The Value of Diversity in the Workplace

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The Value of Diversity in the Workplace

The Value of Diversity in the Workplace








































The Value of Diversity in the Workplace
The world is becoming smaller every day. The Internet, mass media, telecommunications and mass transportation have all contributed to the shrinking of international market. Because of these technologies, there is a continuing necessity for companies to address the needs of a very diverse market so that they can be competitive. Companies must now ask themselves what they can do to increase the number of customers for which they serve while determining the needs of these customers. This business process makes diversity a crucial part of a company's growth and operation.
Hiring and retaining employees with diverse backgrounds to meet the demands of the global marketplace is the first step to meeting these challenges. Companies like EBS PaineWebber (Grano, 1999) have committed themselves to diversity so that they can establish themselves as a diverse organization ready to meet the needs of a diverse group of potential clients. UBS PaineWebber (Grano, 1999) has discovered that they must hire the best employees available with diverse backgrounds and talents. Hiring and retaining diverse employees not only establishes the company as a diverse organization that can meet the needs of a diverse clientele but also diverse employees have the potential for improved performance over less diverse groups. Diversity can be especially beneficial on creative projects like product development or marketing (Neale, 2000).
Diversity is not simply a difference between people based upon where they live, the color of their skin, their ethnicity, whether they are male or female or the differences in their age. Diversity is also the differences in a person's educational background and the experiences that a person has had. Diversity is also the values or goals that influence a person's beliefs (Neale, 2000).


Margaret Neale (2000), the John G. McCoy—Banc One Corporation Professor of Organizations and Dispute Resolution at Stanford Business School, studied the effects of different types of diversity in the workplace. "What you don't see is diversity having a direct performance effect," says Neale. Neale (2000) studied informational diversity, demographic diversity, and goals and values diversity.
Neale (2000) went on to find that informational diversity could be classified as a constructive conflict as it encouraged people to discuss and evaluate the best path to follow. However, the same cannot be said of demographic diversity. Demographic diversity often encourages interpersonal conflicts that can destroy the homogeny of a group. Goals and values diversity was found to cause both constructive conflict and interpersonal conflict. While this combination can be the most injurious to a group, it can also lead to recognition and acceptance of common goals. This makes dealing with problems a smoother process because common goals and values are shared.
Diversity in the workplace is thought to increase shareholder value. Diverse knowledge and experiences can aid in generating profits. Diversity is a concept that is seen as having the potential to understand the international market, represent different customer bases, contribute diverse operational skills and help with decision-making and diverse age and experience provide different perspectives. Race and gender also provide crucially different views in the workplace (Brancato & Patterson, 2001).
Does diversity in the workplace actually increase a company's profitability? The Conference Board (Brancato & Patterson, 2001), a business membership organization, produced a report of diversity in US corporations. The Conference Board was unable to find concrete proof that profitability was linked to diversity.

A consensus of women board directors indicated the 10 most profitable of the Fortune 500 companies had at least one woman on the board. In fact, 80 percent more of the Fortune 500 companies had more than one woman on the board. It can be noted that of the 84 per cent of companies with one or more women on the board, only 35 per cent had one or more African-American (male or female) board members and 11 per cent had one or more Hispanic board member. Interestingly, of the 84 per cent of women board members, 54 per cent were women of color (Brancato & Patterson, 2001).
This study does not negate the positive effect of diversity in the workplace overall as it includes only board members. However, it does show a need for more diversity

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