Diversity is defined as a multi-dimensional mixture of people who vary by age, gender, race, religion, or life-style. Workplace diversity refers to variety and multiformity in the workplace. This multiformity can be driven in numerous ways; demographic composition of geographical location, an aging population, increasing presence of women in the workplace to mention a few. In this paper we examine how diversity can be manages using operant and social learning practices to reduce the incidence of workplace stereotypes.
Diversity in the workplace
With market globalization and international competition, firms have come to realise that a diverse workplace is a strong competitive advantage in today’s markets. It helps to attract a diverse customer base and provides new perspectives in an organization. We see diversity initiatives being implemented to improve corporate productivity and performance.
Multiformity in the workplace introduces an element of heterogeneity in problem solving /decision-making. This leads to a larger range of perspectives and stronger critical analysis of issues2
Diversity is a reality in today’s workplace. It shouldn’t be merely tolerated but valued for what it brings to the organization. ‘It’s not about assisting the individual to “fit into” the corporate culture by “fixing” what is different about them.1
Diversity and Perceptions
The multi gender, culture, religion elements of diversity are subject to multiple impressions in differing situational context from individuals. Their “diversity differences” are interpreted to provide order and meaning to the environment of the perceiver. More often than not, final opinions tend to generalise diverse individuals resulting in statements of hasty generalizations about diverse groups “Stereotypes”. Attritions and motives are assumed to explain individual distinctiveness or performance in the workplace.
Successful workplace diversity requires the throwing out whatever mental stereotypes we have built and understanding the value in difference. Sexual, racial and ethnic stereotypes need to be discarded before an organization can successfully move from “tolerating diversity” to “valuing diversity”. This requires members of the organization to “unlearn” diversity...