Diversity Management – article critique

Diversity Management

The focus of this article critique is workplace diversity. I have chosen this topic due to its significant implications for the business and workforce within it. Workplace diversity is a major issue that is addressed to various degrees in practically all workplaces, be they educational institutions, government departments or private sector firms. There is a growing amount of academic literature, models, theories and research on workplace diversity. Diversity management is a key area that human resource managers must be familiar with. Workplace diversity is not just a trendy management concept, it is far more serious than that. In a growing number of countries, including Australia, there is specific legislation that deals with workplace diversity. Whilst most academic material focused on workplace diversity illustrates this issue with glowing praise, the reality may be that diversity in the workforce may not be all that glossy and beneficial as most people make it out to be.The approach that each organisation takes to diversity management is a reflection of their values and corporate culture. Some organisations embrace diversity policies and try to create an accommodating work environment for all their employees, regardless of the differences that each employee may posses. Other organisations take a more bottom line approach and provide merely lip service to diversity management, in an effort to be seen as complying with the relevant laws.
Two articles have been chosen that provide two different perspectives on diversity management. One takes a human perspective, while the other takes a more critical view point and focuses on the financial implications of diversity management.

Article 1: Grensing-Pophal, L 2002, “Reaching for diversity”, HR Magazine, May, vol. 47, no.5, pp. 53 – 56.
This article focuses on workplace diversity solely from the perspective of the employee. Examples of various minority groups were provided and their impressions of various diversity programs were provided. In all cases the minority groups members interviewed discussed favourably the initiatives that were made available at each of their workplaces. The article used interviews with various minority group individuals as the source of information.
The strength of the article is that it takes a very human perspective on the issue.
The weakness is that the article is overtly “feel good” in nature, where the information provided by the interviewees is glowing and positive. Whilst this may be good for each of the people in question, the article in fact ignores other broader issues such as corporate costs associated with this area, the effects on majority groups in the organisation, as well as negative perspectives that would surely exist.

Article 2: Hansen, F 2003, “Diversity’s business case doesn’t add up”, Workforce, April, pp. 28 – 32.
The key point of this article is that for years it has been claimed that diversity programs produce higher performance and greater productivity, but the evidence offered is largely anecdotal or based on limited data collected through questionable methods. The link to the bottom line, an entrenched part of diversity rhetoric, remains largely undocumented.
Evidence is provided using an analysis of a variety of large scale firms and their diversity programs, the way these firms assess the diversity programs and further commentary and review is provided by Thomas A. Kochan, a professor of management at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He has conducted a five year study of diversity programs of many of the top firms in the US. The conclusion is that in most cases diversity management does not add value to an organisation’s bottom line.
The strengths lie in the actual examples given as well as the credibility of the commentators in the article. The weakness lies in the fact that no actual substitute of available methods for evaluating diversity policies has been outlined.
The research required as indicated by the article is to create some sort of model that best aligns diversity policy implementation with actual quantifiable financial results.
The two articles provide some food for thought in relation to diversity management. It seems that if a manager was to take a strictly financial approach, then embracing diversity does not warrant the costs involved. On the other hand, if management views the human resources of the organisation as more than just “resources” but considers the “human” aspect more, then management would be more inclined to create the type of workplace environment that is best suited for the employees. Sometimes it is important to look beyond costs and the bottom line, particularly if the organisation is already prosperous and profitable.
Today employees are more knowledgeable when it comes to employment opportunities. They are more demanding and in many cases know what they want. For this reason it is important to create the right climate in order to be able to attract the best employees and keep then in the organisation for longer. In many cases the benefits for doing so are difficult to quantify.

REFERENCES:
Grensing-Pophal, L 2002, “Reaching for diversity”, HR Magazine, May, vol. 47, no.5, pp. 53 – 56.
www.shrm.org/publications/hrmagazine/editorialcontent/pages/0502pophal.aspx

Hansen, F 2003, “Diversity’s business case doesn’t add up”, Workforce, April, pp. 28 – 32.
www.workforce.com/articles/diversity-s-business-case-doesn-t-add-up

Peter Solanikow
Peter Solanikow
Peter Solanikow is a tertiary educated and qualified business consultant and options trader based in Melbourne, Australia.
Peter founded A1 Tuition, an education resource provider, in 1997 at the age of 23. Peter has written a number of educational books as well as presented seminars in accounting and economics.
Over time Peter developed an interest in business management and has assisted hundreds of clients from various countries around the world in management, marketing, strategy and finance matters.
Peter travels to Europe annually and has knowledge and experience in business matters relevant mainly to Poland.

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