Diversity refers to the ways people differ from each other. These ways are significant and plentiful. Culturally, people vary in gender, age, ethnicity, race sexual orientation, educational background, religion, lifestyle, as well as veteran and/or immigrant status. Functionally, people vary in the ways we think, learn, process information, respond to authority, show respect and reach agreements (Pollar & Gonzalez, 2011.)
Obviously, people differ in numerous ways, so what does that mean for businesses? Well, when work groups are comprised of people with different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles, promoting teamwork and smooth interactions can be challenging. Finding new ways to work together will require thinking about people’s differences, not to divide, separate or exclude, but to take advantage of those differences. When people engage in divergent thinking, they put themselves in a highly exploratory mode, drawing from more of their total life experience to help solve a particularly difficult problem or to discover new and better alternatives to doing things.
A diverse workforce more closely reflects the global marketplace that the organization competes in. With the growing number of Asian, Hispanic and other minority populations, it makes sense for companies to promote and strive for diversity in the workplace. By doing this, businesses create the very conditions needed to produce more creative outcomes to the problems and challenges they will be faced with.
Diversity management initiatives are long term and strategic in focus. They strive not only to recruit, but to actively develop, promote and capitalize on the different skills and perspectives of minority employees (Marquis, 2007.) Every day, people are recognized for their unique talents and skills. The key is learning how to best take advantage of those skills and talents. This is what diversity management is all about. Supervisors and managers should also be careful to interpret cultural behaviors correctly and not give offense where none is intended. Furthermore, cultural insensitivity, in addition to being unproductive, may also be illegal.
So why should businesses choose diversity now? The main reason for businesses to actively develop and promote diversity is because of the...