Diversity, Higher Productivity, Job Satisfaction and Workforce

Diversity as a Predictor of Higher Productivity

Maintaining a homogenous workforce can be costly for an organization. Diverse companies may outperform non-diverse firms by significant margins. This phenomenon occurs because homogenous groups are likely to think alike and are unlikely to discover problem areas that are not directly related to their experiences. They may repeatedly use the same problem-solving techniques even when vast organizational resources are at stake and more innovative solutions are required (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). A homogenous workforce will, therefore, stunt the growth of the organization, impede innovation and increase operating costs significantly. However, a diverse team that incorporates perspectives from different members of the society is expected to come up with innovative ideas, discover new ways of navigating challenging situations (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). This set of capabilities drive organizational growth, encourages innovation, and ultimately generate value for the firm.

A diverse workforce increases workforce productivity. A diverse workforce fosters the development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Individuals learn, process information, and solve problems in unique ways. The presence of multiple perspectives encourages the development of alternative solutions to complex problems (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). Developing new ways of solving problems may provide better results and decrease the time, energy, and resources required to do those tasks. These resources can then be diverted into other organizational programs. Outliers are also more likely to notice errors that may not be apparent to the mainstream workforce (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). Thus, firms with a diverse workforce are less likely to generate products with multiple flaws.  A diverse workforce will also generate more ideas for product improvement and facilitate the creation of products that have utility for all members of society. Harnessing the vision of every member within a heterogeneous group will, therefore, increase productivity.

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A diverse workforce facilitates the development of inclusive work culture. Companies with a highly diverse workforce recognize the inherent differences that exist among their employees. This recognition enables a formulation of inclusive work practices that preclude feelings of exclusion and discrimination within the workplace (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Employees who feel secure and valued within their jobs are more productive than those who do not. Heterogenous teams may have fewer instances of conflict. Employees within these groups have a differing set of capabilities, experience, and training (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Each of these factors provides a unique and invaluable contribution to the team’s activities. Members in these groups must, therefore, collaborate to fulfill their roles within the organization.  Adopting collaborative practices leaves little room for competition and pride within the group, which lowers conflict rates. Decreased conflict reduces the amount of time and energy diverted to conflict resolution, which improves productivity within the group.

Diversity as a Predictor of Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction is an essential predictor of overall life satisfaction, employee mental health, organizational commitment, and employee turnover. Job satisfaction can be measured by the level of affective orientation the employee displays towards his/her job (Haar & Brougham, 2013). In determining their level of satisfaction, employees may use financial or non-financial factors. Economic factors may include pay, promotions, and benefits (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Non-financial factors include opportunities for advancement, working conditions, and individual internal desires (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Employees who feel valued, respected, and appreciated by the organization are likely to be more satisfied with their jobs (Haar & Brougham, 2013).

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Diverse firms actively support the generation of ideas through inclusive practices, genuinely consider multiple perspectives and incorporate employee input into decision making frameworks (Butner, Lowe & Billings-Harris, 2006). These firms effectively meet individual employee expectations for inclusion, fairness, and support. These factors generate affective feelings for the company and the workplace which leads to higher job satisfaction (Haar & Brougham, 2013). On the other hand, poor inclusivity within the organization is likely to increase the perceived distance between minority and majority members of the organization. These perceptions may increase feelings of isolation with the minority group, which creates a negative work environment and lowers job satisfaction. Employees working in such a firm are likely to request more sick days, have lower productivity, and may ultimately quit their job.

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Workplace diversity stimulates employee growth and development. Personal and professional development are essential predictors of motivation and job satisfaction in the workplace.  Exposing individuals to people from different cultures, with differing opinions, and personalities stimulates skill development and diversity sensitivity within the mainstream workforce. These employees will have a higher capacity to work around people with different personalities, from different cultures, religions, or nationalities (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Employees working in diverse firms will, therefore, have an endless capacity to acclimate to different organizational environments, have markedly reduced levels of ethnocentrism, and have enhanced critical thinking, problem-solving and conflict resolution skills (Haar & Brougham, 2013). By creating a diverse and inclusive workforce, firms generate value for their employees. 

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Managing Diversity in the Workplace

The need for a diverse workforce has never been greater. As society becomes more globalized, firms must develop the capabilities and competence to serve a global consumer base. Organizations will need to boost workforce resources and maximize productivity. These objectives can be achieved by moving towards a less homogenous workforce. Diverse workforces have been proven to contribute to increased organizational growth, improved employee job satisfaction, increased productivity and an enhanced corporate image (Hur & Strckland, 2015). A diverse workforce also enables organizations to attract a more extensive consumer base by promoting service from employees belonging to similar backgrounds. Ignoring the benefits of having a heterogeneous workforce can have far-reaching consequences on the health and future of any organization. The recent incorporation of women, and migrants, to the workforce, are some of the opportunities managers can utilize to manage diversity within their workforce.

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Opportunities Managers Can Utilize to Manage Diversity within their Workforce

Gender

Gender diversity management provides an invaluable opportunity for managers to foster gender equity and inclusivity in the workforce. In the past, women’s roles in society were limited to taking care of the home and children. This paternalistic norm was so widespread that women would often leave the workplace as soon as they got married or got pregnant (Bukhari & Sharma, 2014). Thus, companies would only hire women to fill temporary, low-risk positions where they could easily be replaced (Bukhari & Sharma, 2014). However, these workforce dynamics have undergone a tremendous transformation over time. Today, a vast majority of women are taking up more challenging careers, and becoming more engaged in the workforce. Some women have prioritized their jobs so much that they have no time for familial responsibility (Bukhari & Sharma, 2014). However, although women have shown overwhelming interest in joining the workforce and scaling corporate ladders, they have encountered several obstacles in their attempts. Compared to men working in the same field, women get promoted less, earn less, and are less likely to occupy top-managerial positions before retirement.

Minority groups, migrants and indigenous people

As can be observed from the condition of African Americans, Native American, Hispanic American, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (Australia) communities, indigenous people, migrants, and minority communities are often composed of poor and socio-economically challenged people. (Haar & Brougham, 2013). Racial bias and discrimination in hiring practices accounts for the lower numbers of minority groups, migrants and indigenous people within the workforce. Systemic and institutional racism ensures that members of these communities are, receive moderate levels of education, are paid less, and have fewer opportunity for growth and career advancement in their respective organizations. Managing diversity for these groups should encompass activities that aim to facilitate minority group inclusivity in the workforce, foster transparency in hiring, promotion, and compensation practices.

Managing Diversity

Managing diversity should aim to counter the challenges that may preclude job satisfaction and the achievement of career success within the organization. Women have unique work styles. Research has indicated that although these styles may still lead to the accomplishment of the organization’s objectives, women are rarely rewarded for their efforts (Bukhari & Sharma, 2014). Moreover, women are expected to adopt male work styles, characteristics, and traits. Members of minority communities often have limited formal education (Haar & Broughma, 2013). However, at times, they may have the same or significantly higher levels of education to their white counterparts. However, these groups are still vastly unemployed and underpaid in organizations that choose to employ them. Managers should aim to provide equal incentives for all genders in terms of promotions, benefits, or vacation days (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). Furthermore, managers should increase transparency in hiring practices to prevent the exclusion of minority applicants.

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Organizations must increase the number of women and minority groups in the workforce. The undesirable consequences of having a homogenous workforce on minority groups can be alleviated by increasing the number of the minority group. Thus, if people from the same race, gender, religion, age, and socio-economic background dominate the workforce, management should consider increasing the number of workers with opposite characteristics. To achieve this objective, managers should adjust their hiring practices to attain numerical balance of people from all demographics (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). Once the representation of minority groups within the workforce reaches critical mass, communication, and interactions within the group are likely to improve.

Despite changes in employee composition, stereotypic attitudes, biases, and chauvinistic attitudes may still prevail within the workforce. Thus, increasing the number of any minority group is unlikely to bring about the expected benefits for the firm. Without proper diversity training, the organization may create a suitable avenue for discrimination, sexual harassment, and exploitation of the minority workforce (Hewins-Maroney & Williams, 2013). Thus, women and minority group acceptance into the organization need to be promoted by initiating gender and diversity sensitivity training (Hur & Strickland, 2015). This kind of training should allow employees and managers to identify personal or professional biases against women and minority groups and attempt to correct them. It should also facilitate the identification of the systemic issues that reproduce gender inequity and ethnocentrism even in an incredibly diverse workforce (Hur & Strickland, 2015). This identification should be followed by a conscious managerial decision to correct these issues to create a favorable environment for its workforce.

Conclusion

By diversifying its workforce, an organization creates avenues that allow its employees to encounter multiple perspectives which enhances critical thinking and problem-solving initiatives within the workforce and simplifies approaches to organizational challenges. Improved workforce competence enhances productivity by facilitating innovation and rapid product error correction. Employees working in inclusive firms recognize the organization’s efforts to promote fairness in its hiring practices and promotion, as well as compensation packages. These employees are likely to have more affective feelings towards their jobs and the organization, which translates into improved job satisfaction and organizational commitment. Managing diversity involves disposing of factors that may impede inclusivity, facilitate discriminatory hiring and promotion practices and encumber minority group and female career advancement.

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