The Value of Workplace Diversity

1053 Words3 Pages

Workforce diversity has become a reality in organizations. More organizations have written workforce diversity policies or programs. Although there is still no consensus on how to define workforce diversity, diversity policies and program are producing positive effects in organizations. Diversity in the workplace is a way of defining acceptable behaviors of employees. Diversity represents all the ways in which individuals are both similar and different. It involves a variation of characteristics such as: age, sex, color, religion, national origin, disability, or any other differences. Although diversity initiatives are common in the workplace today, this is due mainly to the federal government use of constitutional amendments, legislation, and executive orders, along with court decisions to interpret the laws for equal rights (Noe, Hollenbeck, Gerhart, & Wright, 2010). The way an organization defines diversity and how it manages its diverse workforce may determine its effectiveness.

The emergence of diversity in organizations can be traced to the 1960s when legislation was enacted to prohibit discrimination against ethnicity, gender, national origin, race, and religion. Even though workplace diversity origins began in the aftermath of World War I, it was not until 1961, when President John F Kennedy established the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), which was to end discrimination in employment by the government and its contractors (Cañas & Sondak, 2011). Workplace diversity continued to be advanced through the years by Presidents Johnson and Nixon administrations.

The EEO was the government’s attempt to ensure that all individuals have an equal chance for employment, regardless of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, or national origin. Workplace diversity is fundamental to the structure of an organization, ensuring that individuals are also characterized by their differences as they are by their similarities. A desire for a diverse workplace reinforced by the need to comply with anti-discrimination legislation places a big demand on organizations.

Workplace Laws and Policies

The impact of diversity in the workplace is contingent upon several factors. Across companies diversified workforces are becoming increasingly common. To successfully manage a diverse workforce, organizations are ensuring that employees understand how their values and stereotypes influence their behavior toward others of different gender, ethnic, racial, or religious backgrounds; are gaining an appreciation of cultural differences among themselves; and behaviors that isolate or intimidate minorities are being improved (Noe et al., 2010, pg. 302).

A basic problem regarding the implementation of diversity into the workplace is that its approach sometimes does not fit the interpretations of equity and equality according to the context in which it was meant.

Open Document