Managing Diversity Literature Review

1743 words - 7 pages

In this paper we explore previous literature on the subject of managing diversity. We begin by looking at the various definitions of diversity. An analysis of the arguments found in the literature for, and against, workplace diversity is then presented. We then look at the results of empirical research conducted to examine the affects of diversity on organisational performance. A number of cases are included to illustrate real world examples to the literature reviewed.So why does diversity matter? The most simple and compelling answer is because it has the potential to lead to increased firm performance (Capowski 1996; Johnson 1999; Von Bergen, Soper & Parnell 2005). This has significant ramifications for business strategy because a diverse workforce can lead to higher quality decisions (Miller, Burke & Glick 1998)Thomas Roosavelt Junior defines diversity as 'dealing with the collective mixture of differences and similarities along a given dimension, and it extends to age, personal and corporate background, education, function and personality' (De Janesz, Dowd & Schnedier 2006, p. 91). His broad definition includes lifestyle, sexual orientation, geographic origin, tenure with an organisation, physical and mental disability, exempt or non-exempt status, and management or nonmanagement (De Janesz et al. 2006).Hazard (2004, p. 29) also views workplace diversity as 'more than race and gender. It refers to a broad range of differences that influence how people interact and achieve business results'. A broad definition of diversity is also adopted by Worth (2006), Richardson (2005) and Gill (2003).Therefore, as almost all workplaces have a diverse group of employees, managers and directors, being able to effectively manage workplace diversity is important to the majority of businesses. In this article, we have chosen to adopt a broad definition of 'diversity' as it is more relevant to most businesses.Kramer (1998) makes an important distinction between diversity and affirmative action, arguing that diversity management is an approach to management rather than an extension of affirmative action. Roosavelt (1990, p.108) argues that 'affirmative action is artificial', whilst managing diversity consists 'of enabling people, in this case minorities and women, to perform to their potential'.Accordingly, 'managing diversity is a philosophy about how differences among individuals and organisations can be embraced rather than feared, encouraged rather than squelched' (De Janesz et al. 2006, p. 93). It is 'a dynamic process that needs to influence business strategy and support business goals (Worman 2005, p. 27).'For diversity management to be effective, all groups in the workplace need to perceive that employment policies operate to satisfy their needs as well as those of individuals with different personality characteristics' (Kramer 1998, p.141). It is argued by Kramer (1998) that to be managed effectively, it must be done at the strategic,...

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