Diversity in the workplace helps an organization to succeed among its competitors

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What is diversity?

Diversity comes form the word diverse. Diverse means made up of different or distinct characteristics, qualities or elements. Diversity means having a distinct quality or characteristic. Diversity in the workplace refers to qualities that are different from our own. It can mean that differences that people of different races, religion, and gender, age, physical ability or culture.

Why value diversity?

In the time we live in there are large demographics of people from all over the world they all need jobs so any way you look at it you will still need to hire people of a different race/culture then yourself. This means that diversity in the workplace will still occur naturally as the world is now a global village. Most multinational corporations have projects or subsidiaries in different countries and they hire the locals of that countries to work with there own people.

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Having a diverse workplace also is a good competitive advantage. These new cultures and races will help a company when new innovations and ideas are needed. If everyone in a company is of the same race/culture/background nothing will be different nor will ideas be new as everyone will have similar thoughts/ideas but if you put a person of a different minority in the mix it is guaranteed that something innovative will happen. Another advantage is that when marketing to a new people it is advised to select a person form that minority to help you as they know what works and what doesn’t.

A study in 1992 showed that diverse ethnic groups produced more effective solutions than groups with a single ethnicity.

“Innovation provides the seeds for economic growth, and for that innovation to happen depends as much on collective difference as on aggregate ability. If people think alike then no matter how smart they are, they are most likely will get stuck at the same locally optimal solutions. Finding new and better solutions, innovating, requires thinking differently. That’s why diversity powers innovation.”

-Scott E. Page, Professor,

University of Michigan

“There is no better fertile ground for innovation than a diversity of experience. And that diversity of experience arises from a difference of cultures, ethnicities, and life backgrounds. A successful scientific endeavor is one that attracts a diversity of experience, draws upon the breadth and depth of that experience, and cultivates those differences, acknowledging the creativity they spark.”

Dr. Joseph M. DeSimone

The importance of diversity in the workplace/Advantages

In the context of the workplace, valuing diversity means creating a workplace that respects and includes differences, recognizing the unique contributions that individuals with many types of differences can make, and creating a work environment that maximizes the potential of all employees. Christy Rakoczy, Why is diversity important in the workplace.

Diversity in the work place is very important as it brings people of different races, religion, and culture together in an environment in which they are all trying to gain an objective. Much like in regular society, diversity in the work place has many benefits and gain toward the greater good. In a diverse work place there are many nationalities and races which when put together can bring about many new ideas and innovations in to the market and the global economy.

Diversity helps in making a certain product better as more diverse people work together in order for the product to succeed. (For a product to be a real success there must be diversity, not only in the product itself, but also in the workforce and marketing of it.) This therefore tells us that even the workforce and marketing of a product needs to be diverse in order for it to be affective in gaining worldwide sale and growth.

The way that the workforce being diverse directly helps in making a product successful is that diverse people who helped in the manufacturing or marketing of the product are people from other cultures, races or gender. They see things differently if a company hires the same type of people who have the same type of experience and education and don’t know much about diversity will all be most likely similar. If u put in a diverse workforce you are more likely see differences which are good and each individual has his or her own way of seeing something. This is better that having a group of individuals with the same ideas or taste.

Most companies nowadays hire a diverse workforce for this reason. They want to see a change in products, and ideas. This is why diverse companies that hire from around the world regardless of anything have better ideas and innovations as there is a group of people who are very different form one another working together. Young people nowadays are given jobs in higher parts of organizations because their contributions to companies are invaluable.

Diversity benefits everyone in all aspects of the job the employee, company, colleagues, society in general. There is no reason why any business shouldn’t have a diverse workforce. Now in the 21st century everything is going to be diverse countries in general have big populations of other races and it brings about change and social acceptance. Businesses will have to be diverse in order to survive this time that we live in.

Drawbacks to diversity

There a few drawbacks to having a diverse workplace such as, Reversed discrimination – basically means that the ‘regular and indiverse’ people who might be more professional are not hired in favour of a person of a minority or of an ethnic group, gender, age or sexual orientation. People with significantly different backgrounds might have cultural or other barriers to co-work efficiently.

Some argue that diversity management programs nowadays are run in order to achieve a better reputation or financial goals, forsaking the basic aim of social fairness in all aspects of life.

Another challenge is miscommunication as two different individuals have different ways to perceive a message. Just because two people work together doesn’t mean that they will both understand the same things. It is the responsibility of the employer to makes sure everything said is understood and is clear. Having a diverse workplace means people form all walks of life are working so everyone has his/her way of dealing or perceiving ideas and interpreting them.

Another major challenge is cultural bias. Just because a company is working with a diverse workplace doesn’t mean that there isn’t any bias. Employers can and might see an ethnicity as being better then another. A company might hire diverse workers but still prefer to work with their “own kind”. This is a major problem as people are all different and looking at one kind of person and discriminating against them is unprofessional and unethical as everyone has the right to be treated equal. Having negative thoughts of individuals is an obstacle towards anything how can a company be productive is each employee thinks negative of one another. A company is only as good as how well their employees work together to achieve a specific goal that benefits all of them.

What is the Glass Ceiling?

It is a term used to describe the limitations for a gender/minority in reaching great heights while working for a company. This is due to discrimination, sexism, and racism towards females or minorities in the workplace.

Why is there a Glass Ceiling?

There is a glass ceiling because it is what the public as a whole think. Most people think that in a business the white male is the better option to hire and trust people then look down upon other minorities thinking they are all faulty when it comes to work. This also goes for women as people think that women should stay at home and look after the children. David R. Hekman and colleagues (2009) found that customers prefer white male employees, which is why such workers may continue to earn 25 percent more than equally-well performing women and minorities. Hekman et al. (2009) this shows us that even customers have a preference to white males even though the women and minorities perform similarly in terms of skills/manners. It is also why most high ranking jobs in companies are taken up by white males

History of diversity

The first early signs of diversity in the workplace began in the 1960’s-1970. The United States started to incorporate diversity. In 1961 President John F. Kennedy established the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity which had the vision of ending racial discrimination by the government.

The next year President Johnson signed an executive order to promote equal employment opportunity. This was a turning point, because it prohibited the consideration of “race, creed, color or national origin” to acting on the principle that fairness required more than a commitment to impartial treatment. In 1971, the Nixon Administration took this one step further in a revised order requiring contractors to develop an affirmative action program with goals and timetables.

Legal mandates had little effect on attitudes, on behaviors or on subtle discrimination, however. While organizational human resource efforts improved, the behavior of individual employees within organizations often did not. Moreover, employers found that simply hiring a more diverse workforce did not bring some of the expected benefits. In fact, evidence suggested that management would have to take a more sustained and committed approach in order to realize the benefits of diversity.

This approach gave way, during the 1980s, with the recognition that diversity should not only be legislated or mandated, but also valued as a business attribute. Training at the time focused on employee attitudes, as businesses and government agencies tried to raise awareness of and increase employee sensitivity to diversity issues. (Mauricio Velasquez).

Case Studies

Managing Diversity at IBM Nederland (The Netherlands)


A Vision on Managing Diversity

The multinational IT-company IBM is convinced that it can only keep its current competitive edge by reflecting marketplace diversity in the workforce and by offering a safe work environment for all employees. The company considers workforce diversity as ‘the bridge between the workplace and the marketplace’.

In 1953, the CEO at that time published IBM’s first equal opportunity policy letter. This letter stated simply that IBM will hire people based on their ability, “regardless of race, color or creed.” IBM’s subsequent CEO’s reinforced that policy throughout the years. Since then, equal opportunity at IBM has been an evolutionary journey that underscores the company’s commitment to an inclusive work environment where people’s ideas and contributions are welcome – regardless of where they come from, what they look like or what personal beliefs they hold.

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To stress the importance of workforce diversity, IBM’s worldwide headquarters employs a Vice President of Global Workforce Diversity. This official formulates global policies on managing diversity. Regional headquarters employ diversity managers. These people translate the global policies on managing diversity into regional spearheads. Next, the executive management teams of every subsidiary formulate local actions in order to increase and to make full use of workforce diversity in that specific IBM establishment. An example of a local action is the adjustment of human resources policies and processes. Due to the differences in national legislation on employment and discrimination, IBM thinks it’s best to do this at country level. IBM 05-02-2005.

Louise O’Grady, Accommodating an Employee with a Disability


28 year old Louise O’Grady is an administrative assistant with Access Ability. Louise was born with cerebral palsy which constrains her in her mobility. Before starting her job with the company in April, an environmental audit had to be carried out. “The person with the disability is an expert on their own needs and that is why their input is crucial. Every disability is different – everyone has different needs and requirements must be tailor-made to meet specific needs”, she explains.

What many employers fail to understand, when dealing with a person with a disability for the first time, is that it is not the disability that is the problem, it is the environment. According to Louise, sometimes all it takes is a software package like a voice recognition system to overcome the constraints faced by a person with a disability in the workplace. “It is the office mechanisms that aren’t suitable, but through negotiation and communication, these problems can be easily overcome”. They certainly were for Louise. “The office environment was relatively accessible; however it did require some minor adaptations, such as extra door handles and loosening of hinges”.

In the case of Louise O’Grady, She has a disability therefore if she is hired the company she will be working for has tried to incorporate a diverse workplace. Companies that hire people with a disability have to take the initiative to help them out. For Louise she needed special help like making the workplace more accessible to her disability. This is a good example of a company that is trying to add diversity to their workforce. People with a disability can work just as well as people with out a disability and are equally capable of becoming successful. They should be given an equal chance to be hired and all employers must be able to help them in terms of making facilities accessible and giving them a chance to prove them selves.

Managing a diverse workplace

The key to successfully manage a diverse workplace is to increase ones awareness for differences in people of all walks of life such as gender, age, race, religion, physical ability or culture. One good way to manage anyone is to have empathy. You have to work together you have to feel what your employee feels in order to be a good manager. Especially with a diverse workplace empathy is very important. Another way is to learn what the employee wants from their job at the company and help them achieve it. Supporting the employee also is a good method it brings the employees closer to their employer. Be lenient as different employees work differently especially if from a diverse background they need their freedom to work the way do need to. Don’t force employees to work in the same way as each other as everyone is different. People with a disability need more support and supervision sometimes the company is not disability friendly and may need to incorporate some things to help a disabled employee.


Some good strategies in managing a diverse workplace

Learn the professional aspirations of all team members and support their efforts to achieve them.

Create opportunities for highly talented employees to be exposed to leaders who may not otherwise interact with them.

Create cross-functional teams.

Volunteer for community projects that teach tolerance, both directly and indirectly.

Delegate fairly.

Communicate and support intolerance of inappropriate and disrespectful behaviour.

Evaluate performance objectively.

Consider individual needs when enforcing company policies and guidelines.


In conclusion Diversity is a great thing. It’s the variety of people in all aspects racially, mentally, physically and spiritually. Having a diverse workplace is an advantage to any company. It is what makes a company successful. All multinational and successful companies have a diverse workplace. New ideas and innovations are the just some of the things that arrive from having a diverse workplace. Having many different people form all aspects make for a good advancement for any company. Managing a diverse workplace is just as difficult as managing a workplace with the same kind of individuals therefore you can only gain if you practise having a diverse workplace.




















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