In many of the businesses in today’s society, there is a strong cultural diversity as companies are open to hiring persons of different cultural, religious and racial backgrounds. Companies have made workplace diversity a priority as it fosters creativity and innovation which will intern lead to a better decision making process which will have numerous benefits in the long run. In addition to this, the value systems present in these organizations have a spillover effect in the personalities of the employees as it results in them making ethical decisions.
Diversity refers to difference between individuals on any attributes that may lead to the perception that another person is different from the self (Jackson, 1992). According to Marie- Elene Roberge and Rolf van Dick, the consequences of diversity are variable and are not set to either distinctly negative or positive. It is obvious that heterogeneity in teams may lead to the arousal of conflicts of many sorts and in turn would likely reduce the employee satisfaction and by extension employee productivity. Despite the many factors in relation to diversity which may result in negative impacts on the employee workforce, diversity may also be an asset to a business as it allows them to provide different perspectives, increased creativity and innovation thereby giving them a competitive advantage by using the varying perspectives of the employee base.
The article entitled, “Recognizing the benefits of diversity: When and how does diversity increase group performance?” by Marie- Elene Roberge and Rolf van Dick, proposes a model of managing workforce diversity drawing on extensive psychological theories. “The model proposes that when these social psychological mechanisms are activated, diversity will lead to an increase in group performance.” Taking into consideration the fact that workforce diversity has increased on a great scale in recent times (Ragins & Gonzalzes,2003), practitioners have come to recognize that diversity may be a key to maintain competitive advantage, using it as an asset to obtain varying perspectives and new innovations.
The model seeks to adopt a social identity perspective to answer and explain the “when” and “how” questions related to the management of diversity as opposed to focusing on distinctly reason oriented ideas such as stereotypes. Essentially, the model identifies multi-level psychological mechanisms which seek to explain and personify the varying aspects of workforce diversity and how in turn the diversity can be used as an asset to the organization.
In the article, according to Brewer and Gaertner (2004), there are multiple experiments which have resulted in numerous moderating factors which examine whether diversity facilities or inhibits effectiveness within the workplace. Only recently have professionals in Organisational Behaviour begun to recognize moderating variables which show explanation for when diversity leads to increased group performance. Variables include time (Harrison et al., 1998), task interdependence (Jehn, Northcraft, & Neale, 1999), Task complexity (Jehn et al., 1999) and several others. These are aspects which all contribute to how diversity affects the workforce and by extension the productivity and effectiveness of the employees.
According to Williams and O’Reilly (1998), interaction between/among individuals is inversely related to diversity as opposed to conflict which has a direct relationship with group performance. The model primary outcome which the authors which to portray by the presented model is group performance. Researchers have shown that a learning process is central to the explanation of how diversity may result in increased group performance, however the process may become quite extensive as it comprises of several undisclosed that are interdependent. The model characterizes several proposals which explain the how the relationship between diversity in the workforce and group effectiveness may result in maximized productivity in the organization.
The propositions outlines several aspects which may act as mediators between diversity and group performance including 1a) Empathy, 1b) Self-disclosure, 1c) Quality of communication as opposed to quantity of interaction, 1d) Group involvement and 1e) Trust. The second proposition basically exposes the vulnerability of psychological processes as it relates to the collective identity salience existing within the workplace and assumes that the effects of the group composition would be directly related.
The third and final proposition made by the authors in the model once again incorporates group composition on psychological processes and implies that it is moderated not only by collective identity salience as described in proposition 2 but an additional moderator is also psychological safety climate. The model comprises of sufficient information with regards to the understanding of the effects of diversity on group performance and as such separates itself from all prior models by “emphasizing social psychological constructs and by adopting an identity perspective” in an attempt to answer the basic questions in relation to the management of a diverse workforce instead of focusing on relative restrictions.
In summary, the model “examines the influence of diversity on performance from a behavioural perspective by conceptualising group performance as an aggregation of group members’ behaviours”. The model proposed by the authors therefore encompasses a majority of the aspects which evidently link workforce diversity to the many positive effects on the efficiency and in turn a maximized turnover for the labour force.
The article “Managing workforce diversity for competitiveness the Canadian experience” by Harish C. Jain and Anil Verma (1996), International Journal of Manpower, seeks to examine two trends; Growing workforce Diversity and Growing Competitive Challenge for Businesses. Although there is a definite difference in diversity between Canada and the Caribbean this article holds useful information that may help better understand the phenomenon. In the other article entitled “Cultural Diversity in Small Business: Implications for Firm Performance” by Linda S. Hartenian and Donald E. Gudmundson, journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, December 2000, the aim was to find out whether cultural diversity of a firm’s workforce lead to a more financial outcome. It also looked at how a diverse workforce differs from a non-diverse one and the differences of firm owners who belong and do not belong to a minority. This may help in better understanding how diverse work forces can be improved to better firms in the Caribbean.
In the first article they argue the points ‘that the two trends are more compatible than the separate policy developments suggest’ and ‘the workforce diversity is neither new nor specific and is a widespread phenomenon across the world.’ They first made clear that historical and contemporary factors such as immigration and emigration gave way to a more diverse workforce. They also went on to say that in the contemporary world most countries have a significant amount of minorities with only a few countries such as Japan and Poland with more than 99% of their population being from the same ethnic and linguistic group. In the other sections, they divulged into the level of diversity that is found in Canada and how it is shown in the population and in the workforce. In 1982 their federal government created The Constitution Act of 1982, which prohibited discriminatory treatment towards minorities. Additionally, in 1986 they enacted the federal Contractors Program which required contractors to remove any barriers that faced minorities in the labour force, which in turn allowed them to tap into new domestic markets and allowed for new opportunities to become available.
In the second article, the research collected over a time period of three years it showed that there is a definite difference between the first and second years of the firms’ revenue due to the more diverse workforce that was employed within the time period and it increased in the third year when their work force was further diversified, thus answering their first aim that firms will experience different levels of financial output. Although they also went on to state that it would be rash and hasty to say that the more diverse a workforce, the more progressive or consistent they are linked to the firms’ economic performance. Their second aim was also answered and proven valid as it showed that firms with a diverse workforce had a higher and better financial position than firms with a non-diverse workforce. The third aim showed that business owners that belong to minorities did not perform as well as business owners that belonged to non-minority groups.
In conclusion, the authors take on the topic did in fact show that there was compatibility with the two trends and the policies implemented by the government did in fact help the private and public sector of the population. However, they only specified diversity in the Canadian workforce and there was not much clarification as to how widespread diversity is worldwide other than historically due to migration. Although the article by Linda S. Hartenian and Donald E. Gudmundson was written in the year 2000, it still holds some level of weigh when compared to today’s world as we see that most of the firms present today display a strong diverse workforce and have greatly improved their financial positions over the years. Diversity in the workforce must be tied to organizational performance in order for it to be understood of how it can be beneficial and additionally, managing a diverse workforce takes time and resources.