Diversity in Organizations

Introduction

In recent years, organizations in all sectors have been aggressively working towards a concept called diversity of workforce. When you see a job posting that talks about equal opportunity, you might be wondering what it is all about. To put it simply, diversity in employment means that the employer is actively pursuing what can be called non-discrimination of potential recruits on the basis of gender, ethnicity, physical constraints and the like. What this means is that the employer or the organization adopts a policy wherein they do not differentiate between applicants on the grounds listed above and merit is the sole criterion when deciding the suitability of a potential recruit.

Why Diversity ?

With the advent of globalization, it has become imperative for organizations to have a workforce that is composed of different ethnicities and with the maturing of the business paradigm; gender is no longer a constraint. This has prompted large scale changes in the way organizations recruit people. Further, in many countries the laws governing corporates have been legislated in such a way that makes the firms actively encourage diversity. For instance, the US is the leading proponent of diversity with the adoption of the “Equal Opportunity Act”. This act mandates employers not to discriminate on any basis be it gender, color, lifestyle preferences or any other traits as mentioned in the act. This has given a fillip to the employment of women and people of color and has removed the barriers that were threatening to make these groups of people at a minority in the corporate world as well.

Still a long way to go

Though the laws mandate equal opportunity, in practice, the hiring of disadvantaged and minority groups is still lagging behind in relative terms when compared with the majority groups. For instance, it is not uncommon for employers to weed out resumes of women and people of color. In India, there are still barriers to the hiring of people from certain states as was evidenced in news reports that emanated in the recent past. These practices are certainly undesirable and cast a cloud about the intentions of employers in embracing diversity at the workplace. Further, given the spate of lawsuits about sexual discrimination and harassment on the basis of ethnicity, it becomes clear that more than laws that deal with these issues, we need a mindset change among the firms and the practice of diversity is something that has to be encouraged from the top.

Some suggestions

Among the ways in which employers can encourage diversity is by promoting the concept of “blind resumes” that do not have the name, gender or ethnicity of the applicant mentioned. This would ensure that recruiters screen the resumes on the basis of the applicants’ qualifications alone and other factors are secondary. Another way to ensure diversity is by sensitizing the workforce to gender and ethnic issues, and ensure that they are more tolerant of people who are unlike them.

Conclusion

In conclusion, one needs to understand the difference between having a policy of diversity and actually practicing it by comparing it to the adage about the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law. Only by ensuring that the law is followed in spirit as well can employers truly embrace diversity.


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