Diversity within an organization can positively and negatively impact the overall functions of an organization. With increased diversity within the U. S. labor force, human resource practices are essential to utilize the talents, potential, and overall contributions that can come from the diverse populations. This paper will provide an overview of diversity within organizations addressing issues associated with a diverse workforce, methods of addressing those issues, and recommendations for human resource personnel in order to properly adapt accordingly to a diverse workforce.
Current Situation There are many contributing factors to a diverse workforce from immigration to people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders entering into the workforce. “Recent studies have attributed workforce diversity to the increased globalization of the twenty-first century, which has increased the mobility of people across nations as well as interdependence of organizations” (Okoro & Washington, 2012, p. 57). Such factors will result in many changes to the workforce both good and bad.
In an effort for an organization to successfully thrive with the many changes to the workforce, it is imperative that human resource personnel are properly trained on diversity and adapting to the many differences that will come from the many different backgrounds. The most important thing that must be taken into account with a diverse workforce is that no one person is the same. For managers and employees this may pose a major problem in adjusting to the many differences that will come from the many backgrounds of the workforce.
“The challenge for managers in the future will be to recognize that people with characteristics that are common but are different from those in the mainstream, often think, act, learn, and communicate differently. Because every person, culture, and business situation is unique, there are no simple rules for managing diversity, but diversity experts say that employers need to develop patience, open-mindedness, acceptance, and cultural awareness” (Mondy, 2012, p. 47). Diverse populations can result in negative effects on an organization as a whole.
Many studies have been completed on the issues of diversity within the workplace and contributing factors that have majorly impacted the overall production of an organization. It is imperative that such issues are recognized in an effort to effectively overcome them. Researchers have recognized the following issues associated with diversity within the workplace: communication barriers, employee isolation, tension among employees, and all of these factors can result in loss of productivity within the organization and employee turnover.
Managers who are aware of the possible negative effects of diversity can work to implement ways to reverse the overall impact that can occur within the organization. Communication barrier is probably one of the biggest impacts that diversity has on the workplace. With the many different cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds within organizations, it is very likely to be some breakdowns in communication among employees.
Since communication is essential to the success of an organization, this alone could be detrimental to the overall effectiveness of an organization. “Effective communication, both internally and externally, is essential for any organization wishing to excel in today’s internationally competitive corporate environment and global business and competitive corporate environment and global business and competitive advantage would not be achievable without effective business communication” (Okoro & Washington, 2012, p. 57).
In many cases, a breakdown of communication can result in employees not being able to communicate effectively enough to get an assignment done which ultimately results in loss of production within the company. Someone who feels communicating with certain people are worthless will ultimately refuse to communicate all together. This can be a major loss for the company. Isolation of certain groups is also common among diverse populations within an organization.
Communication barriers can contribute a great deal to isolation; groups that feel they cannot communicate effectively with other groups often subject themselves only to people they can relate to. “Isolation is a characteristic that describes how unusual an individual is within a workgroup. If a group is 90% female and highly cohesive on average, the few men may not be included in the portion of the group that is cohesive and has repeated interactions” .
Such isolation is common among certain races as well where Hispanics typically only interact with Hispanics; this isolation can result in race-specific interactions which could prohibit the organization from prospering from the ideas and talents that other groups would have to offer through communication. Diversity within the workplace is also likely to cause tension among employees as a direct result of the communication barriers and isolation of certain groups.
In many cases, certain groups may feel threatened by the other and this can create negative attention among both groups affecting any decision-making that will need to take place in order to get a job done. Tension can also be the direct result of employees feeling like outcasts within the organization; an employee who feels their ideas or talents are least favorable to another group are likely to take their frustration out on that particular group further escalating the tension within the workplace. Tension can also lead to discrimination among groups within the company.
Employee turnover and loss of productivity within an organization can be direct results of communication barriers, isolation, and tension caused by diversity. Employees who are unable to communicate effectively are less likely to carry out the duties of their position. Consequently, the company suffers a loss. The same holds true for those individuals who isolate themselves refusing to interact or communicate with other groups within the organization; their lack of interaction and communication prohibits them from working together as needed to achieve the goals aligned by the organization.
Tension among employees is common when they feel they are unable to communicate effectively or feel that their presence within the organization is less valuable than any other employee. Employees who feel unaccomplished in any way within an organization are more likely to leave the organization resulting in repeat turnover for the organization. Addressing the Problems Diversity does not have to negatively impact an organization; however, organizations who fail to recognize the importance of diversity and the potential negative impact that it can have on an organization will lose out in many ways.
There are various ways that human resource managers can effectively equip their organization for diverse populations and embracing the ideas, talents, and contributions that people from ethnic, educational, racial, and cultural backgrounds can bring to the company. There is no way around diversity; therefore, it is imperative that each organizations take the steps necessary to address any issues that may hinder the organization from embracing the positives that can come from a diverse workforce. “In order to remain competitive, companies must take steps to embrace the shift in diversity.
The statistics from the U. S. Census show that diversity in the workplace will become more apparent. Companies cannot avoid the change, no matter their preparations. Those that embrace and get ready for the change will be able to develop a diverse workforce that is cohesive, not haphazard” (Lau & Kleiner, 2012, p. 29). Human resource managers must recognize the factors that may arise from diversity and implement ways to deter the negatives that may arise from them. Doing so will ensure the company’s position in the competitive market.
“Many U. S. companies have already committed themselves to ensuring that they recognize the diversity of their internal labor force and use it to gain a competitive advantage” (Noe et al, 2014, p. 33). One method of achieving this is through training employees on diverse populations and effective communications with people of different backgrounds. Such training can include role play where the employees must interact with one another; this can serve as the first step of two different groups effectively communicating with one another in a workplace setting.
Another method is through the implementation of mentoring programs where employees are monitored and counseled on issues that may affect their performance as it relates to diversity. This program will allow employees to address any concerns they may have about certain groups and managers can brainstorm effective methods of addressing those issues and dealing with any resistance to diversity in an effective manner. Finally, human resource managers can promote knowledge of the many cultural groups in an effort of encouraging acceptance of those differences.
Employees who are more aware of why a certain group interacts the way that they do are able to accept their ways of doing things more so than someone who lacks that knowledge. A combination of these programs will assist an organization a great deal in assisting its employees with effectively dealing with the diverse population of employees. In turn, the organization will experience an organization that is highly productive and able to thrive successfully in the highly competitive workforce.
Conclusions Diversity within organizations is very common in today’s workforce. Many organizations are comprised of individuals of all ethnic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, racial backgrounds, age groups, etc. who are able to bring forth many different ideas and contributions to the overall effectiveness and success of the organization. With a diverse workforce an organization can also experience negative outcomes resulting in employee turnover and loss of productivity for the company.
It is highly recommended that employers and human resource personnel embrace diversity implementing any program necessary in order to properly train employees to effectively address diversity. The company’s ability to make the changes necessary to ensure their employees are operating along the same lines to achieve the overall goals and missions of the organization despite their backgrounds is vital to the company’s future survival in the corporate world.