I always say that studying business is fun, and I really mean it. Business studies widen our awareness and give us tons of concepts which are very helpful in our daily communications. One of the most common chapters we study in human resource management, marketing, or international business classes is diversity at the workplace.
Personally, I believe in the importance of this subject because it leads me to better understand people from different cultures who have different backgrounds. Throughout my career as a human resource manager, it becomes a necessity to consider diversity and multicultural influences in the workplace.
Studying or working with diversity is interesting but it is also very critical. Diversity has a good side but, like everything, it also has a negative side and people are always arguing its advantages and disadvantages.
People who advocate for diversity believe in the advantages it may provide such as: different perspectives, competitive advantages as people become the greatest asset, and serving multicultural customers which is a great business opportunity. On the other hand, people who focus on the disadvantages believe that diversity is a headache because it comes with conflicts, and it can provide a proper host for racism and discrimination.
My personal point of view is that diversity provides a wealth in all business environments. Of course, I can’t deny that we all prefer to work with people who are like us and it would be impossible to make every individual respect and accept others differences. However, I’m guessing a case of discrimination (especially one driven by race) would have a huge effect on the morale and overall atmosphere of any business environment. Overall, I believe that the advantages of diversity at the workplace outweigh its disadvantages.
Human resource managers and business principals, nowadays, are very sensitive towards diversity. Although they believe in its importance, at the same time, they know how much one mistake could cost a business when it comes to discrimination or racism. According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964): “Any practices that discriminate against people on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, or national origin are prohibited and give the employee the right to sue the company and seek compensation before a jury” (Max 25).
Moreover, as a result of one survey conducted by the society of human resource management, discrimination lawsuits have increased by a factor of 20 since 1970 and quadrupled just since 1995. Also companies lose almost two-thirds of all discrimination cases that go to trial (Chuck 218). By applying the laws and giving employees the equal opportunities with continual delivery of training and developing, we can guarantee the lowest rate of accidents and avoid discrimination and racism cases. In other words, we saved companies money by avoiding discrimination cases and compensations.
In the Contemporary Management book written by Gareth R. Jones, the diversity awareness is supposed to be covered by intensive training for different staff levels: managers, subordinates, and coworkers. Any awareness program should correct the attitude, bias, and stereotypes that people may have and use to cause a problem. Following the recommended awareness objectives, it should increase diversity skills within the organization. The objectives should always focus on providing proper information about diversity, uncovering personal biases and stereotypes, assessing personal beliefs, attitudes, values and learning about other points of view, overturning inaccurate stereotypes about different groups, and developing healthy atmosphere to express and share different standpoints (Gareth 152).
Although the disadvantages of diversity are critical, we can overcome these difficulties, or at least decrease them, by applying assertive policies along with the continual training delivery to avoid harassment or discrimination at the workplace. It is always recommended to respond according to companies’ policies with no bias at all in order to spread the spirit of equality among all employees. Once a case of harassment or discrimination appears, the responsible manager should report the case and take a firm action immediately to avoid penalties or lawsuits against the company and to control the workplace environment and morale.
Back to the advantages of diversity, according to Chuck Williams in his book Principles of Management, “Diversity helps companies with cost savings by reducing turnover, decreasing absenteeism, and enabling them to avoid expensive lawsuits. In fact, turnover costs typically amount to more than 90 percent of employees’ salaries. So, if an executive who makes $200,000 a year leaves an organization, it would cost approximately $180,000 to find a replacement. Using the 90 percent estimate, losing even the lowest-paid hourly workers can cost a company as much as $10,000 when they quit” (Chuck 218).
Another important dimension in diversity is providing business opportunity by attracting diverse customers. We can imagine the benefits and the increasing of profit by attracting another target group or segment of the market. It’s not easy for marketers to learn and understand the different cultures of their customers. Keep in mind they don’t just learn about the culture but also their beliefs, habits, attitudes, etc. However, the hard work can prove to be beneficial in terms of profit because with their research and understanding could earn them double the profit of what they would have made had they not reached out to them.
According to Stanley in his article, the Hispanic market in the U.S. is considered the second-largest Hispanic population in the world just behind Mexico with about $1 trillion in buying power (Stanley). With no math or any calculations, we can realize the huge benefits for considering one ethnic group and how it could add big figures to a companies’ profit.
Another important factor that we have to consider is that there is not one ethnic group that will stand as a majority forever. As a matter of fact, populations’ demographics change over time. Moreover, the trend is to have people become connected more and more. Due to the of the maturity of human kind’s way of thinking, and the revolution in technology and doing business globally, the boundaries between countries and different cultures is melting away and acceptance of “different” people is increasing. The new trend is to build a new global culture based on accepting and understanding the other.
Talking about majority or dominant groups is over. An interesting statistic, from Chuck Williams’ book, informs us about the big change in population percentages in the United States. In 2005, the white people are about 69.3%, Asian people have 4.3%, and Hispanics shape almost 13.3%. By 2070, population will change dramatically so the white people will be almost 46.8%, Asian population will increase to 10.6, and the Hispanic origin is expected to reach the 28.6 % (Chuck 216).
What if we turn our eyes away from the laws, policies, protocols, restrictions, and start thinking rationally about diversity? Some people called it “utopia” or the perfect world, but I really can’t imagine when people started judging others according to their color, gender, race, or religion. It is completely unfair to be ignored because I am black or colored. It is totally painful when people hate me because I follow a different religion. It is a type of stupidity when we underestimate women because they are women. It is not my mistake to be born black or yellow. I am not guilty because I have been created as a woman. It is out of my control, or it is my destiny, that I was born in a certain place and belong to a specific culture. The most important factor is my behavior, the values I carry, and the way I interact with others. One way or another, all of us can be categorized into certain groups, but it is pretty impossible to belong to all groups at the same time. These simple facts alone show why diversity is so important. When we discriminate against each other we close off our minds to who those people truly are.
Discrimination and bias go against “The Golden Rule” and they contradict principles from every religion that can be practiced by human beings. It is a real shame to call for liberty and globalization while I feel inside that I am better than another. When we think about our differences and when we start to follow our religions, our spiritual guidance, regardless of the laws and protocols, we will discover the great values we have from being different. We will increase the bond in our relations and the creditability with ourselves just by showing our consideration to the other and respecting others beliefs.
My personal standpoint is that we make it more difficult by focusing on the differences and ignoring the similarities and common ground that we all have. It is time to be much wiser and put ourselves in the others’ shoes. It is time to call for one nationality, one belonging, and one race. It is time to feel and accept the other as a human being.
Williams, Chuck. Principles of Management . Ed. Melissa Acuna. Ohio: Jonathan Hulbert, 2010. Print.
Messmer, Max, Anne Bogardus, and Connie Isbell. Human Resource Management. Ed. Brain B. Baker. Anne Smith, 2007. Print.
Jones, Gareth R, Jennifer M. George, Charles W. L. Hill. Contemporary Management. New York: Irwin/McGraw-Hill, 1998. Print.
Stanley, T. L. “Latin Works.” Adweek .Web. 22 Feb 2010: 15-16.