Diversity management acknowledges the reality that people are different with respect to factors such as gender, marital status, age, disability, social status, sexual orientation, personality, ethnicity, religion, and culture. If a company values diversity in its workforce, it can manage its employees in a way that creates harmony in all work practices and higher standards of collaboration and teamwork. Effective management of workplace diversity results in an innovative culture where creativity has no boundaries and ideas continue to flourish. Thus, it is of paramount importance for companies to integrate diversity in their daily operations.
Diversity entails understanding, acknowledging, accepting, celebrating, and valuing differences among people based on their class, ethnicity, age, physical and mental ability, gender, race, language, religion, and sexual orientation (Hubbard 2004, p.27). In the contemporary world, effective management of diversity is essential because the work-environment is characterised by a wide range of employees from different cultural, social, and religious backgrounds. Moreover, the success of any organisation is highly dependent on how well the employees integrate and collaborative with each other at the workplace. In order to ensure teamwork and collaboration among employees, it is imperative to have effective management of diversity in the workforce (Combe 2013, p.273-277). In most cases, diversity management involves removing barriers and allowing job applicants and employees to have equal access to employment opportunities and promotion; hiring a workforce that reflects the communities within which the organisation operates; empowering all workers to reach their full potential, and encouraging personal growth, as well as professional development among all employees (Paludi 2012, p.123). This paper aims at exploring the strategic benefits of effective diversity management, how diversity is handled at UKRD Group, and it provides some recommendations on how to enhance diversity at UKRD.
Benefits of effective diversity management
Diversity confers various benefits to companies, and as a result, many scholars suggest that it should be a feature of every aspect of an organisation including employee development, succession planning, reviews, performance management, and rewards. To start with, employees from diverse social and cultural backgrounds bring unique skills, perceptions, and experiences to the table while working in teams. Pooling the diverse skills and knowledge from different cultural and social backgrounds increases employees’ productivity, and responsiveness to varying conditions (Buhler 2010, p.91). Furthermore, in a diverse workforce, each employee possesses distinct strengths and weaknesses, drawn from their diverse backgrounds and their individuality. If a company ensures effective diversity management is in place, it is possible to leverage the diverse strengths among employees, and compliment the weakness of each employee to make the productivity of the workforce more than the sum of its parts (Griffin 2012, p.241).
By bridging together employees from various backgrounds, businesses can market their products effectively to clients from different ethnic and racial backgrounds. This is because by ensuring the workforce reflects the region within which the business operates, it is usually easy to know the expectations, demands, tastes, and preferences of their consumers. As a result, the company will be able to produce goods/services, which conform to their client’s expectations and demands (Thiederman 2008, p.3). Moreover, effective diversity management strengthens the company’s relationship with a given category of customers by making communication efficient. This is achieved by pairing customers with customer-service representatives from their social or cultural background, making them feel comfortable and satisfied. For example, a company operating in the southwest of the U.S. can employ bi-lingual customer representatives in order to serve Spanish-speaking clients in their native language (Guffey & Loewy 2010, p.99).
Companies that fail to foster diversity in their workforce experience higher turnover rates than those that treasure diversity in the workplace. This is because they portray a hostile work environment, and consequently, make most of their employees to quit. Inability to retain most of the qualified personnel leads to high turnover-related costs, which a company can avoid by embracing diversity. Losing an employee is highly detrimental to the company’s success because it results to lowered productivity; overworked remaining staff; loss of knowledge and skills; and loss of company’s time while conducting interviews (Griffin 2012).
In addition, when employees are working in groups, diversity enables them to generate more and better ideas. Since the group members come from a host of varying cultures, they often propose creative and unique solutions and recommendations, unlike when they come from same backgrounds (Paludi 2012, p.93). In other words, group diversity eliminates groupthink, which is often witnessed in companies that do not foster diversity in their workforce. Groupthink makes participants in a team to think that their ideas and actions are valid, and those objecting them are either sabotaging their efforts or are uninformed. However, multicultural teams are not affected by such problems since the participants have different perspectives (Aswathappa 2013, p.769).
By having a positive approach toward diversity at workplace, a company signals an ethical stand. Consequently, it can build and maintain a positive corporate image. A positive corporate image enables a company to have stronger relationships with existing clients, as well as broaden the consumer base by attracting more customers. A strong consumer base is a direct incentive to a noteworthy competitive edge, and it enables companies to face various challenges in the market such as the recession (Mor-Barak 2011).
Diversity is also a key aspect in the creation of effective global relationships. Employing international talent helps in enhancing the company’s reputation through outwardly encouraging cultural diversification to a broader consumer-base. If a company hires employees from different countries, it stands a greater chance of expanding and seizing global opportunities by establishing a network of languages and cultures (Guffey & Loewy 2010). Additionally, by creating an environment of inclusion and by making commitment to valuing diversity, managers can boost employee morale and motivation. This is because acknowledging and accepting a person regardless of their social or cultural background makes them feel honoured, and as if they a part of the family ‘company.’ As a result, they will devote all their efforts toward realization of the organisation’s goals (Abiodun 2010, p.82-87).
Managing diversity at UKRD Group
UKRD Group is a multi-media company, based in the U.K. The company owns and operates a portfolio of websites, a software-licensing firm, and 16 local commercial radio stations. The company has been ranked number one for three years in a row on the U.K’s top 100 best employers (Toten 2013). Diversity management is central to the company’s human resource strategic goals, which include the development of an inclusive and integrated workforce. UKRD Group acknowledges the benefits of a diverse workforce, and it invests much in ensuring that the work-environment is free from discrimination. Moreover, the company endeavours to promote the principles of diversity in all its operations with employees, job applicants, suppliers, clients, recruitment agencies, contractors, and the public (UKRD Group Ltd, n.d.).
According to the company’s CEO, William Rogers, one of the key goals of the company is to build a supportive culture, based on various fundamental standards of behaviour including honesty, fairness, openness, professionalism, and fun. For instance, employees have the liberty to express their disagreement with anything the group purposes to accomplish. However, they are expected to observe fairness and professionalism when presenting their views. Having such a splendid value-based culture portrays a good image of how the company is investing in diversity management. Furthermore, the company does not have a structured human resource department. All the HR functions are outsourced. It has adopted such as strategy in order to encourage the management to have a greater responsibility for their employees. By having a structured HR department, the company’s management believes that the relationship between managers and employees would weaken, since matters such as discipline may be shifted from one department to another, and as a result, they may not be handled effectively. This is a viable strategy toward strengthening of the manager-employee relationship, which is key to the effective management of diversity (Toten 2013).
All employees as well as anyone who acts on behalf of the company is required to adhere to the company’s set principles of equality and diversity. Any sort of unlawful discrimination in the workplace is not condoned, and the company has put in place necessary measures to prevent its occurrence. Specifically, UKRD Group purposes to ensure that no job applicant or employee is subjected to unlawful discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, part-time status, or religion. This commitment is taken into account at all aspects of employment such as training, recruitment, promotion and career-development opportunities, grievance handling and the application of disciplinary procedures, and terms/conditions of employment. Because of the evolving nature of the job market and the legislation changes, the company often reviews its policies regarding diversity, and implements relevant changes (UKRD Group Ltd, n.d.).
In order for the UKRD Group to be at the forefront in ensuring diversity prevails in all its operations, it is necessary for its management to take into consideration the following suggestions. To start with, it should ensure it has a wide recruiting base. This can be achieved by adopting tools such as online job boards, where anyone with an access to the internet can view the job opportunities being advertised by the company. The company should also have a standard evaluation form. By having a standard evaluation form, instances of discrimination will be eliminated, and it allows the hiring team to use the same criteria for all candidates (Thiederman 2008). Moreover, managers of UKRD should explain the benefits of diversity to the employees, and familiarize the new hires with the company’s culture. For instance, they can clarify the roles the new hires are expected to execute, and explain to them the values treasured in the company (Hubbard 2004, p.85).
The above discussion has explored the strategic benefits of diversity management, and examined how diversity is handled at UKRD Company Ltd. Since the market is becoming increasingly global, it is necessary for businesses to understand, acknowledge, and embrace diversity in their day-to-day operations, and in their workforce. Effective management of diversity is the key to leveraging the benefits, and reducing the drawbacks associated with diversity in the workplace. Companies reap huge benefits through effective management of diversity. For instance, pooling the diverse skills and experiences from different cultural and social backgrounds increases employees’ productivity and responsiveness to varying conditions. In addition, when employees are working in groups, diversity enables them to generate more and better ideas unlike when they come from the same social or cultural background. Based on this discussion, it is worthwhile arguing that companies should ensure diversity is well managed in order to thrive successfully.
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