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Diversity in the Workforce

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Diversity in the Workforce
Raul Rios Jr.
Columbia College
Thesis Statement
What are the different aspects of diversity within the US workforce and how might it be effectively managed? What positive and negative factors are derived from diversity training? This research paper aims at answering this particular question. In order to do this, the paper will look at the challenges of diversity in the workplace from many different angles.

Abstract
This paper first explains what diversity really is and the impact it has on today’s workforce. It also explores why diversity needs to be managed in workplaces in the United States. It then discusses the positive and negative impacts of managing diversity (mainly diversity training). This paper identifies some of the major challenges associated with managing diversity. This research paper concluded with some recommendations on how to manage diversity within a workplace.

Diversity in the Workforce

Changes in the US Workforce Make Diversity an Organizational and Managerial Issue The United States has historically been a land of the immigrants; it continues to be the same today. People from al around the world come to settle in the US. United States has people from ever ethnic backgrounds, whether those people are in the majority or minority. The diversity of America does not only encompass different races of people, but many other aspects which differentiate people from each other. Diversity can refer to people who practice different religions or none at all. It can refer to people who have different sexual orientations, straight, gay, or bisexual. It also refers to people with different disabilities, whether they are mental disorders or physical ones; it also refers to people who have different economic conditions etc. Diversity is a very broad term and is used to describe many different aspects of differences among people. The diversity of the American culture obviously reflects in its business environment as well; all sorts of people are members of work teams. The differences between people within an organization can sometime lead to people not being able to understand each other and respect each other. For example, when people in an organization and all have different values and beliefs there are high chances that there is going to be conflict among them. They might disagree with each other on many things, and this surely can lead to unpleasant working environment. Furthermore, immigrants, who have been raised in different cultures, might feel a little out of place while they are working with American-raised people. The reason for this could be as simple as other people not being able to understand their accent. All these situations can lead to disharmony among people, and hence, it is crucial for organizations to deal with and manage peoples’ differences, and seek diversity to have positive outcomes as opposed to negative ones.
Diversity Training The term “Diversity Training” is simply about managing diversity; it is the art of studying and implementing how relationships among people can improve, and how they can learn to accept and understand each other, for the sake of improving the whole organization (Roosevelt, 1991). Diversity training does not aim at training people for events, but aim at improving the overall business environment for people, so that they can reach their full potential. The aim and intention behind diversity training is to better the overall environment of an organization, while sometimes this aim is met, however, at other times diversity training can also have negative influences on an organization.
Negative Impacts of Diversity Training Before moving on to negative side of diversity training, let us first look at the strategies that Bateman and Snell (2013) present as solutions to any conflict (including the conflict arising from a diverse workforce). Their model will be helpful in understanding the negative impacts of diversity training. They argue that are mainly five solutions to deal with any sort of conflict. Competing is a strategy in which in which conflicting parties challenge each other on individual basis; every individual takes only his own wishes into consideration and not the other’s, Collaborating is a strategy in which the conflicting parties learn to work together, and the aim is to maximize fulfillment of all conflicting parties rather than just one, Compromising is less of a strategy and more of a solution to conflict, nothing positive or useful comes out of the conflict; some conflicted parties learn to sacrifice, Avoiding is a method which does not help to resolve conflict; conflict is ignored until it disappears naturally and Accommodating is an approach in which the conflicting parties learn to cooperate with each other, but wishes and desires of the conflicting parties are only partially fulfilled.

Bateman and Snell (2013 do not support or promote any one strategy in particular; they believe that for different situations different strategies are used; and the situations will itself make it evident which of the strategies to use. Thus, it can be concluded here that diversity training is not the only strategy to solve conflicts which arise out of diversity. For example, sometimes avoiding and ignoring differences is better; paying too much attention to differences can backfire by highlighting and reinforcing stereotypes, and as a result people become more conscious that they are different (Kossek & Lobel, 1996). Furthermore, if diversity training is not handled properly, then it fails at bringing out the real oppression that people might be facing; in simpler words, it can be a celebration of diversity, rather than the solution to problems are conflicts created by diversity.

Positive Impact of Diversity Training Diversity turns into an asset: diversity training, if well-managed, can turn diversity into an asset itself. Furthermore, sound management of diversity can also have many advantages (Roosevelt, 1990), and many other legal consultants and business leaders agree with him. Below are some of the ways in which diversity training, or in other words, well-managed diversity can reap some good results. Less discrimination is the first obvious advantage. People working within an organization will know exactly what is expected of them; people will become aware of harassment issues, and the occurrence of discrimination against any sort of diversity will lower. People will learn to value each other. Increase Marketing; the ethnic diversity of people in a workplace can increase sales. A way in which diversity training and good management can be beneficial to the entire organization is that diverse employees interact much better with diverse clients, which helps a company to build clientage as well as increase sales. Creativity; people with different personalities can have a positive impact on the entire business. The most successful businesses believe in hiring and forming a heterogeneous team to, "create a market place of ideas, recognizing that a multiplicity of points of view need to be brought to bear on a problem"(Kanter, p.167). Problem-Solving; groups which have a balance of men and women tend to solve more problems, and they are also quicker at solving problems compared to groups which are not so diverse. Some studies were conducted in University of Michigan in the 1960s, in which heterogeneous groups came up with high-quality solutions as compared to homogeneous groups. Researchers concluded that a group which has different genders and personality types solve problems much better (Richard. H.).

Challenges Associated with Managing Diversity
Traditions are difficult to change: Implementing diversity can be difficult mainly because of two reasons; firstly, humans prefer working in homogeneous groups; secondly, organizations and people resist change (Cox, 2001). It can be said that the longer a company takes to embrace diversity, the more difficult it is going to get to adapt to it. People within an organization can get accustomed to the ways of a company, and if the company has resisted diversity in the past, it is going to find it very difficult to change people’s attitude.

Less evidence of effective methods: It can be challenging to find the best practices in diversity management; there is not enough empirical research available for people to conclude which practices will produce ‘desired or optimum’ results (Pitts, 2006). Mostly, the available writing-guides to manage diversity are descriptive, based on anecdotes, and are supported by few case studies.

Re-structure of policies is difficult: Organizations may start diversity initiatives which are inspired by laws and regulations, however, having diversity training sections and discussions on diversity are not enough. A company has to change its various policies to be compatible with the ever-increasing diversity of the US. In better words, “No firm can rely simply on changing the hearts and minds of its employees. . . . It must develop a broad range of policies and practices to help ensure that today’s workplace works for everyone” (Aronson, 2002).

How to Cultivate Diversity in a Workforce 1. Diversity Trainings: Managers can cultivate diversity through diversity training 2. Language: A company must be willing to invest in language programs, this is surely going to let immigrants learn proper English, and hence, perform more efficiently. 3. Religion: A company can consider changing its vacation policies. If a company allows employers of different religions to take vacations for their religious holidays, this will automatically increase diversity within that organization. 4. Flexible-Work schedule: If there are any people in the company who have disabilities, and cannot work long-hours, the company should try introducing part-time jobs as well. 5. Office lunch/dinner: Keeping a gathering once a month for everyone in the office, where everyone can pool some money in, will allow people to get to know each other. Sometime people get so involved in working on their desks that they find little time to make friends in the office. This will allow different people getting to know each other better (http://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/employdiverse.pdf).

References
Aronson, D. (2002). Managing the diversity revolution: Best practices for 21stcentury business. Civil Rights Journal, 6, 46-66. Data retrieved from http://www.slac.stanford.edu/cgi-wrap/getdoc/slac-pub-12499.pdf.
Bateman and Snell (2013). Management Leading and Collaborating in a Competitive World (10th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Cox, T., Jr. (2001). Creating the multicultural organization: A strategy for capturing the power of diversity.San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Data retrieved from http://www.slac.stanford.edu/cgi-wrap/getdoc/slac-pub-12499.pdf.
Data retrieved from http://alis.alberta.ca/pdf/cshop/employdiverse.pdf.
Kossek & Lobel, 1996. Data retrieved from http://www.sagepub.com/upm-data/35190_Chapter10.pdf
Pitts, D.W. (2006). Modeling the impact of diversity management. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 26,245-268. Data retrieved from http://www.slac.stanford.edu/cgi-wrap/getdoc/slac-pub-12499.pdf.
Richard Hoffman and Norman R.F. Maier, "Quality and Acceptance of Problem Solving by Members of Homogeneous and Heterogeneous Groups, “Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,62,1961,401-407. Data retrieved from http://ecampus.nmit.ac.nz/moodle/file.php/4599/Diversity/Cox%20%20Blake%20-%20Managing%20cultural%20diversity,%201991.pdf
Roosevelt Thomas Jr., "From Affirmative Action to Affirming Diversity, "Harvard Business Review.2,March/April1390 ,107-117. Data retrieved form http://ecampus.nmit.ac.nz/moodle/file.php/4599/Diversity/Cox%20%20Blake%20-%20Managing%20cultural%20diversity,%201991.pdf
Rosabeth Moss-Kanter, The Change Masters,{Ne wYork:SimonandSchuster,1983) http://ecampus.nmit.ac.nz/moodle/file.php/4599/Diversity/Cox%20%20Blake%20-%20Managing%20cultural%20diversity,%201991.pdf

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