Diversity refers to distinct elements. In a workplace, diversity is defined as how employees are different from each other (Roberson, 2019). There are differences in people and they don’t come from the same background. These differences can be based on sex, age, physical appearance, religion, caste or education.
There are several benefits achieved from diversity in an organisation which makes it desirable. The differences in the people and their thought processes will lead to rise in unique and innovative ideas and better governance. This innovation will further lead to increase in the likelihood of achieving goals of the organisation (Sakdiyakorn & Wattanacharoensil, 2018). Also, if there are opposing arguments, it will challenge the old ideas and put pressure to think out-of-the box. Different mind-sets will help us to think about the issues of certain group of people in a critical manner. Diversity in the board will result in the correct decision making since there is a critical thinking of the problem by the directors (Park, 2020). Therefore, even the complex problems will be solved due to the availability of unique skill sets, variability in values and culture. The organisation should take full advantage of diversity and can get better results.
Besides the benefits of diversity, it’s outcome is not satisfactory. People want to have reward of pursuing diversity. However, either there is no change observed or there is conflict of interests and gridlock. This is due to the behaviour of people when people don’t like each other views, ignoring them or threatened by other’s view (Celikdemir & Katrinli, 2020). When there is no diversity, then the decisions taken by the directors will be alike and there will be no challenging ideas.
The results observed of no change in the organisation or the backfire caused by pursuing diversity doesn’t mean that the organisation shouldn’t appoint a diverse board. The challenges faced due to pursuing diversity can be overcome. So, the organisation should not stop to pursue diversity.
Some of the challenges faced due to diversity are listed below:
Sometimes, the discussions and disagreement which could be constructive turns into personal battles. This can be avoided and the reduction in the gap of potential and reality can be achieved. The problem starts from the initial encounter where each and every member observes each other and form an opinion (Ahmed, 2019). This is the time when newcomers face problem and are judged by the directors. Here, they are given stereotypes such as typical accountant, typical minority, Politician, Activist etc. Thus, the first impression made by the directors of their colleagues lasts forever. They think that the colleagues will behave the same way as they have noted in their first meeting.
Also, there are cultural differences observed. This difference can lead to wrong signal cross between the directors of an organisation. Suppose if a director has a habit of raising eyebrows in some situations (Gordon, 2018). This can be misinterpreted differently by the colleague as aggressive or disruptive.
There is a possibility that working together with the directors , the newcomers will also develop the same mindset and the views will be confirmed by all of them (Khan et al., 2019). In contrast, it is also possible that the behaviour of director is reinforcing in which some colleagues are treated as unimportant and their views are ignored.
There are cases when the situation becomes worse. The conflicts between few colleagues can spread in the whole organisation and the performance of the organisation can be hampered. This will create a vicious cycle which cannot be controlled easily (Kato & Kodama, 2018). Sometimes, the group is divided into two with different perspectives.
Ways to tackle the problems faced due to diversity:
The conflicts due to diversity can be minimized by following some strategies. The first and foremost thing is to carefully choose the new member. When the board members are looking for a newcomer who will bring diversity in the organisation, they should check the personality of the person. Also, they should check whether the newcomer can work in a environment efficiently with diverse members (Nielsen & Madsen, 2017). After the selection of newcomer, he should be assisted in a nice way. The chairman should make sure that there is a favourable chance for the newcomer to create an impression on the board directors. The newcomer should be introduced with the culture and philosophy of the board.
Some directors can stop giving their views to not include in the conflict. This means not giving in the view so that they can stop getting along the other directors. There is no problem if the diverse board is civil and constructive. The problem arises when the disagreement leads to conflict in the organisation. The board can take advantage of diversity by welcoming the ideas either big or small by all the directors. The chairman and the board should try to maintain the decorum of the organisation by establishing a healthy and friendly environment in the organisation.
The other way to overcome the problem is to encourage the directors who have recently joined. There is always a fear of not being supported by others. This fear not allows the director to express his opinion in the board. Also, sometimes the initial dissenters are being ignored and they feel left out. The chairman should try to involve all the newcomers by asking them their views. This way will encourage and motivate them to present their candid opinions in front of the board. Good or efficient communication is also required for proper functioning of diverse boards. It will help in the reduction of the gap created between the reality and the potential benefits of diversity. The goals of the board should be aligned to the goals of the organisation. Also, the role of the chairman should be reviewed so that the steps taken by them from the beginning are good and beneficial.
Roberson, Q. M. (2019). Diversity in the workplace: A review, synthesis, and future research agenda. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 6, 69-88.
Gordon, P. A. (2018). Age diversity in the workplace. In Diversity and inclusion in the global workplace (pp. 31-47). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Sakdiyakorn, M., & Wattanacharoensil, W. (2018). Generational diversity in the workplace: A systematic review in the hospitality context. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 59(2), 135-159.
Nielsen, V. L., & Madsen, M. B. (2017). Does Gender Diversity in the Workplace Affect Job Satisfaction and Turnover Intentions?. International Public Management Review, 18(1), 77-115.
Khan, N., Korac‐Kakabadse, N., Skouloudis, A., & Dimopoulos, A. (2019). Diversity in the workplace: An overview of disability employment disclosures among UK firms. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 26(1), 170-185.
Kato, T., & Kodama, N. (2018). The effect of corporate social responsibility on gender diversity in the workplace: econometric evidence from Japan. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 56(1), 99-127.
Ahmed, M. (2019). Ethnic Diversity in the Workplace: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Aisthesis: Honors Student Journal, 10(1), 10-17.
Celikdemir, D. Z., & Katrinli, A. (2020). Efficient Diversity Management for Workplace Well-Being. The Palgrave Handbook of Workplace Well-Being, 1-22.
Park, J. S. Y. (2020). Translating culture in the global workplace: Language, communication, and diversity management. Applied Linguistics, 41(1), 109-128.
Anglim, J., Sojo, V., Ashford, L. J., Newman, A., & Marty, A. (2019). Predicting employee attitudes to workplace diversity from personality, values, and cognitive ability. Journal of Research in Personality, 83, 103865.
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