Free Research Paper on Diversification

Free research paper example on Diversification:

One of the more prevalent changes in today’s work environment is the increasing diversification of the workforce. Diversity of the workforce encompasses many dimensions, including sex, race, religion, age, types of disabilities, and education. Compared to a workforce that historically consisted of white males, today’s workforce is very diverse, and this diversity is projected to increase. The latest demographic data show that the United States is becoming older and more racially and ethically diverse. Hispanics will likely surpass African Americans around the year 2006 to become the largest ethnic group. 1 The figure gives a forecast on the composition of the labor force between 1996 and 2006.

By the year 2006, the average age of employees will climb to 40.5 from 38.2 in 1996. A significant drop in the number of employees will accompany this from 25 to 39 years old. In 1996, 45 percent of the labor force was age 40 or older; by 2006, almost 52 percent of the labor force will be in this age category. This age increase and the drop in the younger labor pool will have a mixed effect.

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Another dimension of diversity is related to the increasing globalization of many companies. As companies become more global, diversity must be defined in global, and not just Western terms. Defining diversity in global terms means looking at all people and everything that makes them different from one another, as well as the things that make them similar. Differentiating factors often go beyond race and language and may include such things as values and customs.

What challenges and contributions does the increasingly diverse workforce present? From an overall point of view, organizations must get away from the tradition of fitting employees into a single corporate mold. Everyone will not look and act the same. Organizations must create new human resource policies to explicitly recognize and respond to the unique needs of individual employees.

Greater diversity will create specific challenges but also make some important contributions. Communication problems are certain to occur, including misunderstandings among employees and managers as well as the need to translate verbal and written materials into several languages. Solutions to these problems will necessitate additional training involving work in basic skills such as writing and problem solving. An increase in organizational functionalism will require that increasing amounts of time be dedicated to dealing with special interest and advocacy groups.

One of the most significant issues facing women in management is the glass ceiling – a reference to a level within the managerial or organizational hierarchy beyond which very few women and minorities advance. Much emphasis is expected to be placed by both the government and business during the next decade on breaking this glass ceiling. Kraft Foods is a forerunner of this concept.

Kraft Foods is a strategic business unit of the Philip Morris Company. Kraft would rank number 48 in the Fortune 500 list of companies if it were a stand-alone company. Its annual revenues are almost $27 billion. It is the largest and most profitable food company in North America. For the past five years, Kraft has been growing profits faster than anyone else in its industry peer group.

A woman named Betsy Holden, who is their president and CEO, runs kraft. Women head six of Kraft’s 11 operating divisions. Three of the six are African American. Eight of Kraft’s 24 operating committee members are women, and 26.4 percent of Kraft’s corporate officers are women.

Kraft attributes its success by the following five principles: 1. Reward results, 2. Ideas have no gender, 3. Eliminate anything that interferes with ideas and results (distracters), 4. Help people help themselves, 5. Measure what you want done – what gets measured is what gets done.2

In addition to creating the above challenges, greater diversity presents new opportunities. Diversity contributes to creating an organization culture that is more tolerant of different behavioral styles and wider views. This often leads to better business decisions. Another potential payoff is greater responsiveness to diverse groups of customers.

The increasing diversification of the workforce is fact. Learning to effectively manage a diverse workforce should be viewed as an investment in the future. Allstate Insurance Company recognized the benefit of diversity awareness.

For Allstate, the concept of diversity is not limited to ethnicity and gender. It is based on a wider perspective that includes diversity in age, religion, sexual orientation, and disability. From the moment employees join Allstate; they hear a clear message from management that they will enjoy a bias-free work environment. Management sets the tone by giving each employee a booklet entitled “The Allstate Partnership,” which is similar to an employment contract without the legality. The contract states in plain language what employees and the company can expect from each other. 3

Diversity management has been defined as “the process by which a company (or manger, human resource department, or any individual) incorporates the dissimilarities of its workforce into the decision-making process in order to motivate, direct, lead, organize, plan, and staff more efficiently.” 4 From an overall viewpoint, supervisors must get away from the tradition of fitting employees into a single corporate mold. Everyone will not look and act the same. New policies must be created to explicitly recognize and respond to the unique needs of individual employees. Specifically, there are certain guidelines that today’s supervisors should follow for supervising within and among a diverse workforce. 5 They are as follows: 1. Focus on observable behavior, 2. Avoid stereotyping, 3. Evaluate output, not input, 4. Don’t make assumptions about nonstandard behavior, 5. Provide feedback based on observations, 6. Don’t tolerate nonbehavioral assumptions from anyone, 7. Test your own behaviors.

Greater diversity can be expected to create certain specific challenges but also some important contributions. Communication problems are certain to occur. This includes misunderstandings among employees and supervisors. There may also be a need to translate verbal and written materials into several languages. Additional training, including remedial work in very basic skills such as writing and problem solving, will be necessary. Organizational factionalism can be expected to increase. This will require that increasing amounts of time be dedicated to dealing with special interest and advocacy groups.

In addition to creating the above named challenges, greater diversity also presents new opportunities. Diversity contributes to creating an organization culture more tolerant of different behavioral styles and wider views. This often leads to better business decisions. Another potential payoff is a greater responsiveness to diverse groups of customers.

The increasing diversification of the workforce is fact. Not only are the demographics of today’s workforce different, but also so are its attitudes, expectations, and needs. Learning to effectively supervise a diverse workforce should be viewed as an investment in the future.

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