When an organization has employees of different ethnicities and a large proportion of women than the industry average, naturally the question arises as to how to combine the differences between these employees without causing too much friction in daily interactions.
Managing diversity is essential, as, otherwise, the performance of the organization takes a beating and worse, there can be possible lawsuits and legal tangles from suffered employees who feel aggrieved due to instances of discrimination and harassment based on their ethnicity or gender.
Issues in Managing Diversity
One of the major issues in managing diversity is to deal with the majority and minority perspective. Naturally, there always is a predominant majority of a particular race or ethnicity in an organization and various others are in minority groups.
- Considering that the most pressing issue in managing diversity arises out of the treatment of women, the issues of race and gender come across as the unique drivers in managing diversity.
- In recent times, these issues have come to the forefront due to higher awareness among the minority groups about their rights as well as disciplined enforcement of laws and regulations that govern workplace behavior.
Thus, it is in the interest of the management of any organization to sensitize their workforce towards race and gender issues and assure that the workplace is free of discrimination against minority groups as well as women.
We have devoted a separate section on gender sensitization because when compared to other issues in managing diversity, this is the most pressing one due to the preponderance of women in the workforce as well as past trends that point to the emergence of this single issue as the dominant one that preoccupies the mind space of managers.
The worrying aspect about this issue is that despite policies, regulations and rules governing gender specific issues in most organizations, there is little evidence to express that they are being followed. Thus, what is needed is a mindset change rather than more policies and this can only be done if the workforce is sensitized to the needs of women.
In fact, the situation in Corporate India or India Inc. has not yet reached the stage where lawsuits are regularly brought against management for discriminatory practices. Nonetheless, the trend in recent years is towards a more vocal disapproval of such exercises from industry leaders and management consultants who repeatedly emphasize the importance of a non-discriminatory workplace.
Therefore, the onus is on the management, senior and middle, to ensure that they follow the norms needed of them. The senior level guides the middle, the middle guides the lower and the lower guides the employees in all practices, including gender sensitization.