Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Workforce Diversity: Monitoring Employment Trends in Public Organizations

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Workforce Diversity: Monitoring Employment Trends in Public Organizations

Article excerpt

Current research on workforce diversity and minority employment has largely ignored the use of research designs to evaluate and monitor minority employment trends within public organizations. This study presents the use of three research designs that can be utilized by human resources specialists to evaluate and monitor increases (or decreases) in workforce diversity and minority employment over time. This study also presents the statistical analyses associated with each research design. The goal of the study is to provide human resources specialists with additional techniques to further understand the dynamics of workforce diversity and minority employment within and between public organizations.

Editor's Note: The article on page 157 about general statistical analysis may assist to fully benefit from this article.

Workforce diversity and minority employment in the public sector is an important area of research in public personnel administration. Numerous studies have examined the status of minority representation and incorporation into the public sector.[1] More comprehensive and theoretical studies have examined which factors contribute to increases in workforce diversity and minority employment.[2] In recent years, researchers have begun to focus on the effects of downsizing, outsourcing, privatizing, and rightsizing on workforce diversity and minority employment.[3] Although these studies are important for understanding the determinants of workforce diversity and minority employment, their utility to human resources specialists is limited because these studies do not adequately address how to measure and monitor increases (or decreases) in workforce diversity and minority employment in public organizations.

Since previous studies did not discuss the use of research designs to evaluate and monitor workforce diversity in public organizations, this study integrates diversity measurement with research methods so that human resources specialists will acquire additional tools for evaluating workforce diversity. The purpose of this study is to present several research designs for evaluating increases (or decreases) in workforce diversity and minority employment in public organizations. This study also addresses how to assess and monitor the level of diversity within specific job categories (or classifications). To this end, this study addresses the following questions from a human resources specialist's perspective:

* Is there a particular research design available to me for evaluating and monitoring workforce diversity over a short time period?

* Is there a particular research design available to me for evaluating and monitoring workforce diversity within particular job categories?

* Is there a particular research design available to me for simultaneously comparing workforce diversity within specific job categories over time?

Diversity Indices

Workforce diversity in public organizations can be measured by using various diversity indices such as the Lieberson index, McIntosh DEvenness index, or the Nachmias-Rosenbloom Measure of Variation (MV) index.[4] The selection and use of one or all of these indices should depend on the researcher's or human resources specialist's objectives. As a caveat, however, Guajardo observed that some diversity indices possess a higher degree of discriminatory power to detect subtle differences in the level of diversity between and within public organizations in comparison to other diversity indices.[5]

For this study, the Lieberson index is used for illustrative purposes. The Lieberson diversity coefficients (or scores) are calculated by using the following formula:

AW = 1 - [x12 + x22 + ... + xn2]

   where x represents the proportion of individuals possessing the qualitative
   variable (or variables) of interest (e.g., educational level, gender,
   racial background, sexual orientation, etc. … 
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