Diversity and Equality at Work. Opportunities and Challenges

Research Paper (postgraduate), 2014

6 Pages




Managing Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

Opportunities of Diversity and Equality in the Workplace

Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace




Diversity in the workplace refers to recognizing, understanding, consenting, appreciating, and celebrating the dissimilarities amongst individuals with respect to their age, social class, culture, sex, capability, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and religion. Globalization is always advancing, thus requiring more collaboration and communication among individuals from various beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds than before. Currently, individuals do not live and work in a parochial market; instead, they are part of a global economy that is facing competition from about every continent. Thus, organizations require diversity in order to become more innovative and receptive to change. According to Esty, Richard, and Marcie (1995), exploiting and making the most out of diversity in the workplace has become an imperative issue for organizational management today. This paper defines diversity and equality in the context of workplace and describes associated opportunities and challenges.

Equality in the workplace is about impartiality or fairness and giving every individual a chance to participate in organizational development, and the opportunity to accomplish their potential. The Society for Human Resource Management (1998) holds that equality comes about through eliminating prejudice and discrimination. Equality reinforces accomplishment in the workplace since it goes further than just providing equal opportunities for all. It includes a promise to providing every individual with services that are of equal value to all, and understanding that this could mean providing different services to different individuals in order to accommodate their diverse needs. Both terminologies of equality and diversity have often been used interchangeably regarding the workplace. The two aspects of equality and diversity in the workplace are multifaceted and they include more than just embracing the dissimilarities amongst individuals and the equality elements protecting particular individuals from racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, disability, religion, gender, and age factors (Esty, Richard, and Marcie, 1995).

Managing Equality and Diversity in the Workplace

From conformation to inclusion, the idea of workplace equality and diversity is evolving. Workplace equality and diversity have assumed a new face and are much different from, for instance, what they were a few decades ago. Today, workplace equality and diversity are no longer exclusively about antidiscrimination complaisance—they now focus on inclusion and the effect on the outcome. Leveraging workplace equality and diversity is progressively understood as a spirited strategic reserve for competitive advantage. For that reason, Cornelius (2002) thinks, equality and diversity in the workplace need to be managed effectively to bring about the benefits that they are expected to produce.

There are numerous types of tools that organizations can employ in the workplace in order implement equality and diversity policies, and assess the effect of diversity and equality initiatives. For equality and diversity initiatives to succeed in the workplace, they ought not to be introduced as separate practices and policies, left for either a human resource department or managers to implement and manage. The triumph of equality and diversity initiatives rely on on their incorporation into the organization’s approach and culture. This way, they the two aspects can shape the manner in which business in the workplace is undertaken and the manner in which individuals in the workplace operate. Gale and Davidson (2006) hint that management of practices and policies that relate to equality and diversity conform to an organization’s viewpoints on the corporate social responsibilities and thus, these policies and practices become entrenched in the values behind the manner in which the organization operates. Consequently, the policies and practices of equality and diversity in the workplace become part of the picture represented to current employees, the prospective employees, and the public at large.

Opportunities of Diversity and Equality in the Workplace

Embracing equality and diversity is fueled by a number of anticipated opportunities, including these six reasons that enable organizations meet their strategic goals and objectives: First, equality and diversity contribute to greater compliance and flexibility in the ever-evolving marketplace. Second, the two attract and the best talent. Third, they help an organization in gaining and keeping new local and global market share with customers from diverse background (Cornelius 2002). Fourth, they enhance return on investment (ROI) from different policies, initiatives, and practices. Fifth, they help organizations to reduce e associated with low productivity, turnover, and absenteeism. Finally, based on the five benefits, equality and diversity in the workplace lead to increased sales and proceeds. Therefore, workplace diversity can be seen as having direct as well as indirect impacts on the bottom line (Cañas and Sondak 2011; Karsten 2006).

Diversity and equality in the workplace can be advantageous to both associates and the employers of the organization as they can help in reducing many lawsuits that face organizations arising from claims of workplace discrimination issues. At the same time, upholding diversity and equality in the workplace can help to increase the marketing opportunities of an organization, its recruitment, ingenuity, and its business image, and is vital for the success of an organization (Bach and Sisson, 2000). Equality and diversity in the workplace also contributes to a broader range of services from the diverse sets of experiences and skills such as languages, and understanding of cultures can allow an organization to provide service to its clients on a worldwide basis. In addition, they provide varied viewpoints, because the workforce feels at ease contributing their different viewpoints, hence providing a bigger pool of experiences and ideas. Organizations can get ideas for the large pool to meet the needs of their clients, and their business strategic needs in a more effective manner.

Diversity and equality in the workplace increases flexibility, helping organizations capable of supplying their clientele with a greater variability of solutions to various challenges from sourcing, servicing, to resource allocation. In addition, since the workforce is from different backgrounds, they each contribute individual experiences and talents and propose ideas that are adaptable to the changing markets and demands of customer. Organizations that promote equality and diversity in their workplace motivate all of their workers to perform to their utmost capability (Hubbard 2004). This ensures that organization-wide strategies be executed in better ways; ensuing higher productivity in the organization, higher profits and return on investment.

Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace

Due to the nature of the two matters, organizations experience various challenges in realizing equality and diversity. Karsten (2006) notes that many organizations realize that managing diversity is more than just recognizing differences in individuals—it involves acknowledging the significance of differences, avoiding discrimination, and pushing for inclusiveness. Therefore, the first challenge is having the right perspective about equality and diversity (Karsten 2006). The second challenge is managers losing personnel and expiring reduced work productivity because of prejudice and discrimination as well as complaints and legal battles against their organizations. Besides, negative attitudes and demeanors can be roadblocks to organizational equality and diversity since they are highly likely to harm working relationships and affect self-esteem, hence reducing work productivity (Smith 2011). In other words, managers may find it challenging addressing such negative attitudes and demeanors as prejudice, discrimination, and stereotyping, especially in relation to termination, retention, and hiring practices (Lengnick-Hall, Gaunt and Collison 2003). In these contexts, these negative attitudes and demeanors could result in costly litigation.


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Diversity and Equality at Work. Opportunities and Challenges
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diversity, equality, work, opportunities, challenges
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Mercy Njiru (Author), 2014, Diversity and Equality at Work. Opportunities and Challenges, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/315033


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