Workplace diversity and managers
Globalisation is the factor that advances diversity in the workplace to an intense level. Simple demographic attributes, such as age, gender, mental and physical abilities and heritage, were not only the factors that differentiated every individual in the workplace but also cultural diversity has lately become another significant variable in the workplace.
Diversity can be catagorised into three dimensions: primary, secondary and tertiary dimensions. Primary dimensions, such as gender, culture, social class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, race, age, and mental or physical abilities, determine fundamental perspectives of the world and the way people perceive themselves. They have the most significant influence on individual and group in the society and workplace. Secondary dimensions are less visible and sensible than the primary, such as educational background, religion, first language, family, status, work experience, income, communication style, and geographic location. They shape the self-esteem and self-definition of an individual. Tertiary dimensions are mostly the centre of individual identities, such as beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, attitudes, values, feelings and group norms.
Currently, due to the rapid globalisation, workplace diversity is almost inevitable for any businesses. Diversity causes the workplace to be no longer homogeneous, but instead, heterogeneous. In particular, the workplace comprises people who have a different mix of variables under the three dimensions, which guide them to be different in thinking and analysing. In subsequent, these people incorporate negative and positive influences on an organisation, which they can be the key engine to propel the organisation to either success, such as increase productivity and creativity and broader service range, or failures, such as discrimination, communication problems, relationship conflicts, and poor work structure .
These possible results obligate authorities within organisations to create systematic and planned commitment that is called “Diversity Management”, to recruit, retain, reward, and promote a heterogeneous mix of employees. There are four intriguing strategies for managers to benefit from diversity in the workplace.
Firstly, Information Technology (IT) helps to promote the efficiency of communication and collaboration, plus, eliminating cultural and language barriers. For instance, e-mail is nowadays used as a primary communication in the workplace. As a matter of fact, people who are not English native speakers are better in writing than speaking in English. E-mail helps them to avoid more subtle language barrier and avoid culture clash. Plus, it keeps records of communication and reduces miscommunication and misunderstanding.
Secondly, diversity awareness, as managers value diversity and employment equity, understanding, appreciation, recognition, and awareness of human differences are emphasised. Once diversity and equity are valued within the workplace, employees are likely to feel accepted and recoginsed as a precious resource that has a significant contribution to the overall success of an organisation. Therefore, valuing diversity and equity enable employees to perform up to their capability. As a result, productivity, creativity, and efficiency are established.
Thirdly, changing structures, systems and policies to support diversity, these changes must promote fairness in recruitment, provision of special needs, and advancement of career. Indeed, these actions create legal certainties that verify an important of inclusion of diverse employees. For instance, employees are ensured by written declarations that imply that if they follow the rules and instructions of an organisation, their future is not fragile, pre-decided, and insecure. Consequently, they will be more determined, tenacious, and goals-oriented.
Fourthly, a delegation of power, by sharing the power to inferior especially to employees who are lower in the organizational hierarchy, they will have a feeling of empowerment and participation. For example, if a company adopts high power distance, employees are not allowed to question or share opinions with the superiors; on the other hand, a company with low power distance, the knowledge, opinions, and notions from any level of the company can flow throughout the entire company from top-down to bottom-up. As a consequence, employees will be better in the overall performance and responsibility because they can make their decisions and set their own methods to attain their goals.