Diversity challenges and opportunities impact all nations around the world to one extent or another (Bahaudin and Jatuporn 2009). Human beings differ in age, social and national background, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental ability, as well as religious belief and worldview. Diversity is a tough issue to tackle because it includes more than just race, gender, religion, ethnic origin or age. Every employee has a diverse background and a diverse set of beliefs. There is no "quick-fix" when dealing with an issue as complex as diversity.
Valuing, managing, and supporting a diverse workforce can be done successfully only as a longer-term change process and one that must become the way we do business. Diversity People are not alike. Everyone is different. Diversity therefore consists of visible and non-visible factors, which include personal characteristics such as background, culture, personality and work-style, in addition to the characteristics that are protected under discrimination legislation in terms of race, disability, gender, religion and belief, sexual orientation and age.
Research on organizational work groups, however, has focused on other forms of diversity including differences in age, education, firm tenure, and functional or technical background (Jackson et al. , 1995). Diversity in groups and teams is often portrayed as a positive force leading to effective functioning of the team. It is a source of creativity and innovation that can provide the potential for future development and competitive advantage. Diversity supposedly leads to greater variance in ideas, creativity, and innovation, thus generating better group performance (Cox, 1993; Jackson, May and Whitney, 1995).
Diversity Management The term diversity management originated in North America, but has slowly taken hold in other regions and countries of the world (e. g. , Hays-Thomas, 2004; Kaiser & Prange, 2004; Nyambegera, 2002; Ozbilgin & Tatli, 2008; Palmer, 2003; Palmi, 2001). The following is a brief definition of the term: “Diversity management refers to the voluntary organizational actions that are designed to create greater inclusion of employees from various backgrounds into the formal and informal organizational structures through deliberate policies and programs. Diversity Management is a strategy to promote the perception, acknowledgement and implementation of diversity in organizations and institutions.
Managing diversity is based on the idea that diversity opens up alternative ways of perceiving, thinking and acting and thus enriches the organizations. The globalization of business is a trend that makes diversity competency crucial for many organizations. Cox (2001) notes, “The challenge of diversity is not simply to have it but to create conditions in which its potential to be a performance barrier is minimized and its potential to enhance performance is maximized” (p. 6). Diversity management refers not only to those groups that have been discriminated against or that are different from the dominant or privileged groups, but to “the mixture of differences, similarities and tensions that can exist among the elements of a pluralistic mixture” (Thomas, 2005, p. 93). The concept of "valuing differences" is the cornerstone of the managing diversity movement. It translates questions of competence into questions of culture. Proponents argue that "non-traditional" workers who fail to advance are not under qualified, just "differently" qualified.
Ethnic, racial and sexual groups, the reasoning goes, each possess a unique management style that will enable businesses to succeed in the global marketplace. Diversity management is also crucial for sustainable business growth because the increasingly diverse public evaluates organizations on their diversity management. Diversity should be a priority in any organization, because people are and will be the major source of competitive advantage. Diverse workforce at all levels should be created and sustained, and the full talent, energy, and ommitment of all employees in meeting business objectives should be engaged. This will help in enabling employees to give their maximum contribution in meeting the company goals. Advantages of Diversity Management There are some advantages of diversity management, among which are the following:
It can create a competitive advantage in areas such as marketing, problem solving, and resource acquisition.
It shows how the organizations are culturally aware.
It helps to use the full potential of all employees.
Disadvantages of Diversity Management. Despite the grand rhetoric of its advocates, there is little evidence that diversity management can solve the problems it purports to address. In fact, it may make them worse. As diversity programs proliferate across corporate America, group infighting has become a problem second only to "backlash" by white men. "More and more groups are going at each other," says Morrison. "The women's group vies with the black group for promotions. " Best Examples of Diversity Management 1. Xerox pioneered the most powerful accountability tool in 1984, when it linked managers' compensation to their achievement of the firm's highly detailed "diversity goals. Since then, many companies have followed suit, including Palmolive, Mead and Prudential Life Insurance.
Two major departments at Hughes Aircraft lost 10 percent of their bonus pay as a penalty for receiving bad "diversity report cards" after they failed to hire and promote the requisite number of minorities. The next year they headed the list for "behavior modification," having found people to hire whom they previously "had said didn't exist," according to Dave Barclay, vice president of work force diversity at Hughes. GE Electrical and Distribution Control are other examples for ‘diversity management. ’ The number of entry-level African Americans recruited and hired has increased by over 10 percent since 1982, and an increasing number have moved into positions of significant responsibility. GE has defined diversity as a twofold concept. First, diversity concerns understanding that the workforce will increasingly include people who are different. Consistent with this change is the recognition that a mix of people who are diverse can result in value added and increased productivity.
Secondly, GE defines diversity as a comprehension process for developing and maintaining a workplace environment that results in the full utilization of all employees. According to DiversityInc,—the leading publication on diversity and business, annually recognizes companies that exemplify meaningful diversity management through their corporate practice—Accenture has been named to the 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list, rising to number 12, up from number 23 last year. This marks Accenture’s sixth consecutive year on the DiversityInc Top 50 list and its fourth consecutive year in the Top 25.
DiversityInc also named Accenture as a 2012 Top 10 Company for both Global Diversity and Supplier Diversity. Accenture has demonstrated strength in the four areas measured: CEO Commitment, Human Capital, Corporate and Organizational Communications, and Supplier Diversity. One of the most signification examples of ‘diversity management’ in Egypt, particularly in Alexandria is the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The BA strongly believes in the importance of diversity, and it is becoming one of the concepts in recruiting new employees.
The BA includes, among its 2500 employees, a variety of employees with different ages, gender, religious and ethnic backgrounds. There is a large number of women working at the BA, among which is a big number in managerial positions. It also includes foreigner employees and internships from all over the world. One of the main objectives of the BA is to serve the whole community, including the disabled people (children, young, and adults), who enjoy a variety of services and activities, and there is a large number of tailored activities for them.
In this regard, the BA also opens its door and gives fair recruitment opportunities for the disabled. There is a number of employees with different disabilities (blind, on wheelchairs, hands congenital defects) who are working very efficiently to an extent that they compete with the other employees in a remarkable way, and sometimes they perform even better. The BA also provides equal opportunities to all employees on attending conferences and obtaining trainings and scholarships abroad.
The BA, among other organizations in Egypt and internationally, is still working on including ‘diversity’ into its organizations; thus, it is working on increasing the number of the disabled personnel to reach the standard international percentage. Worst Examples of Diversity Management •Phillip Morris (PM) is one of the largest tobacco companies in the world and has nearly 75,000 employees. Women are often assigned to run human resources and corporate communications departments at companies where men dominate the management.
Phillip Morris claims that the company is “always striving to broaden the diversity of our workforce and are continuously working to identify, hire and retain the best qualified individuals, wherever they are located or whatever their background. ” No wonder they call him the Marlboro Man; nine board members, zero women. •Cameron International (CAM) provides equipment for the national gas oil industries. The company has 17,000 employees, eight board members, no women in positions of major responsibility. Seven senior executives are listed in the proxy – all male.
Also, all board members but one is over 60 – a sort of reverse age discrimination. Conclusion The globalizing economy and the increase in the number of multinational corporations make diversity management a necessity for companies that want not only to survive but thrive during this time of economic, social, and cultural changes. Diversity management refers to the voluntary organizational actions that are designed to create through deliberate policies and programs greater inclusion of employees from various backgrounds into the formal and informal organizational structures.
Diversity management, compared with its predecessors (equal opportunity legislation and affirmative action programs), is proactive and aimed at creating an organization in which all members can contribute and achieve to their full potential. The reasons for implementing diversity management include having to adapt to the new reality of a workforce that is increasingly diverse, doing the right and moral thing, and gaining a competitive advantage.
The challenge of diversity management is to break the harmful cycle that equates cultural difference with social/economic disadvantages. Therefore, although the emphasis on the business advantage of diversity management is probably a good motivator for companies to enact diversity programs, it does not mean that moral and ethical missions should be neglected or overlooked. To overcome these potential limitations, diversity management has to focus on both enhancing profitability and fostering social justice.