking boundaries and setting newer goals, year after year. With different attitudes in the workplace, the reticent and recusant can change for personal welfare and well-being. The fast pace of globalization, demands one to have proficiency of language skills too. Cultural diversity, needless to say, hones language skills, bringing home opportunities from foreign lands. Research has shown that heterogeneous groups have always outperformed homogeneous groups. Thus, workplace diversity enables an organization to define newer processes for posing challenges. However, all of these advantages come with a hefty price.
Organizational theorists have noted de-motivation to be the biggest challenge of a workplace diversity. Firstly, the idea of belonging or sameness vanishes in multicultural organizations. Cultural biases, behavioral prejudices, and discrimination of race, age, gender, and sexual orientation are most likely troubles in such workplaces. Insensitivity to the diversity by the employer and the employees pose a severe threat to the foundation of the business houses. Unresolved language barriers due to lack of understanding, sexual harassment in co-ed workplaces, and distorted freedom of speech as a result of heterogeneous working groups, can further create rifts amongst employees. This in totality, can shake the cornerstones of an organization and be the key ingredients for its downfall. As compared to advantages, these issues seem superficial and can be tackled with a tactful approach. It only takes workplace diversity training for handling conflict in the workplace.
As quoted by Marlene G., "The key to managing a diverse workforce is increasing individual awareness of and sensitivity to differences of race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, and age."
True. Language training, awareness of cultural dogmas and interpretations and open communication is what human resource management officers and top-level managers need to focus on, while building a multicultural organization. Such programs and training modules can go a long way in reducing biases and broadening myopic mindsets about religions and races. Through such efforts, the employees learn the necessity of sensitivity and empathy towards fellow employees. Managing workplace diversity goes beyond equal employment opportunity and assessment skills of employees. Managers have to seek diverse education, assimilate it, and implement it to create magnificence of cultural leadership in a corporate environment.
Workplace diversity, above all, brings a uniqueness to an organization's outcome. It becomes the signature of the workplace in more than one ways. Leveraging the diversity can prove to be a huge resource for many companies across the globe. And why won't it be, when such an amalgamation raises a knowledge based environment, provides a priceless opportunity to learn, brings about meaningful growth, and finally contributes to the company's success.