The Effects of Recruiting Methods on Cultural Diversity
Maintaining cultural diversity in an organization can lead to innovation and an increased competitive advantage in the marketplace. In the past, the term cultural diversity referred to differences in race or religion. Now, the term cultural diversity means much more than that. As the uniqueness of each individual is recognized, the term cultural diversity has grown to encompass many factors about a person and their background. Cultural diversity is no longer delineated by major lines of color and national origin. This research will explore the effects of human resources on cultural diversity within an organization.
Cultural Diversity and the Workforce
Racial diversity issues have increased in importance since the Civil Rights Movement of 1964. It was recognized that white, Caucasian, males still constituted the majority in the workforce. Until that time, the select group was treated as if they were the only important ones. The workforce and legal environment were set up to promote the advancement of the white male to the exclusion of other groups. Changes that brought about the civil rights movement and eventual laws promoting equality were largely the result of a recognition that blacks and women made a major contribution to the workforce as well. Diversity issues will continue to grow in importance in the workforce as minority populations continue to increase (Cox, 1993). Diversity issues are no longer just an issue of white Males, Females, and African-Americans. Diversity issues now involve Hispanics, eastern Asians, and those of various sexual orientations. Diversity is a key issue in the sustainable development of organizations today.
Diversity comes in two forms. Differences such as race are visible differences. One can immediately recognize the race of certain people. They notice differences in their skin color, their eye shape, face shape, and hair color. These differences can be the basis of division even before a meeting has occurred. Standard classifications have been developed for classifying these types of differences (Ely & Thomas, 2007). Other differences are more difficult to distinguish. For instance, cultural differences represent another type diversity that is not always so easy to distinguish. Culture occurs on many different levels in a person's life. For instance, a person may culturally identify with a certain group. They may share in dress, food, and the holidays they celebrate. However a person may also have a family culture that dictates their attitudes, view points and lifestyle. All of these categories fall within the definition of diversity (Ely & Thomas, 2007).
Diversity within the work group generates innovation under certain circumstances. When a group is faced with a certain task they will have different perspectives and problem solving skills. These various forms of problem solving skills will provide more solutions than if all of the work group members are of the same background and ideology (Ely & Thomas, 2007). Diversity breeds creativity in the work group. However, it can also be a source of conflict as the various members of the work group try to defend their position and ideas (Ely & Thomas, 2007).
A lack of diversity within a certain work group can eliminate conflict, but it also has the potential to limit the ability of the group to perform effectively. A group of people with the same ideas and perspectives will not bring as many solutions to the table as one that consists of people with differing ideals and attitudes. Diversity is the key to competitive advantage through the presentation of various viewpoints within the group.
The formation of a diverse workgroup that embraces differences in opinion and perspective that lead to greater competitive advantage and innovation requires a certain degree of tolerance among the workgroup members. They must not only listen to the opinions of others they must respect and embrace these differences. This requires a certain degree of tolerance and comfort with one's own thoughts and beliefs. The functionally diverse workgroup welcomes the inflow of new perspectives and attitudes. They see these differences as a way to learn from others and to see their own beliefs and ways of solving problems in new and different ways.
One type of diverse workgroup can go beyond functionality into the realm of thriving and beyond. However, if certain members of the group harbor feelings that are biased against one type of culture, then they can create chaos in the group and the group can literally come to a standstill. Discrimination and bigotry are counter to tolerance and acceptance. Discrimination within the work group bring it to a halt. From a human resources perspective, it is easy to see which type of group would be the most beneficial for the company. The question is how to achieve diversity within the workgroup without resorting to discriminatory policies and processes.
Human Resources and the Workforce
Diversity and its affect on organizational competitiveness has dominated research on diversity during the past several decades. Dissimilarity between different cultural groups creates conflict both within and outside of the workforce. This conflict can lead to decisions on whether to maintain membership in a group organization, or whether to break ties with the cultural group (Jackson & Aparma, 2001). In this way, diversity issues have an impact on organizational turnover rates. High conflict diversity within a group leads to high turnover rates, which has an impact on profitability through the loss of experienced workers and the need to continually replace them. Organizations that have conflicts over diversity issues gain many benefits including increased productivity, lower absenteeism rates, and innovation that leads to increased competitive advantage (Jackson & Aparma, 2001).
As one can see, diversity issues have a major impact on the organization. For this reasond human resources must take a proactive stance on diversity issues within the workforce. Diversity, when treated as a knowledge-based resource did not support diversity as a positive or negative factor in an organization. In a study involving the banking industry, it was found that diversity could be either positive or negative depending on the context in which diversity is trreated within the group (Richard, McMillan & Chadwick et al., 2003). This study suggests that organizations can play an active role in how they treat diversity issues.
In a study that explored concerns of various managers regarding diversity issues, several key areas were discovered about diversity and human resources strategy. It was found that concerns varied among the different groups within a workforce. For instance, major diversity issues concerning Asians centered on stereotyping, networking, mentoring, and targeted advertising and marketing. Among women, diversity issues centered on networking, career advancement, work/life balance, and a commitment to advance women in the organization. Among blacks, issues centered on representation in the workforce, retention, networking, education, and training, Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender individuals suffered from legal issues more than the other groups. Of key concern were domestic partner benefits and online help for self-identification (Thomas, 2004). These are only a few of the issues addressed in the research study, but they are an example of how diversity issues affect different groups from a strategic standpoint.
Organizations must comply with laws about diversity issues. However, as we have discovered, there many other benefits to addressing diversity issues in the workforce. The work of Thomas highlights the importance of developing a targeted strategy in addressing diversity issues among the various groups. Avery & McKay (2006) conducted research on how to attract female and other minority job applicants. It was found that managing organizational impressions, recruitment strategies, marketing strategies, and psychological framework all play important roles in attracting female job applicants.
Today's laws and social context highlight the importance of maintaining certain levels of diversity within the organization. However, as we have discovered through this literature review, maintenance of diversity within the organization can not only be tricky, the results are not always positive. Diversity can have a negative impact as well as a positive one depending on how diversity is handled within the organization. Policies that promote diversity are on side of the issue, but policies alone do not guarantee that the organization will receive the full benefits of diversity within the workforce. The organization must strive to achieve a culture that promotes diversity as well.
The first step to meeting the requirements of diversity within the organization is recruitment. Often this is the most difficult part of the process. Demographics in various neighborhoods and sectors of the country can have a significant impact on the ability to attract the diverse workforce that organizations must maintain. For instance, it can be difficult to attract minority employees in a predominantly upper class, white neighborhood. However, difficulties attracting diverse workforces can also work in the opposite direction. For instance, it can be difficult to find enough Caucasian workers in a predominantly ethnic section of a large city, such as China Town. Although many workers have a grasp of the English language that is sufficient to achieve work in a predominantly Caucasian workforce, this may not be true when it comes…