Posted: May 25th, 2022

Managing Diversity and Equal Opportunity

Managing Diversity and Equal Opportunity

With the turn of the 21st century, a dramatic increase is being witnessed in the international flow of labor with repercussion for domestic labor supply and management. The native, racial and emigre mixture of the employees is predominantly important for the workplace. The importance of this domestic cultural multiplicity in the labor force, highlighted by worldwide influences and necessities, has lately encouraged the researchers to focus on the companies’ and managers’ response to diversity, be it of any form (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

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If the workforce of the present times is compared with the one that was found 20 years ago, it will be easy to observe that there are “more white women, people of color, disabled persons, new and recent immigrants, gays and lesbians, and intergenerational mixes (i.e., baby boomers, Generation Xers, and Generation Nexters)” (Riccucci, 2002) today. This situation has given birth to quite a number of challenges for the management at the workplace. The approach with which employers hold this opportunity of diversity is the determining factor that will unmistakably make a distinction between successful and well-organized organizations from those that are uncreative and not capable to meet the requirements and necessities of the people in the 21st century (Riccucci, 2002).

In the present day, municipal and private sector companies are on the edge for creating creative workforces that can actually represent the global population instead of symbolizing the national populace (Riccucci, 2002). This paper discusses the current status of diversity management and equal opportunities and the ways to manage a diverse workforce.

Diversity Management

A diverse workforce can be defined as “a workforce made … distinct by the presence of many religions, cultures or skin colours, both sexes (in non-stereotypical roles), differing sexual orientations, varying styles of behaviour, differing capabilities, and usually, unlike backgrounds” (as qtd. In Ollapally & Bhatnagar, 2009).

Workplaces where there is a lack of management of diversity are ones where the marginal groups experience a disconnection from the social network. “Diversity management” is a wide-ranging filament of organizational supervision literature that was developed in order to facilitate organizations in countering the increasing diversity that was clearly noticeable in modern-day labor markets. Since 1980s, there have been continuous debates regarding diversity management that mainly emphasized on managing heterogeneity in the staff with respect to demands for “affirmative action” and “equal employment opportunities” which were anticipated for increasing the workers from “minority” groups (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

In earlier times, diversity was perceived in terms of features like race, ethnicity, sexual category and orientation, age, and beliefs regarding politics and religion. On the other hand, diversity management was described as deliberate organizational actions designed to form greater addition of employees from a variety of backgrounds into recognized and unofficial organizational structures through premeditated strategies and agendas (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

On the other hand, the swift globalization of labor markets has changed this filament to add in management of diversity issues to a great extent. In simple words, globalization has made it indispensable for the organizations to effectively deal with the workforce diversity across national boundaries. In addition to this, due to the cosmopolitan urban areas and global markets, a greater miscellany of client and customer groups is present. It has therefore become imperative for the businesses to handle such diversities for achieving better profit margins and competitive edge (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

Equal Employment Opportunities

It was during 1960s that laws in USA were introduced that demanded the employers to offer “equal employment opportunities” (EEO) through “affirmative action” (AA) or “positive discrimination” to minority-group-members or formerly underprivileged groups. In order to stay away from legal actions for disobedience of the anti-discrimination laws, almost all the organizations hired managers (who had specialized knowledge of the EEO/AA2) regulations for the creation of compliance programs (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

The United States of America was followed by New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom in passing out the similar laws. The purpose behind these laws was to grant a “level playing field” for everyone in the market, belonging to any group. The EEO/AA model that was devised to make the employment of more members of marginal and deprived groups obligatory, contributed to the employment of a more extensively diverse workforce (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

Nevertheless, EEO/AA laws were attacked and criticized in 1990s for being too authoritarian, dogmatic and rigid. According to many, the governments’ withdrawal from supporting the enforcement of EEO/AA measures evolved the concept of diversity management. This concept was, if truth be told, developed from the aspiration of EEO managers who wanted to keep their positions safe and secure (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

To date, a lot of people support EEO measures as necessary for creating employment opportunities for the marginal and deprived groups. However, many intellectuals who encourage diversity management stress on the differences between EEO/AA and diversity management. They claim that EEO/AA serves the purpose of assimilating workers into the staff and expects the members belonging to minority groups to fit in into the existing public and cultural workplace systems effortlessly (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

On the other hand, diversity management is supported by many as it combines a wider range of groups by constructing systems that let their different social and cultural contributions to be appreciated and prized. Moreover, diversity management emphasizes the achievement of regular maintenance of employees from miscellaneous social groups. In contrast, EEO focuses on employee recruitment. The most important difference between the two, however, is that EEO/AA is a legal initiative imposed by the state whereas diversity management is the intended initiative by the business and has no legal binding (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

If truth be told, the global economy in the 21st century requires the EEO/AA measures diversity management concepts to rise up a level to co-opt and deal with the employment of diverse groups in an advantageous manner (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

In the contemporary era, diversity has evolved itself and mirrors not simply a local diverse but also a globally diverse staff, a diverse multicultural client support (national and international) and diverse worldwide business contenders. The systems are swiftly changing and are becoming more innovative and internationalized. This is the reason why it is the high time to employ modern methods of organizing and improving the workforce. It has become all the more significant for businesses to effectively handle and work mutually within the multifaceted nature of present-day diversity for working out complex problems and for creating a competitive edge in the money-spinning global bazaar where diversity itself is a conventional aspect (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

As already mentioned, the recent decades have faced workforce and workplace diversity as being one of the key management challenges. Diversity has grown throughout the labor market in complex ways and requires an even more multifarious inspection of organizational diversity than perceptible variations like ethnicity, sexual category and age among the human resources. It is exceedingly important for businesses to appreciate and act in response to the background, talents, and inspirations of workers at all levels if they want to maximize its potential (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

It is important to understand that diversity can only be successful if it is welcomed and acknowledged at all levels within an organization and not just as a principle imposed by Human Resource Department. If the senior management of an organization wants to acquire the benefits of diversity, it must make sure to make diversity an intensely engrained value in the culture of the workplace for producing the proper standards for positive and prolific behavior by all workers (Watson, Spoonley, & Fitzgerald, 2009).

How to Manage Diversity?

To have a diverse team means that there will be a constant flow of original ideas and innovative approaches. However, as members are different so their communication styles, understandings and expectations will also be different. Therefore, effective management is indispensable in order to make them work effectively together.

Unfortunately, employment discrimination is a common practice throughout the United States of America regardless of the fact that it is illegal. It prowls throughout American schools, governmental organizations and businesses. One can easily identify the unpleasant and offensive conduct such as deliberate prejudice. Nevertheless, prejudice is observable in clever and unspeakably dissimilar types of behavior and attitude. At the same time as blatant bigoted behaviors are excruciating, prejudicial mind-set are also painful and may lead to high workplace turnover and less output (King, 1995).

It is, therefore, highly recommended for the future managers to become more expert in going beyond equality to be familiar with, appreciate, and give importance to diversity. It is also necessary for the training organizations to prepare their human resources for multicultural environments (King, 1995). To understand the discrimination as a problem is just the first step. It is required of the executive developers to “embrace the human power of all diverse groups and attempt to solve the larger problem of how discrimination and diversity interact to produce observed outcomes” (King, 1995).

The question is how can diversity be managed at a workplace? Firstly, the senior management needs to be fully committed to address and understand this challenge. Unsurprisingly, the organizations that manage diversity in an aggressive manner (such as Apple Computer and Xerox) are the ones where more blacks work. Such companies place prior stress on providing equal employment opportunities to all not considering the extensive changeability in human behavior (King, 1995).

Secondly, proper training programs must be organized where an average white male could be taught to effectively deal with people who are unlike him. It is also important to arrange mentoring programs for providing top management with view on racial discrimination, prejudice, typecast, etc. (King, 1995).

Thirdly, it is equally important for the colored people and other marginal-group-members to learn to recognize the existence of discrimination. However, they must mot use it as an excuse for failure. They must understand that only work can be effective in changing the attitudes of others towards themselves. It is also important for the whites to understand that they cannot expect any other employee (belonging to a different group) to do his/her best if discrimination continues (King, 1995).

It is the responsibility of the human resource departments to strategize successfully in order to manage diversity. They should employ influential corporate visions about human differences. The workforce must be informed of the sensible evaluation of the company’s capability to merge and value them. Although the establishment of such a vision puts immense stress on the managers to eradicate the discriminatory attitudes, but the fulfillment of such demands produces a commercial revitalization. Strangely enough, “the more people understand diversity, the more they seem to expand the unity in diversity” (King, 1995). Such a development may perhaps offer the most successful way for a business for sustenance and prosperity (King, 1995).

A lot of companies today are still deficient in having tangible standards. They lack affirmed policies that does not favor bias and harassment. If there is no clear stated policy that rules out prejudice and pestering behaviors, there are more chances that of continued unprofessional conduct. It is important for the companies to be completely devoted to basic human rights. It is the responsibility of the organizational leaders to seriously take human rights movement in consideration and make their commitment obvious to others through their daily actions. If they want the workforce to be away from discriminatory behaviors, they must hold themselves answerable (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).

This workplace dilemma is also intensified by the outside pressures. Various kinds of pressures are faced by the business decision makers including “a rapidly changing global economy, massive immigration around the world and into the Americas, increased discrimination and harassment litigation, downsizing, mergers, and divestitures, government regulations, changing demographics, both nationally and globally, gender, racial, and ethnic issues and an explosion of new technology and data” (Hemphill & Haines, 1997, p.57). The tension in the place of work is also heightened due to the massive media interest in human rights misconduct. The role that society plays in this regard also complicates the workplace dilemma. The employees’ mind-set, emotions and attitudes are affected by all of the forces that pressurize society and organizations. It is a knotty and tricky problem to develop an effective training program for producing noticeable changes in the behaviors of employees who discriminate against their fellow workers belonging to different backgrounds (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).

The present state of affairs concerning diversity at workplace does not require companies to change their own values and belief systems for having good workplace relationships. What is required is to simply develop the skills to deal with their behavior toward all those who are not alike. What is needed is to forbid likes, dislikes, favoritism, and narrow-mindedness to interrupt with the ability to be creative and industrious. It is evident in a lot of cases that the efficiency, maintenance, and output of employees are seriously encumbered due to chauvinistic, intolerant, discriminating and harassing behaviors at the workplace. Such attitudes ultimately weaken the company (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).

It needs to be understood that globalization is continuing to diversify the workplace and employees from a wide range of races, ethnicities, backgrounds and orientations are becoming a custom rather than an exception. In order to stay employable and meet the forthcoming challenges, employees are needed to develop appropriate skills for an effective interaction in today’s diverse workplace (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).

On the other hand, managers are required to line up company vision and mission statements with a comprehensible and undeviating zero tolerance policy that commands strong human rights practices. Secondly, they are needed to introduce a set of communication standards for showing the expected level of interpersonal behavior. Thirdly, they must work towards establishing dialogue across all levels of influence. Senior management must also be positioned as leadership models. Moreover, the managers must request and make an agreement for a buy-in from everyone at workplace. Placing the vision and mission statements at workplace on well noticeable locations can also be helpful (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).

It is also exceedingly important to put employees and clients on the alert about the company’s intention of maintaining a workplace free of discrimination and harassment. However, all these measures need knowledge, education, visibility, and dedication. In short, every modern-day organization and company “must develop workplace behavior standards of acceptable and unacceptable practices, with a supportive and integrated workplace relationship skills development and training program” (Hemphill & Haines, 1997).


The success of a company in managing diversity and forming a culture of insertion may result in “employee engagement but also employer branding, helping to retain as well as attract competent employees” (Ollapally & Bhatnagar, 2009). To cut a long story short, at the individual level, the center of attention should be on the improvement of emotional intelligence and interpersonal proficiency in supervisors. Strategies must be devised by the leaders to create an ethnicity-friendly-culture where all people can feel comfortable and rise above their suspicions about others. It is exceedingly important for the leaders in this era of globalization to lead workforce who belong to diverse backgrounds and cultures.

As far as the group level is concerned, there is a need to develop diversity related Human Resource practices. Importance should also be given to include people with disabilities in trainings. Categorizations in the workplace must be challenged and a team environment where people can collaboratively work must be created. Focus groups must be used for the identification of problems and obtain different point-of-views. On the other hand, the organizational level must be considered and the senior management should be concerned regarding the significance and meaning of managing diversity. The top management should commit adequate resources to the diversity management programs in order to ensure its effective implementation without obstacles (Ollapally & Bhatnagar, 2009).

Thus, there is an intense need for both the organizations and leaders in particular, to demonstrate full commitment and walk the talk as far as diversity initiatives are concerned. For the diversity initiatives to be successful and sustainable, they need to be assimilated in the vision and mission statements of the company (Ollapally & Bhatnagar, 2009). With workforce diversity, it becomes exceedingly imperative for the organizations to devise policies and practices for the building up of an all-encompassing and pleasant workplace. An all-encompassing and pleasant workplace can be defined as one where differences amongst workers and works are appreciated due to which their potential is maximized.

Managing diversity is really important. Research has made it known that diverse teams which are managed well do better than the homogeneous teams because they are more innovative, and efficient at problem solving. On the other hand, if there is mismanagement in leading diverse teams, there are higher chances of a break down in the communication and trust levels that ultimately results in lower performance and poor productivity.

To care about managing diversity is important because organizations where there is an inclusive and pleasant environment for the people attract more recruits which ultimately brings to them the best workers in the market. When employees feel appreciated, valued and included, they become more dedicated and inspired. An inclusive and harmonious environment is thus a major driving force to enhance employee engagement and commitment. As a consequence of appropriate diversity management, reduced turnover is evident.


Hemphills, H., & Hayne, R. (1997). Discrimination, Harassment, and the Failure of Diversity Training: What to Do Now. Westport, CT: Quorum Book. Retrieved December 15, 2012, from

King, A.S. (1995, December). Capacity for Empathy: Confronting Discrimination in Managing Multicultural WorkForce Diversity. Business Communication Quarterly, 58(4), 46+. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from

Ollapally, A., & Bhatnagar, J. The Holistic Approach to Diversity Management: HR Implications. Indian Journal of Industrial Relations, 44(3), 454+. Retrieved December 15, 2012, from

Riccucci, N.M. (2002). Managing Diversity in Public Sector Workforces. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from

Watson, B., Spoonley, P., & Fitzgerald, E. (2009, May 1). Managing Diversity: A Twenty-First Century Agenda. New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online), 34(2), 61+. Retrieved December 14, 2012, from

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