Building workplace equality Report
Today, due to the technological advancements, companies prefer expanding their business across the globe. As a result, all global companies have employees from around the world. Hiring employees is not that tough a job as to retain them. Efficient people, irrespective of their ethnicity, caste, creed, colour, nationality, and gender, are always in demand.
Companies try to impress efficient employees of other companies by offering them higher wages and perks. Due to this incessant growth in competition in the global business scenario, it has become crucial for worldwide business houses to adopt certain policies so that their global employees don’t feel disregarded.
For this assignment we have chosen IBM as the company on which the report shall be based. IBM is an Information Technology company based in the United States of America. We have chosen this company because of its commendable strategy regarding its workforce diversity.
The company has bagged several awards and accolades for its workforce diversity policies. The company won the ‘Top Organization for Multicultural Business Opportunities’ in 2012 and the second position in ‘Top Global Diversity Companies List’ in 2009, among other coveted awards and accolades.
Diversity management is one such field which, if followed, can be beneficial for organizations but on the contrary, if organizations don’t pay much attention it can lead to great financial and other losses. Other losses means loss of workforce, reputation etc. Why will a person work in an organization that is not concerned about the wellbeing of its employees? So if an organization wants to prosper, it should give due importance to the diversity management policies.
Importance of managing workforce diversity for today’s managers
Diversity, when defined, is a very simple term. It relates to the dissimilarities between human beings. But it’s a vast topic and of crucial importance to multinational organizations. If a company follows proper diversity management policy there are very bright chances of its’ achieving success. On the contrary, disregarding the diversity management may lead to heavy losses; financial and otherwise.
There are certain benefits that come automatically when diversity management policy is formulated and followed religiously. Such benefits are:
- Having diversity in an organization is very beneficial. In today’s business environment where companies are going global, diversity recruitment becomes all the more crucial. Managers have to tackle their diverse subordinates in a very delicate and professional manner. Companies have to do buying and selling throughout the world. It is human tendency to favour people of the same ethnicity and culture. In such a scenario, if organizations have employees from various ethnicities and cultures, it will be easy for them to do their business. Suppose if a British Company has business interests in India and has Indian sales personnel, it will be easy to convince the Indian buyers. Moreover, the Indian sales personnel will have the idea of the mentality of Indians and will have the tactics to convince them. This particular aspect will become all the more important in the ensuing years when companies, due to saturation at home markets, will expand their business to other countries.
- By creating a harmonious work atmosphere where diversity is irrelevant, managers can augment their company’s repute in the placement market. This will help the company in catching the attention of qualified and efficient workers. In the long run such diverse employees may prove to be beneficial for the company.
- If the managers are efficient and if they follow the company’s diversity management policy, they can generate such a work atmosphere where all the employees would feel themselves to be important and valued. Rewarding the better performers, irrespective of their diversity, will further infuse motivation among the employees and as a result, they will work more enthusiastically and will involve themselves more.
- Managing the diverse workforce properly makes the task of managers easier since it “leads to reduced turnover. A 2008 study by Gallup Management Group in the United States revealed that engaged employees had 51% lower turnover on average” (MOM).
Impact of workforce diversity management on human resources
As discussed earlier, diverse workforce is an asset to any organization. In absence of workers from around the world, organizations may find it tough to penetrate foreign markets. “Managers who acknowledge they face strong legal and social mandates for diversity may conclude that accommodating racial diversity provides a better fit with organizational circumstances than resisting it.
This implies that the best approach to diversity management is particular rather than universal” (Dass & Parker 1999, p.68). Dass and Parker are logical in their opinion because the nature and surroundings of people differ from place to place. So an organization can not have the same diversity management policies for all of its offices around the globe.
Such policies ought to be changed with regard to different countries. The important factor that should be considered while formulating diversity management policy related to human resources in a country is that the emotions of the local employees of that particular country should also be taken into consideration. We shall take an example to better understand this. Suppose there are two British Sales Managers.
One of them is sent to the American office and another one is sent to the Indian office of the company. It should be understood that the terms and conditions of both these employees will be different. In India, the British Sales Manager in India will get the same wages and perks as those of his Indian counterparts. This kind of policy will raise the morale of other employees and they will work more enthusiastically.
Impact of workforce diversity management on motivation of employees
If all the employees of an organization are treated without any bias, there ought to be better results or performance. It is human psychology to expect one’s right of equality. There are certain factors that can play a major role in the performance. Following are the major ones:
- In a diverse atmosphere, organizations can not afford to have holidays on all the festivals of the world. But it can have a policy that allows employees of different religions and ethnicities to take holidays on the days of their respective religious or other festivities. This will have an emotional impact on the employees and will motivate them.
- The salary and other perks, incentives etc., should be at par. The incentives should be based on performance and not on the ethnicity or cultural background.
- English is a global language. In countries where English is not the national language, organizations should arrange special tutorials for the natives. This will infuse confidence and motivation among the employees.
- Promotions and career development should also be based on the performance and not on the nationality of employees. This will inculcate a feeling of equality among the employees and they will perform better. “The employees of IBM represent a talented and diverse workforce…A key element in our workforce diversity programs is IBM’s long-standing commitment to equal opportunity” (IBM).
- Organizations should support fellow-feeling groups among its employees. Employees who have left their homes and have relocated to serve their organization need to be given some freedom so that they can relax and feel at home while conversing with their fellow countrymen. This again will have a positive impact on the employees.
- Organizations should have such a promotion policy that allows people from various cultures and ethnicities to attain the higher positions. To make it simpler, higher positions in an organization should consist of diverse workforce.
Even though there are certain benefits of the diverse workforce, there are some disadvantages and challenges as well. Managers have to understand this and be ready to successfully handle such challenges. If the management’s strategy towards diverse workforce is not efficient, it may result in the disheartening and demoralizing of its employees.
This may hamper the organization’s performance and may result in financial and other losses. On the contrary, if the diversity management policy is formulated keeping in consideration the factors discussed earlier in this paper, and the same is followed religiously by managers then there are bright chances of better employee performance, attendance, productivity and less legal complaints.
“An organization that lacks a strategic view on Workforce Management to drive Performance Management and does not align business activity with staff rostering will have major cost and customer satisfaction implications for any business, especially those in service industries” (Cubewise 2012). “Although employees of different backgrounds do have similar organizational motivations, employers should know that a diverse workforce does come with some challenges” (WorkforceDiversityNetwork 2008).
An analysis of the types/kinds of workforce diversity that exist in the organization
Esty, Griffin and Hirsch (1995 p. XI) claim that, “Today’s workforce is truly a mosaic of different races, ages, genders, ethnic groups, religions, and life styles”. Basically, the aspects of diversity can be divided into two segments; primary and secondary. Primary dimensions are such differences between individuals that are irreversible.
Such aspects have an everlasting impact on people until their last breath. Secondary dimensions are such aspects that are changeable. These aspects are inconsistent and change or can be changed according to the circumstances and surroundings. The following are some common aspects that should be attended to while formulating diversity management policy in any organization:
- Area (nationality)
- Sexual category (gender)
- Physical qualities
- Educational qualification
- Marital status
- Family status
- Professional experience
It has been observed that there are two factors that influence most the recruiters of organizations. First is the gender and second is the physical quality or condition.
During earlier days, women were considered to be house wives and were supposed to take care of the homes while men went out to earn livelihood. But due to the advancement in technology and availability of various opportunities for women in education and profession, today’s women have stepped of their homes and help their husbands in the earnings.
But even today, there are people who have the same old ideology and don’t prefer women at work. Their justification is that women are more concerned about their homes and children. As such, they would not be able to engage themselves as much as men would do. But the circumstances have changed and there are numerous examples where women have done wonders in almost all spheres of life.
Another factor that influences the recruiters is the physical condition of candidates. They think that handicapped people will not be able to give their full contribution to the organization. But our reasoning is that even well qualified handicapped people can do wonders if they are assigned a job that is suitable for them. For example an efficient software engineer who is handicapped and can’t move around freely, can do his/her job extremely well by just sitting in the office.
Moreover, such people will have better results because they can’t move about freely and will sit in their offices for the maximum amount of time and do their work. Also, they will be more concerned about their future and will try not to commit mistakes that may hamper their career. “For qualified people with disabilities, IBM makes workplace accommodations that comply with applicable laws, and which IBM determines are reasonable and needed for effective job performance” (IBM).
All these are very delicate subjects and need to be handled with great precaution and understanding. Managers should be well trained to deal with people having all the aforementioned different factors. In our opinion, the two main things that bother an individual are his/her religion and career growth.
They believe that nothing should come in between their religious beliefs and career growth. The religious factor is a primary dimension and cannot be changed but the career growth is a secondary dimension and can be changed by dedication, sincerity, honesty, hard work, and performance. But if a person is working sincerely and is giving good results and someone else with lesser performance is being promoted due to his/her background then this may have negative impact on the overall performance of the organization. The need of the time is to recognize the good performers so that they get motivated and work even more sincerely in future.
Australian companies are a good example where the diversity workforce management principles are applied. “The Australian workforce is more than 50 percent female and highly multicultural with a large migrant population. The proportion of older workers is steadily increasing as fewer young workers enter the workforce. Almost 20 percent of working age Australians have a disability” (Kulik 2011).
At IBM, “Business activities such as hiring, training, compensation, promotions, transfers, terminations and IBM-sponsored social and recreational activities are conducted without discrimination based on race, colour, genetics, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, age…” (IBM). One of the senior managers at IBM said that, “I am lucky in that I do have culturally diverse managers reporting to me. They are a living testament to equal opportunity” (as cited by Cornelius 2002, p. 313).
People from different countries have different perspectives regarding the ethics of work. Iryna Shakhray is of the opinion that “…Germans believe that telling the truth they will achieve a successful result, even if it is unpleasant for others. The English, however, prefer not to cause trouble. The Chinese advance a view that there is no absolute truth” (Shakhray 2009, p. 4).
An analysis of the management strategies in place in the organization for managing workforce diversity
As mentioned earlier in the paper, diversity workforce management policies differ from organization to organization. Organizations identify the diversity values to be adopted that would be important and beneficial for them. Accordingly, the values are included in the recruiting process and candidates are questioned based on such values.
The interviewers are also trained to ask questions pertaining to such values. According to a study conducted by the U. S. Department of Commerce and Vice President Al Gores, the factors responsible for a successful implementation of diversity management policies are, “Leadership and management commitment, employee involvement, strategic planning, sustained investment, diversity indicators, accountability, measurement, and evaluation, and linkage to organizational goals and objectives” (Walker and Benton).
While formulating policies for diversity management, organizations should consider the society as well because ultimately the success and failure of a business depends on the society in general. Multinational companies should consider the social and environmental environment of the countries where they are doing business.
“In order to avoid the pitfalls and reap the benefits of a diverse workforce, employers need to adopt a broader vision of inclusion, a vision that includes not only the organization itself but also its surrounding community and its national and international environment” (Mor-Barak 2005, p. 291).
In the business world, where organizations have diverse workforce, there is a term called ‘Inclusive Workplace Model’. According to this model, the main points to be considered while formulating a diverse workforce strategy are whether the organization “…is accepting and utilizing the diversity of its own workforce, is active in the community, alleviates the needs of disadvantaged groups in its wider environment, and collaborates across cultural and national boundaries with a focus on global mutual interests” (WorkforceDiversityNetwork 2008).
The management should understand the fact that the organization runs or makes profits due to their employees. So it’s very crucial to keep them happy. By simply taking care of the sentiments, emotions and interests of their employees, organizations can reap huge profits. Moreover, it becomes the moral responsibility of the organizations to take care of their employees.
Organizations should formulate such diversity management policies that allow the employees to continue with their primary dimensions of diversity since they are irreversible. But as far as the secondary dimensions of diversity are concerned, the organizations should formulate such policies that allow the employees to improve on the various dimensions such as education level, moral values, culture etc. Such a policy will be helpful to the organization as well as the employees.
The organizations will be able to keep their employees happy and devoted and on the other hand, the employees will be able to improve their capabilities that will assist them in their future career. Like for example if an employee is not fluent in English language, he/.she might as well take learning classes within the organization and improve his/her English language.
Following is a flow chart of total quality diversity:
In concluding, it is understood that diversity management policies are a must for any organization, especially for the multinational ones. The future holds much more for the diversity management. Organizations will have to formulate more flexible diversity management policies in order to recruit and retain their employees.
As the global business is developing, so are the organizations and new businesses are being set up incessantly. The competence of candidates is also increasing and so is their expectation. Its human nature to expect the best and as such, candidates will prefer those companies that offer better human resources.
In view of the present scenario of diversity management there are still certain improvements that ought to be made in order to improve performance of the organizations. Organizations should respect all the religions and should try to celebrate all possible main events in any religion.
Human beings are social animals and fear God. If they see that their organization respects their religion, they will be happy and impressed and will get more engaged in the organizational works. Apart from this, organizations should identify other factors that have an emotional impact on its employees. If organizations can win the hearts of its employees, it will never fail in its goals.
Cornelius, N. 2002, Building workplace equality, TJ International, Cornwall.
Cubewise 2012, IBM Cognos TM1 workforce management solutions. Web.
Dass, P. & Parker, B. 1999, ‘Strategies for managing human resources diversity: From resistance to learning’, The Academy of Management Executive, vol. 13 no. 2, pp. 68-80.
Esty, K. C., Griffin, R. & Hirsch, M. S. 1995, Workplace diversity, Adams Media, United States of America.
IBM, IBM Workforce Diversity Policy. Web.
IBM n.d., IBM policies. Web.
Kulik, C. 2011, Effectively managing a diverse workforce: Is good diversity management just good management? Web.
MOM, Why Should I Care About Managing Diversity? Web.
Mor-Barak, M. E. 2005, Managing diversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace, Sage Publications, California.
Shakhray, I. 2009, Managing diversity in the workplace, Grin Verlag, Germany.
Walker, O. & Benton, D. Best practices in achieving workforce diversity. Web.
Workforce Diversity Network 2008, The importance of diversity in 2008 and beyond. Web.
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