Unit 1: Business Culture and Responsibilities
Learning Outcome: 02
Task 2.1 Explain what is meant by ‘diversity’ in the business context
The concept of diversity encompasses acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and nurturing environment (Cuny, 2017). It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.
Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences (Cuny, 2017). It is extremely important to support and protect diversity because by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.
“Diversity” means more than just acknowledging and/or tolerating differences. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:
- Understanding and appreciating the interdependence of humanity, cultures, and the natural environment.
- Practicing mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.
- Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing;
- Recognizing that personal, cultural and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others;
- Building alliances across differences so that businesses can work together to eradicate all forms of discrimination (Cuny, 2017).
Diversity includes, therefore, knowing how to relate to those qualities and conditions that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong, yet are present in other individuals and groups. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, income, marital status, parental status, and work experiences (Cuny, 2017).
Task 2.2 Recognise the benefits of having a diverse workforce
There is a tangible impact of diversity on a company’s bottom line. According to the Center for American Progress, here are the top ten ways diversity in the workplace influences a company (Skillmakers, 2017).
- A diverse workforce drives economic growth.
- A diverse workforce can capture a greater share of the consumer market.
- Recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates means a more qualified workforce.
- A diverse and inclusive workforce helps businesses avoid employee turnover costs.
- Diversity fosters a more creative and innovative workforce.
- Businesses need to adapt to our changing nation to be competitive in the economic market.
- Diversity is a key aspect of entrepreneurialism (Skillmakers, 2017).
- Diversity in business ownership, particularly among women of color, is key to moving our economy forward.
- Diversity in the workplace is necessary to create a competitive economy in a globalized world.
- Diversity in the boardroom is needed to leverage a company’s full potential.
Diversity is more than just a buzz-word. In today’s workplace, it can hold the key to fostering new ways of thinking, reaching out to a wider range of customers, and growing the business. The workforce and working patterns are changing. The working population is getting older and increasing numbers of women and people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are entering the workforce (Skillmakers, 2017). Valuing diversity is becoming increasingly important for businesses.
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There’s also a clear competitive advantage to be gained from employing a diverse workforce. An organization with a diverse range of employees is well placed to understand the needs of a wide range of customers and can interact with a broad client base (Skillmakers, 2017). Not only that, but it is also in a good position to recruit and retain staff in an increasingly diverse and competitive labor market. Embedding diversity of thought throughout an organization also means that talent can be properly recognized and nurtured – wherever it may be.
Task 2.3 Compare how a range of organizations promote diversity
Workplace diversity is complicated, but it boils down to understanding, accepting, and valuing differences between people including those: of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations (Son, 2017). Diversity also includes those with differences in education, personalities, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge bases. Promoting workplace diversity is no simple task.
Management needs to address diversity
Diversity and inclusion management shouldn’t begin and end with hiring. No matter how diverse your workforce is, it is difficult to retain and therefore benefit from the diversity (Son, 2017).
Since employees have peers in the industry or know qualified candidates who may be looking for work, they are a great resource for businesses to find diverse candidates from. The relationship can also help new employees adjust to the move (Son, 2017). Challenge the employees to think beyond the obvious hire.
Mentoring programs help connect underrepresented employees, provide support, promote growth, and encourage participation by building close working relationships. Finding mentors that share personal interests can foster new friendships and ultimately increase retention (Son, 2017). By devoting an equal amount of time and effort to retaining new employees and familiarizing them with the new job and company culture, the first few weeks of work which are usually the toughest will be a lot more manageable.
Task 2.4 Explain how a business organization can promote diversity within its place of work
Activities that promote internal diversity provide an organization with the opportunity to broaden its cultural horizons, expand its customer or membership base, and become a better reflection of the communities it serves(McQuerrey, 2018). Successfully activities that promote diversity in organizations focus on education, participation, and communication.
When it comes to issues of cultural sensitivity, sometimes even well-meaning individuals can make thoughtless comments or suggestions based purely on ignorance rather than malice. Cultural sensitivity training not only creates a better workplace dynamic; it can also help employees and volunteers work more effectively with a diverse customer base(McQuerrey, 2018). Effective sensitivity training focuses on activities that recognize and explain aspects of different customs, beliefs, value systems, and cultural takes on both personal and professional behavior.
Support of Affinity Groups
Creating and supporting affinity groups in an organization can promote cultural diversity in the workplace. Affinity groups are smaller subset groups within a diverse population(McQuerrey, 2018). For example, an affinity group among an organization’s Jewish population might include recognition of a conservative group that follows kosher eating rules and has a special kitchen set aside for its private, exclusive use.
Activities that support different cultural, racial, and ethnic groups within a community promote organizational diversity in a number of ways(McQuerrey, 2018). Activities that provide employees and volunteers with the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds raise awareness of cultural differences. Hands-on participation also provides insight into the nuances of diverse groups of people in terms of thoughts, perceptions, and belief systems.
Encouraging the recognition of holidays and occasions celebrated by people in different regions of the world provides a greater understanding of the values of various cultural groups (McQuerrey, 2018). Participants have the opportunity to explore others’ heritage in a fun, relaxed atmosphere and can learn to appreciate the similarities and differences between diverse groups of people.
Task 2.5 Summarise legal and organizational guidelines that govern diversity within the workplace
There are a variety of discrimination acts that are there to make sure that companies are adhering to the minimum standards, and indeed the legislation in place is wide-ranging and comprehensive. These acts include:
Human Rights Act
Sex Discrimination Act
Disability Discrimination Act
Race Relations Act etc.
Companies are legally required to adhere to certain practices that ensure discrimination is eliminated and expectations of equality are always met in the workplace (Barnard, 2017). The legislation in place is in existence to ensure that an inclusive working environment is always fostered and that any form of ‘difference’ should never prove to be an obstacle in career progression or indeed getting a job in the first place. All workers must be treated equally and be given the same set of opportunities regardless of their race, age, gender, sexuality, disability, culture, or anything else that might be discriminated against.
Every business organization is committed to achieving equality for all those who learn and work and wishes to develop a demonstrably fair and supportive environment that provides equality of opportunity and freedom from unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, gender identity (transsexual), marital or civil partnership status, disability, including mental health difficulties, sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, social class or offending background (Barnard, 2017). It is a matter of pride of the diverse community and wishes to encourage and celebrate its full contribution to social life where all colleagues are treated equally and with respect.
Under the Equality Act, people are not allowed to discriminate, harass, or victimize another person because they have any of the protected characteristics (Barnard, 2017). There is also protection against discrimination where someone is perceived to have one of the protected characteristics or where they are associated with someone who has a protected characteristic.