Over the past years, experts have echoed the need to embrace diversity by not only private organisations but also public organisations. The rationale for such theory is that desirable positive outcomes in public institutions are achieved when work teams in public organisations are composed of employees with diversified perspectives. Diversity provides a public agency with access to a pool of skills and knowledge. The problem is that most public organisations find themselves in the dilemma of using diversity to reflect their constituencies hoping that they will relate better to more citizens. Unfortunately, diversity tends to create conflict in a public organisation. The most daunting challenge of diversity is discrimination of some employees due to negative attitude and behavior towards them by their colleagues. Such challenge has an adverse impact on employee retention in the organisation. However, diversity education can solve such problems only if the education can change organisations culture by propagating interactions within diversities. Therefore, this paper discusses the challenges of diversity faced by public institutions and identifies how diversity education and training can solve such problems.
Diversity in a workplace has the potential of generating positive impact on employee engagement, recruitment and retention (Neault & Mondair, 2011). The benefit of workplace diversity in a public organisation is that it utilises workers from minority groups. Public institutions recruit such individuals and train them in accordance with the organisations culture. The practice is done with the intention of achieving affirmative action criterion (Neault & Mondair, 2011). Moreover, one of the greatest challenges faced by public organisations in such a globalized world is demand for diversity. It is because according to Cunninghan, diversity profits public organisations when they match internal organisational diversity to the diversity of their target audience within which they were created thus enabling them to serve a broad spectrum of several citizens. Robbins concludes that matching diversity bridges cultural divide thus enabling an organisation to suit its diverse needs (Robbins, 57). Hence, diversity utilises workers knowledge and skills, enables a public organisation to achieve affirmative action and allows it to reach a broad spectrum of its clients.
Discrimination in Workplaces
Despite the advantages of diversity in a workplace within a public organisation, such positivity is substituted by various challenges. Some of these challenges are prejudice and discrimination by some workers towards their colleagues. According to Aggzadeh, staffs from diverse groups tend to feel threatened by fellow workers (Aghazadeh, 2004, p. 528). Also, it most likely to lead to mistrust among workers because many workers only trust those they share with similar beliefs and values. Hence, without proper diversity management, the result is employee dissatisfaction and low productivity (Van der Walt & Du Plessis).
Difficulties in Managing Diversity
Diversity management is the intra-organizational representation of workers with different group affiliations and cultural differences (Cox, 1994). Its purpose is to expand the plurality of various perspectives and experiences in the organisation. Hence, it is very challenging to manage a public agency. Most importantly, it is hard to build a workforce that values diversity. It is because not everyone values diversity. People tend to be most comfortable where when associating with those like themselves thus they always feel that diversity undermines their comfort level. Moreover, workers with strong prejudices against other employees from specific cultural groups may find the changing demographics of the workforce a threat to their career. It is because they find such changes disquieting or they feel that the positions they hold will be taken away from them (Patrick & Kumar, 2012).
Moreover, the challenge of diversity is complicated by the fact that human interaction is solely based on social identities. For instant, they tend to use demographic characteristics and functional attributes as an instrument for categorising themselves and their colleagues. Also, employees always use their membership in particular social groups as a deputation of the effectiveness of their functional performance. An example is the false claims that women nurses are more efficient as compared to male nurses. Besides, employees outside a particular social group also do attribute similar interests and values to those who are within a group, while they proceed to assume trust, easier communication and higher reciprocity with those members of their identity group (Patrick & Kumar, 2012).
Communication problems are likely to occur when one party assumes the other persons message. Due to sharing of social identity, a perceived difference between workers social group emerges. The managers and employees will then assume irreconcilable conflicts of interests, preferences and values exist between the existing different social identities, which may not be true. Hence, it is clear that diversity alone in work placed does fail to challenge the assumption that desires, needs, perspectives and values of members of particular social groups are not miscommunicated. Hence, diversity leads to misunderstanding, inaccuracies and communication problems (Veldsman, D. M. (2013).Managers of public organisations understand that it is important to support employees in learning how to interact effectively with people in a diverse workplace. They also recognize the significance of encouraging employees to learn and develop new skills that can help them in dealing with people while managing them. Comb (2002) states that the failure of diversity training begins when managers become agents of change when they do not have proper training. Hence all employees in a public organisation require diversity training to develop individual self-efficacy and develop new behaviors (Comb, 2002).
Diversity Education and Training
Through education and training, public organisations can understand cultural diversity and learn how to manage it efficiently to improve workplace performance. The training tackles relationships thus workers will learn how to relate with one another irrespective of dissimilarities of their cultures, occupation level and demography (Comb, 2002). They also get to learn about teamwork, community relationships, competitiveness and productivity. On competitiveness, diversity training will instill healthy competitiveness amongst employees without them feeling insecure about their job positions or other favors. Most importantly, education and training help both the institutions and their employees to develop cultural awareness together with cross-cultural communication skills hence, limiting discrimination, prejudice and negative attitudes of some employees towards their colleagues. Also, through diversity education and training, the managers of public organisations can carry out diversity analysis of their institutions to identify the necessary resources that are required to make diversity in a workforce more efficient than ineffective. Hence, through diversity analysis, the management can develop a proper action plan for managing diversity in public organisations (Von Bergen, Soper & Foster, 2002).
Therefore, in conclusion, diversity management in public institutions is beneficial only is it is properly managed. While diversity utilises employees knowledge and skills, increasing their productivity and helps a public organisation achieve its goal, it also poses some challenges in the workplace. That is, it causes mistrust and discrimination among employees who do not share common beliefs and values. Also, are the communication problems. Moreover, the most daunting challenge is the difficulties in managing diversity in the workplace due to social identities. However, such problems can be solved through diversity education and training. That is, through training, employees will develop cultural awareness and proper cross-cultural communication skills thus creating cohesion and teamwork amongst themselves. It also enables public organisations to develop solid plans for managing diversity in workplaces.
Aghazadeh, S. (2004). Managing workforce diversity as an essential resource for improving organisational performance. International Journal of Productivity & Performance Management, 53, 521-531.
Combs, G.M. (2002). Meeting the leadership challenge of a diverse and pluralistic workplace: Implications of self-efficacy for diversity training. Journal of Leadership Studies, 8, 1-16.
Patrick, H. A. & Kumar, V. R. (2012). Managing Workplace Diversity Issues and Challenges. SAGE Open, 2(2).
Neault, R. A. & Mondair, S. (2011). Supporting workplace diversity: emerging roles for employmenr counsellors. Journal of Employment and Counselling, 48(1), 72-80.
Robbins, S.T. (2007). Organizational behaviour. 9th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall
Veldsman, D. M. (2013). PERCEPTIONS OF DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT IN A PUBLIC SECTOR (Doctoral dissertation, UNIVERSITY OF THE WESTERN CAPE).
Von Bergen, C.W., Soper, B., & Foster, T. (2002). Unintended negative effects of diversity management. Public Personnel Management, 31, 239-252
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