Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. That sounds simple, but diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more.
Diversity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability and change. Diversity will increase significantly in the coming years. Successful organizations recognize the need for immediate action and are ready and willing to spend resources on managing diversity in the workplace now.
Benefits of Workplace Diversity
An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize the benefits. When organizations actively assess their handling of workplace diversity issues, develop and implement diversity plans, multiple benefits are reported such as:
Organizations employing a diverse workforce can supply a greater variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources. Employees from diverse backgrounds bring individual talents and experiences in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating markets and customer demands.
Broader service range
A diverse collection of skills and experiences (e.g. languages, cultural understanding) allows a company to provide service to customers on a global basis.
Variety of viewpoints
A diverse workforce that feels comfortable communicating varying points of view provides a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet business strategy needs and the needs of customers more effectively.
More effective execution
Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest ability. Company-wide strategies can then be executed; resulting in higher productivity, profit, and return on investment.
Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace
Taking full advantage of the benefits of diversity in the workplace is not without its challenges. Some of those challenges are:
Communication – Perceptual, cultural and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork, and low morale.
Resistance to change – There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The “we’ve always done it this way” mentality silences new ideas and inhibits progress.
Implementation of diversity in the workplace policies – This can be the overriding challenge to all diversity advocates. Armed with the results of employee assessments and research data, they must build and implement a customized strategy to maximize the effects of diversity in the workplace for their particular organization.
Successful Management of Diversity in the Workplace – Diversity training alone is not sufficient for your organization’s diversity management plan. A strategy must be created and implemented to create a culture of diversity that permeates every department and function of the organization.
Organisational justice, first postulated by Greenberg in 1987, refers to an employee’s perception of their organisation’s behaviours, decisions and actions and how these influence the employees own attitudes and behaviours at work.
The term is closely connected to the concept of fairness; employees are sensitive to decisions made on a day-to-day basis by their employers, both on the small and large scale, and will judge these decisions as unfair or fair. These judgements influence an individual’s behaviour and can, in cases where the actions have a personal effect on the employee and are judged as unfair, lead to workplace deviance.
Organisational justice is concerned with all matters of workplace behaviour, from treatment by superiors to pay, access to training and gender equality. It is originally derived from equity theory, which suggests individuals make judgements on fairness based on the amount they give (input) compared to the amount they get back (output).
Ensuring organisational justice should be a priority for organisation – it can reduce the incidence of workplace deviance, absence, disengagement and counterproductive workplace behaviours (CWB) and also encourage positive attributes like trust and progressive communication.
Organisational justice is sometimes discussed alongside corporate social responsibility (CSR), a form of societal justice.