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Value of Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity issues are critical in the workplace environment and determine to a great extent, the values and practices which exist in any workplace environment. It reflects the organisational values and highlights areas where there is the need for change to accommodate various groups that can be seen as minorities. There is a wealth of opportunity available to companies to enhance their visibility within society in terms of marketing their products and even moreso, making their product offering attractive to the society at large.

Companies are thriving on promoting diversity and have reaped enormous benefits from the possibilities which it creates. This paper is intended to demonstrate at a practical level, the repercussions which exist and how companies can learn from experiences, in order to foster and promote goodwill and be more competitive in any type of market. Value of Diversity in the Workplace. As an employee in a large organisation, it was always a bonus to be associated with such firms because of the longstanding reputation and influence in their sphere of business.

The job which I got was one that I appreciated and I always put in triple the expectation of my manager. This company was a renowned retail household name

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and had a touch of class that was highly advantageous. A colleague of mine had an experience which was quite incredulous in my opinion. When this experience was narrated to me, I felt the pain and was able to empathise because of the situation in itself. In this day and age there are still a lot of problems arising from diversity in the workplace.

It sometimes or should I say in most cases, is totally avoidable. Unfortunately, with all the regulations in place, covert occurrences of malpractice still happen and it leaves employees hurt and grieved – hence the need for litigation. This colleague had been employed within the company for nearly a decade and within that period, had watched other colleagues rise up the ranks of the career ladder while in their case, had been constantly by-passed for unacceptable reasons. He was of Afro-Caribbean heritage.

The case that broke the camel’s back was when a job had been advertised for a managerial role and with all enthusiasm, an application had been put forward due to all the required criteria being met. For a position like this, the requirements included a thorough specialisation in the advertised area, the proven ability to supervise teams and dozens of people, relevant qualifications acquired along the way in retail and management and a high level of responsiveness to customers and clients.

By any measure, this was a position way beyond the capability of this colleague and in certain ways, this could be a case of being ‘overqualified’ for the job. However, the irony of the matter was that after many years of being within the same organisation, how then can a person’s candidacy for a managerial role be termed as being ‘too qualified’ when the truth of the matter was that they had been deliberately overlooked and their careers starved or deprived of due nourishment, to say the least. The implications of these unprofessional tactics were far reaching.

Firstly the message it sent out to the workforce was that there were definite preferences for who rose up in the company to management levels. Secondly, irrespective of the quality of input and service, development within the company was not a priority for certain groups of people. Thirdly, career growth potentials and proven capabilities for certain groups from minority backgrounds were unimportant. This was no case of making assumptions as performance track records for this colleague were monitored and it was impressive to say the least.

Complaints and accusations were made against the company for continuous neglect of competent individuals and their failure to promote diversity. At first glance, it is easy to conclude that there is truly diversity in the workplace. However, it goes much beyond that level. A closer observation of the company and its employment practises truly reflect whether or not the company has risen to the tremendous challenges of workplace diversity. The case which this colleague brought against the company was dismissed due to lack of satisfactory evidence and shortly after that, he left the company.

Most workplace regulations enhance the need for a diverse workforce and practical measures to display diversity. It has its advantages including having a wide pool of skills and manpower, experience and does positively impact competitive advantage. Diversity in the workplace can increase prospects for advertising and marketing, creativity, enhance business reputation and decrease the number of lawsuits (cited in Esty, et al. , 1995) This incident took place a couple of years ago. Since then, sales and productivity levels have dwindled.

This company has also gained a negative reputation for its lack of promoting true diversity in the work place and making the work environment as inclusive for people from various background. Over the years, there has been a lot of competition in retail and the market has welcomed entrants from a wide variety of backgrounds, with their distinctive business acumen, drive and diversity, thereby reflecting the fashion and tastes of the society at large. This has been the trend and will continue to be as for as long as the society is diverse and growing still.

Businesses that are slow to recognise these changes will sooner or later find themselves feeling the crunch. Personnel departments need to promote an awareness of these changes in society and have these reflected in the workplace to foster excellent workplace relationships.

References

Esty, K. , Griffin, R. & Schorr-Hirsch, M. (1995). Workplace diversity: A managers guide to solving problems and turning diversity into a competitive advantage. Massachusetts: Adams Media Corporation.

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