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Diversity in the Workplace

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

"The notion of diversity is na�ve because it ignores the realities of organisational life" - Discuss Diversity is an area of management, which is not easy or proven yet to be successful. The realities of organisational life are such, that issues surrounding bottom line considerations, market forces, control, leadership, structure, processes and culture all conspire to make the management of diversity very difficult indeed. In striving to create diversity -oriented organisations, managers are facing a huge challenge. They are not only attempting to change norms and values which have existed since organisations were first formed - they are also trying to change the attitudes of individual members of their workforce. These individuals come from a society, which is still plagued by the "isms"of age, sex, race and other prejudicial and stereotypical attitudes. In this essay, therefore, I will explore what diversity means according to the latest research and describe how the various realities of organisational life can mitigate against the effective management of diversity. Having done this, the difficulty of the task will be apparent, but that should not lead us to conclude that it is na�ve to attempt to mange diversity. There are definite benefits to attempting to create a diversity-oriented organisation and it may be that, idealistic as it may seem, we really have no choice in the matter. The meaning of diversity Managing diversity means different things to different people. It can mean integrating different parts of an organisation to enable them to work together (e.g. Goold and Campbell 1987). It can relate to the issue of national cultures within multinational organisations (e.g. Hofstede 1984). It can also refer to the development of equal opportunities. ...read more.

Middle

Certain parts of the process are easier to control than others. You can, for example, ensure the appropriate wording and placing of job advertisements. You can issue clear, unambiguous instructions for making applications and you can ensure that any tests that are used are not culturally biased. However, the interview is notoriously difficult to control. As Dipboye (1994) points out, carefully structured interviews, where one is not allowed to deviate from the set questions, are difficult to implement and often unsatisfactory for both interviewer and interviewee. On the other hand, the continued use of the unstructured interview in selection processes leaves the candidate vulnerable to the personal prejudices of individuals and the unspoken rites and symbolism of the organisation. These can be so easily used to block an individual who does not belong to the predominant group and to allow easy entry to the initiated, who understand the rules and conventions of the interview exchange simply by reason of their birth and shared group identity. Promotion Practitioners advocate total transparency here. This, they believe, would take power away from any informal networks that may operate, networks that perpetuate the "its not what you know, it's who you know" style of selection and promotion. In reality, power does reside with management and decisions about who is suitable for management positions have often already been made in an informal way by the time the job is advertised. There is also often a tendency to want to look outside the organisation for a new management recruit. The success of recruitment agencies and firms of head hunters lies in this very fact. Performance Appraisal Performance appraisal, is a controversial topic. According to Randell (1989) ...read more.

Conclusion

However no conclusive data is yet available With regard to team working, the research on the success of heterogeneous teams is ambiguous. Bettenhausen (19 91) concluded that diversity "hinders group and organisational performance especially in times of crisis or rapid change." Kandola and Fullerton would argue that these difficulties are not insurmountable, but they need to be recognised and strategies devised to overcome them. As Bettenhausen himself says, "because increased pluralism is an unavoidable fact of organisational life, it is not very helpful to merely acknowledge that process losses may outweigh the benefits of heterogeneity." Indirect benefits are thought to accrue as a natural consequence of realising the clear and debatable benefits mentioned above, that is, such things as better public image, satisfying work environment, improved relations amongst staff, increase in job satisfaction and morale, increased productivity and competitive edge. However, many of these indirect benefits could easily be those expected of an organisational change initiative and, as such, cannot be directly attributed to a diversity-oriented change programme. In conclusion, therefore, I would maintain that, whilst diversity as a notion is a difficult concept to incorporate fully into an organisation's development, the difficulties should not be a deterrent to action. After all, organisations must deal with what is increasingly the reality of their own diverse workforces and the diverse marketplaces in which they operate. It is not na�ve to strive to achieve some of the characteristics, which have been described here, since they make good sense, not least of all in terms of recruitment and retention of staff. There are also other benefits, which would seem to be realisable ones, of improving customer service and quality. However, to make claims of benefits for which there is no clear evidence, is na�ve. Managing diversity is not a panacea. Unrealistic expectations at the start of the process will merely fuel discontent, disillusion and dissatisfaction later. ...read more.

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