Diversity in Organizations – Research Paper

Diversity in Organizations Assignment Instructions

Diversity is a critical issue in organizations, perhaps especially so for human services.  However, diversity is a concept and putting it into practice is often difficult for organizations.  For example, the University of California San Francisco, a health provider, defines diversity as: The variety of experiences and perspective which arise from differences in race, culture, religion, mental or physical abilities, heritage, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics.  How do you make sure your organization is inclusive of this range of diversity?  What policies, practices, leadership, and organizational culture need to exist in order to achieve organizational diversity?

In this assignment I am asking you to assess your current workplace, field placement, or another organization you know well and where you can gain some access to their policies and practices concerning diversity.  Since some organizations may be sensitive about this issue as it pertains to itself, please be mindful of this in asking for policies, documents, and questions of managers and other employees.  Here are some places to look, documents to ask for, and questions you might find useful in thinking through this assignment.

  • Does your organization have someone with the explicit responsibility for diversity?  Where are they in the organizational structure (e.g., in HR and restricted to hiring; in the CEO’s office and responsible for culture; etc.).
  • Does your organization have a diversity policy in any of its divisions (e.g., HR; programs; Board of Directors; etc.)?
  • How does your organization formally define or informally think about diversity (e.g., who is and is not included)?
  • Does your organization have practices that are directed towards diversity (e.g., staff training; events; celebration of ethnic history months; etc.)?
  • Where does the impetus for diversity arise?  For example, is it top-down, from the leadership of the organization; is it bottom-up, from line staff or clients; is it outside-in, from the community or advocates?
  • Do you/others think of your organization as being diverse?   In what ways is or is it not diverse?
  • Is diversity restricted in the organization, or is it universal?  For example, is it only among staff but not clients?  Is it only among line staff but not management, or management but not line staff?  What about boards?
  • How embedded is your organization in the community it serves?  Does it reflect that community in its staff, management, & boards?  For example, does the staff reflect the demographic characteristics of the population served?  Does it need to (for example, if it serves young children, obviously they cannot be on the staff!).
  • Many organizations have non-discrimination statements in their job announcements.  Does your organization have a passive statement (we do not discriminate) and practice, or an assertive statement (we encourage…) and practice (diversity recruitment)?  What aspects of diversity are considered (e.g., race and ethnicity, but not gender identity).  How do you understand this?
  • Does your organization need to be diverse, or diverse in only some ways?  For example, if you are serving a Spanish-speaking client group, it may not be diverse in many languages.
  • How would you assess the diversity policies, practice, and environment of your organization?  Why?
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