Managing Workforce Diversity

How administrators manage workforce diversity greatly depends on the needs of the organization. For example, some companies may want a diversified work force in order to make them more competitive in the global market. Diversity helps them to better understand international markets. While other organizations consider diversity as a means to bring about greater harmony in the workplace and an opportunity to prepare employees and volunteers to deal with the nation’s changing demographics. Regardless of the reasons, managing diversity is here to stay. So, it’s no longer an issue whether to implement diversity training, but how diversity training will be implemented.

Managing for Diversity” pertains to a philosophy that is purely motivated by business purpose and market advantage. It is seen as a strategy for improving organizational competitiveness and efficiency. It is distinctly different from policies grounded in social purposes such as equal employment opportunity or affirmative action. It focuses on managing the mix of individuals assigned to a task, involved in the subordinate-supervisor relationship, or employed in the organization. It may address decisions about composition of work groups, choice of supervisor, and training and other support for diverse groups.

Managing Workforce Diversity

Managing Workforce Diversity Through Voluntary Affirmative Action Programs

Through voluntary affirmative action programs, the employer makes an extra effort to hire and promote those in the protected (female or minority) groups. Affirmative action refers to legally mandated written plans and statistical goals for the recruitment, training and promotion of specific under-utilized groups. This quantitative, compliance-driven approach is remedial in that it attempts to set right past wrongs.

There are 2 basic strategies used under affirmative action are as follows:-

  1. Good Faith Effort Strategy: It emphasizes on identifying and eliminating the obstacles to hiring and promoting women and minorities on the assumption that eliminating these obstacles will result in increased utilization of women and minorities.
  2. Quota Strategy: It mandates bottom-line results by instituting hiring and promotion restrictions.

Types of Workforce Diversity

  1. Gender Diversity: Women have been moving steadily into occupations, professions and managerial jobs previously reserved for men. Their access to education and training continues to improve, providing many with the necessary qualifications to aspire to jobs in senior management.
  2. Age Diversity: Mature workers are competent, dependable, strong work ethics, punctual, committed to quality, lower absenteeism, less likely to change jobs, proven ability to take of business. Fresher/ young people are enthusiastic, innovative and have the zeal to prove them. An organization should try to maintain a balance between mature and young employees because it provides the organization a competitive benefit.
  3. Cultural Diversity: The biggest driver for a higher level diversity strategy is the need to tap the creative, cultural and communicative skills of a variety of employees and to use those skills to improve company policies, products and customer experiences.

Reasons for Valuing Workforce Diversity

Companies today are increasingly striving for racial, ethnic and sexual work force balance “Not because of legal imperatives, but as a matter of enlightened economic self interest”.

  • Diversity among the workforce introduces new ideas or ways of thinking that improve the quality of decisions and organizational outputs.
  • To respond to competition, labor shortages, changing demographics and changing workforce values.
  • To show that the organization is strategically driven, well managed and quality focused.
  • To form better work relationships among employees
  • To enhance social responsibility
  • To address legal concerns.
  • It has become necessary to recruit, train and promote diverse new groups because this will adapt best to externally changing sociological realities and to changing market preferences.

Ford has a well-defined diversity policy aimed at creating an inclusive corporate culture. For Ford, diversity is an essential ingredient in the mix to transform the company to a team-based workplace and to help to understand customer needs. Its diversity philosophy is based on the premise that the diversity of its workforce, dealer network and supplier community can help it to access and serve world markets better. Periodic interactions among employees help in surfacing diversity-related issues of the employees, and to promote diversity vision and values. Moreover, it has specific programs aimed at reducing gender imbalance, respecting individual employee needs such as holidays to celebrate.

The Future Trends of Workforce Diversity

  • Society will become more diverse and, therefore, the workforce and the marketplace will become more diverse.
  • There will be more globalization of corporations, which will lead to a more global workforce, marketplace, and economy
  • Diverse work teams will be a reality in organizations
  • Diversity will become more of a business concern than a social concern and be more closely linked to competitive strategies
  • Diverse populations will make more money and spend more money and this increase in wealth will empower diversity
  • Senior managers will become more involved in diversity issues because they will realize that the diverse workforce needs to be better utilized in order to remain competitive
  • More managers will face the challenge of dealing with backlash and diversity training will be integrated more with other types of training.

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