Today’s workforce is made up of many types of people. Organisations can no longer assume that every employee has similar beliefs or expectations. Organizations exist to serve human needs. An organisation is only effective as the people who operate it. People are considered the most important resource in any organisation. They are the basic foundation of an organization and the basic unit of change within organisation. The human resource approach focuses on the interaction between people and the organization. If communication between employees is poor, organisation will suffer. When coordination and interaction within the organisation is good, both employees and business will benefit.
Workplace diversity refers to the division of the working force into separate categories that have a apparent unity or harmony within a given cultural context and that impact potentially beneficial or harmful outcomes of employments such as job opportunities, workplace treatment prospects of promotion of employees, irrespective of job related qualification and skills. Diversity can be defined differently by different cultures and organisations. A view of business, organisation and human resource literature produced three types of definitions of diversity: Narrow category-based definition (e.g. gender, racial or ethnic differences); broad category-based definition (e.g. a long list of categories including such variables as marital status and education); and conceptual rule definition that is based on variety of perspectives, differences in perceptions and actions. Some of the distinction categories may either have a positive or negative impact on employment and job prospects in different countries. Against the backdrop of broad definitions, on the one hand, and the narrow ones on the other, generating a definition of workplace diversity that will be relevant and applicable in different cultures proves to be a challenge. Workplace diversity focused on the similarities and differences of the people that they bring to an organization. It is generally defined to include dimensions which influence the perspectives and identities that employees have such as profession, education and geographic location. Diversity as a concept is considered to be inclusive of everyone. Diversity plans create the organisational environment and workplace culture by making differences work. It is about teaching and learning from others who are different, it is about respect and dignity for all, and about creating environments at workplace practices that encourage learning from others and capture the advantage of diverse perspectives. Most scholars agree that diversity in the workplace utilizes employee skills to the fullest and contributes to the overall growth and prosperity of the organisation. It is based on the idea identities should not be discarded or ignored, but instead, should be maintained and valued.
Impacts of Workplace Diversity
Workplace diversity provides strengths as well as offer challenges to the organisation. Cultural diversity is meaningful. It helps employees to learn from each other, to understand each other’s differences. Cultural diversity affects the businesses in many ways including the staff recruitment/retention, management styles and decision-making processes, and relationships within organizations. Cultural diversity often improves and develops workplace by helping as learning experiences for employers as well as employees. When an organisation embrace diversity and realize its benefits, it can succeed and compete more effectively. When it dynamically considers and asses the handling of issues related to workplace diversity; develop and implement diversity plans, it can increase its adaptability. Different employees bring individual talents and experiences and suggest suggesting flexible ideas in adapting to ever changing markets. An organisation can globally provide service with a diverse collection of skills and experiences. Organisations that encourage workplace diversity, inspire their employees to perform to their highest ability. Different strategies are then executed; resulting in higher productivity, profit, and return on investment.
On the other hand, diversity issues costs money, time and efficiency. If not managed properly it can create problems. Some of the consequences include unhealthy tensions between employees or with management; loss of productivity and business performance because of increased conflict; organisations inability to attract and retain skilled and talented people of all kinds; complaints and legal actions; difficulty in retaining valuable employees, resulting in lost investments in recruitment and training. Organisations taking full advantage of the benefits of diversity in the workplace also need to understand that it is not without its challenges. Cultural, interpersonal, perceptual and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity policies and programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, low morale of employees and lack of teamwork. There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The insistence on doing the same and in usual way silences new ideas and inhibits progress.
Although cultural diversity presents a challenge, organisations should view it as an opportunity rather than a limitation. When managed properly, cultural diversity can provide competitive advantages for an organisation. An organisation that manages diversity properly can develop cost advantages over other organisations and are in much better position to attract the best personnel. Proper guidance and management of diversity can improve the level of creativity in an organisation.