Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Holistic Approach to Diversity Management: HR Implications

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Industrial Relations

The Holistic Approach to Diversity Management: HR Implications

Article excerpt

Importance of Diverse Workforce

Globalization has led to a lot of activity across borders of countries leading to a mobile workforce, which has intensified the diversity related interventions in organizations. Literature in the West is replete with data on the increase of non-whites that is Hispanics and African- Americans and also women entering the workforce. The nations' answer to this growing multiculturalism was to provide equal opportunities to the minorities and that involved having a quota for them. Organizations normally adhered to this, to satisfy the legal requirements. However it was a very reactive and contingent approach and did not and still does not have any support, even among the minorities. Today organizations worldwide are realizing the importance of a diverse workforce as a source of competitive advantage. Donkin (2007: 18) articulates it, "the popular argument I have encountered time and again is that, diversity is good for business," nothing much is however done in organizations. The author asserts that workplace diversity will actually help reduce the unconscious bias and prejudices. Organizations are realizing the benefits of a diverse workforce with respect to access to a wide range of information, better decisions, better problem solving and more innovation. They are seeing a direct impact on the bottom line, besides the fact that it increases the brand image of the organization.

Diversity Management Defined

Many definitions of diversity and diversity management exist. Miller and Rowney (2005) have cited the definition of a diverse workforce, provided by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and Society of Management Accountants of Canada (1996:307) as "a workforce made ... distinct by the presence of many religions, cultures or skin colours, both sexes (in non-stereotypical roles), differing sexual orientations, varying styles of behaviour, differing capabilities, and usually, unlike backgrounds". Douglas (2008) has described what diversity in the US stands for and what it strives for and stresses that "the goal is inclusion, a systematic business strategy to make certain that everyone in an organization shares the same advantages: a voice that is heard, access to the information necessary for success, productive links to other coworkers and management, the chance to contribute, and the opportunity to advance professionally" (in press). White (2000: 2-3) uses the metaphor "creating a level playing field" elaborating that it is necessary to create an environment where each individual has the same opportunity "to score". Respect for employees, customers, communities, dealers, and suppliers; appreciation of differences and inclusion of every person and every perspective has been described as diversity. Hewlett, Luce and West (2005) have stressed on the need to redefine diversity, broaden the definition from just inclusion, to creating a culture of which the minority groups feel a part of and can express themselves freely. They suggest innovative policies to meet this end. "Diversity management is a voluntary corporate approach to dealing with increasing demographic diversity in the workplace" (Ng & Burke 2005:.1196). It is suggested by Robinson and Dechant (1997:22) that a lot of companies prefer using a broad definition of diversity to include, "differences in gender, racio-ethnicity, age, physical abilities, qualities, and sexual orientation, as well as differences in attitudes, perspectives and background". Vedpuriswar (2008: 76) defines diversity as the "variety arising out of the educational, cultural, racial, ethnic, age, religious and gender differences".

Scholars and practicing managers alike have tried to differentiate between the policy of affirmative action and providing equal opportunity, with managing diversity. Diversity management allows organizations to leverage the diversity, accruing benefits from it, besides organizations embark on it voluntarily as compared to affirmative action (Ng &Burke 2005). …

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