Business can get big gains from managing diversity well, but the gains are not easy, quick or cheap (Waddell, Jones, & George 2013). Drawing from the external environment, discuss three underlying reasons for the increase in the diversity of the Australian workforce. Your essay should also analyse two advantages and two disadvantages of diversity in the workplace and their implications for managers.
1. Introduction (approximately 200 words)
A good introduction includes these aspects:
• background of the topic,
• the aim/purpose of the essay, and
• the approach you will take and the overall essay structure.
2. Body (approximately 1600 words)
The body of the essay should:
• summarise, with reference to the readings, the standard definition of diversity and workforce diversity
• use the readings to explore and analyse three underlying reasons for workforce diversity in Australia arising from the external environment – political-legal; demographic; socio cultural, economic, global forces
• use the readings to discuss two advantages and two disadvantages of workplace diversity
• discuss the implications of these advantages and disadvantages of work force diversity for managers.
3. Conclusion (approximately 200 words)
Wrap up and sum up the findings of your research about workplace diversity, the underlying reasons, advantages and disadvantages and the implications for managers. This will require you to summarize the core arguments and explicitly link back to the essay question.
Workforce Diversity in the Australia
Currently, the Australian workforce seems more diverse than any other period in history with this country’s multi-cultural landscape highly contributing to this diversity (De Cieri & Kramar 2003). In addition, age, gender, and disability are among other factors affecting workforce diversification in Australia. In order for employees to feel respected and valued, with an increased production, an organisation should ensure nurturing and maintaining employee relationship in order for the workforce to effectively function. For this reason, the managers should identify any problems related to a diverse workforce, and how to best to deal with them. While this diversity plays a vital role in meeting the goals of Australia’s workplaces, it may cause problems like influencing effective communication and relationships in a workplace.
The concept of diversity from a broader perspective is the existence of several different social groups within a given society. From an organisational context, D’netto (1997) defines workforce diversity as having a workforce comprising of people from different races, gender, and age among others, and sharing different values, needs, and work behaviors among other individual characteristics. As a result, diversity management programs ensure that this diverse workforce receives effective employment opportunities. A study by Konrad (2006) posits that these diversity programs are meant to cater for social justice. Nevertheless, strategic human resource management argue that diversity programs are the basis for an organisation recruitment of skilled employees for effectiveness in the organisation. After all, with globalisation, international markets require organisations to apply diverse workforce to facilitate both cultural and organisational changes. The chart below shows changing diversity cultures in 1999-2008.
Gender as an Underlying Reason for Workforce Diversity
Most diversity programs in Australia focus on the increase of women in workplaces. The Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), anti-discrimination, and Affirmative Action (AA) are some of the approaches used in Australia to manage diversity. Outtz (2010) asserts that organisations established diversity programs as a reform process to suit individual differences without applying legal requirements. AA and EEO play a vital role in promoting gender equality. Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act (1999) is among the legislations created by the Australian government focusing on opportunities for women to join the workforce. The aborigine women worked from home and globalisation has seen these women fight for their rights in the workplace. Australia harbors a diverse culture from the east to the west, and westernisation seems to be catching up with the Australian culture.
Age as an Underlying Reason for Workforce Diversity
There are many benefits and challenges that an organisation may face while trying to achieve an age diverse workforce. This diverse workforce includes employees ranging from generation “C” born after 1990 to the older generation that is over 50 years of age. O’neill. G.L. and Kramar (1998) assert that research shows that generation “Y” born between the years 1978-1991 has better work balance, flexible working hours, ready to travel, and care less about salaries. In Australia research shows that, the older workforce seems to hold the majority of the employees, and this is a challenge to not only the employers, but to the trade unions, employees, and the government. This mostly happens during the development of employment practices and policies required for the increasing age diverse workplace. There are many factors that contribute to these demographic shifts that directly affect the employment approaches and practices in regards to age management. A lot of managerial literature emphasises on the different cultural dissimilarities between these generations. Vendramin (2010) feels that a generation is defined through combinations of economic, cultural, historical, and political dimensions.
Culture as an Underlying Reason for Workforce Diversity
Australia embraces a diverse culture from the Aborigines, to the Chinese, the British, and other immigrant groups and a study by Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC, 2014) reported 20.4 million people with 73% born in Australia, 13% from non-English speaking countries like China and Vietnam. 2.2% of the Australian people are the Aborigines, and the report posits that by 2050, the population will immensely grow with higher percentages of diverse groups. For this reason, the organisations require embracing a diverse workforce in order to accommodate everyone in the workplace without discrimination (Klarsfeld 2014).
Advantages of a Diverse Workforce
Cultural awareness is a vital in every organisation especially in relation to international operations (Boxall & Purcell 2003). Globalisation continues promoting diversity with many expatriates working in different local companies. In addition, most big companies have resulted to outsourcing for cheaper labor hence the need to understand cultural differences to create a friendly working environment. This could minimise conflicts among the employees. On the other hand, having a diverse workforce may enhance productivity. This is because the diverse culture will introduce new ideas to the already existing ones and this could help in resolving problems from different dimensions. Different countries have different education measures, experiences, and qualifications that they could apply in their workplaces. This could positively affect management based on the high employee productivity.
Disadvantages of a Diverse Workforce
A study by Outtz (2010) posits that some of the disadvantages of diverse age group include racial discrimination. The Australian government among other nations strives to fight racial discrimination, but study shows some stereotyping especially among the upper class. In Australia, the Aborigines seem neglected with few organisations hiring them. This is due to their poor background and consequent poor standards of education. The wealthier upper class continue taking all the top jobs in organisations leaving the minority jobless. In addition, a diverse workforce may see some of the employees distracted and confused about the concepts that they are not familiar with which could in time slow down the organisation’s productivity. As a result, the management may become directly affected and frustrated by these repercussions.
It can be challenging to maintain good relationships among the employees in a culturally diverse workforce, and for any organisation’s success, it is important to embrace cultural diversity. Managing employee behavior is not enough for managers because they require a good working atmosphere hence job satisfaction, which they can only acquire through embracing cultural diversity. Australia holds a diverse culture due to the several immigrants from Asia, Britain, and other indigenous people. Gender, age, and culture are among the underlying reasons for cultural diversity and AA and EEO are among the legislations in Australia fighting against discrimination of any nature. Traditionally, women have been sidelined in workplaces, and in addition, the aged seem to suffer in the offices. Lastly, according to Donaldson (2003), cultural differences play a vital role in any organisation’s success based on an effective working environment and job satisfaction created through understanding of different cultures by the employees.
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