Diversity and Inclusion in The US Companies Workforce

Executive Summary

America has people of all different genders, races, ages, faiths, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and political affiliations. As the melting pot, the United States offers the prospect for ” liberty, life, and the pursuit of happiness” for all people.

Different studies have revealed that the demographics of the American workforce are continually changing. In some states, employees that are born outside the country now make up approximately 28 percent of the labor force.Moreover,according to government estimates, the number of workers that are over 55 years will surge by 19.8 percent by 2024.

At the same time, there are stark gaps between different management and sector groups. As of the year 2014, women held only 16 percent of S&P 1500 board seats, while they controlled the health and medical services industries with 73.7 percent of management positions.

As organizations and companies evolve, they increasingly reflect the differences of culture and perspectives that exist in today’s modern, American society. “Diversity” is the hot word taking the contemporary working world by storm. Different experiences, skill sets, and perspectives are invaluable to the success and growth of any workplace. Although the creation of an environment of diversity and inclusion is often preached, putting it to practice can be quite demanding.

Workplace diversity denotes to the range of dissimilarities between people in an organization. Though it sounds simple, diversity encompasses ethnic group, age, race, personality, cognitive style, gender, tenure, organizational function, background, education, and more. Diversity does not only involve how people perceive themselves but also how they see others.

Those views affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization,HR professionals need to deal excellently with issues such as adaptability, change, and communication.

Having a diverse workforce is gradually being recognized as instrumental in improving the firm’s performance, and also important that organizations can no longer choose to ignore it. Studies have shown that diversity and inclusion efforts are valuable, particularly on a global level. Recently, senior executive teams in the United Kingdom substantiated a 3.5 percent increase in earnings before taxes and interest with every 10 percent increase in gender diversity.

This infers that international business leaders need to strive to create an atmosphere where multiple voices are heard, and their opinions are considered and valued. This fact should be entrenched in the company culture. 

Few senior executives have now realized the importance of a diverse, equal and inclusive workforce powered with voices of people from different personalities, thinking styles and backgrounds across the global workplace. It has become essential to creating environments where everyone is encouraged to draw upon his or her distinctive perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences to advance business goals. To accomplish this in a global work setting, it is essential to employ effective global training and communication efforts.

Introduction

From Diversity to Inclusion

Inclusion is the only accessible way to build diversity within an organization. Without deliberate and thoughtful discussion and action to encourage an inclusive environment, all resources,and the energy spent to recruit a diverse workforce are for nothing. The employees, so painstakingly recruited by the HR, will be gone within three months.

Although diversity efforts are about representation and who is included, diversity efforts should not in any way be confused with building an inclusive environment. An inclusive environment does not merely mean that people from various groups and backgroundsare included, it is concerned with what their participation in that environment means or organization.

Distinct but Interrelated Concepts

  • While diversity concentrates principally on the demographic makeup of organizations and groups, inclusion stresses moving beyond merely appreciating diversity and encouraging participation toward leveraging and integrating diversity into everyday work life.
  • According to one study trying to distinguish the meanings of diversity and inclusion, diversity emphasized the demographic composition and the differences of organizations or groups, whereas inclusion emphasized on the involvement of an employee and ways to increase the participation of all employees and to leverage diversity effects of the organization.

Challenges of Diversity in the Workplace

Below is a list of the challenges employees face regarding diversity and diversity training in the workplace.

Cultural and Ethnic Differences

Though the United States is mostly white, the racial spectrum changes every year as more people immigrate to the country from every part of the world.

According to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the racial breakdown of the United States’ population, which comprises of over 325 million people, entails:

  • 76.9% who self-identify as white (61.3% of people self-identify as “white alone, not Latino or Hispanic”);
  • 17.8% who self-identify as Latino or Hispanic;
  • 13.3% of people who self-identify as African-American or black;
  • 5.7% who self-identify as Asian;
  • 2.6% who self-identify as more than two races;
  • 1.3% who self-identify as Alaska Native or American Indian; and
  • 0.2% who self-identify as Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone.

Unfortunately,some individuals harbor unfair prejudgments against people who are different from them in some way — whether it is faith, age, racial, or other. These prejudices must not be allowed in a professional work environment.

Differences in Communication and Language

Embracing diversity can be more challenging when there are differences in communication and language. Although the most generally spoken language in the U.S is English, and people that speak other languages increase by the day.

According to a2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, one in five residents in the United States speak a foreign language, approximating that more than 65 million people speak a language other than English. This is an escalation of 1.9% over the past ten years.

Age and Generational Differences

Every year, new workers enter the workforce while others are retiring. This denotes a massive shift in the workforce, often bringing about critical distinctions between the different generations, as well as different views among each group.

Accepting and Respecting  the Other’s Differences

A specific issue that arises in workplaces is dealing with cultural or social differences, which may stem from a lack of respect or understanding. Examples of this can include refusal by a manager or employer to allow an employee practice their faith by leaving for their faith-related holidays, or discrimination against a lesbian or gay employee because another employee or the manager does not agree with their lifestyle.

Solutions for Diversity-Related Workplace Challenges

While diversity can present some challenges within organizations, it is important also to identify and emphasize the remarkable benefits it creates.

Based on an article by Deloitte:

“Diversity and inclusion is not an HR strategy; it is a business strategy… research also shows that teams that operate in an inclusive culture outperform their peers by a staggering 80 percent.”

WaysHuman Resource leaders can help to create solutions include:

Recognizing and Defining the Issues That Happen in the Workplace

Though it could seem like a no-brainer, the first step to handling any diversity issues in the workplace is first to identify what the problems are. While the goal of making an environment of equal opportunity and acceptance for everyone is crucial, by detecting the differences and challenges that exist among employees, organizational leaders are better able to scrutinize specific diversity issues to determine what changes need to be made and how they can be addressed.

Communicating, Developing, and Sticking to Organizational Policies

One of the ways to deal with some of the issues that arise from diversity in the workplace is to review existing company training and policies and implement and develop new ones that are relevant to the particular issues at hand if needed. This can help diversity leaders in establishing a culture of acceptance within an organization. Diversity-related initiatives also can be incorporated into an organization’s onboarding process and mission statement.

Offering Employee Diversity Training Linking to Those Issues

Diversity training programs can be an added advantage to an organization in some ways, including increasing productivity, retention, and engagement. Training can be offered as stand-alone programs, or the lessons from them can be inculcated into other initiatives.

Furthermore, creating opportunities for employees to mentor themselves and engage and collaborate every day on different projects is another great way to help link the gap between employees of different age groups and to assist them in establishing relationships.

Holding People Accountable for Their Actions

Like any policy, non-compliance with diversity policies by managers or employees needs to be addressed efficiently and quickly. As such, part of this process means offering potential victims of prejudices, sexual harassment,and discrimination a channel where they can report abuses without fear of retribution.

If any wrong behaviors are addressed between the parties involved, but the behaviors continue, then more severe castigatory actions should be taken.

Irrespective of how people personally feel about working with other people that differ from them in a way, a workplace is a professional environment, and it needs to be treated as such by everyone irrespective of title or rank.

Call to Action

To a large extent diversity and inclusion practices, today are based on experience and intuition rather than on empirical evidence.  Some organizations in the United Kingdom, have come together to create some form of standards or benchmarking tools. For instance, there is a government agency in the UK, the Equality and Human Rights Commission,  that monitors and promotes human rights and tries to put it into effect.

There is also an organization called the National Equality Standard (NES) that has Microsoft and Cisco among its twenty founding organizations, that tries to create benchmarks for all legally protected diversity forms and conduct diversity audits from time to time. Independent auditors evaluate each organization that desires to be audited for diversity. The organizations are in turn offered comprehensive reports on the extent to which their activities and policies fit with best practices.

Diversity and inclusion efforts started for feel-good reasons or when employers are insincere, or as a public relations vehicle may lead to no or negative impact. It is also likely that managerial strategies to promote diversity and inclusion may in actual fact uphold new types of exclusions and differences as noted in qualitative research, which can bring about consequences of exclusion that are unintended and one which employees may actually resist.

There is a, therefore, a necessity to analyze the extent to which the rhetoric of diversity and inclusion meets reality and the expression of voice among minorities in today’s organizations. Hence,  it is vital to ensure that diversity and inclusion efforts are denigrated to tokenism, as supposed by minority group members, and are also seen to be fair by others in the organization.

It is also imperative to recognize that one size may not fit all. So It is essential to be aware that dimensions of diversity vary in importance in scope across cultures and organizational leaders need not to be oblivious of them. The United States is acknowledged to be among the most diverse countries in the world, and Americans have unconscious competence to manage diversity. To make this competence conscious leaders within the United States may begin with an examination of the basic assumptions coreto the understanding of diversity and inclusion.

Diversity in the U.S. Companies Workforce

In the modern world where organizations are subjected to working amidst several domains, it becomes important to accept diversity as an integral part of the company’s workforce. Not many countries in the world welcome workforce diversity like the United States do, and this is what makes it a great country rendering innumerable opportunities with a healthy mindset and excellent corporate atmosphere.

The method of diverse inclusion has brought about a significant change in the organizational approach. Likewise, the companies today are capable of demonstrating fine abstraction associated with the generality of the surroundings. Furthermore, the concept of allowing people from different backgrounds and conditions to take part in the corporate world has enhanced the overall morality count with more and more people attaining satisfaction. This satisfaction directly accounts for increased levels of motivation, innovation and creativity (Okoro and Washington). Companies saturated with diverse culture are expected to present frequent fresh ideas with interminable innovation pertaining to the needs of the customer. The demographics range expands when employees from distinctive backgrounds and conditions serve in favor of the company (Okoro and Washington). Thus, diversity directly impacts the sustainability scale and organizational productivity because the world is moving towards globalisation where people incorporating assorted ethnicity and cultures ply their trade prominently.

Workforce diversity improves performance

The inclusion of diversity in the workplace can benefit the company as well as the employees in many ways. The association of diversity with company’s performance isn’t a matter subjected to mere yes or no, rather it is a result of company’s acceptance to the growing trend of globalisation that accommodates morality and supports individuality. Furthermore, it is an affair concerning evolution and the company’s adaptability to aspirations that act as a catalyst for exponential growth in the modern-day market. As cited in the journal ‘workforce diversity can improve company’s bottom line’, there is a high chance that an organization that opt for welcoming the people from diverse culture is more likely to become successful than its counterparts (Sharpe). The author supports the statement by referring to a report generated by McKinsey & Company in its January 201 publication ‘Delivering through Diversity’. It explains how companies supporting a high level of diversity are expected to exceed their competitors by 21% in terms of profitability and by 27% in terms of value creation (Sharpe). The report also demonstrates the statistics associated with the non-diverse organizations that are “29 per cent less likely to achieve above-average profitability (Sharpe).” The author in her journal cites further examples of how the companies have benefited from the fresh methodology.

The diverse workforce accounts for a resources group that renders a sense of leadership while encompassing the interests of each and every domain. It drives innovations and boosts company’s morale. Welcoming diversity opens the door for bigger talent pool. Employees from diverse backgrounds can represent different outlooks for specific issues, and hence, improve problem solving. In addition, the learning methods are quick as compared to the sectors where the thought processes tend to be static (Sharpe). The employees get to know the unique interests and therefore, are able to perform and innovate better. The time of the modern-day differs from the period where leaders failed to recognize the diversity prevailing in the workforce. The term is not simply related to defining a race, religion or ethnicity but it additionally incorporates personality, aptitude, disability and competence (Okoro and Washington). The methodology doesn’t confine itself to the employees but it demands the attention towards each and every aspect of the organization.

Acceptance of persons with disability

There is always a talk about providing employment to the people in need. Disability and obesity frequently find a platform in such conversations because they account for a significant portion of workforce diversity. McLaughlin, Bell, and Stringer highlighted in their journal that the attention to this section has been largely under consideration, although little research supports the cause (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer). These statements are very intriguing and worthwhile for they facilitate the organizations with the opportunity to hire such people and enhance their work-place ability. Likewise, the people encircled with disabilities and conditions pertaining to obesity get a good chance to work in the corporate world and earn a living. People around them benefit for their unique method of working and definitely get accustomed to the various conditions. The work-place is saturated with a fine development of a dynamic approach which is believed as a key to prominently embark a name in the modern-day market. However, “persons with disabilities are more committed workers” and “do not require expensive accommodations to enable them to work (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer).”

A very important aspect associated with the employment of people with disability is ‘acceptance’. Studying acceptance level in an organization is crucial because it can directly impact the motivational assets and the commitment level. The most common negative thinking that emanates from a diverse field is of jealousy (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer). Co-workers are often resented by the fact that disabled people get more opportunities and accommodations. Furthermore, they receive more attention and appraisals from the company and from the customers on small inputs (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer). Such perceptions account for unfairness in the corporate environment and become the reason for conflicts. They also degrade the motivational and innovation assets. The authors further describe how the minority and recessive sects of the society have large empathy towards disabled workers (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer). It cites the example of women who as a matter of fact have been related to the non-dominant sector for a long time (McLaughlin, Bell and Stringer). Women are more likely to empathize and adjust with disabled people than men who on many occasions entirely ignore the scenario. Conclusively, acceptance plays a big role in defining the nature of workforce diversity.

Moral theory supporting diversity

Various moral theories find their applications in the domain of diversity. The diversity in a workforce is well supported by Kantian deontology (Gotsis and Kortezi). The Kantian theory rests on the basic idea of the “the supreme principle of morality”. Kant believed that following a moral ideology is quite simple and that goodwill is bolstered by good intentions. Goodwill comes without any qualification and therefore, it suits well with the idea of diversity where an organization accounts for an intangible asset that is essential for its growth and enhances the reputation of the business being carried out (Gotsis and Kortezi). The deontological theory supports the idea that the organization and the employees should have the ability to tolerate the differences in the cases where they do not render support to them (Gotsis and Kortezi). Tolerating is considered as a parameter confined within the facets of morality. This is largely associated with the acceptance that comes with time.

Diversity may drive disintegration

It is found that certain theories and researches oppose the very existence of diversity mainly because of some of the issues related to it. The journal article, ‘Perceptions of Workforce Diversity in High Schools and Diversity Management: A Qualitative Analysis’ argues about the existence of diversity in the schools and its related impact (Memduhoglu). It is cited that diversity promotes grouping and often becomes a cause of disintegration between the sects (Memduhoglu). Furthermore, diversity is found to be an uncomfortable factor in some parts of the world courtesy of it being incompatible with various administrations.

The author highlights the problems that a school premises face by welcoming diversity into its domain. He argues that teachers should hide their liking for diversity and that the concept shouldn’t intervene in the teaching profession (Memduhoglu). One more problem associated with diversity is the number of religions it brings together which related the workforce to an unhealthy environment. The perspective highlighted above is a case where diversity is subjected to both advantages and disadvantages; however, it does not welcome the case of overwhelming diversity. The disadvantages focus on the grouping that can be caused although this can be prevented by organizing the environment in a better way. Furthermore, students, for example, in a school can be taught about the subject and subsequently about the benefits and the morals that are attached to adapting the modern methodology. As explained, most part of supporting fine workforce diversity is related to the management of an organization and therefore, arguing that the administration doesn’t support diversity is the point that carries no worth.

Today’s dynamic work culture demands diversity; however, this may lead to incompatible situations because of perceived differences. This, in turn, may become a cause of conflicts attributed to factors such as ethnocentrism, work pressure, role definitions etc. If this conflict is not addressed, then it may lower the productivity of the project. Hence, it becomes crucial to manage the conflicts constructively and considering the outcomes in terms of fairness, accountability, equality, and moral principles.

Conclusion

It depends on the organization’s approach to enable and enhance the productivity amidst the issues that can prevail associated with disliking and unfairness. Unfortunately, the US suffers from these problems in the modern day; however, there is a bright side that offers opportunities to a lot of people. The above arguments satisfy the importance of workforce diversity for they present a statistical and theoretical view of the benefits correlated. The advantages encircle the interests of both the organization and the employees and render a better way to globalize the country while adapting to the modern trends. Relating the whole methodology of recruitment and affording a better work-place to those in need to a moral aspect demonstrate the didactic implications that the workforce diversity consolidates. These moral entanglements suggest a fine way to administer and support the corporate world by saving the interests of everyone related and involved.

Diversity and inclusion will keep dominating the discussion in HR divisions, and boardrooms across the globe as the makeup of the workforce changes considerably. For HR leaders to increase their appeal in various market segments and uphold talent continuity, they must develop a stronger understanding of diversity and inclusion and how those ideas fit together. The advantages of building a workforce of diverse people who are allowed to contribute to a company’s success positively are numerous – from more innovative problem-solving and better financial performance  to greater appeal to customers and stress-free employee retention.

Works Cited

Gotsis, George and Zoe Kortezi. “Ethical paradigms as potential foundations of diversity management initiatives in business organizations.” Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 26, no. 6, 2013, pp. 948-976.

McLaughlin, Mary E., Myrtle P. Bell, and Donna Y. Stringer. “Stigma and Acceptance of Persons with Disabilities: Understudied Aspects of Workforce Diversity.” Group & Organization Management, vol. 29, no. 3, 2004, pp. 302-333.

Memduhoglu, Hasan Basri. “Perceptions of Workforce Diversity in High Schools and Diversity Management: A Qualitative Analysis.” Education and Science, vol. 41, no. 185, 2016, pp. 199-217.

Okoro, Ephraim A. “Workforce Diversity And Organizational Communication: Analysis Of Human Capital Performance And Productivity.” Journal of Diversity Management, vol. 7, no. 1, 2012.

Sharpe, Jennifer. “Workforce diversity can improve company’s bottom line.” New Orleans City Business, ProQuest, 2018.

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