Sources of WorkForce Diversity

Today diversity refers to far more than skin color and gender. It is a broad term used to refer to all kinds of differences. These differences include women in business, dual-career families, workers of color, older workers persons  with  disabilities,  immigrants,  young  persons  with  limited  education  or  skills,  educational  level  of employees.

i.      Racial & Ethical Groups

ii.    Older Workers

iii.   Gender

iv.   Education

v.    Dual-career Families vi.   Religions & Culture

vii.  Persons with Disabilities viii. Immigrants

ix.   Young persons with limited education or skills

x.    Competitive advantage though work force diversity xi.   Marketing

xii.  Creativity, innovation, and problem solving

xiii. Flexibility

i.      Racial  &  Ethical  Groups: Workers  of  color  often  experience   stereotypes   about  their  group (Hispanics,   African   Americans,   Asians,   etc.).   At  times,   they   encounter   misunderstandings   and expectations based on ethnic or cultural differences.

ii.    Older Workers—as the world population is growing older, a trend that is expected to continue through the year 2000. In addition, the trend toward earlier retirement appears to be reversing itself.

iii.   Gender (Women in Business): Women represent almost 11.9 percent of corporate officers at largest companies. However, the number of women in entry and mid level managerial positions has risen from 34 percent in 1983 to 46 percent in 1998, meaning many more women are in the pipeline to executive spots. Today, there are more than 9 million women-owned  businesses, up from 400,000 in 1972. The number of nontraditional, single-parent households in the United States is growing. Because more than half  of all marriages  today  end in divorce,  this trend  is expected  to continue.  Often,  one or more children are involved. Of course, there are always widows and widowers who have children as well, and there are some men and women who choose to raise children outside of wedlock.

iv.   Education: Another form of diversity that is now found in the workplace is that of the educational level of employees. The United States is becoming a bipolar country with regard to education, with a growing number of very educated people on one side and an alarming increase in the illiteracy rate on the other.

v.    Dual-Career  Families: The increasing  number  of dual-career  families  presents  both challenges  and opportunities for organizations. As a result of this trend, some firms have revised their policies against nepotism to allow both partners to work for the same company. Other firms have developed polices to assist the spouse of an employee who is transferred. When a firm wishes to transfer an employee to another location, the employee’s spouse may be unwilling to give up a good position or may be unable to find an equivalent position in the new location. Some companies are offering assistance in finding a position for the spouse of a transferred employee.

vi.   Religion and Culture: Due to globalization  religion and culture based diversity is also increasing  in organizations.

vii.  Persons with disabilities: A handicap, or disability, limits the amount or kind of work a person can do or makes achievement unusually difficult. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), passed in 1990, prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

viii. Immigrants: Today the permitted level of legal immigration is increasing. Some are highly skilled and well educated,  and others are only minimally  qualified  with little education.  They have one thing in common—an eagerness to work. They have brought with them attitudes, values, and mores particular to their home-country cultures.

ix.   Young persons with limited education or skills: Each year thousands of young, unskilled workers are hired, especially during peak periods, such as holiday buying seasons. In general, they have limited education—high school or less. More jobs can be de-skilled, making it possible for lower-skilled workers to do them.

x.    Competitive advantage through Work Force Diversity: For many years’ organizations, the original impetus to diversify their workforces was social responsibility and legal necessity. Morally ethically it was right  to do so. Today  many  organizations  are approaching  diversity  efforts  from  a moral  practical, business  oriented  perspective,.  Increasingly,  diversity  can be a powerful  tool for building  competitive advantage. Companies with a reputation for providing opportunities  for diverse workforce will have a competitive  advantage  in a labor market and will be sought out by the most qualified  employees,  In addition when employee believe their differences are not merely tolerated but valued , they may become more loyal, productive and committed.

xi.   Marketing: Companies are realizing that consumers, like the workforce, are changing demographically.

Just as women and minorities may prefer to work for an employer that values diversity, they may prefer to  patronize  such  organizations.  A  multicultural  workforce  can  provide  a  company  with  greater knowledge  of the preferences  and consuming  habits of thus market place. This knowledge  can assist companies in designing products and developing market campaigns to meet those consumer needs. A diverse  workforce  can  also  give  company  competitive  edge  in  a  global  economy  by  facilitating understanding of other customers, cultures, and market place needs.

xii.  Creativity,   innovation,   and   problem   Solving: Work   team   diversity   promotes   creativity   and innovation,  because people from different backgrounds  hold different  perspective  on issues. Diverse groups have a broader base of experience from which to approach problem; when effectively managed, they invent more options and create more solutions than homogeneous groups do. In addition, diverse work groups are freer to deviate from traditional approaches and practices.

xiii. Flexibility: A diverse workforce can enhance organizational  flexibility because successfully  managing diversity requires a corporate culture that tolerates many different styles and approaches. Less restrictive polices and procedures and less standardized  operating methods enable organization  to become more flexible and thus better able to respond quickly to environmental changes.

xiv. Diversity Management  and Affirmative  Action Programs: We can define the workforce diversity management as set of activities involved in integrating diverse employees into the work force and using their diversity to the firm’s competitive advantage