Having the need to live in a world of diverse culture, business companies deal with the hardship of dealing with the differences of the workforces in their organization. Is this a problem that cannot be solved? Recent studies show that this problem could actually be turned into a solution that the company could use towards its success. How? This is what is going to be discussed in the paper to follow. The possibilities of turning a diverse workforce into a unified organization would be introduced in this research in an aim to prove that managing a diverse workforce is more of a challenging opportunity than that of an irreversible business dilemma.
Introduces the subject to be talked about in a historical basis
What is Diversity?
Deals with the definition of diversity as a word to describe social differences and as
a word that affects business activities.
Getting along with Diversity
A compilation of suggestion from business experts that have mastered the art of
managing diverse workforces
The author’s opinion on the topic being discussed based from the researches that
have been posted in the paper.
Managing Diversity in the Workforce
HAVE you ever heard stories of a race of people who had no mouth and therefore could neither eat nor drink? They were said to survive by smelling, mostly apples. A bad odor would kill them.
There were also tales of a West African people who had gold to trade. A Portuguese ship’s captain of the time reported: “Two hundred leagues beyond [the] kingdom of [Mali], one finds a country the inhabitants of which have the heads and teeth of dogs and tails like dogs. These are the Blacks who refuse to enter into conversation because they do not wish to see other men.” Those were some of the strange ideas that were held many years ago, before the age of travel and discovery.
Such stories were taken seriously for centuries. Nevertheless, as explorers charted the planet, they found no mouth less apple smellers, no dog-headed people. Today there remains little mystery about those who live beyond our borders. The world has become a global village. Television brings foreign lands and peoples into our living rooms. Air travel makes it possible to visit those lands within hours; millions of people do so each year. Others are on the move for economic or political reasons. States a report of the United Nations Population Fund: “On a scale unknown in history—and certain to grow—people around the world are uprooting themselves and migrating in search of a better life.” About 100 million people live outside the country in which they were born.
Increasingly there is economic interdependency among nations. A global communications network, like a gigantic central nervous system, links every nation of the earth. As ideas, information, and technology are exchanged, cultures merge and adapt to one another. Throughout the world, people dress more alike than ever before. Cities of the world share much in common—police, luxury hotels, traffic, stores, banks, pollution. Thus, as the peoples of the world come together, we witness what some describe as an emerging world culture.
Nevertheless, while peoples and cultures intermingle, clearly not all see one another as brothers. “Everyone’s quick to blame the alien,” wrote a Greek playwright over 2,000 years ago. Sadly, the same is true today. The evidence is no farther away than newspaper reports of bigotry, hatred of foreigners, “ethnic cleansing,” racial strife, religious riots, massacre of civilians, killing fields, rape camps, torture, or genocide.
Of course, most of us can do little or nothing to change the course of ethnic conflicts. We may not even be directly affected by them. For many of us, however, problems come from a lack of communication with the foreigners with whom we come into contact—neighbors, workmates, or schoolmates.
Does it not seem odd that people of differing ethnic groups so often find it difficult to trust and appreciate one another? After all, ours is a planet of enormous diversity, endless variety. Most of us appreciate the rich variety of food, music, and color as well as the many kinds of plants, birds, and animals. Somehow, appreciation of variety does not always carry over to people who do not think and act in the same way that we do. Instead of looking at the positive aspects of diversity among peoples, many tend to focus on the differences and make them a point of contention.
Certainly, living in a world that is governed with diversity, it could be expected that in the workplace, diversity itself is also present and thus cannot be avoided. Many workers refer to this hardship as the common source of many conflicts within the working area. Hence, the performance of the employees is then directly affected. Impossible as it may have seemed, diversity within the workplace has still been referred to by many modern business enthusiasts such as John Riddle in his book “Business Management”. How could this be possible?
Before knowing the preferred solution of experts towards the said problem, it is important to take notice of what is really meant by being diverse, and how does it really affect the entire performance of the workforce.
What is Diversity?
Diversity, when referred to in business terms may mean a lot of things. An organization’s workforce may be referred to as diverse for many reasons as well. Diversity may occur because of the differences of opinion because of the differences in personality, in age, in educational attainment, in status in life and even in culture. Mostly, as observed on different business companies, the main reason of such diversity is the existence of a much distinct group of races making up a single workforce for a company.
How could all these happen? As mentioned in the introduction, many people have already transferred from place to place and a lot of those people, the so-called immigrants, have already decided to stay and work on the foreign lands they have gone to. Hence, the main effect of this social move on achieving success on other places, the employment of the multicultural population has been the resort to supporting the lives of the said immigrants. Hence, the workforce of every company making up the business industries are at times having the same worries on how to face the challenge of dealing with and managing people who are widely different from each other.
Getting along with Diversity
As mentioned earlier, management of a diverse workforce has been one of the biggest problems that concern the human resources department of any type of company present in the business industries. Hence, it is just reasonable to say that at some points, some management teams may find it a difficult task as well. However, the author, John riddle says otherwise.
According to him, “these are all factors of management that should be considered by good managers even before entering an organization” (113). Hence, this definitely means that avoiding diversity in the workforce may be impossible but giving a resolution to it is not that impossible. After all, there is still a common ground among the working force of each company no matter how diverse they may be it is that they are humans, which makes them capable of being dealt with and managed well.
In this regard, John Riddle has suggested several points of consideration when dealing with such business problems. In general terms, he summarized the ways by which a good manager could handle the difficulties of dealing with a diverse workforce.
The said suggestions are as follows:
Concentrate on the strengths of the employees. When a manager discovers the tasks where the employees usually excel in, they should be assigned to them as they are expected to be more productive on those fields of the job.
Understand the abilities and the potential of each employee present in the organization. These potential assets of the employees could as well be used by the company itself in aiming for the goals that it has set up for the future.
Allow communication lines t be open at all times. It is very important for managers to be good listeners. The ability of hearing what the employees want form the company as well as to how they could be of bigger help to the organization could be used as a resource of ideas for the company as well.
Make the employees feel that they too have a sense of authority in the company. However, this type of authority should not overstep that of the administration’s. It should be clear that this authority could only be exercised at specific times and places when it is permitted. This may often refer to an ‘open door’ policy that deals with an easier type of agreement between the employees, which could give them a chance to affect how the organization is being managed. They are then allowed to give suggestions; however, no suggestions are implemented unless approved by the administration.
Make sure that all employees understand the business goals and objectives. It should always be remembered that a well-informed employee, whether young or old, is a productive employee.
A manager should always remember that he is supervising people with feelings who are valuable members of the organization, hence, treating them with great respect at all times no matter what culture they come from is one of the most important virtue any manager could post as an example for his colleagues.
Treating everyone fairly and sensitively is the key to creating a fine working environment. It should be remembered that because of the different clutters of the people, they all have different preferences; they have different personal obligations and other more. Considering the fact that dealing with multicultural workforce also involve dealing with their differences of belief, a manager could as well consider fairness at all times to be able to set a common ground for everyone else in the organization.
Keep everyone else busy and going all the time. Feeling one’s worth is usually measured on the things they are able to do for the organization in a day. In this manner, it could be said that regardless of one’s difference from the others, being able to do something for the company and being of worth to the organization makes an employee feel that even though there are differences, he still belongs to the organization he is working for.
Keep employees informed of the ins and outs of the organization. Keeping employees in the dark when some changes within the organization arise may give them the notion that they are not given importance by the administration of the company.
Acknowledge the employees’ efforts, years of work, talent, creativity and good job attributes. Doing so would help everyone else strive for the best while they are working in the company.
It could be noticed that the suggestions listed in here are general. Putting these
suggestions into good use have mostly caused several companies to achieve unity beyond diversity in their own much diverse workforces. Hence, as Jones commented in his book “Contemporary Management”, “diversity is a normal part of modern management. Being globally distinct, it could not be avoided that dealing with different people everyday is a challenge to the modern managers today” (180).
The certainties of dealing with diverse people in the workforce are around ninety-nine percent. Considering that we are living in a culturally diverse society, it could be argued that a diverse workforce is indeed a challenge to many business managers today. However, at first, this fact may seem a big problem, on the other hand, if the managers are able to see the common ground of everyone else, which is being human, the said managers would recognize the possibility of making diversity a source of further progress for the company. Mixing up the talents and the abilities of the employees for the goal of the organization would surely help the company reach its peak potential.
Riddle, John. (2001). Business Management. Adams Media Corporation. Avon, Massachusetts.
Adams, Bob. (2000). Managing people: Lead your staff to peak performance. Adams Media Corporation. Avon, Massachusetts.
Hiam, Alexander. (2001). Motivating and rewarding Employees: New and better ways to inspire your people. Adams Media Corporation. Avon, Massachusetts.
Martinez, Esdras. (1998). Buisness Managements theories and practice. Rex books Publishing. Manila, Philippines.
Jones, Gareth R. (2004). Contemporary Management. Irwin/McGraw-Hill; 4th edition.