Diversity is identification and valuing of difference of people. This difference in people is in the form of Culture, National origin, Region, Gender, Age, Marital Status, Politics, Religion, Disability, Socio-economic differences and family structures. Work place diversity is the concept that talks about providing equal opportunities in work place. It deals about creating a working culture and practices that give recognition, respect, value and harness difference for the advantage of the organization and the individual.
Diversity is not a new social concept in U.S. The nation’s increasing heterogeneity, diversity is encountering varying degrees of resistance among different sectors of U.S. country. One has to realize the fact that diversity is not going to disappear and always the workplace is the most important stadium for social change. An equal employment opportunity is one of the theme that was considered to decrease the workplace diversity by the practitioners. The current paper illustrates how these two are related and or differentiated in reality.
Scope of the study:
The current study identifies ways of managing diversity in promoting equal opportunities at work places in U.S context.
What is Equal Opportunity?
Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) is an act that gives guaranty to all the individuals’ about equal access to employment, development based on merit, ability, and potential regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, or disability. It means it is the right of all the individuals to apply for the job opportunities regardless to any non-merit related factors. EEO can be defined as “giving people a fair chance to succeed without discrimination based on unrelated job factors such as age, race, sex, or nationality” (Stone 1998: 824).
Diversity is the approach to provide equal opportunities in work place. It integrates the principle of that all workers should receive equal rights by ignoring the differences between the people in terms of their gender and race. By valuing these differences and qualities, managers may create an environment where everyone finds value for their individual talents, and where individuals’ skills and competencies are fully utilized.
Managing diversity follows equal opportunities in an effective manner. Equal opportunities are concerned with keeping within the law and ensuring that all personnel decisions concerning pay, recruitment and promotion are based only on the individual’s ability to do their job well. This is achieved through a systematic policy approach to all aspects of personnel activities.
Adoption of diversity policy brings to an organization a wide range of experience, ideas and creativity. At the same time it enables the individual employee to work to utilize their full potential. But the inability to manage diversity in a proper way in the workplace can be extremely harmful and can costs the organization by creating negative image, high employee turn over rate, loss of advertising revenue discrimination suits, Litigation time and money.
Managing Diversity is the program which recognizes the association between the effective people management and increased organizational efficiency and productivity. It is nothing but about increasing the diversity at all levels of the sections as well as making the most of the talent inside the organization.
Why to manage diversity?
In order to maximize its productivity, organization must create an environment which attracts and maintains highly skilled people who can commit to contribute their maximum potential towards the organization goals. The awareness of diversity allows better understanding of global customers’ needs, and provides access to greater labor pools (Agocs & Bur, 2000)
The potential benefits of Managing Diversity include increased employee and client satisfaction, increased productivity, and more inclusive management. The success of this program pivots on understanding, commitment and participation. The firm aims to prevent not only clear acts of favoritism, but also requires practice. This policy is intended to support the development of good employment practices in respect of all employees and to promote equality and opportunity for all employees and job applicants on the basis of merit and the ability to do the preferred job. The best practices of equal opportunity practices include: Recruitment & Selection, Pay, Terms and conditions, Learning & Development, Staff Development, Working environment, HR Policies and Procedures.
Diversity management provides the active working environment which values differences as assets, fully valves the potential of all individuals and invests the employees to achieve the goals of organization. Organizations can manage diversity by educating people about differences and by defining the desired organizational culture and developing and implementing the plans to reach that desired position. Managing diversity solves the problems of: managing differences, managing disagreements, managing relationships, managing conflicts, managing ignorance
How to manage diversity?
Diversity can be managed by providing Equal Employment Opportunity, affirmative action and by categorizing and eliminating the biasing barriers in the recruitment, retention and upward mobility of employees, especially minorities, women, persons with disabilities and Developing positive employment strategies to achieve adequate representation of groups. Equal employment opportunity and Affirmative action are important stages in the evolution of diversity management (Vines 1999). Managing diversity in work place means staff and managers recognize all others regardless of background, religious belief, gender, age or disability. The establishment an equal opportunities policy is not just enough to mange diversity but it requires a system to check the implementation of that policy.
Steps to managing diversity:
- – Developing a policy of equality in opportunities within the business.
- – Implementing a system to check the implementation of equal opportunities policy regularly.
The Diversity management is different from the activities like equal opportunity and affirmative action approaches in many ways. The principle of diversity management is to improve the organizational competitiveness and efficiency for business purpose and market advantage. So making practical implementations to overrule such difference between employee groups is important in organizational policies. Such types of diversity management practices encourage people to value their individual differences and to work more productively utilizing the differences of each other collaboratively. Diversity management is not a policy practice exclusively targeting to fulfill the interests of excluded or under-represented minorities, but it should be an inclusive policy to protect the interests of all employees eg, like including white males.
Barrier to manage diversity in U.S:
There are structural, cultural, and semantic barriers in managing the diversity. Civil service requirements and the agency’s culture hindered diversity efforts. The effects of social networks, limited accountability in hiring, and inadequate communication of the vision for diversity also delayed the diversity initiative.
In organization, the success of diversity depends on the support of top management. Rose Mary Wentling researched on the Factors that assist and barriers that hinder the success of diversity initiatives in multinational corporations. In this research, he found that the integrating strategic plan of diversity initiatives with corporate strategic plan, culture to value the diversity, top management support are the factors that help the diversity initiatives and people not understanding the value of diversity, competing agendas, size and complexity of the corporation and economic changes were the barriers in hindering the success of diversity initiatives in multinational corporations.
Managing diversity by ensuring fairness and equality is becoming essential in today’s changing and complex society. Some successful organizations understand these changes and enjoying the benefits of promoting diversity.
Managing diversity remains a significant organizational challenge; managers must learn the managerial skills needed in a multicultural work environment. Supervisors and managers must be prepared to train themselves and others within their organizations to value multicultural differences in both associates and customers so that everyone is treated with dignity.
Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace:
The diversity management supposed to be positive approach in the organizations. Diverse workforces, by improving communication, teamwork, and employee utilization, lead to higher productivity, with innovative and creative solutions arising due to a broader range of perspectives and experiences being incorporated and considered (Wolf 1998; Smith 1998). Diversity management has benefits to both associates and employers. Respecting individual differences can increase productivity and reduces the cases and increase the marketing opportunities, recruitment, creativity, and business image (Esty, et al., 1995). Studies illustrate that organization, which holds diversity management has improved employee retention (Teicher & Spearitt 1996).
A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Diverse work teams bring high value to organizations. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful.
The purpose of the managing diversity in equal opportunity policy is to create a workplace which provides for equal opportunities for all staff and potential staff and where their self-respect is protected and respected at all times. This will require the development of practices and procedures which includes the following aspects of employment: Recruitment and selection, Training and work experience, Promotion and re-grading, Conditions of employment, Role of managers, Dignity at work and
positive action. Many individuals involved in the work of valuing and managing diversity says that their plans go further than fulfillment with the equal employment opportunity and affirmative act to address bottom line business issue (Thomas,1990; Elshut & Little,1990;Sabur,1991;walker,1991).
Recruitment & Selection: Selection of candidate should be on merit basis which means those who have skills only suitable to job according to predetermined job-related selection. This targets the group of potential applicants and to ensure that all candidates have equality of access. Equality of opportunity will also include in accommodating the individuals to facilitate their participation in the recruitment and selection process.
Training and Work Experience: All employees should open for the equal opportunities to develop their careers. Providing opportunity to obtain the range of training, skills and experience necessary for their career development. All employees of organization should encourage and facilitated to maximize their experience in the organization’s diverse activities. The training and work experience will be provided in a manner to facilitate the equality of access for all staff and employees.
Promotion or Re-grading: All categories of staff should be encouraged to prepare, plan and consider themselves for promotion. All eligible employees will be made conscious about promotional opportunities and encouraged to participate.
Conditions of Employment: All employees should have the same terms of employment; the same working conditions; and the same treatment, including treatment in relation to overtime, shift work, corrective measures, etc.
Role of Managers: All managers should be trained and prepared to carry out the equal opportunities and diversity aspects of their people management role. All staff should have an important role to participate in ensuring equality of opportunity throughout the organization. Managers have particular responsibility to create respect for difference and to accommodate diversity.
Dignity at Work: All employees shall be treated with dignity and respect and provided with a safe working environment which is free from discrimination and harassment. The significance of the dignity and respect of all staff members at work should be encourage throughout the work place.
Positive Action: The organization should take all practical procedures to make possible the integration the following categories into employment: Gender, Persons over the age of 50 years, and Persons with a disability.
Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace
Diversity management in work place is always a challenge for human resource department. Managing diversity is not only simply acknowledging differences in people. It involves recognizing the value of differences, fighting favoritism, and promoting completeness. Managers ready to face the challenges with losses in personnel and work efficiency due to injustice and favoritism and complaints and legal actions against the organization (Devoe, 1999).
In the organization Negative attitudes and behaviors are the barriers to diversity because they can damage working relationships and damage self-confidence and work efficiency (Esty, et al., 1995). Negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace include prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, which should never be used by management for hiring, retention, and termination practices which could lead to costly legal actions.
1. Why do people against racism biased quota?
The word ‘race’ differentiates the people on the basis of physical and cultural resemblance. Racism involves the concept of differences between people, in particular those upon which the concept of race is based, determine cultural or individual achievement, and it involve the idea that one’s self-identified race or national group or others’ race or national group is superior.Quotas distribute rewards not on the merit and skill but it is on the criteria of race.
The people are fighting against racism because it involves the individual’s intellectual ideas and moral characters are formed by individual physiology, and parentage rather than by their pleased choices and actions and it results inferiority complex in people. Since he has no self-respect or character that cant be built from other ways, person tries to gain it through the unmeaning ways like race. Racism is intended to end favoritism and unfair treatment of employees based on caste, creed or color, but in practice it result in creating a pavement to diversity. The non talented people may get through the opportunities where there is need for talent. Due to the racism biased quota the success is marked as result of approving action rather than hard work and skill. It avoids the equity for all. The talented people are being eliminated in the admissions and employment and also may not get appraisals comparatively within the organization where the system is promoting the people on racial factors. A poor white student who can achieve best by discipline and hard work can be skipped by rich minority student who can’t show great effort at all (Joe Messerli, BalancedPolitics.Org)
Also when people who don’t get proper respect from other race will be led into ultimately putting down to unnecessary suffering from ignorance.
Racism devaluates the identity of the people. It destroys the unity in community and creating the divisions in society. In society, racism creates the different opinions on the social status of people that some are forward or greater because they belong to a particular contest, cultural or national group, and some are backward. It is like raising the inferiority of one race to another race. Racism creating racially segregated residence halls, racially segregated freshman orientation programs, racially segregated graduation ceremonies and curricular requirements in race theory and gender studies. (David Sacks, et al). Racism conflicts the democratic principle of equality.
According to employment law, Quotas can be termed as special categories that a court ordered or approved hiring and/or promoting of specified numbers or ratios of minorities or women in positions from which a court has found they have been excluded as a result of unlawful discrimination.
Many people in U.S oppose quotas in employment and admissions, assuming quota based placements eliminates the qualified people to catch up the right t opportunities.
People believe that qualified people will miss chances of employment or education due to the quotas. In U.S, people oppose quotas because of the assumption that quotas and preferences are misguiding to replace the qualified white males with unqualified national groups and women.
Many young people who are talented loose chance of development in education and employment because of quota system.. The well qualified and confident young people are excluded from the employment opportunities though they are having talent and merit because of straightforward racism, prejudice and discrimination related to the color of their skin, their national or religious background (Zegers de Beijl 2000).
Employment quotas are a kind of affirmative actions in the extreme and are used as an analytical device to derive a priori notions of the effects of government attempts to reduce employment discrimination.
Employment quotas, arguably based on law, are inefficient, dangerous and unfair; they hinder the functions of government and business. When rigorously enforced, employment quotas create economic shortages of workers designated by quotas that otherwise would not exist. Such quotas generate wage premiums for those the quota forces to be in short supply, and, concurrently, they create rationing problems. Quotas have not decisively improved overall black employment. “Despite all the controversies surrounding affirmative action,” says Queens College Professor Andrew Hacker.
Quotas are not the law of the land in U.S now. In U.S, in the late 1960s and 1970s some educational institutions were worked with quotas reserved for members of disadvantaged groups, but this practice was ended as a consequence of a major decision rendered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978.
But people perceive them under the name of “protected classes” (women, minorities and, most recently, the disabled). People oppose quotas saying that quotas were used by government to ascertain the political power and have not done much to the nation.
Following are the reasons for the aversion for quotas:
Effect on morale: Poor hiring based on quotas shows up not merely in poor decisions but also in poor morale. Quotas, like income tax (and unlike farm supports), have an immediate and dramatic impact on incentives and hence forth on the performance levels of employees. This leads to people think that there really is no such thing as job performance or productivity objectively defined, that it’s really just a matter of one’s cultural definition or cultural orientation that matters to get promoted.
Organizational mismatch (Wrong skills in wrong places): When a lady police officer is placed in a job which needs heavy lifting, the performance cannot be expected as much with a male police officer. Hence quotas sometimes lead to lowered standards.
Misallocation of resources: Money spent on such affirmative action cannot be spent on research and development and plant modernization. When quotas cannot yield anticipated productivity the implementation and administrative costs all result in losses.
2. why do think affirmative action is necessary?
Affrimative action cites the polices meant to promote access to education or employment aiming at a traditionally on socio-politically non-dominant group typically minorities or women. It acts as a instrument to manage diversity. Motivation for affirmative action policies is to remedy the effects of past discrimination and to encourage public institutions such as universities, hospitals and police forces to be more representative of the population.
Affirmative action takes a practical approach to achieve the equity in the work place. Affirmative action is an attempt to redistribute economic power by forcing employers to give preference to women. Affirmative action programs are removes the prejudiced employment barriers and take action to promote equal opportunity for women in the workplace. In the U.S, Affirmative action is needed to increase the representation of certain designated groups allegedly seeking to correct discrimination or bias in education and employment. Usually it is achieved through the use of discrimination and preferential treatment for those groups.
The truth of affirmative action:
Traditionally, women are the victims of discrimination. During the 19th century, they were excluded from universities and unions, excluded from professions such as medicine, and they lost chance to earn. During the 20th century, the legal barriers confronting women cut down, one by one. But there is rests of legal inequality still exist in few cases like women and men repeatedly receive different sentences for the same offense. The war for affirmative action makes no sense if the goal is simply equal treatment before the law. Affirmative action is based on the concept of socio-economic equality.
The two most commonly cited reasons for the continued need of affirmative action are the need to work against the effects of present racial discrimination and to provide compensations for the lasting effects of past discrimination.
U.S democracy is based on ideas that people are equal, that means men and women supposed to enjoy the freedom and equality of opportunity; that individuals should act as responsible to each other. These concepts involves that various groups in our society should integrate in educational, work and in other settings.
Although there is substantial effort and progress, Minorities are strangely poor, and most of minority communities and institutions are not well integrated. Schools in minority communities are typically have the less infra structure than the schools in other communities. Regularly the minority workers experiencing problems like less access to opportunities for promotion, training or higher pay, or verbal or physical harassment, once they have a job, (Wrench et al. 1999). In U.S several areas of education need affirmative action which can help to bring diversity in the U.S. colleges and universities that have highly selective admissions.
Affirmative action programs should: a) verify that inequities exist, b) set goals to eliminate the inequities, c) set timetables to meet the goals, d) disband the program after the goals are met.
There is strongly need of affirmative action because of the following reasons:
Affirmative Action acts as a bridge between changing the laws and changing the culture. The majority of families are depending on the income of women. Affirmative Action opens up education, employment, and business, families and communities have greater economic security. Affirmative action is necessary to develop a strong workforce of nation like women and people from different color, backgrounds and economic classes. Such unrecognized potential will get the opportunity to enter the employment opportunities to work for the nation’s economy. In truth, affirmative action is a tool to encourage diversity and correct the inequities in the workplace, higher education, and government contracting.
Affirmative action is necessary because there are very few women in the high level positions though the women can perform equally well and are able to meet the same high standards in corporate and economic decisions. So, without such encouraging actions, women would not reach top positions to make a stand in the liberty. Affirmative action is necessary to women applicants to receive fair treatment as candidates for employment in all fields.
Women and people of different color should have the chance to apply for the jobs in the trades, construction, and also they should have access to professional jobs in engineering, medicine and the law as well as policy-making positions in executive suites and on boards of directors. There is strong need of affirmative action until women and people of color get equal pay and education.
Affirmative action attempts redress, it is a practical expression. It gives the opportunity for excluded groups in educational, employment and other settings where talent and hard work can pay off. It opens familiar networks of power and influence also it increases opportunities and the possibility that advantaged people will recognize the capacities of “the other” rather than rather than “harming the beneficiaries” as some charge.
Affirmative action programs effective than equal opportunity policies for combating or mitigating the negative effects of aversive racism because affirmative action programs are practical, including policies and procedures for ensuring a diverse applicant group. Affirmative action does not imply quotas for hiring and promotion, which are in fact illegal. Nor does it necessarily mean preferential hiring. The goal is to bring together, in a self-conscious and active way that can counteract the effects of subtle bias in the form of preferential support in the form of instructing, a diverse group of fully qualified candidates for hiring or promotion. Affirmative action provides the opportunity for men into nursing and women brought into technology areas. It is always advantageous to bring people to areas of work that they may not have considered otherwise. Some stereotypes may never be broken without affirmative action. In U.S for decades blacks were considered as less capable than whites. The affirmative action gave opportunity to black to show their capabilities. These types of stereotypes have started to change with the help of affirmative action.
Eg: 1990 black median family income, adjusted for inflation, crept snail-like from $21,151 to $21,423. But the proportion of black families earning above $50,000 jumped sharply, from about 10% to nearly 15%.
Also Women’s share of professional degrees grew from 2.7% in 1960 to 36% in 1990
The above growth is the result of affirmative activities taken by the U.S government during the 19th century.
3. will there be aver equal opportunity in the work place?
Though diversity cannot be eliminated from the workplace, EEO can be practiced in the workplace. Diversity
The government or an organization can directly impact the circumstances through which an individual can increase from one growth level to another.
Bringing out the equal opportunities not a one time achievement but is a continuous practice. As long as people move in to and out from the organization, the dimensions of diversity changes. But a standard practice of diversity management will ensure the Equal employment opportunities limiting down the discriminations in organizations. Hence the organizations try to manage the diversity to a level where they can accommodate their practices and budgets to optimize the performance levels of people by eliminating the discriminations between them.
Many organizations try to implement EEO practices and policies like implementation of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Equal Pay Act; and all other statutes, Executive Orders and regulations relating to workplace diversity, EEO, anti-discrimination and civil rights. EEO is one of the practices to implement diversity management at workplace. Diversity management involves beyond an accommodation of individual difference, to a circumstances whereby organizational culture is improved to value and respect it. However, it is supposed to avoid some of the critical problems associated with affirmative activities. Federal laws provide jurisdiction to the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to enforce prohibitions against employment discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.
Though limited by funding the scope of its jurisdiction EEOC aggressively seeks to protect American workers from discrimination.
Many organizations try to implement EEO practices and policies like implementation of Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Equal Pay Act; and all other statutes, Executive Orders and regulations relating to workplace diversity, EEO, anti-discrimination and civil rights.
The main objectives of EEO for an implementing organization should be:
A diverse and skilled workforce;
Improved employment access and participation
Fair workplace practices and behaviors.
The plan of EEO should consist of:
a). The proper devising of policies and program which are achievable
b). Communication of the policies and procedures with employees
c). Collection and recording of the implementation through monitoring activities
d). Review of practices
e) Setting of goals and targets for the success of plans
f) Means to evaluate the plans
g) Appointment of resources with provisions to implement the plans.
It is not enough to simply state that an organization is an equal opportunities employer. The ethos of equal opportunities has to be supported by a range of specific workplace training, policies and procedures that promote equal opportunities and also address behavior that might be seen to run counter to the principle of equal opportunities.
The companies who practice implementation of equal opportunities for staff on a continuous process specifically in areas like – recruitment and selection, promotion and regarding, retention and reward, flexible working, behavior in the workplace will stand ahead in the industry
Though not all organizations, but the majority of the successful enterprises welcome diverse personnel and maintain a fair and respectful workplace through Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) practices and are reaping the benefits of fresh perspectives and increased vitality of the diversified skills.
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