Managing Diversity Essay
1. Put forward a business case for taking a ‘managing diversity’ approach at Hinchliffe Cards.
Britain now has one of the most diverse workforces in the world, consisting of a wide range of religions and ethnic backgrounds. However, diversity is not just acknowledged in terms of religious and ethnic origin. It can refer to political beliefs, age, sexual orientation, nationality, colour, etc. Therefore, it is absolutely paramount that diversity is managed effectively in parallel with Britain’ s rapidly changing social society. The need to manage diversity is even greater after the events of 9/11 as the world’s societies have become more politically charged and involved than ever before. Attached to diversity is the concept of equality from which any contentious questions arise. One such issue is the extent to which UK organisations are fair when it comes to offering equality of opportunity to minority groups in employment.
There is a wide range of elements involved in managing diversity including legislative considerations, the handling of equal opportunity issues, as well as the aims of making ‘managing diversity’ work for organisations. The traditional approach has focused on using the legislation driven equal opportunities route in tacking issues of diversity, and the broad aims of managing diversity are similar to that of equal opportunities, but managing diversity has a more internal focus. Many of these aims are bound up with the various legislation that outlaws discrimination on the grounds of sex, pay, race, disability and criminal record:
* Sex Discrmination Act 1975 and 1976.
* Equal Pay Act (Amended) 1983.
* Race Relations Act 1976 (Amended 2000).
* Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
* Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
So why should organisations make the most employee diversity? Well, as mentioned previously, the make-up of our society is changing, and businesses must reflect this change. Wheatley, (p, 30, 2000) highlights three important trends that exist and are continuing to develop further. Firstly, the UK population is ageing fast. In 2000, there were 1.5M fewer 16-25 year olds entering employment than in 1987. Secondly, ethnic minority groups made up 5.5% of the total UK population at the time of the 1991 census. Thirdly, women now are a large and significant proportion of the UK workforce. Generally, the management of equal opportunity issues involves a social responsibility on the part of the individual organisation, objective consideration when taking selection decisions, develop a reputation for managing diversity, creating a more healthy business environment including high staff morale.
Managing diversity also holds huge significance for business growth. Managing diversity also entails issues of organisational culture that refer to an organisation’s norms, values and beliefs. A diverse organisation in which there is a broad mix of people will add to the social dimension of the organisation and help to reduce the under-representation experienced by minority groups. Managing diversity is an internally driven proactive mechanism that acknowledges the interests of these groups. Moreover, at a strategic level, managing diversity involves:
* Board level participation, responsibility and accountability on diversity issues;
* Links to all business plans and benefits at all levels;
* Employee ownership of diversity objectives;
* Commitment of resources for training and research;
* A proactive diversity approach to recruitment, marketing and supplier selection;
* The building of diversity issues into recruitment, performance and reward systems.
Source: Wheatley, (p. 32, 2000)
Managing diversity focuses on the individual as opposed to Equal Opportunity (EO) that focuses on treating individuals as groups. Managing diversity (MD) goes beyond the EO perspective. It acknowledges differences in a more positive light. It does this by intending to proliferate staff performance, generating greater flexibility in the workforce and working practices as well as making organisations more equitable. It endeavours to use the differences to the benefit of the organisation. As stated by kandolla and Fullerton, the concept of managing diversity ‘is founded on the premise that harnessing these differences will create a productive environment in which everyone will feel valued, where there talents are fully valued, where there talents are fully utilised, and in which organisational goals are met’1.
Whilst EO is legally driven, and subject to the achievement of the performance target, MD seeks to accommodate diverse interests. MD will also enable organisations to become a good corporate citizen, by ensuring that the workforce reflects the (local) population. Moreover, having a diverse workforce will help organisations explore new markets or client groups as MD adds to the social dimension of the organisation. This is particularly relevant after the events of 9/11, which require good understanding of race and cultural issues. In a business sense, it is important to have a workforce that understands diverse cultural backgrounds, especially as businesses become more internationalised.
As stated above, MD uses individual differences and recognises them as strengths and talents, which help to dismantle barriers which otherwise prevent them from doing so. MD also brings with it in-built proactive measures such as maternity leave, flexible working patterns etc By doing so, organisations can improve their efforts in meeting their customer’s needs and increase their organisation’s profile. Under MD, people are acknowledged as the nucleus the organisation, and organisations can benefit from the following:
* MD recognises that female managers have distinct managerial styles and abilities;
* Mature workers can offer organisations increased reliability, stability, quality, experience and overall efficiency;
* Members of ethnic groups can provide a rich and cultural experience at work;
* Disabled people can offer highly developed problem solving and analytical skills because they operate in an inaccessible environment;
* Individuals can feel confident in their abilities and their contribution to the organisation;
* MD will add to the creative side of the organisation;
* MD views employees as an invaluable asset;
* MD recognises the need for n-going training;
* Increased emphasis and responsibility to diversity issues;
* Better recruitment, retention and performance systems.
MD provides a more transparent and proactive method of dealing with employee diversity. This involves a fundamental transformation of the organisation’s working practices, making it more staff-friendly, re-consider the management structure and introduce more fairer recruitment and retention procedures. MD eliminates barriers to opportunity by recognising differences of individuals as positive strengths that can be used to develop a culture of diversity. Successful companies are those that are able to monitor and meet shifts in social expectations, to control risks and to anticipate market opportunities. Businesses that have the vision and the will to create an enabling environment for diverse parts of the community will prosper.
2. Analyse how the human resources activities might have to be changed at Hinchliffe Cards and make recommendations based on your analysis.
The main problem the company is having is managing diversity while the organisation is evolving. The case study highlights many issues, which are fundamentally flawed in creating a more diverse productive organisation. At present 70 % of Hinchliffe Cards workforce is made up of women. There is only one woman manager within the organisation dealing with HRM, which is not a primarily authorative role.
These statistics are very worrying when you consider that projections show that ‘in less than ten years time there will be two million more jobs within the economy – 80% of which will be filled by women’2. In order to meet with theses changes Hinchliffe Cards would have to consider having more women in leadership and decision making positions. Many factors may have led to this lack of women in senior positions, like discrimination due to family commitments, womens lack of confidence, the attitudes of senior executives or even men seeing women as a threat. Nevertheless organisations which fail to utilise the potential of women managers will be commiting ‘economic suicicde'(Davidson, 1991). As women managers come with many potential benefits i.e, participative and caring management styles .
Hinchliffe Cards have also started to use casual labour during the spring months to deal with the Christmas demand. Over this period they use 20 casual workers to help operate some of the more sophisticated machines during this period. This is due to the current shortage of skill within the industry. This has been met by much discontent from the full time worker who doesn’t believe they have the same pride in their work, which affects its quality and ultimately the workforces bonuses. Hinchliffe cards should really be working trying providing a positive learning environment for all staff. A positive learning environment is one in which the values of the organisation include the expressed and acted on belief that the development of its human capital through effective learning is necessary or achieving a competitive environment. The existence of such a environment depends on the active encouragement and support of top management, the belief by lie managers that learning and development activities pay off, and the extent to which the workforce are motivated to learn
The female workers are also complaining about the opportunities open to them within the company, as they have not been trained on the complex machines. They feel left out as these machines offer the highest rewards in terms of bonus. In addition to this they are also concerned about the long hours they are made to work during peak periods, which is seen to interfere with their family life. This shows discrimination towards the female staff in using more complex machinery. This is bad for Hinchliffe cards because taking action on diversity and equality has many benefits for the organisation. According to government research it can lead to better recruitment and retention- followed with better morale and performance. If this discrimination and unfair treatment can be reduced, it can have a knock on effect on grievances and relations in the organisation.
This can reduce absenteeism and labour turnover by enhancing employee’s attachment to the organisation and have a positive effect on labour productivity. Concerns about being able to balance family life with work is also a major problem. The costs for businesses who don’t meet these needs can be striking. According to british industry, ‘sickness and absence costs cost employers around ï¿½10 billion a year and 30% of this may be related to stress’. In a recent survey, over a fith of women said they would change they’re jobs for more flexible arrangements. Employers may incur additional costs in adopting policies to support work-life balance, including increased managerial worloads. Such costs are however generally outweighed by the gains in achieveing strategic objectives.
Hinchliffe have also recently outsourced their work to in home workers to cope with recent demand for handmade products. These workers are mainly women from ethnic groups and the company is experiencing a high rate of labour turnover. Due to this the company is thinking of investing in a team of in house designers employed officially by the firm who can be based in the firms headquarters. However the majority of the women aren’t interested in this option as they fit they’re work around looking after small children. They believe they’re getting a rough deal from the company as materials are often not delivered on time and they’re has been some talk of covert racism form the company.
Senior managers also believe there is position for the company to expand into the EU. The company however would have to be equipped with a workforce with a more diverse range of skills from sales and marketing staff. This would mean being able to speak a different European language and be comfortable dealing with managers from different cultures. The current sales and marketing staff however lack these skills.
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1 Armstrong, M. (2003)A handbook of Human Resource Management practice (9th edition). P133
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 October 2017