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Managing Diversity in the 21st Century Workplace

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    Abstract Organizations today are looking at various ways to keep a competitive edge over the competition in their industry. Diversity management was created by organizations as a strategic mechanism to help with the growing diversity in today’s labor markets. Over the years, diversity has been used to define individuals based on ethnic origins, gender, age, sexual orientation, and political or religious beliefs in both society and the workplace. With globalization increasing in the 21st century, organizations have to reevaluate their past practices of diversity management.

    Human Resource Managers today are challenged to create effective training programs that incorporate upper level management down to front line employees to be responsible for equality and diversity initiatives. Introduction Organizations today are looking at various ways to keep a competitive edge over the completion in their industry. One way is by expanding into the global market. As a number of organizations expand globally, to maintain their competitive advantage, they introduce more diverse multicultural groups into the workplace.

    Managing this new workforce is a challenge facing many organizations today. Diversity management is a strategy that organizations need to focus on when entering the global market. By managing diversity organizations can both maximize and capitalize on diversity in their workforce. In order to remain competitive, organizations must rely on new diversity management strategies to keep their strategic advantage in 21st century markets. Over the years, we have seen diversity increase in both the workplace and society.

    This increase is due to the Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, and Gay Rights Movements and the globalization of business markets. The purpose behind the rights movements was for individuals to be seen as equals in both society and the workplace. Even though these movements differ from organizations seeking to move into the global market, the message that Human Resource Managers are trying to send into the workplace is the same. It is crucial that managers, leaders, and employees learn to adapt to the changes occurring in the workplace today.

    Teaching employees how to accept diverse team members, and realize the strategic benefits from having a diverse workforce is an important part of diversity management. Over the years Human Resource Managers have been struggling with finding ways to train managers, supervisors, and associates on ways to adapt and accept multicultural differences. It is important that these groups learn that treating both diverse customers and associates with respect is an essential part of the organizations strategic plan.

    By implementing an effective method of diversity management organizations can see an increase in productivity, marketing opportunities, and creativity. They may also see a reduction in lawsuits and a stronger competitive advantage in the global market. Diversity Management Diversity management was created by organizations as a strategic mechanism to help with the growing diversity in today’s labor markets. Over the years, diversity has been used to define individuals based on ethnic origins, gender, age, sexual orientation, and political or religious beliefs in both society and the workplace.

    Therefore; diversity management can be seen as an action used by organizations to create better working environments for a diverse workforce. In order for diversity management programs to be effective in the workplace, Human Resource Managers must identify core components and incorporate them into their planning. A proper diversity management practice keeps past legalistic approaches in mind when focusing on other components of diversity management (Pitts, 2009).

    Pitts (2009), argues that there are “three components” to managing diversity in today’s workplace, recruitment and outreach, valuing differences, and pragmatic policies and programs (p. 329). Over the years, diversity management has been used to keep organizations in compliance with affirmative action and equal employment opportunity laws and regulations (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009). The original approach to diversity management was a “legalistic and normative one” (Pitts, 2009, p. 328). It did very little to acknowledge the value of diversity or promote diversity in the workplace (Pitts, 2009).

    In 2004, Kellough and Naff surveyed several federal government agencies to understand diversity management practices and major focal points. The survey identified seven core components that those agencies fell are critical to managing diversity. Those components focused more on affirmative action and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) programs and regulations, than managing diversity programs (Pitts, 2009). With globalization increasing in the 21st century organizations have to reevaluate their past practices of diversity management.

    Organizations in today’s business and labor markets are faced with new challenges due to globalization. These challenges are due to a more diverse workforce, a multicultural customer base, and competition from international organizations to gain market shares. Human Resource Managers and organizations must learn to manage diversity across international borders to accommodate the business markets of the 21st century. It is crucial that organizations properly manage these new areas of diversity to improve profit margins and keep their competitive advantage.

    It is equally important for them to maintain justice and equality in diversity management to ensure that diverse groups are not excluded or oppressed in the workplace (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009). Creating new diversity initiatives to adapt to the demographic changes rapidly occurring in the 21st century business markets is time sensitive. It will be difficult for organizations to attract and retain a diverse workforce without a strong diversity program in place. For years, organizations primarily placed their focus on fundamental fairness and equal opportunity in the workplace.

    By placing so much focus on the “business necessity side” of diversity, organizations have ignored the “ethical considerations” to diversity (O’Leary and Weathington, 2006, p. 7). Organizational leaders rely on Human Resource Managers to maintain a balance between employee responsibilities and employer obligations through respect and creditability. It is the Human Resource Manager’s responsibility to ensure that the organization and its employees engage in the, “highest standards of ethical and professional behavior in the workplace” (Hussein, 2009, p. 38).

    Employees that feel that they are a valued part of the organization are more likely to have greater creativity and innovative ideas. Human Resource Managers today are challenged to create effective training programs that incorporate upper level management down to front line employees to be responsible for equality and diversity initiatives. The goal behind training programs is to ensure that everyone within the workplace takes an active role in challenging racial and sexual stereotypes, age discrimination and callous disregard to people with disabilities (Mcpherson, 2007).

    Effectively training employees in diversity initiatives will ensure a complete integration of diverse groups into the workplace. Barriers to Managing Workplace Diversity Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and lawsuits Over the years, there has been a variety of issues that have been addressed surrounding diversity in the workplace. In order to protect the rights of diverse individuals in the workplace, the United States created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 1965. The EEOC was art of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII that consisted of five individuals that were not given rights to enforce the law, but to investigate discrimination complaints against organizations. Since it began, the EEOC has become an advocate for diverse individuals in the workplace and have taken the lead in enforcing workplace discrimination laws (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2000). Since the EEOC began, researchers have documented a significant amount of discrimination in the workplace varying from gender, age, and color.

    Other areas of concern are sexual harassment, religious and sexual orientation discrimination. These are major areas that many managers, supervisors, and line-leaders do not have the ability to manage in the workplace. Without the ability to properly manage these areas, many organizations will see a significant decline in revenues and shareholders activism (Bell, Connerley, and Cocchiara, 2009). The following information is based on lawsuits that have been filed based on one or more of the issues mentioned in the above paragraph.

    In December 2009, the EEOC was able to settle a lawsuit against a national grocery chain in the amount of $8. 9 million. The lawsuit stated that the grocery store chain failed to protect the 168 former and current employees from racial and ethnic slurs and derogatory statements and pictures wrote on the bathroom walls and break rooms (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2009). In another lawsuit settled by the EEOC, Abercrombie& Fitch was ordered to pay $50 million in retribution due to discrimination. The law suit stated that the company was guilty of discriminating against women of African, Asian, and Latin descent.

    The women stated that they were looked over for promotions, assignments, and were hired and discharged based on race. This ruling was a wakeup call for Abercrombie & Fitch. In order to keep these events from reoccurring, Abercrombie & Fitch established new company polices and created a diversity management division (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2004). Conscious and unconscious bias in the workplace With the advancements seen in society today with the Civil, Gay, and Women’s Rights Movements, people still have underlying racist preferences (Demuijnck, 2009).

    Conscious bias is usually focused around what people can visually see, such as race or gender and it creates segregated groups within the workplace (Roberson and Stevens, 2006). Konrad (2006), states that, “birds of a feather flock together” is a good way to describe many of today’s workplaces (p. 167). According to Konrad (2006), research has been done regarding this type of statement. When individuals were asked, “if they’d rather spend time with someone whose attitudes and values mirror their own, the greatest percentage stated yes” (Konrad, 2006, p. 167).

    This is due to a psychological need to fit in and avoid exclusion from other ethnic groups. Unfortunately, this type of perception is a “human barrier” to diversity management in the workplace (Konrad, 2006, p. 167). These groups are more likely to show negativity towards other diverse groups which creates hostility between them. As we grow from a toddler into adulthood, everything we hear, see and do overtime becomes part of our psyche. Parents, television, newspapers, friends, and various other sources determine how we recognize and judge others that are different.

    Those images are embedded within the sub-conscious mind and overtime becomes part of our behavior. Researchers over the years have called this the unconscious level of bias and have often referred to this type bias as employment discrimination in the workplace (Demuijunck, 2009). The unconscious level of bias is a level of discrimination that groups individuals based on stereotypes (Chavez and Ge, 2007). Unconscious bias is noticeable when an individual comes in contact with other diverse individuals or when ones intended actions towards another differs from the actual actions (Konrad, 2006).

    These actions may feel normal to the individual but they are, “dysfunctional, potentially self destructive, and a direct result of oppression” (Turnbull, Greenwood, Tworoger, and Golden, 2010, p. 7). An example of unconscious bias: A manger has continuously been hiring individuals of the same ethnic or gender background as themselves or perceived someone to be incompetent based on race. Unfortunately this may be an unconscious decision based on a hidden bias towards a particular diverse group. Guilty by association is a common phrase or thought connected to unconscious bias.

    Studies have been done to show how people connect each other to a word or phrase. Those studies indicated that people connect diverse groups to a word such as white to good, black to bad, and Hispanic to incompetent. The studies also show that African-Americans and Hispanics were associated more with words like guns, gangs, killing, theft and prison compared to whites (Demuijunck, 2009). Before individuals can change their unconscious bias, Chavez and Ge (2007) state that “one must create cognitive dissonance with the difference between ones intended behavior and ones actual behavior through honest observation and reflection” (p. ). This can open one up to new experiences; change ones values and attitude towards individuals of different ethnic groups and can be “a lifelong process” (Chavez and Ge, 2007, p. 6). Harassment and incivility Harassment in the workplace can encompass different categories from gender, religious, racial, sexuality and many others. Sexual harassment is one of the most recognized and studied form of harassment in the workplace today. Therefore; other forms of equally harmful harassment within the workplace goes unnoticed (Morse, 2005).

    Harassment can result from anyone within or associated to an organization using unwanted jokes, comments, and other verbal aggression to degrade another in the workplace (Lim and Cortina, 2005). Unwanted touching, gesturing and acts used in a sexual or discriminatory manor are also forms of harassment (Lim and Cortina, 2005). Incivility is a fairly new area of interest to physiologists and researchers. Incivility can be defined as “low intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of norms for mutual respect” (Caza and Cortina, 2007, p. 43). Unlike harassment, incivility comes from a lack of regards to others that builds overtime into destructive behavior in the workplace (Morse, 2005). According to Morse (2005), examples of incivility can be “a manager reprimanding an employee in the company of others, team members refusing to help in a crisis, and an employee spreading rumors about another” (p. 29). All of the previously stated actions are done repeatedly, without knowledge, and in a retaliatory manor to another employee in the workplace (Morse, 2005).

    If not properly trained to handle harassment and incivility in the workplace, managers and supervisors will tend to ignore certain situations or take too long resolving complaints presented to them. If left unmanaged harassment and incivility issues can bring undue stress to the workplace; and therefore, creating a hostile work environment. Managers and line leaders will notice a loss of employee motivation, production, performance, creativity and an increase in employee turnover in the workplace, due to hostile working environments (Konrad, 2006).

    Generation gaps Over the years, Human Resource Managers have looked for ways to manage and work with employees from different generations. According to research, each generation holds a different set of values when it comes to work, life, and family. Understanding and recognizing those values is an important part in diversity management. Identifying these groups within the workplace is the first step in reducing conflicts associated with generational differences in the workplace (Houlihan, 2007).

    The following are the identifying characteristics of the generations: • Veterans are individuals were born before 1946 • Baby boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1964 • Generation X are individuals born between 1965 and 1977 • Generation Y or millennial generation are individuals born between 1978 and 1987 • Generation Z are individuals born between 1988 and 2001 Today’s workforce consist primarily of Generation X, Y, and Z because the Veterans have retired and the Baby Boomers have either retired or are on their way to retiring.

    As these groups slowly disappear from the workplace, they take away a wealth of knowledge with them. Past and current studies have shown that conflicts between these groups arise due to the differences in values (Ahlrichs, 2007). Each of these groups brings a variety of strengths into the workplace and improving cross communication between the groups is a valuable asset to any organization. There is no given way to change how a person thinks or feels, but by recognizing the values of each generation, one can change the way employees are managed and create better ommunication between the generations (Houlihan, 2007). Cultural changes With the introduction of cultural diversity in the workplace today, Human Resource Manager’s are facing new obstacles in diversity management. Globalization is rapidly increasing into western nations and it is important that organizations understand that “gender and cultural issues cross all regions” (Bell, Connerley, and Cocchiara, 2009, p. 598). With this shift into western nations, religious and cultural beliefs will become an important issue for Human Resource Managers.

    It is important that when organizations transfer production into foreign economies or seek a more cultural diverse customer base that Human Resource Managers learn the different laws, polices, and cultures of those regions (Friedman, 2007). Cultural differences can impact how individuals deal with the day to day business issues in and outside the workplace. When it comes to dealing with cultural changes in the workplace, organizations must modify themselves to meet the needs of the workforce (Chavez and Weisinger, 2008).

    When integrating these changes into the workplace, it is important that special attention is placed on individual cultural backgrounds (Bachmann, 2006). Bachmann (2006) states “individuals from different cultural backgrounds have a deep level of values and assumptions concerning how society functions” (p. 724). The Business Case for Diversity Diversity management programs are a vital part for organizations in the public, private, and government sectors to “maximize the economic bottom line or competitive advantage” (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009), and creating a good social structure within the workplace (p. 2). For years, organizations and researchers have studied workplace diversity and various ways to properly manage a diverse workforce. In order to keep a competitive advantage over their competitors, organizations have expanded into the global markets; therefore increasing the demand for a diverse workforce (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009). With the increase of globalization, the rapidly changing workforce, and a more diverse customer base, a greater demand has been placed on Human Resource Managers to create diversity management programs (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009).

    Even with more organizations seeking to expand their business globally, local workplace diversity is rising as well. In the United States alone, the increase in minorities entering into the workforce are at record highs (Pitts and Jarry, 2009). Figure 1 shows the increase of diversity in both local and global workplaces. [pic] Figure 1: Evolutionary developments if firms and increasing workforce diversity. The figure shows the increase of diversity in the workplace on a global scale. Over the years researchers have been giving mixed reviews regarding the business case.

    Even with these mixed reviews organizations are still using it as a model for creating a diversity management program. A business case for diversity is created when there is an increase for workplace diversity and diversity training. The purpose of the business case is to help organizations recognize the talents and abilities of each employee and how diversity affects performance. It also places focus on creating a work environment where all employees fell valued and accepted in the organization (Bell, Connerley, and Cocchiara, 2009).

    It is crucial that organizations utilize these aspects to achieve a higher competitive advantage over their competitors in the “complex and dynamic business environment” (O’Leary and Weathington, 2006, p. 5). By properly managing diversity in the workplace, O’Leary and Weathington (2006) state it, “can lead to cost savings, a talented workforce, and lead to future prosperity” (p. 5). Properly managing diversity can also reduce the risk of lawsuits from the EEOC by enhancing compliance and corporate goodwill (Orenstein, 2005).

    When recruiting, organizations need to take into account the changes occurring in today’s society and look for employees that can adapt to those changes. These individuals will be able to communicate effectively with both customer and community essentials (Selko, 2008). By tapping into today’s diverse workforce and properly managing it, organizations can attract and retain talented employees and reap the rewards of each individual. Some researchers call these rewards diversity dividends based on effectively managing a diverse workforce.

    By properly managing diversity in the workplace a company can also increase employee morale, job satisfaction, and increase the employee’s commitment to organizational goals (Watson, Spoonley, and Fitzgerald, 2009). Watson et al. (2009), cite a list of eight diversity dividends given by Lau (2001): enhanced creativity and innovation, advanced communication, reduced workplace conflict, lower absenteeism and turnover, expanded global opportunities, superior teamwork skills, improved business-to-business relations, and quality customer service (p. 5). Organizations could lose a large customer base by not showing adequate representation to the local communities. By having a diverse workforce and properly managing it, organizations can show customers and communities that they value and respect diversity (O’Leary and Weathington, 2006). An example of effectively managing diversity comes from the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). Kline (2010) states that, “RBC has become a model for combining diversity and inclusion efforts both inside and outside the workplace” (p. 11).

    RBC has also become the industry leader in strategic planning by incorporating their diversity management strategies into their global strategy. By combining these strategies RBC has increased their competitive advantage and market share position (Kline, 2010). When Chief Executive Gord Nixon joined RBC in 2001, he created a diversity council which has been the building block for the banks’ diverse culture over the years. In the interview Nixon told Kline (2010), “that in order for a company to reach a diverse customer base it must have a workforce to mirror their cultures” (p. 1). RBC is a prime example of how successful a company can become when properly managing a diverse workforce. Recruitment and Selection With the shifting of operations into international markets, organizations are finding it harder to stay competitive. Recruiting strategies have become an important part of diversity management and competitive advantage strategies. It is imperative that organizations seek ways to enhance their recruiting methods to hire and retain a diverse workforce.

    Creating or having a diverse workforce already in place has become an important strategy or organizations to reach out to a new diverse or multicultural customer groups. Organizations competing in today’s diverse markets need to look beyond finding someone with the right qualifications for the position and place a greater focus on who fits the demographics. If an organization is looking on relocating or opening a new venture in an all gay or ethnic community, recruiting efforts should be focused on those groups. The reasoning behind this strategy is that these individuals identify more with individuals from the same background (Konrad, 2006).

    Recruiting individuals from underrepresented groups such as women and minorities in the workforce, is a key element to diversity management and strategic planning. To recruit qualified individuals in these groups, organizations need venture away from past practices and seek new ones (Pitts, Hicklin, Hawes, and Melton, 2010). By using services that attract an infinite amount of job seekers, organizations can increase the amount of diverse applicants vying for the position. Online sites such as CareerBuilder, Monster and recruiting sites are prime examples for reaching an infinite amount of candidates (Shaheen, 2010).

    Some diverse groups are more likely to network through community and organizational groups for employment opportunities rather than online or employment service offices. Therefore it may be feasible for organizations to effectively communicate with community activists and managers for potential candidates. Organizations may also sponsor community events and outreach programs at public and private academic facilities and public access areas to aid in their recruiting efforts (Shaheen, 2010). It is critical that qualified individuals are not over looked in the interviewing or application screening process.

    Many qualified job applicants are overlooked, because those involved in the process are not properly trained to identify and understand cultural differences (Lieber, 2008). Training should be focused on identifying and creating awareness of one’s internal biases before assessing diverse candidates. This will insure that all areas in the recruitment process are maintained and held to ethical standards (Shaheen, 2010). Before putting any recruitment program in place, Human Resource Managers should answer several questions to understand the objectives for recruitment.

    Understanding the business reason for recruiting the diverse workforce is essential for hiring the right candidate. It may be that the organization wants to sell to a diverse group of customers or seek the creativity and innovation that comes from a diverse workforce. The questions should be business related and should not incorporate morality, ethics, or corporate social responsibility (Shaheen, 2010). The following questions are examples given by Shaheen (2010), for creating a successful program (p. 35). • Why does your organization seek a diverse workforce? • What does it mean for you and your organization? • What are the business reasons?

    It could take years of failed attempts to create a successful recruitment program, but once created, the benefits can be a never ending resource of intellectual wealth and improved marketing power (Shaheen, 2010). When creating a recruiting program it is vital that Human Resource Managers insure that all groups are equally represented in the process. Reverse discrimination occurs when an individual feels misrepresented. By hiring a larger percentage employees from minority groups may give individuals the impression that the organization is only hiring to accommodate legal requirements (O’Leary and Weathington, 2006).

    Practicing Inclusion in the Workplace By incorporating inclusion practices into the workplace, Human Resource Managers can raise the ethical values of the workplace. Inclusion is a means to integrate employees from different backgrounds into the workplace. It also aids in creating a sense of awareness and sensitivity to the differences between diverse individuals. Globalization is increasing the need for inclusion efforts to overcome cross cultural differences in today’s workplace (Johnson, 2009). Over time an individual may be placed in a variety of team or group settings.

    Each individual within that team or group has separate cultural values that can create tension in the group if not properly managed. Group tensions can be a misunderstanding of values, behavior, and attitudes of the other members. For diverse teams to be effective “mutual respect, equal power, and differences need to be recognized” (Turnbull, Greenwood, Tworoger, and Golden, 2010 p. 8). Communication between each individual in the group or team is important when creating an inclusive environment (Turnbull, Greenwood, Tworoger, and Golden, 2010). The following are key competencies given by Turnbull et al. 2010) to resolve conflicts over group differences (p. 8). • Take a conscious effort to learn about different styles of conflict resolution • Insight into and monitor own preferred conflict management style and its impact on others • Is pro-active in managing conflict over differences when it arises rather than avoiding it • Actively creates the space for people to use different forms of conflict resolution For organizations to avoid past indiscretions from improper diversity management, inclusion efforts in the workplace need to be the main priority.

    By embedding inclusion efforts into the organizations diversity polices, business practices, and culture, it can achieve a “successful and sustainable model for global diversity” (Johnson, 2010, p. 49). By creating an atmosphere where individuals are valued and respected not just for their individuality but cultural differences as well, organizations can achieve a strong competitive advantage in the global market. Developing a Diversity Steering Committee is a strategy used to aid the process of embedding inclusion into the workplace.

    The Diversity Steering Committee should incorporate diverse individuals from all segments of the organization to promote diversity management. The purpose of the committee is to focus on the goals and objectives in creating an environment that values the contributions that each individual brings to the workplace (Fuentes and Harris, 2010). Johnson (2010) gives four key competencies that are used to embed inclusion into business practices and culture (p. 9). 1. Individuals are active in creating ways to promote diversity awareness 2.

    Individuals are active in teaching issues of diversity and inclusion 3. Individuals are constantly challenging prejudice and injustice when coming in contact with indiscretions in the workplace 4. Individuals promotes fair treatment and accommodating differences for diverse groups Deciphering Diversity and Inclusion Diversity and inclusion are separate strategies that can be combined to produce key concepts for managing both today and tomorrow’s workforce. Before one can manage diversity and inclusion in the workplace, one must be able to differentiate between the two.

    For decades researchers have defined diversity in a variety of ways and with the introduction of globalization it is being reexamined. Globalization is changing the face of today’s workforce. Many political, legal, corporate and educational institutions are in a rush to redefine diversity and to create new ways to effectively integrate it into today’s workplace (Shen, Chanda, D’Netto, and Monga, 2009). Diversity includes the visible and less visible differences between people.

    Race, gender, sex, age, disability, education, sexual orientation, personal values and religion are just a few examples (Allen, Dawson, Wheatley, & White, 2008). With more organizations moving into the global markets, Johnson (2009), states that the term, “diversity needs to be redefined and should incorporate the variety of differences found in today’s global workforce” (p. 49). Johnson (2009), also states that, “global diversity should encompass an understanding of the differences between countries and the internal diversity of each country” (p. 9).

    In 2007, William Choy created a construct domain of diversity model that separates employee differences into three separate categories; demographic, organizational, and socio-cognitive diversity. Figure 2 is a diagram showing the construct of Choy’s model and the breakdown of the three categories. Organizations today are learning that by dividing their workforce into teams and workgroups they can maintain a strategic and competitive advantage in the global market. With the introduction of this concept comes the understanding of inclusion.

    Inclusion can be defined in many different ways, “the extent to which individuals can access information and resources, are involved in workgroups and have the ability to influence decision-making processes” (Roberson, 2006), and “encompasses involvement, engagement, and the integration of diversity into the organizational process” (Turnbull, Greenwood, Tworoger, and Golden, 2010 p. 9). Roberson (2006) gives another definition of inclusion given by L. H Pelled in 1999; “inclusion is defined as the degree to which an employee is accepted and treated as an insider by others in a work system” (p. 215). Inclusion gives an individual the feeling f acceptance and value in the workplace. [pic] Figure 2: Construct domain of diversity (Choy, 2007, p. 12). This figure shows the conceptual breakdown of employee diversity in the workplace. Diversity Training and Education Diversity training is a crucial part of effectively managing diversity in today’s workplace. Human Resource Managers are responsible for creating diversity awareness training programs to build a stronger integrated working environment. Diversity training helps in enhancing employees understanding of the value of diversity and assists in building unity between diverse groups to improve individual and business performance.

    The goals of diversity training are to create a safer work environment, teach the importance of equality and diversity, and make individuals aware of sensitive issues (McPherson, 2007). With the increase of issues surrounding diversity in today’s workplace, educational institutions have incorporated educating students in the value of diversity. Learning to effectively interact with individuals from different backgrounds is vital in today’s society. Diversity is increasing not only in the workplace but in classrooms and communities as well.

    In past and present practices, organizations top priority for diversity management has been legalistic and financial justification. Educational institutions feel that this is a misrepresentation of diversity management and gave business students “permission to abstain from any sense of moral responsibility for supporting diversity” (Bell, Connerley, and Cocchiara, 2009, p. 601). Diversity education will assist in creating better managers by introducing ethical values and personal responsibilities to students (Bell, Connerley, and Cocchiara, 2009). Education and training programs should meet the specific needs of the company or organization.

    A training program should be long term and incorporate personal, social, and structural motivators in classroom settings. Interaction between individuals from diverse groups is important to a successful program. Individuals are able to learn from each other through group outings, games, and group meetings. It is important that employees understand that the interaction is voluntary and they are able to choose what they want to participate in (Shen, Chanda, D’Netto, and Monga, 2009). By using an interaction strategy employees are more likely to open up about themselves in conversation to others.

    Opening communication between diverse groups will help break down negativity regarding cultural differences. Many diversity training programs fail because they are not carefully planned. With globalization increasing it is important that organizations prepare for diversity changes to ensure that existing and future employees are trained on their diversity initiatives. Managers that have been properly trained in diversity can open the workplace up to greater creativity, new ideas, and limitless possibilities. It is crucial that organizations commit to diversity training and education now or fall behind the competition (Lieber, 2008).

    Retaining a Diverse Workforce In order to retain a diverse workforce, organizations must ensure that the workplace is a “positive and inclusive environment or risk losing valuable employees” (Lieber, 2008, p. 95). If employees do not feel valued or accepted in the workplace, they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere. Other ways that are effective in retaining a diverse workforce are pay incentives, career progression programs, and flexible work schedules (Konrad, 2006). Flexible work schedules are ways an organization can enhance an employee’s work-life balance.

    Organizations have adopted the flexible work schedule to help in reducing absenteeism, increase job satisfaction, and reduce conflicts over work schedule. Some organizations incorporate short work weeks, opportunities to choose own working hours within reason, and chances to work from home into their flextime. Flexible scheduling has received strong support from researchers (Konrad, 206). Performance appraisals should be objective, relevant to the job, fair, and incorporate career planning initiatives (Shen, Chanda, D’Netto, and Monga, 2009). Organizations need to ensure that career planning is available to all employees.

    Employees should be able to create their own career progression plan in order to “understand the skills and accomplishments needed to achieve their goals” (Konrad, 2006, p. 179). Managers that review these plans must be subjective and not overlook an individual because of personal bias. Pay equality is another effective part of diversity management in retaining diverse workers. Pay should be based on the job classifications and skill sets. By incorporating an employee’s “ability, knowledge, and skill set along with the common principals of pay equality” (Shen, Chanda, D’Netto, and Monga, 2009 p. 44), organizations can ensure fair pay regulations are meet.

    Conclusion Workplace diversity continues to be a major challenge for human resources in today’s growing organizations. With globalization and immigration increasing the amount of diverse groups entering into the workforce, organizations are struggling to keep a competitive advantage in today’s global markets. Creating an effective diversity management program is a key competitive strategy in maintaining that competitive advantage. Through proper training and recruitment efforts, human resource managers are hoping to maintain stability within the workplace.

    There is still a lot of research to be done one ways to effectively manage diversity in the workplace. Inclusion efforts should be a primary focus of study. I feel that in order to properly manage a diverse workforce, embedding inclusion into organizational structure and changing the overall culture of the organization will create a better working environment. Creating effective training programs will take time and require continuous adjustments and contributions from all levels of the organization to meet the needs of the rapidly changing workplace.

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