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Organizations provide employment to a wide variety of employees. In such an organization, there are great differences between people. The differences are due to varying race, gender, ethnic group, personality, age, tenure, education, functions within the organization and many more. The aim of any organization is to unite the efforts of its people in order that it may achieve its specified objective. Therefore, it is a requirement that the diverse perspectives of its people be converged so that the organization can achieve these goals (Cox, 2001). The capability, skills and talents of all employees should be joined together in a planned way in pursuit of organizational goals.
In many organizations, this has not been the case as diversity is stifled because it is more demanding. Managing diversity is challenging than managing uniformity. Managing diversity requires more resources, more effort and is likely to fail. It requires more time therefore it is demanding and stressful (Hofstede, 2001). On the other hand, management in most organizations promotes sameness, seek conformity, and discourage individuality while punishing nonconformity (Bell, 2006). This is because uniformity is easy to manage since it is stable and predictable. Efficiency in operations is high, the performance is economical and fewer surprises are expected. This makes the conformity culture to be encouraged.
Research has shown that in organizations where conformity is encouraged, creativity and innovation among its members is condensed. This in turn retard initiative and limits the freedom to create new items. It also prevents accountability for results, weakens motivation within the organization and limits freedom. Therefore, more benefits accrue from diversity than conformity in an organization. In an organization where diversity is embraced, the ability to blend various perspectives, abilities and experience creates freedom and motivates everyone. There is more unity thus a stronger dynamic and innovative team is created (Hofstede, 2001).
An illustration of diversity in an organization is the diversity that exists in Mother Nature. An acre of ground may contain more than 5,000 species of trees and plant life. Such diversity is not only beautiful but also inspiring and ecologically healthy. If this piece of land is leveled, such that all the indigenous plant life die. The new plants that would grow would yield less than 10% of the original diversity. The first trees that would grow would dominate the field and prevent the former diversity from developing. Once altered, diversity never returns on its own. The uniformity that is created makes it impossible for diversity to develop (Cox, 2001). Modern organizations behave in a similar manner. Since creating, an organization is more like leveling a piece of land. For diversity to develop, it must be carefully natured.
In a new organization, the new staff will always dominate and create a certain culture in the organization. They are like the first specie that grow and tend to dominate hence limiting diversity. This means that right from the time an organization is created, diversity is already being restricted. This means that any organization that wants to develop diversity should vigilantly nature it. From this illustration, we can define diversity as uniting competing interests into one whole. It is easy to observe that for diversity to develop there should be unwavering nourishment. Organizations with high levels of conformity lack new perspectives. They are ineffective and stagnant and produce cultures that affect employees negatively (Mello, & Ruckes, 2001).
In many organizations, diversity is not embraced fully and is restricted to mean conforming to government guidelines on gender sensitivity, sexual diversity and racial impartiality within the workplace. Such views limit the management to focus on legal risks instead of benefits of diversity. With this mentality, the management only does the minimum instead of the maximum to encourage diversity. This only makes them to promoting uniformity instead of encouraging diversity (Cox, 1994).
Scholars studying diversity classify it in three broad categories. These include individual level, group level and organizational level of analysis. At the individual level, they analyze social categories differences such as race, ethnicity, gender and work based on interpersonal level. The variables studied in this case are cultural distances, sense of control, cultural shock and perceived similarity. In studying this level, one must assume that the effects of the various types of diversity are uniform. One can be judged based only on educational background, skills and work experience.
The differences that are common at the interpersonal level are normally due to personality differences, the work styles, the individual methods of communication and organizational expertise (Cox, 2001). Nevertheless, all these factors must be overlooked while making decisions within the organization. The management, particularly the human resource should put more effort to ensure that diversity is effectively applied within the work environment. Apart from putting effort and acknowledging the various differences that individuals have, the management should know the similarities within the diverse workforce in order to build a performing team.
A better approach in understanding similarities is analyzing it with respect to the organizational objectives to be met. After this a team whose similarities will be able to create synergy while their differences complement one another is formed. Therefore, diversity in the workplace should be all-inclusive. It is the work of HR officials to identify individual talents in order to enhance individual's contribution to workplace (Bell, 2006). This will cause the differences and similarities in individuals to work together in order to achieve the organizations goals. Consumer markets may at times have diverse attitudes and preferences. The organization in such a case should look positively into these contradictory perspectives, and then generate the necessary creativity to tackle them for the success of the organization. Unique approaches in this case leads to creative solutions for the organization.
A study by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) showed that only 30% of all organizations embrace diversity. Though there is a general awareness of diversity, its management in most organizations remains a challenge. The challenge comes in because diversity is not well understood in many organizations. Other organizations place too much emphasis on ethnicity and gender instead of focusing on diversity.
Working with people of foreign cultures or from a different country may be challenging and frustrating and in many places will slow the pace of work. Most of the times, this is caused by communication problems and cultural misunderstandings (McEnery, & DesHarnais, 1990). In order to tackle this challenge, organizations are currently developing cultural diversity training program. Even in small organizations have taken the initiative and are now developing the diversity-training program. The main aim of the training is to assist employees to appreciate differences in language, lifestyle, culture and race. This will enable the staff to work effectively even when faced with communication challenges. Creating a cultural diversity-training program provides illustrations of how diversity affects relationships, which is a key component in a workplace. A successful cultural diversity-training program will cause change the way people make decisions.
Employees will tend to make less prejudice or biased decisions within multicultural workplaces (Bell, 2006). Employees are in a better position to understand and recognize religious holidays and bilingualism. Examples of training exercises used in organizations are intercultural parties. In this case various cultures may showcase the different foods in their respective cultures. Diversity in action involves solving a scenario when faced with a diversity challenge. Participants from different cultural backgrounds are asked how they would respond when in such a situation. Cultural diversity training program is important in assisting employees appreciate cultural differences which is becoming more common at the workplace.