diversity in the workplace and how it affects those who work at the company. The writer explores the different diverse populations such as gender, age, race and personalities and discusses the problems and benefits of such diversity. The writer also discusses solutions to various problems that may arise.
As the world continues the process of globalization workplace diversity is becoming more and more common. The world will only become grayer as cultural and geographical walls are dismantled and in their place a blended society will emerge. The diversity in the workplace is something that has been addressed in seminars and theory classes for many years but the actuality of its existence on a day-to-day basis is something that is fraught with benefits as well as negatives. Diversity in the workplace can be a positive aspect for any company if it is cultivated as a positive aspect, or it can turn negative with the wrong handling. There are many ways to encourage and grow positive diversity in the workplace and with that success the workplace will flourish.
Defining Workplace Diversity
Before one can begin to solve the problems associated with diversity in the workplace one must be able to identify what diversity in the workplace may be. Most people are familiar with diversity when it comes to ethnic origin or race but there are other types of diversity that do not involve either of these factors. Diversity in the workplace can include things such age, gender, and other things that most people do not think of when they first try to define diversity in the workplace. In a recent study of workplace diversity it was concluded that the cultural values of the workplace define its diversity.
IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING DIVERSITY IN THE WORKPLACE
It is important to understand diversity in the workplace for several reasons. Diversity in the work place does affect the attitude and general climate of the workplace itself. Whether the diversity encompasses age, gender, personality or other criteria the understanding that it exists and how it affects the general work atmosphere is important to succeed. Most times the workplace has many different types of diversity. A plant that manufactures glue guns will have diversity in age and gender of the workforce and will most likely also have some cultural diversity as well. In addition every business in existence has diversity in personality because it is human nature to be different from each other in style and attitude.
One way that diversity can be described is using a stir fry analogy. When one examines a stir fry dish one will discover that there are many flavors and seasonings in it. It takes the sum total of all the seasonings and spices to create the wonderful dish that one eats. Diversity in the work place operates in the same manner. It takes the “seasoning” and “flavors” off all the workers to create the wonderful environment that they work in. When diversity is looked at in this manner it is a positive experience, unfortunately what often happens is that diversity is viewed as something to be overcome and that presents the entire concept in a negative light. Diversity can be embraced and can help create a positive and happy work environment for employees if it is encouraged, embraced and worked with to assist in a more productive workforce.
One of the most important things to remember about workplace diversity is that there will be differences in communication styles because of the gender, age, and personality differences that are encountered there.
There are many ways to implement diversity in the workplace. Problems with diversity can arise if there is no plan or program in place to handle diversity. Diversity practitioners have been creating diversity resources for companies for several decades with the emphasis being in the last decade.
PROBLEMS WITH DIVERSITY
There are often problems that arise from having a diverse workforce. With age diversity there is often a problem with attitudes. Each generation is raised with certain beliefs and mores and when there are multiple generations in a workplace there can be tension as to how work issues should be addressed and handled. This can be solved by providing workplace seminars about diversity that will teach the workers there are age different attitudes and explore some of the more commonly held beliefs and understandings within each age group. If the workers see that the differences in their attitudes and communication styles is not a personal thing, but a societal thing based on the era in which they were raised they will be less likely to be offended when they encounter differences.
In gender diversity there will be differences in the communication style between men and women. Men and women are raised differently and they are expected by society to react differently to the same set of circumstances. In the workplace this can lead to tension when one gender does not understand or cannot relate to the communication efforts of the other gender. This can be handled as well through workplace diversity training. The communicti0on style that should be encouraged should be a genderless style that involves professional and solid communication preferably in writing to clear up any misunderstandings in the communication styles among the different gendered employees.
Diversity in personalities is a type of diversity that all workplace environments deal with on a daily basis. Some people are easier going by nature than others. One person may have a compulsive personality that others refer to as anal retentive while the persons who works right next to them may have a laid back personality that appears to be lazy instead. Workplace personalities are the source of many arguments and unhappiness in the workplace. The company can help ease the situation by creating work groups that are cohesive and then placing jobs that match personalities on the workers. (Watkins, 1998)Encouraging and employing a wide range of diverse people is one way to begin the process of embracing diversity in the workplace. If the workforce has many different personalities, genders, and ages each person will find others that they are comfortable eating lunch with going on break with and communicating work related problems to. This will encourage the workplace diversity.
(Johnson, 2001) Understanding the nature and importance of workplace diversity is something that each business needs to address. Without the understanding workplace diversity can cause tension in the workplace that can lead to reduced productivity and moral. Reduced moral can lead to workers seeking employment elsewhere which in turn costs the company money because new employees have to be hired, trained and the worked up to speed. It is an expensive venture all the way around and the understanding of the benefits of workplace diversity can avoid many such problems.
As the world continues to globalize diversity in the workplace has become a fact of life. Before globalization began however, there were diverse ages, genders and personalities already working together. It is imperative for the business to obtain optimum success in the workplace that the concept of diversity be embraced, encouraged and involved. Programs for workplace diversity can provide seminars as well as other tools for the acceptance and enjoyment of those who are different but productive. In the future the acceptance of different personalities and ages will become increasingly important as the age of retirement moves up and the generational differences increase. Diversity in the workplace can be a positive factor to the success of business as long as everyone involved accepts its existence and works to benefit from it.
Robert M. Roen, Q&A: Defining Workplace Diversity., EEO BiMonthly, Equal Employment Opportunity Career Journal, 02-28-1995, pp PG.
Watkins, Ed, The greening of diversity. (workplace diversity in hotel industry). Vol. 54, Lodging Hospitality, 08-01-1998, pp 10(1).
Johnson, Nancy Brown, Understanding the impact of human resource diversity practices on firm performance., Journal of Managerial Issues, 07-01-2001, pp 177.
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