While the traditional notion of workplace diversity may refer to representations of various races, genders and religious backgrounds, today’s concept of workplace diversity is all – encompassing. Aside from these variables, considerations are also made on: personality, age, cognitive style, skill-set, education, background and more. The focus of workplace diversity now lies on the promotion of individuality within an organization, acknowledging that every person can bring something different to the table. An organization that is committed to a diverse workforce, therefore, is one that aims to harness a pool of individuals with unique qualities, seeing this combination of differences as a potential for growth rather than opportunities for conflict. Let’s see first the background theory. Attached to this commitment is also an intention to nurture and develop the potential of each individual. So what is it about “diversity” that can give organizations an edge?
Here I try to sum up 5 advantages I can consider of having a diverse workforce.
1.Various opinions and perspectives
Employees with different background and experiences will bring together a variety of perspectives, thereby evoking alternative solutions and approaches when discussing a topic or issue. This amalgamation of diverse individuals also sets the stage for creativity as different ideas can be tested against one another, and new ones may be birthed. Employees stand to experience more personal growth in an environment where they are exposed to differences in culture, opinions and ideas.
2.Growth of employees
Employees stand to experience more personal growth in an environment where they are exposed to differences in culture, opinions and ideas.Employers will have to improve their ability to adapt to different circumstances in a diverse environment. They have to work through differences in personality, culture and background. Underlying ethnocentric notions may finally be brought to the fore and confronted as they learn to work with different styles and cultures.
3. Unity of diverse strengths
Diversity also presents the opportunity to unite specific strengths to the advantage of the organization. As every person has different skills and possesses varying strengths, these can be combined for greater performance and productivity. Technical strengths in one individual can be united with the management strengths of another, and the sales strength of yet another. Likewise, the cultural expertise of diverse individuals can be leveraged for the benefit of the company. Especially for global organizations, diversity in a workforce can optimize an organization’s ability to meet the needs of each market. Representatives of specific demographics can be paired with clients of the similar backgrounds, helping clients feel more comfortable and sense an affinity with the employee, and thereby, the organization.
4.Make company attractive
From the marketplace perspective, a company that promotes workplace diversity and an inclusive work environment adds to its attractiveness as an employer. A work place that is open to exploring new ideas and styles is especially appealing for the adventurous open-minded employees of Generation Y. If an organization makes it known that they focus on what individuals can bring to the table more than the candidate’s socioeconomic background, ethnicity and the like, they are more likely to attract a diverse range of applicants.
5. The schedule advantage
There is also a practical advantage in having a diverse workforce. As individuals have their unique time commitments, having a varied group helps ensure that work tasks can be fulfilled at all times of the year. Various races are represented particularly in their roles that involve shift work. Acknowledging that various ethnicities and religions have different celebrations they adhere to, making sure they have a diverse group of employees ensures there is a workforce across different festival periods during the year.
THE CHALLENGES OF DIVERSITY
Now let’s look realistically at all the aspects I mentioned above and we will learn that actually the statement we often hear at workplaces namely that “Diversity is the best way to succeed” is in fact a veritable lie.
There are, however, natural obstacles to embracing and implementing diversity in an organization. We would be ignoring the challenges firstly of advocating diversity and then managing it in a manner than ensures it is a strength, and not a human resource and operational nightmare. The goal is to create an environment where every employee has opportunities to be successful and where their differences are leveraged for the success of the organization. The challenge is “the issue of inclusion” or “muscle memory” as one of the main obstacles to workplace diversity, referring to the attitude that says “This is how it has always been done. Why change it?”
Hidden biases form a major component in the formation of this “muscle memory”. Subconsciously, every person has a tendency to draw on their hidden biases when making decisions about who they think will be the best candidate for a particular role or opportunity. They may favor people of a particular race or educational background, gender or individuals of a certain a personality type. A quick glance at the leadership composition of an organization can reveal predispositions that they are inclined towards. You may hear phrases like “It’s not intentional,” . “It’s just this feeling that I’m more comfortable with people like me.” Concerning this is advisable that people, especially managers, must be aware of their personal biases and understand that they may be preventing them from considering other possibilities.
CLASH OF APPROACHES
There is also the very real issue of differences in perspectives leading to a clash of approaches. Culture, personality and background differences can erect social divisions between employees that they need to recognize and overcome. Naturally, this can present disruptions when working in teams as individuals learn to adapt and understand on another. However, this can turn to an advantage if individuals recognize that different, sometimes conflicting ideas, are important to make sure a team does not have tunnel vision. We can see it as a “dynamic tension” that can bring the best results.
So with other words : it is simply better to leave Rome to the Romans. Such theories about diversity are just theories, but in reality saying that “Diversity is the best way to succeed” is of course a lie.
The art of persuasion makes the difference.
And this is one of the most crucial business skills. Without the ability to persuade others to support your ideas, you won’t be able to attract the support you need to turn those ideas into realities. And though most people are unaware of it, the ways you seek to persuade others and the kinds of arguments you find persuasive are deeply rooted in your culture’s philosophical, religious, and educational assumptions and attitudes. Far from being universal, then, the art of persuasion is one that is profoundly culture-based.
It’s easy to see how these differences in the characteristic sequence of thinking may cause difficulty or misunderstanding when people from Asian and Western cultures are involved in conversation.
A typical example is that Westerners may think that the Chinese are going all around the key points without addressing them deliberately, while East Asians may experience Westerners as trying to make a decision by isolating a single factor and ignoring significant inter dependencies. This difference affects how business thinking is perceived in Western and Asian cultures. In the eyes of Asian business leaders ,European and American executives tend to make decisions without taking much time to consider the broader implications their actions.
AVOIDING THE PITFALLS, REAPING THE BENEFITS
With words like “diversity” and “global” all the rage, many companies are seeking to create multinational, multicultural teams in an effort to reap benefits in the form of added creativity and greater understanding of global markets. However, as we’ve seen, cultural differences can be fraught with challenges. Effective cross-cultural collaboration can take more time than mono-cultural collaboration and often needs to be managed more closely, here are two simple tips that can help you realize the benefits of such collaboration while avoiding the dangers.
Tip 1 = on a multicultural team, you can save time by having as few people in the group work across cultures as possible. For example, if you are building a global team that includes small groups of participants from four countries, choose one or two people from each country-the most internationally experienced of the bunch-to do most of the cross-cultural collaborating. Meanwhile you can leave the others to work in the local way that is most natural to them. That way, you can have the innovation from the combination of cultures, while avoiding the inefficiency that comes with the dash of cultures.
Tip 2 = think carefully about your larger objectives before you mix cultures up. If your goal is innovation or creative, the more cultural diversity the better, as long as the process is managed carefully. But if your goal is simple speed and efficiency, then mono-cultural is probably better than multicultural.
As result from seeing all these, we can by large amount of confidence say that the best way to succees is not through diversity. The best way to suceed is through Professionallism.
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