Managing Diversity in the Workplace essay

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Research will be useful to companies of all sizes and in all sectors of the market. Everyone is affected by diversity, whether they realize it or not. Companies that do not have a diverse workforce internally still come into contact with suppliers, customers, and others outside of the company who are from differing backgrounds. The research will benefit public and private companies of all sizes by allowing them to gain a greater understanding of diversity and the benefits of understanding those with a different outlook.

The study will also benefit other researchers in the fields of diversity, workforce management and other related topics. It will provide a solid foundation for future research into the area by providing a consistent definition that reflects today's changing workforce. This research will benefit many areas of study in the future and will play an important role in shaping diversity research in the future.

Research Questions

The purpose of this study is to help companies understand the importance of diversity in their organization and its new role in achieving a corporate advantage. However, it is the goal of the study to help gain a deeper understanding of the research topics. Therefore, the following research questions will help to achieve these goals.

1. Which elements should be considered in the new definition of diversity?

2. How important are these new dimensions to diversity as compared to demographics?

3. What role does culture play in the definition of diversity?

4. Why are women, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, and other persons of Caucasian decent considered fewer times than those in the majority race for managerial positions?

These research questions will support the hypotheses and will play a vital role in understanding the thought processes that are behind new attitudes towards diversity.

Hypothesis

The researcher will explore the new definition of diversity through a thorough investigation of existing literature and also explore new attitudes regarding diversity and diversity training in the workplace through a set of survey questions. The research will support the following hypotheses:

H1: The definition of diversity goes beyond demographics and now includes ideology, political positions, religions, ethics, and philosophy.

The null hypothesis will state that ideology, political positions, religions, ethics, and philosophy are not included in the current definition of diversity for a majority of the survey respondents.

H2: Despite advances in labor laws; women, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics are still underrepresented in managerial positions.

The null hypothesis will state that labor laws have effectively leveled the playing field, making representation of women, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics in managerial positions equitable to those of other races in managerial positions.

H3: Diversity awareness training that includes the newly expanded definition of diversity would be helpful in promoting equitability in managerial positions.

The null hypothesis will state that diversity awareness training that includes the newly expanded definition of diversity would not be helpful in promoting equitability in managerial positions.

These hypotheses will help to achieve the research goals and to help others gain an understanding of the new definition of diversity in the workplace. It will help companies to appreciate the importance of diversity and its role in maintaining a strategic advantage. These hypotheses will play a central role in the ability of the research study to achieve its goals.

Conclusions

Many consider society to have advanced to a place where we have achieved equality in the workforce. However, daily experiences bring one to realize that this may not always be the case. Laws can have an impact on the actions that people take, but they may not have the same effect that spawned the need for them in the first place. Attitudes and cultural norms that promote inequality and injustice in the workplace based on individual differences has a long history. These practices were a key defining element of society in the past. In order to change them requires a change from within society. Basic societal attitudes that helped to promote prejudice can also be used to help promote diversity tolerance in the workplace.

Education about diversity will be needed in order to bring about the changes in society that will lead to greater tolerance of others in the workforce. Differences in opinion of all types are a source of conflict. Eliminating sources of conflict will lead to higher productivity, lower absenteeism and improved morale. As workers come to a greater understanding of diversity through training in the workplace, they will take these attitudes and opinions home with them. In this manner, the knowledge will spread to others outside of the organization. Diversity training will eventually lead to better communities through the ability to understand one another and to develop the tolerance needed to maintain a peaceful society. Diversity training and the knowledge gained from this study will have a scope that reaches beyond this study and into the larger community.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Diversity first began to emerge as a topic of interest in academic communities during the early 1990s. At that time, it had been over 25 years since the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1964 came to be. This early research into diversity used the definitions that were introduced in the mid 1960s that only considered demographic factors as the basis for diversity and the need for diversity training. This resulted in a definition and method for exploring diversity that was only skin-deep. Now, it is time to re-examine those older definitions and practices in search of meaning that will encompass a greater number of the differences that make us human. Through the literature review the researcher will examine new research in the area of diversity within the academic setting. It will explore the current ideals, rather than relying on the older definitions of earlier years.

The literature review reveals that the topic of diversity remains a popular one in academic studies. Organizational culture and attitudes towards diversity play a key role in diversity activities and strategies within an organization. Leadership attitudes shape organizational culture regarding diversity and its meaning within the organization (Buttner, Lowe, & Billings-Harris, 2006). Diversity training in the workplace has been common in the last 15 years. However, not all companies embrace the idea. Managerial attitudes towards diversity and diversity training play an influential role in the amount and type of diversity training within a particular company. Managers must serve as facilitators of diversity and diversity training in order for these practices to become a vital force within the organization (De Meuse, Tod, & Claire et al., 2007).

Research indicates that issues of diversity are beginning to extend beyond demographics. Woodcock (2009) examined several cases involving persons with disabilities and their contributions to society. This research discusses the value of every human being, highlighting the contributions of a patient with a life limiting genetic disorder and her refusal to accept that others like her should be eliminated from the gene pool. This case study puts several ethical dilemmas against the backdrop of human diversity and the accomplishments that one can achieve regardless of their physical condition. It contributes to a greater understanding of the new definition of diversity its potential impact on the issue in the future.

Diversity training was found to have a significant and measurable influence on sales figures among employees in a retail setting (McKay, Avery, & Morris, 2008). This study also highlighted the importance of local diversity climate in a larger corporation. It was found that the overall presence of diversity in the consumer community was generally related to the level of the appreciation of diversity by the immediate store manager, also showing an impact on sales based on the surface-level diversity (specifically racial classification) of the sales representatives, regardless of how these attitudes related to the overall corporate attitude toward diversity (Mckay, Avery, & Morris, 2008). Diversity climate perceptions have become a key topic in recent research on diversity. The immediate diversity climate affected the perceptions and had a measurable impact on employee retention (McKay, Avery, & Tonkdandel et al., 2007).

This work is supported by studies that support diversity as having a measurable impact on absenteeism, and thus the financial condition of the organization. The actual value of a real missed day was determined for the organization under study. A missed day was found to cost between $200-700 per day, per employee missing. This provided a means to analyze the impact of absenteeism on the company. Using this as the measurement method, Avery, McKay, & Wilson et al., (2007) found that in organizations where diversity was not valued, absenteeism was higher among minority employees than among the majority. The amount of organizational support for diversity played a key role in absenteeism and acceptance of minorities at these companies.

These research studies highlight what has became known in the research community as the difference between mean diversity and localism. In the past, diversity research was centered on improving "the numbers" in terms of diversity. Research determined the outcome of diversity…[continue]

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