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Managing a Culturally Diverse Workforce

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Running head: Managing a culturally diverse workforce is a major challenge facing managers in this decade and beyond.

Managing a Culturally Diverse Workforce

Stephen R.Ellison

Columbia College


The purpose of this research is to prove Managing a culturally diverse workforce is a major challenge facing managers in this decade and beyond. It means managers must cope with employees who have different beliefs, customs, and values. This makes diversity management a virtual part of today's managerial issues.

Diversity is needed in the workforce due to the diverse culture in the United States and abroad. With the increased interaction with the global market and the different cultures that are present in the workforce, management has to support a diverse workforce to remain competitive in the workforce. Managers who want to remain competitive are concerned about how to develop and implement various programs to recruit and retain a more diverse body of employees (Jamieson and O'Mara, 1991). Demographers have reported that the workforce population will include an increased number of women, more minorities, more aging workers, and with different lifestyles and varieties of ethnic backgrounds (Wentling and Palma-Rivas, 1997).


Diversity is defined as the multitude of individual differences and similarities that exist among people (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004). There are many components of diversity; narrow definitions tend to reflect Equal Employment Opportunity definition of diversity, which defines diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, age, national origin, religion, and disability (Wheeler, 1994). Broader definitions include sexual orientation; values; personality characteristics; education; language; physical appearance; martial status; lifestyle; beliefs; and background characteristics such as geographic origin, tenure with the organization, economic status, and other ways in which we differ (Cam, 1993, Hayes and Russell, 1997, Triandis, 1994). It is imperative managers understand all components of diversity. Managers must understand and have the knowledge to implement a diversity program that will enable them to remain competitive and creative. Managing diversity enables people to perform up to their maximum potential (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004). Consultants, academics, and business leaders believe that effectively managing diversity is a competitive advantage by (1) the organization can reduce the chance of experiencing a costly discrimination lawsuit, (2) diversity initiative can reduce health care expenses and absenteeism, (3) employee recruiting and training expenses can be reduced by effectively managing diversity (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004). Diversity is key to successfully competing in the workforce. Managers must be aware of the effect of diversity can have on their organization.

Literature Review

Managing cultural diversity and diverse workgroups has become important over the last decade as mangers realize that the workforce is constantly changing. Women and minorities are becoming a part of the workforce in increasing numbers as managers' figure out how to accommodate diverse groups of human capital. As early as 1991 researchers began to realize that increases in competition and demographic changes convinced many business leaders that diversity should be an essential part of their business strategy (Carnevale and Stone, 1995; Cox, 1991; Fernandez, 1993; Jackson and Alvarez, 1992).

Ann Morrison conducted a landmark study of the diversity practices used by sixteen organizations that successfully managed diversity in 1992. Morrison discovered fifty-two different practices, twenty of which were used by the majority of the companies sampled. She classified the fifty-two practices into three main types. The first type was accountability practices related to managers' responsibility to treat diverse employees fairly. The second type was development practices which focused on preparing diverse employees for greater responsibility and advancement. The third type was recruitment practices which focused on attracting job applicants at all levels that were willing to accept challenging work assignments (Kreitner and Kinicki, 2004).

Wentling and Palma-Rivas, 1997 research concluded that diversity experts found four major reasons why organizations manage diversity. The four major reasons are (1) to improve productivity and remain competitive (2) to form better work relationships among employees (3) to enhance social responsibility (4) to address legal concerns. Diversity experts have concluded that the main reason for diversity is productivity and remaining competitive; it is profitable and cost effective; creative and innovative workforce; attract and retain the best employees; to have lower levels of absenteeism and turnover; to be more capable of serving an diverse customer base; and to be more capable of competing globally are examples given for improving productivity and remaining competitive.


Subjects for Study

Diversity experts will be selected their willingness to share knowledge of the studied subject. A purposive sampling technique will be used to select the diversity experts based on knowledge of the study. The twelve diversity experts will be selected on the following criteria: experience, published work in the field of diversity consultant, and have been involved in diversity work related to the topic. Each participant will then be mailed a confirmation letter with scheduled times to conduct the official interviews. Each expert chosen will also be mailed an informed consent along with the initial package. With permission from the participants the telephone interviews will be taped and extensive notes will be taken. To confirm the reliability of the data collected, the researcher will seek the knowledge of human resource educators to review the data from six of the twelve experts to identify key factors.


The diversity experts will be selected because they are knowledgeable about diversity programs (Kumar, Stem, and Anderson, 1993). They will be questioned using the key informant approach for collecting data. Informants will be selected because they are well versed in many layers of diversity and they are willing to share their expert



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