Abstract The workforce diversity of U. S. organizations has been increasing rapidly, challenging the employee relations and human resource management practices in general. The paper discusses the effectiveness of workplace diversity initiatives and analyzes the impact of diversity on the overall organization performance. The authors develop specific analysis on age diversity and best diversity management practices (private and public sector) with particular focus on diversity training programs and also examine the advantages and drawbacks of workplace diversity.
The paper examines recent workforce demographic trends and their impact on recruitment, hiring and retention, employee relations, communication, productivity and at the end of the day, profitability. DIVERSITY TRAINING: STRATEGIC TOOL OR PASSING TREND In the last three decades, the work force demographics have gone through fundamental changes. The current workplace looks more like a United Nations conference hall than a place where everybody looks, dresses and behaves alike.
A fusion of cultures, behaviors, religious backgrounds, attitudes, sexual orientations and nationalities has replaced a once homogeneous workforce. Diversity has taken over and turned into a reality for most current organizations. Time Quality Management and cost reduction strategies that once took priority have been replaced with diversity management initiatives that facilitate the transition from manufacturing to service industry. Globalization is one of the core reasons that propelled organizations to embrace and utilize diversity as a strategic survival tool.
Organizations that have initiated and implemented diversity management practices are reported to have better relationships with their employees, domestic and foreign counterparts, better connection with their clients, and more well-organized utilization of the workforce (Layne, 2002). Indeed successful organizations such as Royal Dutch/Shell, IBM, Marriot, Starbucks Coffee, Dell Computer, Google, Bank of America and many others have found that diversity initiatives have a direct impact on the overall organizational performance and help an organization keep a competitive edge.
Workforce diversity has turned into a major component for business success because it helps attract, develop and retain talented employees. However, in spite of the positive outcomes of workforce diversity, organizational perceptions toward diversity vary considerably. Like any other strategic tool, diversity management holds both advantages and disadvantages. Before analyzing the pros and cons associated with diversity, management needs to be familiar with its definition. Diversity not only refers to sex, gender and national origin, but also culture, age, education, profession, seniority, religious background, ability and disability.
Today’s organizations need to realize that accepting and managing diversity means accepting and utilizing people’s uniqueness and embedding it into the organizational culture. The most important advantage of workforce diversity pertains to the variety of people and skills an organization can access to meet its business needs. As a rule of thumb, the greater the variety of people in an organization the higher the chances of finding the right talent for the right job/task. Based on the data collected through the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Census Bureau the U. S. workforce is becoming more heterogeneous.
The number of ethnic groups joining the workforce in the last three decades has increased significantly. However, this fact alone makes for one of the disadvantages of diversity. In today’s workplace, many people feel threatened by or uncomfortable with working with people from different age groups, sexual orientation and cultures. A second problem that comes with workforce diversity is the challenge of managing it. Effective management of diversity can have long-reaching effects on employee satisfaction and productivity. However, diversity can also trigger conflict, which as Daft (2004) argues, is part of an organization’s life.
Conflict can be best understood as a dynamic process, which causes a wide variety of organizational behaviors (Daft, 2004). Since organizations are made of people, conflict is a common and expected consequence of human relations in the workplace. Diversity conflict arises as a result of differences in perceptions, ethics, age and gender, rank, seniority, attitudes and personality traits. Diversity intolerance by individuals or groups can lead to such unethical and discriminatory behaviors such as stereotyping, ethnocentrism and prejudices. Under these circumstances, organizations feel the need to manage diversity and utilize the workforce.
One of the most efficient methods of diversity management is the diversity training. Diversity training (DT) is the first step an organization can take toward embracing and implementing diversity management initiatives. However, in order for diversity training to be effective, organizations need to perceive diversity management as a strategic process that is integrated, on-going and measurable (Layne, 2002). In order for diversity training to be effective, organizations must define workplace culture and workplace diversity in a comprehensive way.
Defining the organization culture allows organization members to realize how cross-cultural differences can lead to conflict, wrong perceptions and stereotyping. Cross-cultural/ diversity training should focus on the nonverbal behaviors, values and ethics in the workplace that improve the adaptability and teamwork. At the same time, diversity management requires organizational commitment, an open mind, cultural sensitivity and willingness to change. Companies such as American Express who are trying to manage diversity have integrated diversity training in their strategic management planning.
The impact of diversity training impact is multi- dimensional because it affects organizations in more than one way. According to De Meuse et al. (2007), organizations that manage diversity through workplace diversity training programs appear to have lower employee turnover, better adaptability and higher productivity. Other areas improved as a result of diversity training programs include organizational culture, employee morale, conflict reduction, better employee and client relations and more tolerance and flexibility. Management perceptions toward diversity training, however, vary as a result of managerial style.
Sometimes excessive focus on costs, lack of communication, and failure to perceive benefits impedes management to recognize diversity management as a fact of corporate life and to look instead at it as a trend. This type of management is apparently afraid of change and avoids dealing with diversity issues by not recognizing their impact at all. However, whether one likes it or not, diversity is a fact and the sooner organizations accept it, the higher the payoffs. According to Cascio (2006), workforce diversity is more than a competitive advantage, it is a competitive necessity.
Effective diversity training programs not only increase workforce awareness of diversity, but helps employees embrace and celebrate differences while facilitating business integration into emerging markets. DT: A Tool to Close Generational Gaps Not only does an effective DT program help us to celebrate differences; but it also serves as an invaluable tool in closing generational gaps. Unquestionably, today’s workforce comprises more age diversity than ever before. Unlike previous times in history, four generations serve in America’s workplace.
The four groups include the veterans also known as the traditionalists; the baby boomers; the generations X’ers; and the millennials also referred as Generation Y. Workers opting to work longer rather than retire early provide one key reason for this age diversity phenomenon. Ten years ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted that by 2006, one third of the workforce would be older than 55 (Gillian, 1996). Today, baby boomers make up the majority of U. S. employees. Many either are supervised by or work closely with Generation X’ers.
To better manage distinct generational differences, organizations need to employ diversity training that goes beyond race and gender. “Age” diversity training is needed. Such age-focused training should be made apart of a company’s basic diversity programs. Moreover, education on closing the generational gap should become a requisite and integral part of all employees (both supervisors and subordinates) individual developmental training plan. Employees, who are charged with executing the company’s goal, mission and vision, must be equipped on how to interact with colleagues who possess different histories and work habits.
Human resource trainers can play an instrumental role in this orientation process. To be effective within and relevant to the present workplace culture, the nature, composition and presentation of diversity training, must change. New tools and strategies must replace old ways and approaches. Diversity teaching techniques must appeal to the dramatically changing “generational” landscape of organizations. Training must be updated to keep pace with the learning needs and orientation of a wide age range of employees. Ironically, trainers who teach how to interact with multiple generations have a dual and unique challenge.
Not only must the trainer teach others about how to close the generation gap; but they too must attain this goal to be successful in reaching such stated course objectives. When organizing their syllabus diversity trainers must consider that various age groups communicate differently, learn differently and react to visual teaching aids differently. Moreover, when instructing various age groups and seeking to educate them on how to build relationships with persons outside their generation, trainers must provide “on-site training”.
Computer generated training alone cannot close the generational gap. Face-to-face training is a must. Content that goes beyond the traditional spill on affirmative action plans, conflict resolution and employment laws is also necessary. While these three topics are important and while they retain a place within diversity training, an age expanding workforce cries out for more. To make DT aimed at reducing age related conflict effective, the human resource trainer must begin with two key instructional foundations: an overview of stereotypes and overview of the five life stages.
Coverage on debunking myths and life stages should precede any traditional stockpiled training. This may serve to engage participants at the training’s onset. It may also open individuals up for spirited conversations on valuing individual differences. Understanding life stages is so relevant to the age diversity discussion. Largely because understanding life stages may help to explain or to diffuse conflict as to why, for example, an employee in rising adulthood puts emphasis on establishing family; whereas another employee in “mid-life” may put emphasis on achieving leadership opportunities.
A review of the various groups’ birth years, within the context of the age diversity discussion, discloses that veterans were born between 1925-1940. Baby boomers were born between 1941 and 1960. Generation X’ers were born between 1961 and 1976. Millennials were born between 1977-1992 (Glass, 2007). As suggested, when discussing age diversity, it would be beneficial for human resource trainers to address generational myths. Generational gaps lead to stereotypes. Oftentimes, stereotypes within the office setting will impair relationships and hinder a colleague’s ability to work together to perform essential job tasks.
It is common for tension to arise from employee perceptions. At one time or another, a group will eventually prejudge the other. To illustrate, some baby boomers believe that Xers disrespect rules and lack employer loyalty. On the other hand, some Xers believe that baby boomers are hierarchy-worrying warts with no sense of technology. Debunking myths would facilitate the bonding that is needed to build healthy productive work relationships. When discussing generational myths, it may be constructive to integrate a discussion on valuing legitimate generational differences.
It is crucial for employees working together to review and to welcome the positive contributions of individual differences. After all, influencing factors during formative years have undeniably shaped generational differences. “Shared experiences and collective memories of each generation lead them to have a common set of core values, beliefs which affect their expectations in the workplace” (Patato & Schwartz, 2007, p. 3). It effects what they say, think and do. For example, the legacy of the Great Depression influenced Pre-Boomers.
This caused them to be generally conservative, hardworking and respectful of authority. Undoubtedly, graphic television depictions of life events influenced the Baby Boomers. This caused them to be involved and question matters of interest. Not surprising, record-breaking divorce rates and single parenting influenced Generation X, the latch key kids. This caused them to dislike taking orders and to be self-reliant. After covering life stages and myths, a generational relevant DT course should then include modules on motivation, communication, and teamwork.
More and more, organizations are utilizing work groups to attain business goals. Effective training on managing “age” diversity can result in the birthing of great workplace synergies. Successful training organizations on how to leverage generational difference can give organizations a competitive edge. Productive interactions from combined forces are likely to result once employees of different ages learn how to harness their differences; and learn how to accept that differences can sometimes be a great asset for the organization.
Human resource trainers have a key role in helping America’s workforce to build synergy. Despite their vast differences (in experience and attitude), Veterans, Baby Boomers, Xers, and Ys can unite to form a viable team. They can learn from one another. For instance, because Veterans and Boomers often work for years within an organization, they embody the corporate history. The two groups are the ideal populations to answer questions from new Generation X or Y employees about the company’s operations.
In turn, because Generation X and Y employees grew up with computer technology, these two groups may have a ready answer for a Boomer or Traditionalists in search of an information technology issue. Through age relevant training, human resource trainers can harness the reality of generational characteristics to positively impact a company’s bottom-line, whatever that may be. Towards this goal, human resource trainers may want to incorporate various personality assessments in this module. Assessments may prove advantageous since understanding each other’s core values and beliefs is a good place to start for persons who must work in a team.
Additionally, to work effectively in a team, one must know their own strengths, weakness, aversions and preferences. One tool that could be used is the Myers-Briggs personality questionnaire (White, 2006). This assessment tool identifies personality types. Information gleaned from it could help employees work together more effectively. In addition to the Myers-Briggs, instructors could train management officials on how to develop a Generation Competencies Matrix tool for each of their organization. The matrix depicts the strengths and the limitations of each generation competency.
The Matrix, which presents “an easy reference point for addressing conflict among generations,” serves as key management tool for managing teams of different generations (Patota & Schwartz, 2007, p. 1). An effective DT program will also have to incorporate a module on motivation. Supervisors (assigning tasks) and subordinates (working in groups) can benefit from guidance on “what motivates” the traditionalist a. k. a. veteran, the baby boomer, the Generation Xer and the Millennial employee. In the workplace, managers often ask what they can do to motivate an employee.
Is it a good 401K plan or is it a new laptop computer with internet access? Is it money or is it public recognition? Surely, a discussion needs to be held on motivation. The one-style-fits-all motivation approach will not support an age diverse workforce. What propels a Generation Xer into immediate action may only get a nod from a Baby boomer, and vice versa. Age groups have different needs. HR will need to gear benefits to meet each group’s diverse demands. To illustrate, employees in their 60s are more focused on retirement.
In contrast, employees in their 30s are more focused on childcare. Human resources job is to balance both. The diversity trainer must impart to the listening audience the importance of satisfying the need of employees spanning across four generations. To deal with generational differences that affect team efficiency the diversity-training module should encompass communication. Clearly, a module on communicating across generations is vital to the effectiveness of diversity training. Communicating across generations must go beyond the grammar and business-writing skills approach.
It must talk about the various styles of communication including slang, verbal, non-verbal and “e-mail. ” E-mail etiquette, in particular, should be addressed under this segment. E-mails have become a common means of communication in the workplace. This is particularly true in workplaces that permit telecommuting as a general business practice. A communication module, tailored with the “age” focus, can be advantageous in two ways. Firstly, it can benefit the workplace by bridging generation gaps among co-workers. Secondly, it can bridge generation gaps between the employee and the customer they serve.
Like our diverse workforce customers, who are the recipients of businesses’ goods and services, come in different generations, we must be able to connect with them in a positive and productive way. Addressing communication issues can preclude a lot of workplace havoc that happens when people are misinterpreting one another. Employees may misread words conveyed to them by their colleagues. Of course, it is not just what people say that incites conflict; but the manner and tone in which people say things. This, too, can draw fire. We must learn how to communicate with each other.
For example, mature workers usually try to build consensus. For this reason, they may at time couch instructions that seem more like an optional request. Generations X and Y people may be confused by this indirect manner. They may interpret the baby boomer’s order as something they can choose not to do or do when they get around to it. In addition to what is said and how it is said, the age diversity has generated another category for discussion when communicating across generations. We must address “how” we communicate, that is, what mode we use to communicate and are comfortable with.
Not surprising, the Veterans may prefer to communicate in person via meetings; whereas the Generation Y members, who have been shaped by Instant Messaging may prefer, e-mail communication. After all, the younger generation grew up with the Internet. This means of communication is as common to them as cornflakes. They have made text messaging an art form and are highly skilled in communicating timely with their peers to ask question and to obtain replies. Hence, human resource trainers need to provide insight on how generations can reach a consensus in communicating their thoughts, beliefs and ideas.
With that said, training a multi-generational work force may most certainly challenge any human resource person who undertakes it. For in this information age, training participants will expect the instructor to use state-of-the-art technology, to give out-of-the-box orientation and to provide relevant information. The trainer’s job will require balance. For instructors will have to foster the continuous learning opportunities for participants spanning four generations. Trainers will have to carefully balance the needs of the boomers, who do well in a lecture environment.
Meanwhile, they will have too balance the needs of the Generation Y employee who is use to a culture of short abbreviated text messages. Adding to the human resource trainers’ challenge is the fact that one is to speak the language of the listener. This is a key principle of effective communication. In today’s age diverse culture, this is tricky and it is taxing because today’ listeners comprise four generations: the Veterans, the baby boomers, the Xers and the Ys or millennial group. As presented, each group has their own communication style.
So, what is the answer to conducting multigenerational training? The answer is to stay away from the straight pre-packaged diversity time-honored lectures. Off the shelf lectures and accompanying status-quo, class handouts will lull many young people to sleep. One must remember, this large workforce group, grew up with you tube and MTV. The key to balancing a mixed-age group of students is to engage them in activities everyone can accomplish (Niemec, 2000, p. 84). HR trainers should adapt interactive activity into their syllabus.
They should include training segments that are more real world based and less theory-based. They must go beyond power points and engage student in role-play, games and team exercises. Materials should be visually stimulating as well as thought provoking. Lastly, training sessions should be held within hours that support maximum learning for group participants. To make sure the subject matter is received by all generational groups, trainers will have to be sensitive for timing breaks for the “ coffee breaks group and the “power energy” break group.
After all, the best-presented age diversity program could easily become a passing trend if only a segment of the generation is alert to internalize it. An Evaluation of DT in the Federal Government Thus far, the paper has discussed diversity training including its purpose, benefits and need for update in lieu of changing generational demographics. In this section, several diversity training initiatives and programs, within the “Federal sector”, will be evaluated as they relate directly to management and rank and file employees, the two stakeholder groups mainly affected.
It will also elaborate on and give examples of the remaining seven leading practices listed in the Government Accountability Offices’ January 2005 report, Diversity Management: Expert-Identified Leading Practices and Agency Examples as training and employee involvement will be discussed first. These practices are: 1. Commitment to diversity by organizations top leadership 2. Inclusion of diversity management in an organization’s strategic plan 3. Diversity linked to performance 4.
Measurement of the impact of various aspects of a diversity program 5. Management accountability for the progress of diversity initiatives 6. Succession planning 7. Recruitment According to the report, the practices should be considered in order to implement successful diversity management initiatives. Diversity management should be a process of changing employees’ workplace behaviors in order to align with the company’s values, goals and objectives. The culture of the organization should stress the value and importance of a diverse workforce.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) focuses on changing behavior within the organization by encouraging its employees to “practice listening to persons whose views are different from [their own]” and not “laugh at or participate in jokes that bash others or reinforce stereotypes” (NIH, 1997, pg. 29,31). “People need learning tools to develop a more effective way of thinking and feeling about cultural difference that enables and supports their behavioral change” (Bye, 2007). Diversity training can help increase management and staff understanding of diversity issues and develop effective communication within an organization.
This in turn will lead to increased productivity and camaraderie. The National Performance Review’s (NPR’s) Diversity Task Force administered a survey to 160 federal agencies and sub agencies in the spring of 1999. Responses were received from 137 or 85. 6%, collectively representing 80% of the federal civilian workforce. Of the 137 agencies that responded to the survey, 85% indicated that they provided diversity training, 78. 3% training initiatives designed to accomplish specific objectives and 73. 3% responses acknowledging that they communicated the training objectives to its employees (Kellough &
Naff, 2004). Training should consist of conflict resolution, teambuilding, decision making and communication style exercises (GAO-05-90, 2005). These exercises are consistent with EEO Management Directive 715, which requires that agencies develop managers with effective managerial skills to communicate with diverse employees. Management Training Perspective. As noted in numerous reports regarding diversity initiatives, the commitment of management is the most important element in achieving successful implementation (GAO-05-90, 2005; Gilbert, 2000; Kellough & Naff, 2004; Lockwood, 2005, 2006).
A panel at a symposium conducted by the National Academy of Public Administration and Human Capital Solutions on whether “government can grow great leaders” emphasized the importance of leadership with global thinking (Lockwood, 2006). The National Academy of Public Administration also conducted a two-year comprehensive study on the 21st century federal manager, which identified three challenges facing the federal sector’s leadership.
They are 1) mastering new and complex competencies such as analytical and strategic thinking or technical capability, 2) changing priorities and 3) a changing workforce. The third challenge includes a more diverse workforce, which requires proper training in order to manage. The ability to manage a diverse work environment is emerging as a competency requirement for managers and executives because they must provide the visibility and commit the time and necessary resources.
Their commitment sends a message to their employees about the seriousness and relevance of the diversity initiative. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has listed diversity management skills as a requirement for Senior Executive Service (SES) as well as other leadership and executive programs. NIST has created a Diversity Tool Kit for Managers that provides information on different aspects of its diversity management program which include mentoring, community outreach and recruitment and retention.
Employee Training Perspective. Employees and workforce relationships are essential to an organization’s success because the flow of information between colleagues depend on the nature or quality of relationships and talent. The Federal Equal Opportunity Recruitment Program’s (FEORP) initiatives, as listed in its 2002 overview, are workforce planning, recruitment and outreach, mentoring and career development opportunities. The program also reports the percentages of key groups in the federal labor force annually.
As of 2000, the representation of minority groups in the total government workforce has increased from 27. 4% to 30. 4%. To this end, employee involvement in an organization’s diversity management is also utilized as a training tool in a number of federal agencies. This involvement is encouraged by the formation of advocacy, advisory or constituent groups. These groups would represent employees such as women, minorities or gays and lesbians, serve to provide leadership in resolving conflicts and educate the masses as to the issues of its respective group (Kellough & Naff, 2004).
Employees are also encouraged in many federal agencies to get involved in community outreach programs in order to make the community aware of the organization and its objectives. This way, the organization also gains knowledge of the demographics and serves as a marketing tool. The connection an organization creates with its community creates a positive employer brand attracting a diverse talent pool (Lockwood, 2005). The FAA has a 1-week Aviation Career Education camp where middle and high school students are exposed to career opportunities in aviation with emphasis on opportunities for women and minorities.
Those employees who volunteer their services, knowledge and skills in these programs geared toward those otherwise underrepresented in the federal government are in turn receiving diversity training. NIH, which placed among the top 10 agencies on a report that ranked federal agencies’ diversity management programs based on results from a 1999 government wide survey (Kellough & Naff, 2004), has interactive training modules based on EEO and diversity management available online. Upon completion of the modules, individuals receive certificates.
Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has diversity specialists who are chosen by wardens based on their maturity and tenure of at least one year. The diversity specialists receive two sets of diversity training per year. This is so that they are able to then transfer the knowledge they have gained to staff members at their respective facilities during annual refresher sessions. Commitment to diversity by organization’s top leadership. This commitment is evident in communication regarding diversity in newsletters, meetings, speeches and web sites.
The Director of National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown his commitment to diversity management by signing the NIH policy on EEO and diversity management three months after his arrival in 2002. The Director also appointed individuals form diverse groups into leadership positions, setting an example to his/her subordinate. The Director received a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Leadership Award from Diversity Best Practices in recognition of the agency’s diversity management. NIH’s CEO was the only one out of ten award recipients representing a federal agency.
The U. S. Coast Guard has focused on diversity management since it chartered a “Managing Diversity as a Process” study in 1993. Diversity has also been included as one of their major priorities through the Commandants’ Directions, the vision and priorities of the Coast Guard Inclusion of diversity management in an organization’s strategic plan. This practice is important because successful change initiative in large organizations may take 5 to 7 years to materialize and complete. Organizations must also realize the potential turnover of senior agency officials.
When integrated into the organization’s strategic plan, diversity initiatives will not be lost with turnover or become vulnerable to cuts for example. This process is about changing employees’ workplace behaviors to be in accordance with the company’s values, which should represent an inclusive environment, and aligning them with key business objectives (Bye, 2007). Kellough and Naff note that this must be done emphasizing employees, customers, and stakeholders shared values (Kellough & Naff, 2004).
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) included diversity management as an “enabling goal” in its 2003 to 2008 strategic plan. The first objective under this enabling goal is “to recruit, develop, and retain a competent, committed, and diverse workforce that provides a high quality service to veterans and their families. ” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also incorporated diversity management into its strategic plan. The objective of the plan is to support equity and diversity in the workplace. In order to address this objective, three strategic goals were outlined.
They are 1) enforce federal EEO laws and regulations in order to attempt to eradicate discrimination; 2) promote inclusion and diversity in all levels of the workforce; and 3) empower individuals so that they may contribute to the FDA’s mission to their fullest potential. Diversity linked to performance. Those organizations that have strived to be truly inclusive have found that diversity contributed to improved individual and organizational performance. It increased productivity as well as morale. A diverse work environment helped organizations reduce cost by reducing turnover and increasing retention.
A perfect example of this was evident in the Postal Service. In order to accommodate its diverse clientele, the Postal Service translated a number of guides and mailing instructions into Chinese and Spanish. A 24-month controlled pilot test at 25 post offices that were identified as having the highest concentration of Spanish and Chinese non-English indicated a growth of over $14. 8 million in net new walk-in retail revenue. The program was enacted in fiscal year 2002 due to the success of the pilot program. Management accountability for the progress of diversity initiatives.
Management accountability ensures that managers at all levels are made responsible for diversity and are evaluated on their progress. This can be done by basing performance ratings and compensation on the success of achieving diversity related goals and objectives (Kellough & Naff, 2004). An example of such practice is how each Senior Executive Service (SES) executive at the National Institute of Health (NIH) was required to submit narrative descriptions of their accomplishments for the year that included a narrative for a critical element that promotes EEO and workforce diversity in 2003.
Performance ratings and bonus nominations were assessed based on the narratives, reviewed by NIH Performance Review Board and then submitted to the NIH Director for approval. If an SES official had a history of noncompliance with the critical element of diversity, the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Management (OEODM), who serves as an advisor to the board, could advise the board against that official receiving a bonus.
This has happened in one instance leading to the official not receiving the bonus. Succession planning. “Succession planning is a comprehensive, ongoing strategic process that provides for forecasting an organization’s senior leadership needs; identifying and developing candidates who have the potential to be future leaders; and selecting individuals from among a diverse pool of qualified candidates to meet executive resource needs. (GAO-050-90, 2005, pg. 5)” An organization anticipates the need for leaders and other key employees and plans accordingly. This is done through leadership development and mentoring programs, which also afford the organization an opportunity to develop and retain staff. Mentors help those employees interested in advancement by communicating the organization’s expectations, goals, objectives and culture. The U. S. Postal Service has a succession-planning program that includes self-nomination, self-assessment and a leadership assessment survey.
This is also an example of employee involvement in organization’s diversity management, the ninth leading practice in the report. All employees at level 22 and above can nominate themselves for executive positions by completing an online succession planning application on the Postal Service Diversity Development Intranet site each year after the Office Diversity Development announces the dates of the succession planning cycle. The executive manager of the nominee then approves or disapproves of the nomination to the planning committee.
The Postal Service also completed a web-based individual development plan system in fiscal year 2002 in order to develop potential successor employees for executive leadership roles. The system tracks skills, training, areas of expertise and areas of development focus in order to ensure that potential candidates for more specialized jobs are following a plan that includes necessary training and work experiences to fill vacant positions. (One more example noted if needed) Recruitment.
Recruitment, retention and development are at the center of an organizations sustainability and growth (Lockwood, 2006, pg. 4). Recruitment is the first step toward establishing a diverse workforce. Federal agencies attract qualified diverse applicants by the process. In order to ensure agencies are reaching out to diverse pools of talent, it is advised that they recruit from institutions such as historically Black colleges, Hispanic-serving institutions, women’s colleges and schools with international programs.
The building of formal relationships with such schools will also help ensure a steady flow of talent for the future. In the case of recruitment in the federal government where most SES executives are eligible for retirement in the next few years, they must also recruit mid-career employees or those generally 40 and over with at least ten or more years of experience and not solely from entry-level or current college graduates. Measurement of the impact of various aspects of a diversity program.
Maintaining a database of the various groups in different levels as well as the number of EEO related complaints can serve to gauge the success of an initiative. Data from interviews, focus groups, and surveys can also serve to identify employee perceptions. These responses over time can help an organization assess the progression of its diversity initiative and aide in the creation of future training sessions. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) uses a survey under its Diversity Assessment Program to assess culture and morale.
Unit managers were then asked to put action plans into place to address concerns raised by survey results after receiving feedback from the contractor who administered them. Survey results were also used to help develop diversity goals and objectives for the diversity strategic plan. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) administer a climate survey to all employees that is then followed by feedback sessions and action planning by work groups. Workforce planning or succession planning is important due to the number of baby boomers that will be able to retire in a couple of years.
Management is incorporating human resource methodologies, which aim to recruit workers from Generation Y or the Net Generation. These individuals are more adept at global and diversity issues due to technology and online social networks. They are also more team orientated involved which is noted to increase diversity initiative success. In order to recruit a more diverse talent pool, some agencies have noted the creation of alliances or relationships with universities and multicultural professional organizations.
Retention as well as development is the center of sustainability and growth for an organization. The success rate of the two can be increased by implementing mentoring programs, which has been the case in various agencies. Below is a chart that shows the three dimensions of diversity training. It emphasizes that it is necessary for any diversity training to be focused, to captivate the audience and to make sure participants understand the material being presented (Golembiewski, 1995). Three Dimensions of Diversity Training | |Focus |Depth of attention |Locus of training | | | | | |Facts and stereotypes about diverse |Cognitive |An audience | |subpopulations or individuals | | | |Exploring personal attitudes and values |Consciousness raising |Interacting individuals, | related to diversity issues | |as in role-plays | |Venting and extensive dealing with personal |Catharsis and personal |Long-term learning groups| |feelings |growth | | |Exploring deep-seated personal |Experiential and |Learning and counseling | |predispositions, e. g. , about “racism,” and |skill-based |about “deep changes,” | |working toward change | |even therapy |
Career development opportunities or leadership development programs that strive to include minorities, women and people with disabilities have also been implemented in federal agencies. They promote loyalty and create energy to support organization’s goals and mission (Lockwood, 2006). Resources such as mentoring, formal training and access to high-status conferences are empowering and contribute to diversity management and career advancement. Although there has been an increase of representation of minority groups in the federal government, Hispanics remain the most underrepresented.
Hispanics represent over 12. 5% of the general population, 11. 8% of the national civilian labor force yet only represent 6. 6% of permanent federal workforce. Executive Order 13171, Hispanic Employment in the Federal Government, was issued on October 12, 2000 in order to focus on this minority groups under representation. The order calls for the establishment of an Interagency Task Force on Hispanic Employment as well as an annual report to the President of the United States from the Director of OPM on agencies’ progress and recommendations (OPM, 2005).
Change in the federal sector proceeds at a slower pace than in the private sector (Kellough & Naff, 2004; Lockwood, 2006). Although 88% or 120 of the 137 agencies that responded to a NPR survey on diversity initiatives stated that they had a program in place, 25. 8% of this number confirmed that their program was primarily based on their former EEO/AA mandates. Only 46. 7% of organizations from the NPR survey reported that their diversity initiative is incorporated into mission statement. Out of the same study group, 49. 2% indicated that their organization had a diversity policy or directive.
An even smaller percentage is that of agencies that require employees to attend diversity training beyond an initial course, 32% (Kellough & Naff, 2004). DT: What Works and what does not. Organizations presently are finding out that their employee diversity make up is very much unlike it has been in the last 30 years. Employers are finding out that the workplace is now a mixture of gender and races. It is now up to the employer to provide a safe environment for its employees; some employers are still trying to avoid managing the diverse group it has and consequently learn the hard way.
Below is a chart (Golembiewski, 1995) that shows why some organization shy away from creating trainings that would encourage and help employees to understand each other. |Major Sources of Advantage/Disadvantage in | |Managing Diversity in the Public Sector | |1. Legal: failure to manage diversity will result in high costs of litigation as well as of adverse judgments by the courts | |2.
Costs: the costs of doing business will be higher with failure to manage diversity—communication will be more difficult, employee | |involvement will be reduced, relationships will be strained if not adversarial, and so on, as organizations become more diverse | |3. Intercrop Conflict: a special case of costs, with broad implications for the quality of working life, labor-management | |relationships, the quality of unionization—conflict will be greater where managing diversity is less successful | |4.
Attractiveness to Potential and Actual Employees: failure in managing diversity will be a major disincentive for existing as well | |as potential employees, which is of special significance in the public sector, which has well-known disadvantages in recruitment and | |retention. This attractiveness holds not only for minorities, who will form larger portions of the pool of employees, but also for | |others interested in a public work force that “looks like America” (e. g. Schmidt, 1988) | |5. Attractiveness to Budgeting Authorities: government agencies derive their life’s blood from complex executive-legislative views of | |requests for appropriations, and poor performance in managing diversity may well become a growing factor in adverse reviews | |6. Attractiveness to Clientele or Customer: unsuccessful diversity efforts may well have direct implications for how an agency serves | |its clients or customers.
The latter will become increasingly diverse over time, their needs presumably will be more accessible to | |diverse work forces and managements, and the comfort level for both service provider and client/customer should increase (esp. Thomas,| |1990, 1991) | |7. Attractiveness to Managers and Executives: more managements are not only tasking subordinates with diversity goals, but performance| |on those goals is taken into increasing account re promotions and salary judgments (e. . , Brown and Harris, 1993) | |8. Creativity and Problem-Solving: many observers argue that organizations successful in managing diversity will bring broader | |perspectives, different experiences, and lessened attachment to past norms and practices, all of which can be expected to have a | |positive effect on creativity and problem-solving | |9.
System Flexibility: agencies with successful diversity efforts will be more accustomed to dealing comprehensively with a changing | |environment, and hence more fluid and perhaps less standardized, as well as arguably more efficient and effective in responding to | |environmental turbulence | |10.
System Legitimacy: success in managing diversity is associated with core values in our political and social philosophy, and hence | |that success also should have regime-enhancing tendencies | |11. System Image: successfully managing diversity provides another opportunity for government to exercise leadership as model employer|
Diversity training fosters awareness and acceptance of individual differences, targets greater understanding of the nature and dynamics of individual differences, and helps participants understand their own feelings and attitudes about people who are “different. ” Moreover, DT explores how differences might be tapped as assets in the workplace, and enhances work relations between people who are “different. ” Organizations have now come to realize that they have to put value to the differences among their employees.
In doing so they need to provide diversity trainings to their employees, such trainings will include a workshop that will become the standard for professional conferences and supervisory managerial training. These trainings will address the following and ensure that employees are well trained in them: • Understanding of terms related to culturally diverse work • Knowledge about demographic profiles of culturally diverse populations • A critical thinking perspective on cultural diversity • Understanding of the history of oppression of multicultural groups • Knowledge about the strengths of people of color Knowledge about culturally diverse values (Webb, 2001). Golembiewski, 1995 states that for individuals, moreover, significant rites of passage are often involved. Laws, court decisions, and organization policies can point the way, giving marching orders to the recalcitrant and even sending warnings to them. Perhaps even more important, such formalities give heart to those predisposed toward diversity-friendly relationships. However, affirming diversity in a big way requires supportive attitudes and often new skills.
Individual reevaluation and change often are required to move beyond any but grudging and grinding recognition of differences. As Elaine Lowry (1993) explains: “In diversity training, participants become more aware of themselves. If we are not aware of our own feelings, prejudices, and stereotypes, we will never be able to open up enough to look at someone else’s differences positively. “Diversity training is not always met with positive reaction”, as Golembiewski, 1995 puts it in his publication. First, the target usually overwhelms both the time and techniques devoted to the training activities.
Diversity training can have an intellectual bias, as in lectures about diversity issues; the activities have a close similarity or sensitivity training. Such variants emphasize here-and-now events among group members who were strangers, to encourage the disclosure and sharing of feelings in an environment of intended high trust. Secondly, some employees have expressed concerns that “It’s all this touchy-feely stuff—’I’ll respect you, if you respect me. ” [However, once] you leave the [training] room, it’s back to business as usual. Nobody wants to hear about your day-care problems or your sick parent. Such out-of-work activities clearly have their place; but emphasis on them also has substantial limits in large organizations. Thirdly, uniform effects are not always achieved, and even high extremes might occur. Therefore, no one can answer definitively whether typical diversity training does significantly more good than harm. Organizations must make sure that they are not just putting on a little too late after a lot of damage has been done; such as a lawsuit, while too much information at once may scare the employees. Conclusion
This paper investigates the relationship between diversity, generation’s conflict and organizational performance and analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of the diversity management initiatives with particular emphasis on diversity training. After a thorough consideration of the successful diversity practices, as well as a look at the relevant literature, one could conclude that diversity training is a necessary strategic tool that leads to the achievement of greater goals for an organization and its employees. Diversity training makes sure that all employees are given the necessary tools to deal work with each person’s differences.
It celebrates the diverse nature of the organization and provides an outlet for all employees to understand each other. In order for the diversity training and other diversity initiatives to be effective diversity, initiatives should be aligned to the organization’s overall strategic goals and activities and ensure that these goals are well articulated and well synchronized. It is apparent that these trainings need to be in the front and center of the goals and mission of any workplace. As it is stated earlier, there are organizations that are taking steps to make sure that their workplace is conducive for all.
Management needs to be very aware about what the laws are regarding diversity and what steps need to be taken to provide protection to any employee whose rights are violated. In spite of some drawback described above – generally related to cost considerations, organizations should willingly embrace diversity initiatives and allocate the necessary resources to ensure its payoffs. Organizations who are trying to implement change in the light of diversity initiatives should keep in mind that effective communication is the key to gaining the understanding and commitment of their employees.
Frequent and consistent lateral communication across the organization is important for maintaining a focus on diversity programs and ensuring a common understanding of program goals (Layne, 2002). References Bye, P. L. (2007, June). SHRM white paper: Realizing the full potential of diversity and Inclusion as a core business strategy. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from the Society for Human Resource Management Web site: http//www. shrm. org/ Hrresources/whitepapers_published/CMS_021938. asp (Cascio W F 2006 Managing Human Resources: Prdoductivity, quality of work life, profits. )Cascio, W. F. (2006).
Managing Human Resources: Productivity, quality of work life, profits. (7th ed. ). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill-Irwin. (Daft R L 2004 Organization Theory and Design)Daft, R. L. (2004). Organization Theory and Design (8th ed. ). Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College. (De Meuse K P Hostager T J O’Neill K S 2007 longitudinal evaluation of senior managers’ perceptions and attitudes of a workplace diversity training programs)De Meuse, K. P. , Hostager, T. J. , & O’Neill, K. S. (2007). A longitudinal evaluation of senior managers’ perceptions and attitudes of a workplace diversity training programs. Human Resource Planning, 30(2), 38-46. Gillian, F. 1996). Xers vs. Boomers: Teamwork or trouble? Personnel Journal. 75,(11) 86-88. Retrieved September 10, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. Glass, A. (2007). Understanding generational differences for competitive success. Industrial and Commercial Training, 39(2) 98–103, Retrieved November 17, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. Golembiewski, R. (1995). Managing diversity in organizations. University of Alabama Press. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Kellough, J. E, & Naff, K. C. (2004). Responding to a wake-up call: An examination of Federal agency diversity management programs. Administration & Society, 36(1), 62-90. Layne P 2002 Best practices in managing diversity)Layne, P. (2002). Best practices in managing diversity. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 2(4), 28-31. Lockwood, N. R. (2005, June). Workplace diversity: Leveraging the power of difference for competitive advantage. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from the Society for Human Resource Management Web site: http//www. shrm. org/research/quarterly/ captureIDs. asp? type=2005/0605RQuart_essay. asp-101k-2005-06-06. Lockwood, N. R. (2006, July). Strategic human resource management in the federal sector: HR’s emerging role and the demand for leadership.
Retrieved October 21, 2007, from the Society for Human Resource Management Web site: http://www. shrm. org/research/quarterly/captureIDs. asp? type=2006/0706RQuart_ essay. asp-92k-2006-09-08. Niemec, S. (2000). Finding Common Ground for all ages, Security Distributing and Marketing, 30(3), 81-84. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. Patota, S. & Schwartz D. & Schwartz, T. (2007). Leverage Generational Differences for Productivity Gains, Journal of American Academy of Business, 11(2) 1-10, Retrieved November 17, 2007, from ABI/INFORM Global database. Pitts, D. W. 2002, March). Diversity management in the U. S. Federal Government: Opening doors or opening the system? Retrieved October 30, 2007, from the United Nations Online Network in Public Administration and Finance Web site: http://unpan1. un. org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UN/UNPAN003038. pdf. Webb, N. (2001). Culturally diverse parent-child and family relationships: A guide for social workers and other practitioners. University Press. New York. White, R. (2006). Four Generations Learning to Work Better, PM Public Management, 88(10), 35, Retrieved October 31, 2007 from ProQuest database.
United States Government Accountability Office. (2005, January). Report to the ranking minority member, committee on homeland security and governmental affairs, u. s. senate: Diversity management expert-identified leading practices and agency examples. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from http://gao. gov/highlights/d0590high. pdf. United States Office of Personnel Management. (n. d. ). Report to the president on Hispanic employment in the federal government. Retrieved October 18, 2007, from http://opm. gov/eo/13171. asp. Annotated Bibliography Bye, P. L. (2007, June).
SHRM white paper: Realizing the full potential of diversity and Inclusion as a core business strategy. Retrieved October 21, 2007, from the Society or Human Resource Management Web site: http//www. shrm. org/Hrresources/whitepapers_published/CMS_021938. asp This article actually highlights two aspects of planning that is currently missing from many diversity and inclusion strategies. The two elements are aligning diversity initiatives directly with the organizations business objectives and building intercultural sensitivity and competence. Bye is the President of MDB Group, Inc. a consulting firm in Livingston, NJ. This consulting firm developed Business-Aligned diversity and inclusion strategy, which helps organizations improve profitability and manage its reputation through diversity. Bye is also a member of the SHRM Workforce Diversity Special Expertise Panel and has written several articles that have been included in diversity related journals. This article was chosen because it discusses strategies that are gaining popularity in implementing successful diversity initiatives. (Cascio W F 2006 Managing Human Resources: Prdoductivity, quality of work life, profits. Cascio, W. F. (2006). Managing Human Resources: Productivity, quality of work life, profits. (7th ed. ). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill-Irwin. This book is perfect for the general management student whose job inevitably will involve responsibility for managing people. The author explicitly links the relationship between productivity, quality of work life, and profits to various human resource management activities and, as such, strengthens the students’ understanding of human resource management as an important function affecting individuals, organizations and society.
It is research-based and provides many case studies of real business situations. (Daft R L 2004 Organization Theory and Design)Daft, R. L. (2004). Organization Theory and Design (8th ed. ). Cincinnati, OH: South-Western College. The author integrates the most recent thinking about organizations, classic ideas, theories and real world practice in a way that is interesting and enjoyable for students. The book includes detailed examples of how companies are coping with a rapidly changing, highly competitive and international business environment. The uthor integrates numerous features that give students the opportunity to apply concepts and develop skills and insights. (De Meuse K P Hostager T J O’Neill K S 2007 longitudinal evaluation of senior managers’ perceptions and attitudes of a workplace diversity training programs)De Meuse, K. P. , Hostager, T. J. , & O’Neill, K. S. (2007). A longitudinal evaluation of senior managers’ perceptions and attitudes of a workplace diversity training programs. Human Resource Planning, 30(2), 38-46. The authors examine a study that was administered with the purpose of determining the effectiveness of a workplace diversity training program.
The authors evaluate the benefits and disadvantages of workplace diversity. Organizations that managed diversity efficiently showed reductions in turnover, better adaptability and higher productivity. When measuring the worth of diversity training programs, trainees showed increases on their understanding and acceptance of diversity. The authors conclude that diversity training helped participants/employees be more receptive to diversity in the workplace. Gillian, F. (1996). Xers vs. Boomers: Teamwork or trouble? Personnel Journal. 75(11), 86-88.
In this article, the author discusses how the baby boomers and Generation X are colliding in today’s workforce due to their different needs and demands. According to the author, generational differences are no different from racial or gender differences. Therefore, they should be treated as a diversity issue. This article presented useful narrative on the importance of harnessing the best attributes of various generational groups. With regard to the group paper, the article was valuable in providing insight on how characteristics of the groups can be used to create teamwork synergy. Glass, A. 2007). Understanding generational differences for competitive success. Industrial and Commercial Training, 39(2), 98–103. This is a scholarly article written by Amy Glass, a senior facilitator at Brody Professional Development in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The article analyzes the specific challenges, and opportunities, inherent in managing and working in a multigenerational workforce. It discloses the results of a wide range of studies and research that revealed the methods to recognize the key motivators for each generation. The author proffers that by understanding and appreciating ach age group’s work style and personality traits friction can be minimized and the assets of managing a multigenerational workforce are maximized. Information obtained from this source document was used to present some of the unique generational characteristics that affect work ethic and relationships. Golembiewski R. (1995). Managing diversity in organizations. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. University of Alabama Press. This book emphasizes the need to have a structure that will provide training such as sensitivity training and diversity trainings.
It intends to blow so many bells and whistles on the basic organizational machine that will keep generating much the same old mistakes without making any corrections. It provides a guide on how to conduct diversity trainings, brings attention to different types of diversity issues, suggestions for an alternative to diversity- friendly workplaces. The book is detailed of a diversity-friendly infrastructure to complement basic structural arrangements, referring to policies, procedures, and practices. Robert Golembiewski is also the author of a book titled ‘Handbook of Organizational Behavior. Kellough, J. E, & Naff, K. C. (2004). Responding to a wake-up call: An examination of Federal agency diversity management programs. Administration & Society, 36(1), 62-90. This article used a systematic methodological approach to examine the extent by which federal agencies have implemented diversity management initiatives. It uses the results from a survey administered to 160 federal agencies or 80% of the federal civilian workforce in 1999. This article was selected because it may be the most comprehensive research on actual diversity programs within the federal government.
It has been referenced in several scholarly articles as well as in an official report of the United States Government Accountability Office regarding diversity management. Kellough is an associate professor at the University of Georgia’s Department of Public Administration and Policy of the School of Public and International Affairs. Naff is an associate professor of public administration at San Francisco State University (SFSU) as well as faculty evaluation coordinator at eh schools Public Research Institute.
They both have published articles in scholarly journals as well as authored another report regarding diversity and the federal government titled Transforming Public Organizations Diversity Programs in the Federal Government. The authors discuss (Layne P 2002 Best practices in managing diversity)Layne, P. (2002). Best practices in managing diversity. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 2(4), 28-31. The author analyzes the observations expressed by various participants at a workshop on diversity organized by the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee on Diversity in the Engineering Workforce in October 2001.
One of the most frequent remarks was that employee diversity has a positive effect on a company’s bottom line in that it allows the company to meet the needs of a marketplace that itself is becoming increasingly diverse and global. The article outlines the key components of a successful diversity program. Lockwood, N. R. (2005, June). Workplace diversity: Leveraging the power of differ