Successful Management of a Diverse Workforce

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Successful Management of a Diverse Workforce

Being successful at managing workforce diversity involves attracting and retaining the highest quality individuals in the talent pool. For managers it means learning how to manage human potential sensitively. It requires an ever-increasing awareness of how people from different backgrounds deal with authority, communication, overall business etiquette, and relate to their communities of affiliation. Successful management of workforce diversity is a process that takes place in many stages and on many levels. It requires managers to first recruit a competent and qualified staff, then to accommodate individual needs within the context of the work team and the organization.

However, the key to successfully building a diverse, high-quality workforce for tomorrow begins with a strong leadership commitment and knowledge of where the organization is today. Moreover, experience has demonstrated that successful diversity initiatives depend on positioning the organization first. (Department of Personnel Management, 2002)

Diversity Initiatives: What They Are.

A "diversity initiative" is a company's strategic response to diversity. The initiative looks at the company's needs in the area of diversity and responds with a strategically aligned approach. The initiative should have a long-term focus, as well as very specific goals and objectives. It should also be easily measurable and tied to the organization's overall business strategy. In terms of implementing the initiative, the entire organization - from the top down - should be held accountable. (U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2004)

Once the vision has been developed, the organization should then develop a diversity plan. The plan outlines the goals and objectives for diversity. Many companies see fit to appoint a diversity committee, comprised of a wide variety of people and perspectives, to help implement the plan. The plan may call for training on diversity, enhancing recruiting efforts to attract and retain women and people of color, or looking at succession planning, among other issues.

Leading a Diverse Workforce

Today we are more likely to encounter, interact with, work with, report to, or manage numerous individuals of different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, religions, belief systems, and cultures. While we all may have the same values, ...

... middle of paper ... manages diversity is critical as organizations attempt to attract, motivate, and retain employees from a workforce that is growing in variety and complexity. American business will not be able to survive if we do not have a large diverse workforce, because those are the demographics. The company that gets out in front of managing diversity will have a competitive edge.


Stoner, C., & Russell-Chapin, L (1997). Creating a culture of diversity management: moving from awareness to action. University of California. Retrieved April 8, 2005 from University of Phoenix, InfoTrac

Copeland, L. (2004). Valuing Diversity training series. Reprinted with permission from the NOAA Training manual, Silver Spring, MD.

U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). (2000, June). Building and Maintaining a Diverse and High Quality Workforce. Retrieved April 7, 2005 from:

U.S. Census Bureau (2003). 2003 American Community Survey data. Retrieved April 10, 2005 from:

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