Monday, May 1, 2017

Diversity Management in Leadership

Diversity Importance:  Because our society is rapidly changing  demographically, we must prepare to have a better understanding of each other in all levels of societal life.  In the recent discussion of demographic change, we have seen the word “diversity”  resulting in a buzzword. Commonly, individuals are unaware of the definition of diversity, often placing a different connotation to its meaning, basing their definition on assumptions,and or utilizing it for a particular (i.e. market-based) agenda. This lack of understanding has led to poor or unsuccessful  progress in diversity initiatives in terms of awareness and management. Consequently, there is a need to focus on diversity management importance,implications, and implementations in leadership.
In a diverse world, there are many reasons why leaders should ‘care’ or find diversity management to be important. More specifically, it is vital to increase our understanding of diversity in the workplace as “the varied perspectives and approaches to work that members of different identity group bring(3).” It is important to validate the role diversity can have in organizational effectiveness to increase profitability,  better utilize talent, increase marketplace understanding, enhance creativity, and or increase quality of team problem-solving(3). Evidence shows  that there is an the increase in  long-lasting relationships, creativity, and capability of change in the diverse workforce(3).

Diversity Implications:Yet, diversity management is very complex.There are diverse perspectives on the current and future implications that rapid change in demographics  can, should, or will have on our society.  Given the rapid change in demographics, there is particular focus on cultural diversity as valuing, respecting, and accepting of the  differences that make people unique in the way of living or changing the ways of doing the things that have to be done in this life(4). Unfortunately, hindering the embracement of diversity, is the strong resistance in “accepting the reality of different levels and kinds of skills, interest, habits, and orientations among different groups of people(3).” This inability to accept and manage the different levels of diversity results in  “higher turnover cost, high absenteeism rates, and lawsuits on sexual, race and age discrimination (2).” Therefore, a diverse world requires diversity management that takes  “fundamental change in attitudes and behaviors of an organization’s leadership(4).”

Diversity Implementation:
Leaders who value the importance of diversity in the workplace will allow for integration of diversity. Some of the current frameworks utilized in efforts of diversity management are: discrimination and fairness and access and legitimacy. Each has a different outlook on diversity management.   Yet these two frameworks have shown the need to explore how people’s differences generate a potential diversity of effective ways of working, leading, viewing the market, managing people, and learning and the need to learn about the differences and cultural competencies (4). Often it has been observed that although the diversity framework is in place, there are still issues concerning clash in approaches of the work, project choice, and project definition.  An effective way of connecting diversity to work, is allowing there to be a workplace culture in which employees can value diversity, share their perspectives, and participate in redefining agency practices.It is important to value differences so it is a “frame of mind, a way of thinking rather than a result(4).” The framework that implements this ideology is the learning and effective paradigm that creates a learning integration of diversity.
Moreover, diversity management is strengthened when the leader actively works to implement change and work against removing barriers within the workplace such as preventing, managing, and avoiding forms of dominance and subordination. Overall, the leader should always be committed to its agency’s employees, mission, and success. Diversity management in essence, should be implemented just as a business plan by developing a strategy to monitor progress and its impact. Therefore, it is leaderships’ role to set a model for managing diversity with great importance to process and outcomes, actively looking to identify barriers and strengths to diversity implementation in the workplace, by always ensuring that the agency stays intact.

  1. McNett, Jeanne. “Diversity in the Workplace: Ethics, Pragmatism, or Some of Both?” Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
  2. Robinson, Gail, Dechant, Kathleen. (1997) “Building a Business for Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
  3. Sowell, Thomas. “A World View of Cultural Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.
    4. Thomas, David A., Ely, Robin J. (1996) “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for       Managing Diversity”. Understanding and Managing Diversity. Prentice Hall.