Managing Workplace Diversity

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Diversity is a term used most often to describe the different types of race, religion, and nationalities but in today’s business world, it is used to describe the different individual behaviors of employees. Diversity is about characteristics and demographics that differ from person to person and how they affect human behavior. To understand how diversity affects the work place let us look at four types of diversity--Differences in skill and abilities, Values and attitudes, Occupation differences, and Age. Differences in skills and abilities “Aptitudes are potential abilities, whereas abilities are the knowledge and skills that an individual currently possesses.” (Schermerhorn 2003) Professionals such as Doctors, Lawyers, and even professional drivers all require a specific level of skill and knowledge to be able to do their jobs. For anyone of these professionals they could not perform their jobs if they had skill but no knowledge or knowledge and no skill. Skills and knowledge are important considerations for a manager when choosing to hire a person. There are many different kinds of tests used to measure mental aptitudes and abilities. Some tests are designed to test specific skills and abilities such as a professional driver would be given a drive test and would be asked to demonstrate their knowledge on how to operate specific equipment on the truck and trailer. Some tests are designed to test general skills and abilities, someone applying for a general secretary job may be ask to take a typing test, 10-key, or demonstrate a general knowledge of computers. These kinds of tests are useful tools for managers and are necessary to screen potential applicants to be sure that they have the ability and skills that are required for the job. Value and attitude differences Just as skills and abilities are varied, values and attitude differences are varied as well, they reflect a person's sense of right and wrong or what “ought” to be. Values influence the way we react to others and how others react to us. For example, you may value the belief that everyone has the right to be treated with respect and paid equally no matter what his or her gender or age. Lets say you go to work for a company that pays men who are older a higher salary than a person who is younger and female, even though they have equal qualifications. You will probably have the attitude... ... middle of paper ... ...ll about what is right, and good for the whole company not just themselves. Young people have preconceived ideas that older people are stuck in the past and they do not want to listen to how things used to be done. As well, the older worker thinks that the new ways are a waste of time and money and they want to stick with what is tried and true. This can cause considerable conflict between the old and the young and will require the company to find ways to incorporate the two ideas to build on a totally new idea. The melding of these two groups will create a stronger workforce and build stronger work cultures. Conclusion There are many different forms of diversity that effect human behavior and the culture of companies. These many different values, skills and abilities, ages, and occupations will be a challenge for managers today to find creative new ways to incorporate each individual’s ideas into their business and to create a productive culture that values every form of diversity. References http://www.aicpa.org/cefm/change_management_08.asp - March 15, 2005 Schermerhorn, John R., Hunt, James G., Osbom, Richard N., Diversity and Individual Differences, 2003, ch. 4

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