Diversity at the workplace: opportunities and challenges
Table of Contents
Diversity in the workplace is in the research domain for a long period but it captured the focus with increasing globalisation. The presented report aims to explore the opportunities and challenges of diversity at the workplace considering the influence of the management team and approaches. This research will discuss the aims of the study and the rationale behind the study. Later, it will discuss the existing literature review and contradiction in opportunities and challenges of the concept for businesses. The report will discuss the research methods, data sampling technique, major findings and discussion of the results. It will draw on the implications and limitations of the research for employees and employers.
Aims and objectives
Interaction among people from diverse backgrounds is increasing with globalisation and it is challenging to incorporate the changes in management practices. This report aims to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with diversity management at the workplace. Under the goal, this report has objectives:
- To define diversity and its need in the modern business environment considering requirements to achieve successful integration.
- To examine the opportunities and challenges of diversity management at the workplace considering examples from various multinational organisations, especially having roots in the United Kingdom.
- To summarise the benefits and recommendations for businesses moving toward a diversified workforce.
There are significant changes in the management process and other approaches of the business and these are mainly because of industrial competitions to serve the customers with improved outcomes. For instance, worldwide economic competition is creating a need to work in a global framework where people are no longer working and living in an insular environment. It is critically important to become a diversified business to remain competitive. However, there are several challenges and opportunities for the organisations that are important to consider for the maximisation of the benefits. Therefore. this research has the purpose to explore how the diversity of the workforce can impact management practices and business outcomes. It has the purpose to highlight the opportunities and challenges to create strategic support in managerial decisions.
Diversity in the workplace means to have people with different characteristics at the workplace and such characteristics may be age, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity and other attributes. Apart from this, diversity is also defined as a practice to acknowledge, understand, accept and value the differences among people and foster the positive impacts of differences in characteristics for target outcomes. According to Barak (2016), organisations need to value diversity and it is essential to explore the ways to become a more inclusive business because diversity has the potential to deliver competitive advantages and greater work productivity. According to Sharma (2016), organisations need to accept diversity as an invaluable competitive asset. Also, effective people management in an organisation starts with diversity management.
It is examined that there are several changes in management practices since the past decade because of subsequent changes in demographics such as equal opportunity legislation, organisational restructuring and equal opportunities for women at the workplace. According to Anjorin and Jansari (2018), It is creating a new for the management function to develop new and creative alternatives to manage the workforce because positive changes are required to deliver quality customer services and work performance. It also researched that the workplace environment is becoming more dynamic with single working mothers and dual-family incomes. It also indicates changes in family structure is changing the perspective for the role of individuals in the family. It is another major concept that is leading increasing participation of women in the modern business environment.
According to Mazibuko and Govender (2017), the government is playing a vital role to foster the concept of diversity in the workplace. For instance, governmental regulations such as equal opportunity legislation are helping to eliminate discrimination against minor communities. Such laws are also valuable to define the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees so that there is better accountability for both parties. It is also supporting a diversified workforce in businesses almost at every level of management and execution.
Several researchers emphasised the role of globalisation in increasing diversity in the workplace (Joubert, 2017). Outsourcing is a major example of the results generated from globalisation in which businesses are downsizing their operations at a particular location. There are significant changes in workplace practices such as working hours due to the integration of technologies and the impact of globalisation. Considering the conventional business structures, it is researched that there are a smaller number of people in management who are doing more work. Therefore, a diversified workforce is resulting from subsequent changes in organisational mindset for technology and the impact of globalisation on the business.
According to de Aquino and Robertson (2018), diversity has benefits for both the parties at the workplace, employer and employees. An organisational culture to respects individual differences increases productivity because the employees are interdependent to accomplish the business goals. In the modern business environment where employers are focusing on creativity and flexibilities for competitiveness, diversity is a major factor to define business success. However, it does not mean to neglect the consequences occurring in terms of time and cost. According to Barak (2016), diversity has benefits to reduce legal complications and it can increase recruitment, business reputation, creativity and marketing opportunities.
An organisation achieves a fresh perspective when hiring people of different backgrounds and it helps to increase productivity and better problem-solving. According to Rawat and Basergekar (2016), diversity at the workplace improves organisational decision-making by up to 60%. Also, diversity helps to create a wider talent pool so that the employees are not only meant to accomplish the assigned work in allotted hours. Through diversity, the organisation offers a space where people can grow, feel recognised and accept challenges. Indirectly, it creates the organisational environment progressive place to work. Around one-third of the employees in an organisation have reported that they focus on diversity when evaluating job offers and a business. According to Joubert (2017), diverse teams are more attractive to the talent in comparison to the Omni-cultural workplace.
According to Ozgen et al. (2017), innovation is a major benefit associated with diversity. It is common to observe that the employees with the same culture and living aspects have a similar pattern of thinking and preferences while the people of different backgrounds have different opinions. It helps the management to find more innovative and creative approaches toward the problems. Managers have a greater number of alternatives that might be rarely explored in past.
For an organisation, it is significant to ensure employee motivation as it is required to retain talent and meet competitive benefits through their productivity and performance. Diversity helps to create a more comfortable and engaging workplace that leads to better performance. Indirectly, it has benefits to the organisation in terms of increased profit, reduced absenteeism and better contribution and collaboration throughout the business process.
Acknowledging differences in people is not sufficient to manage diversity because it involves recognition of values associated with the differences, handling of discrimination and support to inclusiveness. For management, it also might be challenging due to loss of work and productivity as there is the impact of discrimination, prejudice, complaints and legal actions against the organisation. According to Dastane and Eshegbe (2015), negative behaviour and attitude have a significant impact on diversity management because they can impact work motivation, productivity, morale and work relationship.
According to Kumar (2015), it is challenging for management to align diversity practices with organisational goals. It includes complexities to examine the existing business culture and identify the target location of transition. The organisations need an assessment of the business environment to identify what is required to meet the competitiveness. According to Ozgen et al. (2017), if there is racial diversity in an organisation, there is no need to increase the number of people. Instead of this, the organisation needs to focus on how to improve the intersection of the individuals to generate better outcomes. Secure leadership is another aspect of diversity management as the design of the programs and plans is different from the implementation complexities. The right set of support and resource is required to transform the initiatives into workable outcomes.
Biasness and prejudice are major barriers for the management team when moving toward the recruitment of a diversified workforce. According to Barak (2016), there is an equal need for training and development of the managerial staff to avoid at least common bias in the practices. The authors also explained that new people in business also needs training as it can help the employees to understand the business goals, approaches and requirements and without this knowledge, it becomes hard to engage them with creativity. Asides from these, not all the members of the board are in favour of diversity considering change requirements and investments and it impacts the initiatives and consequences.
According to Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, women are the secret behind the organisational growth and benefits in the online shopping industry. Throughout the organisation, one-third of the employees are women. According to him, women’s attention to detail and perseverance is useful to achieve outperformance from men, even in the age of machine learning and robotics. This organisation has significantly focused on gender diversity-related programs (Emplify, 2021). Similarly, Accenture is a good example of a business that has embraced diversity for competitive advantages, innovation and creativity.
According to de Aquino and Robertson (2018), even large businesses of today also experienced issues in diversity management, either at management or at the operational level. However, the organisations have learned from their mistakes and improved the managerial practices and approaches to create a more diversified team. It is challenging to create such a workforce but the outcomes are quite satisfactorily for businesses and employees.
This report uses a sample size of twenty-five employees from various organisations while exploring existing literature reviews and other data from authentic sources. There is the use of stratified sampling technique to understand the perspective of the employees working at various execution levels in an organisation. The sample size is also formed with consideration that there is high diversity among the participating people so that the research can obtain more trustworthy and reliable data (Saunders and Lewis, 2017). This sampling technique is considered as it allows to explore ideas and opinions of different people and on that basis, the perception of the same group can be measured regarding the nature of the organisational practices and management.
The study uses two data collection methods. First, there is the use of the interview method to obtain qualitative data from participants regarding their general opinions about benefits and challenges when managing diversity at the workplace. Only qualitative data is collected with some specific interview questions that are descriptive. Second, there is the use of secondary data such as literature reviews, research papers, journal articles and other authentic media and corporate websites to understand how the researchers and others perceive the benefits and challenges of diversity management (Merriam and Tisdell, 2015). Both data collection methods are significant considering the already available literature review and better opportunities to generate more reliable results for managers and other business executives.
There is the use of qualitative data analysis on selected research papers and other authentic sources. During the analysis, there is a focus on three things: why, what and how. There are three reasons to select this data analysis method. First, the method is simple and effective to explore the required results descriptively. It means that there is the availability of more comprehensive data to reach the decisions. Second, this method allows integrating the knowledge and experience obtained in previous research projects so that there is the possibility of high accuracy and reliability when the participants are not leading the right responses for some of the areas (Merriam and Grenier, 2019). Third, it is cost-effective and faster in comparison to quantitative methods because it saves time required in surveys and expertise required for quantitative analysis of the data.
This research helps to identify that the benefits of diversity management are not avoidable regardless of the size and existing capabilities of the business. However, there is a significant role of the management to define directions, requirements and other aspects because without them it is hard to generate positive outcomes from the initiatives for diversity (Barak, 2016). It is identified that the organisations have opportunities to increase productivity and performance of the employees through a well-defined degree of diversity as it creates an environment in which the employee feel recognised, satisfied and encouraged for progressive outcomes. The combination of people from various backgrounds allows improving sharing of the thoughts and opinions so that the managers and leaders have better alternatives due to creativity (Sharma, 2016). Further, it has the opportunity to upgrade the existing resources with new skills, knowledge and expertise. A diverse workforce can develop a better understanding of individual and related cultural aspects. It adds flexibility in opinions and decisions so that the lack of rigidity to a cultural aspect result in more generic decisions. It also supports a culture of respect for all. Diversity has an opportunity for an organisation to attract and retain talent as diversity supports knowledge sharing, team collaboration and an improved environment for career progression and work satisfaction (Kumar, 2015).
However, the recruitment of culturally diverse people is not sufficient for the optimised outcome as there is a significant role in people management practices. From the management perspective, the management must offer effective training and development to the new employees so that they can learn and integrate themselves with business goals and working culture. Further, managers need to understand that prejudice, biases and mindset for changes in organisational structure and resources can impact the goals associated with diversity (Joubert, 2017). However, a strategic approach and better alignment of the management with requirements of the diversity aspect can lead to the desired outcome.
From the interview, mainly two findings are extracted. First, almost one-third of the participants are strongly emphasizing the benefits and opportunities of diversity management at the workplace. It indicates their satisfaction and requirements at the workplace to achieve a culturally sound work environment. Second, half of the participants think that the attitude and perspective of the management has a critical role to set opportunities and challenges while there is the influence of several internal and external factors such as skills of the resources and complexities to align with the business goals.
Managers need certain skills to create a diverse workforce. Diversity cannot live with discrimination and it becomes important for managers to explore discrimination and its consequences on the degree of diversity. Also, an individual has a significant impact of prejudices and cultural bias that need to manage effectively when creating a diverse workforce. Apart from these, the willingness of the managers to bring the changes in the organisational environment is major because not all workplaces are open to accepting diversity. If changes are required, a manager needs to be able to bring the changes regardless of the fear of contradiction with others.
Apart from the challenges and opportunities, there is a single approach for organisational success in diversity management. Organisational workplace dynamics and teamwork are two other factors that impact managerial decisions and abilities for a preference regarding diversity. Further, diversity is not achieved with initiatives of one person as it is a combined result of everyone. The process to manage diversity starts with the managers as first of all, they have to develop awareness regarding their skills capabilities and bias (Dobbin and Kalev, 2015). The same identification is also important for the employees and for that, training and development of the resources is important. However, one session of training is not sufficient to change the habits and patterns of working that are developed over years (Joubert, 2017). Managers need to understand that fairness is not necessarily equality as there are some exceptions to the rule. Therefore, diversity management is more than affirmation actions and employment opportunities. Integration of diverse people in the workforce might be slow but change is required.
Asides from these, it is important to offer better communication opportunities to all, especially during business meetings. It allows individuals to express their thoughts and opinions even if they are not accepted due to some reasons but it encourages individuals to contribute to business decisions. Managers need to define mentoring programs and policies regarding the use and access to the information (O’Leary and Sandberg, 2017). It is required especially at the initial stage when someone of another culture is being added to a more homogenous set of employees.
The research has main implications for small to medium-sized businesses as such organisations may be seeking expansions in other countries and locations where culture and other norms might be different. It has implications for the businesses who are having a wider set of channels for recruitment and enabling recruitment from multiple locations. Considering the outcomes, the research is valuable for managers in various organisations to understand how their decisions and practices have an impact on diversity at the workplace while it also enables the employees to understand the importance of a diverse workplace environment for their progressiveness, learning and enhancement in capabilities.
However, the research report has some limitations. First, it has no consideration of the general challenges such as communication barriers, age differences and sexual orientation. Such factors might be important for an organisation to define a strategy for diverse workplace management. Second, it has limitations regarding the application of the concepts and technique as it does not explore the financial and other capabilities that can impact diversity initiatives of small organisations.
The report concluded that managing diversity is a complex aspect while it seems simple at overview. There is the implication of various business aspects including finance and other capabilities, skills and mindset of the management and flexibilities in workplace and business culture to adopt the changes. Only integration of the different people in the workforce is not sufficient and the organisations need a strategic approach to leave the desired benefits. It is concluded that the organisations have opportunities with diversity management when preparing for future competitive advantages. However, it has challenges regarding the design of the initiatives, changes in existing structure and approaches and managerial bias and support to such decisions. A systematic approach to diversity management can result in improved business outcomes and values.
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