Understanding And Managing Diversity Essay Sample
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Introduction Diversity may be defined as the acceptance, comprehension, appreciation and celebration of the differences that exist between different individuals with regard to their race, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation and others. Diversity amongst group members results from differences in culture and structure consequently affecting the perceptions, attitudes and feelings those individuals posses within the workplace. (Alard, 2007) How diversity is socially constructed and practiced Social constructions of diversity revolve around
style="text-align: justify;"> Social constructions of diversity revolve around the differences between people. Differences may either be primary or secondary. The former encompasses characteristics that cannot be changed such as age, gender, race and ethnicity while the latter encompasses variable traits such as marital status and religion. After understanding these differences, organizations can then demonstrate inclusiveness for all their employees and stakeholders. However, those that do not understand these differences are likely to demonstrate exclusion against people with different primary and secondary characteristics.
Social construction of identity depends on the demographic characteristics of an individual. Most people tend to give people from a particular geographical or cultural area a specific identity. Sometimes, these identity ascriptions can lead to stereotypes and can also limit communication. Another concept other than identity that contributes towards social construction of diversity is place. Some individuals may segment others into certain categories based on the places where they were born or their cultural background. (Alard, 2007)
Some of the elements that demonstrate how diversity is socially practiced include power and privilege. Privilege occurs when people who have particular characteristics with regard to their race, gender etc are seen as more capable or are entitled to certain concessions. These privileges are often misplaced because they are based on the notion that certain groups are better than others yet this is not true. Additionally, power demonstrates how diversity is practiced in the workplace, classroom and elsewhere. However, power may be used either negatively or positively. Those who embrace diversity positively may grant power to individuals regardless of these differences. However, those who do not embrace diversity may restrict power to certain categories only. (Alard, 2007)
A definition of myself in terms of diversity perspectives, social position and perception of others
My opinions about diversity perspectives are linked to values and classification systems prevalent in society. Society does not welcome diversity because there are some socially constructed beliefs about characteristics that distinguish one group from the other. Those characteristics are the foundation upon which individuals are classified. These classification systems limit the opportunities that certain groups can access. It is my opinion that these classification systems and values are largely misplaced because they are based on superficial characteristics (e.g. ethnicity, race and gender).
No individual should be limited from accessing social opportunities because of these frail social classifications. Additionally, my diversity perspective with regard to communication strategies encompasses these differences. Communication should be done in such a manner that it incorporates cultural differences. People should be sensitized about the importance of respecting diversity. Consequently, conflict management should be conducted in such a manner that it displays cultural awareness. (Alard, 2007)
My social position with regard to diversity encompasses the organizational, individual and group structures. It is my opinion that organizations should be sensitive to diversity issues by being equal opportunity employers, select heterogeneous groups during group selection and change power imbalances to incorporate marginalized groups. Similarly, individuals must be culturally aware of their own identities. They should understand the privileges inherent in society and then demonstrate appropriate and sensitive communication and action techniques at all times. Groups should adhere to similar principles as the individuals. (Alard, 2007)
My perception of others developed as a result of continuous interaction with different categories. It is my belief that diversity enriches any institution, organization or activity. This came as result of mixing with diverse ethnic groups in the school environment.
Additionally, people with different genders have carried out most of the tasks and assignments in school. On those tasks, both women and men were able to compete effectively against one another thus demonstrating that cultural or other differences do not matter. I also developed a respect for seemingly different individuals from myself because different personalities have managed to deliver goods and services effectively to me in my capacity as a customer. Some businesspersons had a different age from mine or others belonged to a different race from mine but they still met their end of the bargain. (Alard, 2007)
A definition of privilege and how it relates to diversity
Privilege comes about as a result of some characteristics that are deemed favorable in a certain society. Consequently, society tends to accord such individuals access to social opportunities. This means that society does not welcome the concept of diversity openly. Many people believe that it is advantageous to belong to a certain community while it may be a shortcoming to belong to another. (Alard, 2007)
This argument then brings out the issue of oppression, where oppression is minimizing the facets available to certain groups. Oppression comes about as result of inequality in society. This means that there are some traits that distinguish between the differences and similarities existing between people. Therefore, those who get opportunities must belong to the same category as the givers. The characteristics that cause oppression are the ones identified in diversity management such as race, sexual orientation and others. (Alard, 2007)
How a CEO and GM of a small clothing company can handle issues of diversity with compassion and care
A CEO within such a company needs to make diversity the key issue in his policy. For instance, his mission could be ‘to offer quality clothing products through the efforts of a well talented and diverse work force.’ His vision could be ‘ to become a leader in the clothing industry by encouraging equitability.’ These policies must be translated in all aspects of the organization. For instance, the general manager could ensure that the customer service policies encourage sensitivity and appreciation of diversity. Also, the organization could partner with organizations that reflect diversity. This means that the company could conduct mergers with foreign owned companies or companies with a mixed range of ethnic or racial groups. (Alard, 2007)
The company can ensure a diverse workforce by being an equal opportunity employer. This means that recruitment should be done based on merit and not on certain superficial traits. Additionally, promotions should follow the same path. The organization could provide a forum for discussing career development goals with its employees and promotions ought to be done based on those discussions. This encourages equality hence diversity in the workplace. Training and working conditions should reflect diversity in that no individual is given more free time than others on the basis of their characteristics. (Alard, 2007)
Conflict resolution needs to conducted in such a way that it demonstrates diversity awareness. The company should punish people who utter stereotypical remarks in order to enforce the principle of equality. The company should adhere to workplace relation laws when administering any kind of conflict in the workplace. This ensures that marginalized groups are protected from bias. (Alard, 2007)
The organization could encourage the value of diversity by asking for the opinions of its employees about the organization and taking them seriously, by giving all employees a chance to take part in social events and charities and by rewarding all employees for excellent work done. (Alard, 2007)
The diversity audit process and how it works
Qualitatively, organizational diversity efforts can be seen by the type of social initiatives conducted by an organization e.g. training former prisoners in a certain skill. It is also seen in the overall productivity of an organization. For instance, workers who are given equal opportunities for training and promotion become highly motivated and produce better results. Lastly, diversity efforts can be seen in the external constituencies e.g. purchasing supplies from a foreign company. Quantitatively, diversity efforts may be demonstrated through higher retention rates in the organization, greater demographic representations and fewer law suits related to conflict in diversity. (Alard, 2007)
Diversity information may be collected from company reports about the profiles of their employees (it should embrace diversity), from country reports about employee practices and retention rates. Diversity procedures involve equal opportunity recruitment, sound workforce practices, equal opportunity promotions and lastly, fair retention rates. It is important for organizations to ensure compliance by educating their staff about the importance of diversity then dealing with those who fail to comply. (Alard, 2007)
Diversity management within an organization can be seen as a planned commitment by an organization to recruit, reward, retain and promote a mixed category of employees. Once an organization adheres to these principles, then it can reap the benefits of a diverse workforce.
Understanding and Managing diversity, 3rd Edition, Harvey, Alard (2007)
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