The Role of Diversity in Today’s Management
MGNT 5000 Management
Maria Leticia Alvarado Talavera
February 25, 2010
Most workplaces today are becoming increasingly diverse as people of different genders, races, cultures, ethnic origins, and lifestyles find themselves working together. As a result, the workplace is becoming increasingly multicultural. Some organizations are just now encountering the effects of a diverse workforce, while others are trying to overcome the challenges created by diversity. However, no matter where an organization is in this development, the challenge is to ensure that its workforce's diversity is a source of strength, not one of conflict. Effectively managing this diversity, then, is a critical component of success for today's employer. This is the reason many employers are offered or offer cultural diversity training and conflict management training. Diversity is a business reaction to the fast cultural and sociological events and changes. Differences in personal work style, skills or talents, education, and geographical location are examples of other diversity dimensions that make a difference in how we work together as a corporate team. When managed effectively, these differences broaden organizational capability.
Management and Diversity Understanding Diversity In order for management to make diversity work, managers must first understand the definition of diversity. Most simply explained, diversity encompasses all of the ways in which individuals are both similar and different. According to Lee Gardenswartz, "Diversity involves variations in factors we control as well as those over which we have no choice. These factors give us areas of commonality through which we can connect with others and aspects of difference from which we can learn" (p. 24). These same factors also represent areas of trouble where conflict may develop. Today, cultural diversity is a business reality. The ability to build bridges between people from different countries, with different ethnic backgrounds, is as important as any other business function. Working in a culturally and ethically diverse organization does not mean eliminating differences in styles and approach, but celebrating those differences and revealing the much strength that diversity brings to an organization. “Today diversity refers to far more than skin color and gender, it is a broad term used to refer to all kinds of differences, these differences include religious affiliation, age, disability status, military experience, sexual orientation, economic class, educational level, and lifestyle in addition to gender, race, ethnicity, and nationality, (as cited in Bateman & Snell, 2007, p. 398). There is a multitude of ways in which humans are both alike and different. Some of these differences have an impressive effect on our opportunities and experiences, while others have relatively little impact at all. Diversity can be seen as "four concentric circles," at the center of which is personality (Gardenswartz 24). Personality is a distinctive aspect that gives each person his or her own particular style. This core aspect pierces all other layers. Beyond the central core of personality are the six internal dimensions of diversity. These are aspects over which people have little or no control. They include gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical ability, and race. In addition to internal dimensions, external influences such as social factors and life experiences also have an impact on how people are treated at work. Some examples of these external influences include: where an individual grew up or lives now, whether they are married or have children, how their religious affiliation guides them and the amount and type of education they have. Finally, the fourth layer encompasses organizational influences related to factors such as seniority, the...
References: Bateman Thomas S, & Snell Scott A. Management: Leading & Collaborating in a Competitive World. (8th edition). , McGraw-Hill, Irwin.
Gardenswartz, Lee, & Rowe Anita. Managing Diversity: A Complete Reference and Planning Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1998
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