Managing Diversity in The Public Sector: A case Study of a Small City Council; by Mark Steger and Prof R. Erwee (20001) Definitions of diversity range from distributive concerns based on the traditional categories of race, ethnicity and gender to the addition of a vast array of differences in age, sexual orientation, disability, employment status, tenure, function, educational background, lifestyle, religion, values and beliefs in addition to race, ethnicity and gender. Diversity is a two-edged blade.
Although on the one hand it is brought about by differences in access to information, skills, abilities, values, beliefs attitudes, personality, cognitive styles and manner styles also. To raise progress, development, renewal and creativity, but on the other hand it also increases the likelihood of the feelings of group isolation, conflict and participant dissatisfaction, disappointment in the implementation of policies and programs. In this regard managing diversity in the public sector requires careful and sustained attention if it is to be a positive force in enhancing performance.
A diverse organisation is one which values difference. It is one which recognises that people with different backgrounds, skills, attitudes and experiences bring fresh ideas and perceptions. Diverse organisations encourage and connect these differences to make their services relevant and approachable. A diverse organisation draws upon the widest possible range of views and experiences, so it can listen to, and meet, the changing needs of its users, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters (Wilson 1999). The concept of diversity has been usually used in both wide and fine context.
A wide-ranging view of diversity has consequences for the fundamental organisational culture and an obligation of differences whereas narrow definitions of diversity focus on eliminating biased practices based on personal characteristic. Many organisations adopt equal opportunities policies because of external pressures. Differs between a narrow minimalist response to legislative requirements, and a wider concern that people should be treated equally, based on ethical and human rights or moral arguments. Managing diversity on the other hand is internally driven, from a commitment by the organisation and its key players (lles 2001).
The driving force behind introducing diversity management policies is seen as the business case which is that a diverse workforce will result in more focused marketing, greater creativity and decision making and happier staff who stay longer. According to the research conduct by (Metcalf 2000) they are three different types of workforce diversity were identified: • Social category diversity relates to differences in demographic characteristics, such as age and race. * Informational diversity refers to diversity of background such as knowledge, education, experience, tenure and functional background. Value diversity includes differences in personality and attitudes. The basic concept of managing diversity accepts that the workforce consists of a diverse population of people consisting of visible and non-visible differences including factors such as sex, age, background, race, disability, personality and work style and is founded on the premise that harnessing these differences will create a productive environment in which everyone feels valued, where all talents are fully utilised and in which organisational goals are met.
Although there a growing body of literature on the effects of workforce diversity on business success, research in the area remains scant and unsystematic regarding the definition of what constitutes diversity, the unit of analysis and dependent variables under investigation. So it is difficult to reach scientifically substantiated conclusions on the impact of diversity on business performance, despite the fact that organisations themselves identify business case arguments for managing diversity.
There are the positive benefits of managing diversity The benefits of diversity indicated in the literature that has been reviewed for this report can be summarised in the following three broad statements: * Diversity enhances customer relations and increases market share. * Diversity enhances employee relations and reduces the cost of labour. * Diversity improves workforce quality and performance in terms of diverse skills, creativity, problem-solving and flexibility.
Diversity improves workforce quality and performance in terms of diverse skills, creativity, problem-solving and flexibility. The effects of diversity on organisational outcomes, such as performance, creativity, teamwork and problem-solving, are the areas that attract the interest of researchers most of all. In fact, most of the diversity research focuses on these aspects, although the findings suggest mixed and conflicting results.
Advocates of diversity management argue that an inclusive diversity climate increases the performance and productivity level of employees through increased job satisfaction and commitment (Morrison 1992). They also argue that diversity fosters adaptability to environmental change and organisational flexibility and provides a competitive edge by doing so (Cox 1993, Cox and Blake 1991, Fernandez 1991).
Additionally, McEnrue (1993) found that embracing diversity leads to decreased levels of frustration among supervisors who gain the skills to understand and manage groups with diverse backgrounds. Similarly, at top management level, several studies indicate that teams composed of diverse members outperform homogeneous teams and have more capacity for problem-solving and decision-making (Bantel and Jackson 1989, Hambrick et al 1996, Smith et al 1994).
There’s also evidence that workforce diversity improves organisational effectiveness through increased organisational and individual creativity and innovation, and improves decision-making and problem-solving by providing work teams with different and diverse perspectives (Bhadury et al 2000, Cox 1993, Fernandez 1991, Cordero et al 1996, Cox and Blake 1991, Kirchmeyer and McLellan 1991, Hoffman 1978). Diversity effects can be influence by these factors which is at least four main controlling or dominant variables that condition the effects of diversity: * the nature of work tasks * corporate business strategy diversity and organisational context * diversity and context. Regarding the effects of the nature of work tasks on the diversity–business-success relationship, Cordero et al (1996 p206) suggest that, ‘Homogeneity appears to be a benefit for groups with more routine tasks, while heterogeneity produces benefits for groups with more complex and interdependent tasks. ‘ In other words, diversity among employees delivers a competitive advantage for organisations when the performance of novel and complex tasks that require high levels of creative thinking, innovation and problem-solving skills are involved (Dwyer et al 2003, Jackson 1992).
The benefits of effective diversity management involve higher productivity (Wolf 1998), better creativity and innovation, better understanding of customers, improved recruitment opportunities (Agocs& Burr 2000; Cox 1993), lower costs (Cox, 1993), more positive morale (Kramar 2001), and higher employee retention (Teicher & Spearitt 1996; Wolf 1998). A workforce diverse can be improved by improving a lot of thing for an example improving communication in the teamwork can lead to higher productivity. The importance of having a diverse workforce is intensified by global trends toward globalisation.
Awareness to diversity can allow to a better understanding of the needs of the customer. Improving employee retaining for organisations which embrace diversity management (Teicher & Spearitt 1996) also support a case for diversity which goes beyond moral and legal issues, and makes good business sense. There also have been presented the criticism of the diversity management like for an example the programmes of diversity are simply calls a means of concealing enduring patterns of discrimination and prejudice (Prasad & Mills 1997, p. 14).
They may have been a communication difficulties and decision complexity in a certain group. Quantitative information about the impact that managing diversity has on business performance is important to gain organisational support for diversity management. As Robinson and Dechant (1997 p. 21) noted, ‘the presentation of a robust business case increases the likelihood of obtaining the leadership commitment and resources needed to successfully implement diversity initiatives. ’ However, they argue that, ‘Evidence on diversity’s impact on the bottom line has not been systematically measured and documented for easy retrieval and use. In achieving diversity management there are seven stage process in detailing the steps necessary for successfully implementing in such a diversity program especially in large private sector organisation. 1. Represent the commitment of an organisation leaders, their personal involvement, communication and raising awareness throughout the organisation. 2. It involves the development of a diversity council to ensure that the organisation strategic objectives align with diversity management principles and ensuring leadership, focus, and continuity. . Involves an analysis of the organisational climate by means of cultural audits and the development of a workforce profile. 4. The data analysis involve the analysis of this organisational climate information, benchmarking and a consequent refinement of strategy, 5. Involves utilising the information gathered in previous stage to identify appropriate interventions. 6. Assesses the effectiveness of this implementation phase on a personal, environmental and organisation levels. 7. Maintenance and measurement are required in future initiative.
The legislative framework and all the legislation in the managing diversity law an act is to explain the detail discriminatory behaviour in recruitment, training, promotion, dismissal, and remuneration. For an example Discrimination Act 1992 is for Its primary purpose is to prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, or potential pregnancy. The literature suggests that the greatest motivation for diversity management initiatives should come from internal policy documents. Indeed, the benefits accredited to diversity management will not be achieved by compliance with legislative requirements.
As such, corporate policy plays an important role in capitalising upon diversity in the workforce. The motivation for managing diversity is entirely voluntaristic. However, the legislative requirements in Australia do not meet the definitive characteristics of diversity. Because of the voluntaristic nature of diversity management, the emphasis should not simply be on compliance with relevant legislation, but should see an extension of these principles. Strategic planning and management methods are heavily implicated in organisations setting objectives above and beyond legislative requirements.
In dissimilarity to the discussion on diversity management in large organisations, some studies highlighting human resource management in small and medium enterprises will be renowned to further contextualise the case study in a small city council. The better human resource outcome and the better enterprise performance are achieved dominantly by the Chinese SMEs who practice performance management and free market selection of staff. The worst enterprise performance and the outcomes lie in affiliated state-owned and collectively owned enterprises with cradle to grave social welfare benefits (Zheng 2001).
In some of the research they noted that some factors that may have a negative effect on the human resource management practices. Workforce Profile: Council X case study While it is a legislative requirement, a general human resource practice and also purposed as a influential diversity management tool (Pollar 1998, Smith 1998). The purpose of this research is to compare the statistic of the Council X working labour force. In this study, four research objective are suggested namely: 1. To determine whether the strategic policies and managerial practices comply with EEO legislative requirements. . To identify if the TCC EEO policy and diversity management at TCC are linked to the overall Corporate Strategic Plan. 3. To determine to what extent TCC workforce profile reflects the diversity of the Toowoomba community. 4. To identify interventions that can be introduced to increase diversity awareness and practices within the TCC. As for the method of this research it due to the fact that the research objectives of this study require an assessment of numerical and non-numerical data and a combination of quantitative and qualitative research techniques is necessary.
The advantages of using these techniques include objectivity and reliability. So does the qualitative research will allows for greater flexibility, deeper understanding and has a high degree of validity (Flick 1998). A depth interview was formulated as the data collection method which is the information was obtained by the necessary qualitative of legislation an policy familiarity and practices and an analysis of diversity management and awareness. The data was gathered using a workforce demographic survey divided. A sampling was also been used in this research but in different method were used for the qualitative and quantitative measures.
The data gathered are analysing with the assistance of the statistical software package, SSPS. The information will form the basis of the workforce profile and will be compared to community representation of key groups. Result will be presented to the research objectives. Top management and middle management responses have been separated for comparison purposes. The objectives of the research: 1. Determine whether the strategic policies and managerial practices comply with EEO legislative requirements. 2. Identify if the council x EEO policy and diversity management at Council X are linked to overall Corporate Strategic Plan. . To determine to what extent the Council X workforce profile reflects the diversity of the community. 4. To identify interventions that can be introduced to increase diversity awareness and practices within the Council X. This research is to show the hesitations of how policies and practices employed by Council X meet legislative requirement in the recruitment, selection, and promotion include the reference to merit and personality in the employment practices and the policy to fill positions from internal applicants wherever possible.
The legislation has clearly prescribes the promotion of opportunities for such target group implies a responsibility in the area. It also has provisions for monitoring compliance with legislation and workforce statistic but there are no such procedures available for evaluating the diversity issues in this research. The result of this interview will indicate that a significant proportion of middle management in the Council X refer to and would be unable to apply, legislative and policy requirements.
One of the requirements of the local government regulation is to ensure that the workforce profile reflects community characteristic. In the second objective the managerial perceptions of the need for a strong link between diversity management and corporate policy must be ascertained, beliefs about the sufficiency of the current link must be judged, and the implications of comparative analysis with the policy that must be identified. For the third objective the workforce composition was compared with community demographic in order to ensure that such diversity is soon going to be capitalised.
The fourth objective of the research dealt with interventions that can be introduced to increase diversity awareness and practices. The next stage of the process involves an assessment of how effectively interventions have been implemented. The final stage of this process involves maintenance of the current programme, and measurement of its effectiveness. Managing diversity role in Human Resource Management are very important as it will differentiate and give the equal opportunities to the both employee and employer.
This is why it is very important: 1. The reasons for adopting equal opportunities or managing diversity Many organisations adopt equal opportunities policies because of external pressures. Wilson and Iles suggest that this response “varies between a narrow minimalist response to legislative requirements, and a wider concern that people should be treated equally, based on ethical and human rights or moral arguments. Managing diversity on the other hand is internally driven, from a commitment by the organisation and its key players”.
Looking at the marketing for an example, the voluntary sector supports and works with a diverse range of service users, supporters and partners. If the ‘public face’ of an organisation reflects that diverse public, then individuals will more easily identify with it, thinking “this is an organisation for me”. Volunteers are the public face of many organisations, and if diverse, will be more welcoming to users and members. Also, if volunteers are drawn from a wide sector of the community, then they each tell their friends and family, raising the profile of your service (Michael 2001). . Operational or strategic focus Organisations working within an equal opportunities framework often concern themselves with policies and procedures to check that they have operated within the law (eg: with the Race Relations, Sex and Disability Discrimination Acts). These organisations often meet their formal obligations, but do little more. Wilson and Iles say that “underlying the equal opportunities paradigm is the model of the organisation as a rational, even-handed structure, operating fairly and dispensing justice”.
Managing diversity is more strategic and commitment is more than adherence to legal responsibilities – it is a value that needs to be taken on by all levels of staff and volunteers and translated into organisational culture. Wilson and Iles suggest that “persistent inequalities in the public sector are underpinned by the fact that equal opportunities remains an add-on to the value system of an organisation. On the other hand, organisations that managing diversity will perceive consequent organisational practices as an investment”. 3.
The perception of difference Organisations which manage diversity view differences between people as an advantage. Whereas organisations working solely within the equal opportunities framework assume that people from different backgrounds are outsiders who should be helped to ‘fit’ into the usually white able-bodied norm of the organisation, as it exists – this is often described as the ‘assimilation’ model. Those working within a diversity framework, on the other hand, expect organisations to adapt to embrace different individuals.
These differences may be visible such as colour, sex, ethnicity, dis/ability, sexuality or age but they may be less obvious such as class, religion or work style. So when looking at the ‘make up’ of your volunteers, keep these less visible experiences and attributes in mind. Such differences may be potentially enriching to your organisation. 4. The focus of initiatives Many organisations working within an equal opportunities framework focus on groups of the population protected by law ie: women, people from ethnic minorities and those with disabilities.
The group approach is often known as ‘positive action’, where groups under-represented in organisations are sometimes ‘encouraged’ to come on board – through additional and targeted recruitment advertising or training for specific groups within an organisation, for example. Positive discrimination once applications are received is not legal, however. Organisations which manage diversity, on the other hand, renounce the group approach and choose to focus on developing all individuals. There is a danger, however, that this may underplay the core principles of equal opportunities.
In summary: Organisations which work within the equal opportunities framework adopt a group approach, whereas the focus in the diversity model is on developing individuals. 5. Different theoretical bases Equal opportunities has to operate with an assumption that there are relatively simple and narrow knowledge bases operating in the organisation and management world – single best ways of doing things. In contrast, managing diversity accepts a much greater plurality of human knowledge and experience with no one perspective being more ‘correct’ than another.
It suggests that there are multiple theoretical approaches that may be useful. However, as much diversity work will continue to focus on specific groupings like ethnic minorities, people with disabilities and women, this distinction between the two approaches may not be that useful in practice. Equal opportunities (EO) – the old approach | Managing diversity (MD) – the new approach | Externally driven- Rests on moral and legal arguments – Perceives EO as a cost | Internally driven- Rests on business case – Perceives MD as an investment |
Operational- Concerned with process – Rational organisational model – Externally imposed on managers | Strategic- Concerned with outcomes – Internalised by managers and employees – Appreciation of organisational culture | Difference perceived as other/problematical- Deficit model – Ethnocentric, heterosexist – Assimilation advocated – Discrimination focus – Harassment seen as individual issue | Difference perceived as asset/richness- Model of plenty – Celebrates difference – Mainstream adaptation advocated Development focus – Harassment seen as organisational climate issue | Group focused- Group initiatives – Family friendly policies | Individual focused- Universal initiatives – Individual development – Employee friendly policies | Supported by narrow positivist knowledge base | Supported by wider pluralistic knowledge base | Conclusion Having considered this summary of differences you may have a sense that diversity is very similar to equal opportunities or you may think it is a new and very different perspective.
Current thinking about how diversity works in practice in organisations is developing all the time. Whether you believe diversity should complement or supplement equal opportunities, building these approaches into your volunteering recruitment and development practices will bring benefits, not only to the volunteers themselves, but to the organisation and your client or customer. With the research important finding that the Council X is that while existing EEO policy is primarily derived from the relevant legislation that the council has not entirely met its regulatory requirements.
The policy itself has been determined that the current link is not sufficient for an organisation promoting itself as an equal opportunity employer. The research stated that the main areas of concern are the representation of women and etc. A number of recommendations with implications for both policy and practice have been posited to assist the Council X in meeting and surpassing its legal obligations in order to capitalise on the diversity of the community.
With the research and the finding still contrasted with the results of the survey conducted more investigation are need into these aspect. The importance of added value of managing diversity is very clear. But it’s also important to consider the positive and negative impacts that can arise. It is the ability to manage diversity that makes the difference and not just diversity itself. Academic evidence spotlights areas in which diversity has an impact, but organisations need to customise initiatives and interventions to manage diversity in ways that contribute to organisation objectives.