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Managing Workplace Diversity

The issue on how workplace diversity should be managed in the organization has been a long-standing issue in the human resource management literature. On one hand, diversity is only managed in so far as to improve organizational performance and on the other, scholars argue that for a long-term HR management, diversity should be managed within the individual and the organization realms.

Human resource managers are therefore tasked with the goal of providing programs and instituting reforms within the workplace organization in order to maximize the benefits that can be derived from workplace diversity. Concurrently, HR managers of hotels operating in other countries necessitate the need to be oriented and to understand the complexity behind managing diversity.

Reviewing the current academic literature on workplace diversity in the organization, this essay presents a critical analysis of the on-going debate in the workplace diversity literature particularly on the issue of whether diversity in the workplace is an advantage or a disadvantage to the organization. Using both functional and critical theories, this paper argues that while the human resource managers would need to train, develop and integrate the differing cultures within the organization, diversity presents more advantage than disadvantages.

Furthermore, exploring the debate of functionalist and critical

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perspective theorists, this paper argues that while functionalists are more prominent in the HRM literature, the critical perspective theorists provides a more long-term solution to workplace diversity. Drawing from the current debate in the literature, this paper using the case of Karachi Sheraton Hotels in Pakistan shows that diversity can enhance the competitiveness of an organization using a critical perspective theory of human resource management.

Evaluating the Debate on Workplace Diversity Diversity has been considered as one of the hottest debated area in the human management literature. For one, the proliferation of MNCs and Supranational institutions provided an opportunity for international cultures to be embedded in a certain domestic arena. This concurrent with the increasing exchange and the rise of global workers have propelled organizations to be faced with a team that is composed of individuals with different cultures and social backgrounds.

This is the primary tenet for the rise in the debate in the literature in HRM: the debate between the functionalist theories who argues that the advantages and disadvantages of diversity in the workplace can be monitored and capitalized on by the HR in order to make the organization productive (Cox, 1994); and on the other hand, the critical theorists who argues that workplace diversity should go beyond the issue of productivity but instead provide a holistic analysis in order to include the socio-economic, political and cultural dimensions of diversity in order to empower the workers (Cavanaugh, 1997).

According to the functional theory, the task of the human resource manager is to ensure that positive gains can be made out of the diversity in the workplace. Thus, the need for management’s initiatives and programs for workplace diversity that would provide a positive attitude among workers has been instituted in organizations (DeMeuse and Hostager, 2001) while other scholars argues that organizational diversity may or may not impact the performance of the organization as a whole (Billings-Harris, Buttner and Lowe, 2006).

According to Parvis (2003) diversity provides benefits to the organization in terms of variety in ideas, styles, and forms of devotion, vision, creativity, innovation, histories, and lifestyles.

Consequently, in order for organizations to ensure that positive gains can be made from the diversity in the organization, organizational leadership, communication and work culture are patterned in such a way that productivity and efficiency is gained from the diversity programs (Senge, 1996). This is the primary reason why HR managers seek to diversify their workforce: in order to gain competitive advantage particularly in the international arena (Allison, 1999).

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