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Describe the level of diversity awareness in your organization s climate

Aside from these variables, considerations are also made on personality, age, cognitive style, skillset, education, background and more. The focus of workplace diversity now lies on the promotion of individuality within an organisation, acknowledging that every person can bring something different to the table.

An organisation that is committed to a diverse workforce, therefore, is one that aims to harness a pool of individuals with unique qualities, seeing this combination of differences as a potential for growth rather than opportunities for conflict. Attached to this commitment is also an intention to nurture and develop the potential of each individual.

So what is it about diversity that can give organisations an edge? Here are several advantages of having a diverse workforce: If managed well, the strengths and best insights of every individual can be harnessed to heighten productivity and deliver better results.

According to Claudia Cadena, director of strategic human capital management at SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd, the composition of a team will dictate its potential for success. There needs to be a mix of capabilities to ensure that essential components and skills from strategic planning, execution, follow up to communication abilities and conflict resolution are present. This amalgamation of diverse individuals also sets the stage for creativity as different ideas can be tested against one another, and new ones may be birthed.

Employees stand to experience more personal growth in an environment where they are exposed to differences in culture, opinions and ideas. The following can is also be said: The more you know, the better your capacity to test and refine your own perspectives and opinions. Employers will have to improve their ability to adapt to different circumstances in a diverse environment. They have to work through differences in personality, culture and background.

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Underlying ethno-centric notions may finally be brought to the fore and confronted as they learn to work with different styles and cultures. As every person has different skills and possesses varying strengths, these can be combined for greater performance and productivity.

Technical strengths in one individual can be united with the management strengths of another, and the sales strength of yet another.

Diversity and the Workplace

Likewise, the cultural expertise of diverse individuals can be leveraged for the benefit of the company. Representatives of specific demographics can be paired with clients of the similar backgrounds, helping clients feel more comfortable and sense an affinity with the employee, and thereby, the organisation. A work place that is open to exploring new ideas and styles is especially appealing for the adventurous open-minded employees of Generation Y.

As individuals have their unique time commitments, having a varied group helps ensure that work tasks can be fulfilled at all times of the year. Power generation company Malakoff Corp Bhd ensures that various races are represented particularly in their roles that involve shift work, as pointed out by Siti Hajar Mohd Dahlan, AVP of human resources. Acknowledging that various ethnicities and religions have different celebrations they adhere to, making sure they have a diverse group of employees ensures there is a workforce across different festival periods during the year.

Feel good images of effortless synergy, the harmonious combination of different perspectives and a melting pot with a fantastically delicious mix of ingredients may be easy enough to talk about. However, we would be ignoring the challenges firstly of advocating diversity and then managing it in a manner than ensures it is a strength, and not a human resource and operational nightmare.

The goal, according to Martin, is to create an environment where every employee has opportunities to be successful and where their differences are leveraged for the success of the organisation.

Subconsciously, every person has a tendency to draw on their hidden biases when making decisions about who they think will be the best candidate for a particular role or opportunity. They may favour people of a particular race or educational background, gender or individuals of a certain a personality type.

  • How can they be changed?
  • Alliance Bank Malaysia, for instance, integrates its diversity commitment into its core values.

A quick glance at the leadership composition of an organisation can reveal predispositions that they are inclined towards. Culture, personality and background differences can erect social divisions between employees that they need to recognise and overcome.

Naturally, this can present disruptions when working in teams as individuals learn to adapt and understand on another. However, this can turn to an advantage if individuals recognise that different, sometimes conflicting ideas, are important to make sure a team does not have tunnel vision. The starting point, therefore, is to first define the type of diversity that your organisation needs to succeed.

Identify what is important for your organisation and then set the appropriate goals and measures so that employees understand what is needed to succeed in this endeavour. Different companies adopt different approaches. AIG adopts a target-setting approach in relation to gender and ethnic representations at senior levels of the company.

  • In Summary We've talked about what diversity is, why it is important, how to begin envisioning your ideal diverse community, and how to set up an environment that fosters diversity;
  • If my group is excluded, what can I do?
  • Acknowledging that various ethnicities and religions have different celebrations they adhere to, making sure they have a diverse group of employees ensures there is a workforce across different festival periods during the year.

Malakoff reviews its diversity mix on an annual basis at its manpower planning meeting, discussing talent needs with heads of divisions and departments. Quota systems are an option as well; however, a danger here is that hiring managers can sometimes feel pressured to recruit for the sake of diversity more than talent. This ensures not only understanding of the goal, but will also lend the essential perspective and context to their everyday decision-making.

Foster an appreciation for diverse individuals, and encourage teamwork and collaboration. Alliance Bank Malaysia, for instance, integrates its diversity commitment into its core values.

As diversity involves the recognition of the strength of individuality, and the combination of differences, organisations will strengthen its diversity call by giving its employees equal opportunity for career development.

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This may involve internal training programmes and putting in measures to build the internal talent pipeline, such as providing them with the tools, resources and opportunities to plan their own career path and reach their career goals.

For instance, when discussing internal talent, have a group participate in this discussion, and assess not only talent in your own sphere but look at talents across the organisation. Similarly, in the recruitment process, expand the pool of talent you are considering. Post vacancies both internally and externally.

Commit to interviewing diverse candidates so that hiring managers get to consider all possibilities. Also, include diverse perspectives in the selection process. Have interview sessions with a diverse panel, as opposed to scheduling the candidate to meet different managers at different times. The advantage of this is that the panel will hear the same answers at the same time in the same context. In doing so, their perspectives lend to better comparisons. When considering candidates for a position, managers should first identify the specific skills needed by an individual to fulfil that role.

In focusing on the skillset required rather than the type of person the manager would like, this helps managers to think from a diversity perspective.

This way, the chances of recruiting a diverse range of individuals increases. As the geographical divisions of the world become increasingly irrelevant and organisations are poised more than ever to service a global community, the advantages of a diverse workforce become especially pertinent.

In doing so, a mind-set change is often required, as biases and stereotypes can impede us from viewing the full potential of differences. Take some time to examine the diversity composition and diversity needs of your organisation. It could be the secret to taking your company to the next level.