Diversity in the workplace is natural to Canada with its multicultural population and more than 250,000 newcomers entering the country every year (Government of Canada). One of the distinguished features of Canada’s current workforce is its growing diversity.
As a concept, diversity refers to a broader set of qualities than race and gender. Its dimensions include, but are not limited to, age, ethnicity, educational background, geographic location, income, marital and parental status, religious and moral beliefs, physical abilities, working experiences, and job classifications.
For example, for the first time in history, today’s workplace accommodates four different ...view middle of the document...
Diversity is generally defined as acknowledging, understanding, accepting, valuing, and celebrating differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, gender, physical and mental ability, race, sexual orientation, spiritual practice, and public assistance status (Esty, et al., 1995).
Diversity in the Workplace:
Demographic change, the global marketplace, greater tolerance for differences, and government-sponsored programs are increasing the importance of diversity in the workplace. In the near future, more women, minorities, and people with different ethnic backgrounds and lifestyles will enter the workforce. Organizations that do not manage diversity effectively will not be able to utilize the full potential of their workers, nor to survive and grow under increasingly complex and competitive business conditions.
Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace:
There are challenges to managing a diverse work population. Managing diversity is more than simply acknowledging differences in people. It involves recognizing the value of differences, combating discrimination, and promoting inclusiveness. Managers may also be challenged with losses in personnel and work productivity due to prejudice and discrimination and complaints and legal actions against the organization.
Negative attitudes and behaviors can be barriers to organizational diversity because they can harm working relationships and damage morale and work productivity (Esty, et al., 1995). Negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace include prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, which should never be used by management for hiring, retention, and termination practices (could lead to costly litigation).
Barriers Faced by Minorities:
A first step in working with diversity issues is determining what concerns and barriers are the most critical to the organization's employees. Although the specific barriers to advancement vary from one company to another, their effect is the same in closing down the full potential of its workforce.
There are many barriers continue to restrict the opportunities of diverse groups. These barriers may be from the environment, such as discrimination or stereotyping, and from individuals, such as poor career planning or inadequate skill preparation. Both external and internal barriers can be equally detrimental to the advancement of diverse groups. External barriers may be more obvious than internal barriers, but minorities need to carefully assess and identify the barriers they set for themselves and work on resolving them.
Nonetheless, many internal barriers emerge as a result of external barriers. Since both types of barriers affect each other, it may be difficult to deal with them separately.
Importance of Diversity Within Organizations:
The major reason organizations strive to incorporate diversity is to improve productivity and to remain competitive. While the need for incorporating diversity may appear...