Diversity in Human Resources

Defining Diversity

Diversity in an organization should reflect a globalized and multicultural workforce where value is placed on diversity of thought.

Learning Objectives

Differentiate between a Monolithic, a Plural, and a Multicultural organizational structure

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • A company that employs a diverse workforce is better able to understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves. It is thus better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company that has a more limited range of employee demographics.
  • According to the deficit model, organizations that do not have a strong culture of diversity and inclusion will invite lower productivity, higher absenteeism, and higher turnover, all of which will result in higher costs to the company.
  • One of the greatest challenges an organization has when trying to adopt a more inclusive environment is assimilation for any member outside of the dominant group.

Key Terms

  • Diversity: A variety; the quality of being different

Components of a Diverse Organization

A multicultural or diverse organization not only contains many different cultural groups, but it values this diversity. It encourages healthy conflict as a source of avoiding groupthink. Groupthink can occur when group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints.

In this globalized economy, a multicultural workforce should reflect a diversity of thought. The perspectives shared from individual standpoints will benefit organizations that are savvy enough to capitalize on them. The theory is that a company with a diverse workforce is better able to understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves. It is thus also better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company that has a more limited range of employee demographics.

Productivity and costs can be analyzed to assist in building the business case for diversity. According to the deficit model, organizations that do not have a strong diversity inclusion culture will invite lower productivity, higher absenteeism, and higher turnover, all of which will result in higher costs to the company.

According to the investment model, or value-added model to diversity inclusion strategies, a company choosing to foster an inclusive environment will experience many benefits. These benefits include increased productivity, better problem solving capabilities, and increased market share. Either model, however, requires an intentional implementation from top leadership for the organizational culture to truly be one of inclusion and acceptance.

Three Types of Organizations

In a journal article entitled “The Multicultural Organization”, Taylor Cox, Jr. talks about three organization types that focus on the development of cultural diversity. These three types are the monolithic organization, the plural organization, and the multicultural organization. In the monolithic organization, the amount of structural integration (the presence of persons from different cultural groups in a single organization) is minimal and white male privilege is very tangible. This type of organization may have women and marginalized members within the workforce, but not in positions of leadership and power.

The plural organization has a more heterogeneous membership than the monolithic organization and takes steps to be more inclusive of persons from cultural backgrounds that differ from the dominant group. This type of organization seeks to empower those from a marginalized standpoint to encourage opportunities for promotion and positions of leadership. The multicultural organization contains many different cultural groups and it highly values this diversity and encourages healthy conflict to avoid groupthink.

How Businesses Benefit from Diversity

Diversity brings substantial potential benefits such as better decision making and problem solving, and greater creativity and innovation.

Learning Objectives

Explain the benefits of diversity in an organization

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Diversity provides organizations with the ability to compete in global markets.
  • Simply recognizing diversity in a corporation helps link the variety of talents within the organization. The act of recognizing diversity also allows for those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company.
  • Standpoint theory suggests that marginalized groups bring a different perspective to an organization that challenges the status quo since their socially constructed world view will differ from that of the dominant group.

Key Terms

  • Diversity: A variety; the quality of being different

Diversity is beneficial to both the organization and its members. Diversity brings substantial potential benefits such as better decision making and improved problem solving; greater creativity and innovation, which leads to enhanced product development; and more successful marketing to different types of customers. Diversity provides organizations with the ability to compete in global markets.

Simply recognizing diversity in a corporation helps link the variety of talents within the organization. The act of recognizing diversity also allows for those employees with these talents to feel needed and have a sense of belonging, which in turn increases their commitment to the company and allows each of them to contribute in a unique way. Standpoint theory suggests that marginalized groups bring a different perspective to an organization that challenges the status quo since their socially constructed world view will differ from that of the dominant group.

Although the standpoint of the dominant group will often carry more weight, a transformational leader will encourage conflicting standpoints to coexist within an organization. This will create a forum for sanctioned conflict to ensue. Conflict stems from challenging the way things have always been done, and ideas and problems that have not been explored from multiple perspectives. Standpoint theory gives a voice to those in a position to see patterns of behavior that those immersed in the culture have difficulty acknowledging. These unique and varying standpoints help eradicate groupthink which can develop within a homogenous group. But there are still many challenges to fostering an inclusive environment in the workplace for diversity of thought and ideas.