The term labor force is a general way to refer to all the people willing and able to work. For an organization, the internal labor force consists of the organization’s workers – its employees and the people who have contracts to work at the organization. This internal labor force has been drawn from the organization’s external labor market, that is, individuals who are actively seeking employment.
With the development of the world, the labor force also changes. There are three major trends today in the change in labor force: 1. An aging working, 2. Diverse working, 3. Skills deficiencies of workforce. This report will talk about one of the three major trends in the change of labor force — Diverse Workforce.
Diversity workforce refers to the variety differences between people in an organization. That sounds simple, but a diverse workforce consists of so many things, like gender, age, ethnic group, immigrants, physically and mentally disabled people, veteran status, sexual orientation, lifestyle, skill level, function or position within the company and so on.
This paper is designed for advantages of a diverse workforce, problems of workforce diversity and strategies can be implemented to overcome the problems.
2.0 Advantages of a diverse workforce
For an organization, a diverse workforce is good for it. Diversity is not only beneficial to both associates, but also to employers. Although associates are interdependent in the workplace, respecting individual differences can increase productivity. Diversity in the workplace can reduce lawsuits and increase marketing opportunities, recruitment, creativity, and business image (Esty, et al., 1995). In an era when flexibility and creativity are keys to competitiveness, diversity is critical for an organization’s success. Also, the consequences (loss of time and money) should not be overlooked. An organization’s success and competitiveness depends upon its ability to embrace diversity and realize the benefits. There are two advantages of why the diverse workforce important to an organization.
When employees come from diverse background, but bring individual talents and experience with them. This invariably contributes to an organization’s overall growth. Embracing employees with different skills and cultural viewpoints helps in understanding the needs and requirements of the customers, on a global scale.
Diversity in workplace leads to a wide of viewpoints and business ideas. This helps an organization formulate the best business strategy, with its lager pool of different ideas and solutions. It can be more creative. Absolutely, with the world developing, a company need more creative to follow the world, and a diverse workforce can bring different employers, they have different background and experiences. So a diverse workforce is important to organizations.
2.2Increasing sales and earnings
For organizations, the most important gold is profit. No one wants them lose money. Workforce diversity can increase sales and earnings.
“Valuing diversity is part of Safeway’s approach to competing with specialty grocers and big-box stores such as Walmart and Target. Safeway invested in programs to attract, develop, and retain its best talent and to position the company as an employer of choice. Although 70 percent of Safeway’s customers are women, male leaders had been the norm in the retail grocery industry. Safeway took initiatives to help women, including women of color, advance into management. The CEO speaks regularly with employees about diversity issue, and employees have access to DVDs featuring interviews with successful employees who are women and people of color.
The company ensures that all employees who qualify for its Retail Leadership Program, including those who work part-time and have flexible schedules to juggle work and family responsibilities, have the same opportunities for coaching, development, and advancement. A women’s leadership network sponsors development meetings between promising women and executives who suggest new job opportunities that can help the women advance to next level. With these and other efforts, the number of female store managers has risen a dramatic 42 percent, and financial analysts have concluded that the advancement of women and minorities has increased Safeway’s sales and earnings.” (Noe, el al. p.67)
3.0 Two problems of workforce diversity Although employing a diverse workforce has many advantages, it comes with some problems as well.
Communication barriers lead to problems in a company attempting to create a diverse workplace. When a U.S. company hires employees of other cultures whose first language is not English, employees and managers may experience difficulties communicating with one another. This can lead to misunderstandings and a decrease in productivity. For example, if a manager gives instructions about completing a certain task to an employee who fails to fully comprehend the instructions, the employee may make mistakes if he tries to complete the task without receiving clarity. Sometimes it helps for companies to hire bilingual employees who can mediate and reduce language and communication barriers.
To achieve the advantages of diversity, you must often provide diversity training, which includes cultural awareness and sensitivity training. Communication barriers become a major challenge in a diverse workforce. Employees that come from different cultures sometimes speak different languages, and encouraging communication can be a challenge. This can negatively affect both formal and informal communication and cohesion. It can also cause more errors and conflicts than you would likely find in a less diverse company.
A company may encounter is reverse discrimination. This is a feeling that is associated with affirmative action policies. It is a major argument against such policies. Reverse discrimination is a claim by white males that they have been unfairly discriminated against. They claim they are equally or more qualified for the position, yet were passed over for a minority to receive the job. This can cause lawsuits in some cases, but mostly a sense of rejection by other workers in the company toward the minority who received the position.
Although companies often train to avoid discrimination, the more diverse a workplace, the more potential for discrimination. This can create a hostile work environment where employees may fell oppressed if their emotional security is not protected. The company may face possible legal issues if prejudice and discrimination enter the mix and impact the decisions company leaders make. If managers make decisions about employees based on their personal traits, the company and the managers face potential lawsuits for discrimination.
4.0 strategies can be implemented to overcome the problems
As a manager or business owner, you must recognize that people have differences, be they physical, generational or cultural, and you cannot pretend that these barriers have been broken down. Instead, celebrate the differences among your employees, and encourage them to let their individualities show. For example, don’t hesitate to ask someone from another culture about their culture’s etiquette practices — their knowledge could prove useful to your business. Do not pigeonhole your employees. An employee’s worth comes from more than his ethnicity or age.
Acting fairly and acting uniformly are different, and only one enables you to successfully deal with diversity in your workplace. Don’t be fooled into thinking that by treating everyone exactly the same, you are demonstrating a fair attitude and respecting diversity. Instead, treat people fairly and respect the differences that make them who they are. For example, don’t schedule a mandatory meeting that falls on a religious holiday — it demonstrates a insensitivity and may breed resentment and foster feelings of being left out in any employees that are unable to attend.
As a manager, you must fairness, whatever he or she is white or black, do not discriminate them. When the top managers treat the employees fair, the employees and employees can be respect themselves.
Although employees that come from different cultures sometimes speak different languages, sometimes they cannot know what you say, as a manager or owner, you must have patience to listen to your employees’ suggestions so that it can help you improve yourself.
A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Diverse work teams bring high value to organizations. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to opportunities and challenges. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful.
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Noe, R. A, et al (2011): Fundamentals of Human Resource Management, 4th edition, New York: McGraw-Hill
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