Statement of the Problem
Diversity, inclusion,leadership,high-performing teams,and productive work cultureare terms that have a common association. They are all terms that are found in current literature that relatesto organizations that are striving to become successful and competitive in the 21stcentury global market.As organizations work to offerhigh-quality services to customers, remain globallycompetitive,and producesuperior products, more focus is on ensuring that diverse and inclusive work cultures exist within their organizations. As advances in technology and the global economy have become more prominent, organizations have found it necessary to invest in ways to better serve their customers such as strategies to recruit and retain the best and most qualified employeesandmanagers who are highly skilled to embrace change and are able to draw on the diverse skills of employees,all of which involves examining the current state of their organizational culture and making necessary changes (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999).
Changing the culture of an organization in order for it to becomemore diverse and inclusive is not easy. It isimportantfor organizationsto (1) gain an understanding of currently occurring behaviors and experiences that are preventing the organizations from reaching targeted goals and (2) ensure that all employees are engaged in diversity initiatives that are promoted by the organization (Konrad, Prasad,& Pringle, 2006). According to Heitner, Kahn, andSherman (2013), organizations that have a priority of creating and sustaining diverse and inclusive environments and those thatlink their diversity efforts to the strategic plan of the organization are mostsuccessful.Menendez (2010)statedin his Corporate Diversity Report that 81.9% of Fortune 500 companies have formal written diversity strategic and implementation plansandthus haveexperienced improvements in talent retention, quality, creativity, productivity,job satisfaction,customer service,and work culture.
Studies Addressing the Problem
Research related to the issue of perceptions of diversity initiativesas factors for improving productive work cultures was conducted in the areas of (1) diverse and inclusive work cultures,(2) characteristics of highly effective teams,(3) workplace diversity initiatives,and (4) measures for assessing work cultures.A small group of studies related to diverse and inclusive work cultures revealedthat organizations that are working productively and utilizing diverse staff members benefit by increasing their standing in the community as well as globally. They become attractive places to work, thus increasing their abilities to recruit and retainadiverse staff and usually have a positive reputation for providing a diverse and inclusive working atmosphere. Such a reputation enhances the company’s ability to become more competitive in global and emerging markets. In organizations that are inclusive in nature, there are atmospheres of fairness, respect, equality, dignity,and autonomy.
These principles are promoted daily and are a natural part of how the organization does business (“An Employer’s Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace,” 2010; Mayhew, n.d.). Findings related to research in the area of workplace diversity initiatives can be summarized by first stating that diversity should be defined broadly and should include a rangeof initiatives that meet the needs of the specific organization. It is important for leaders to take the challenge of embracing and ensuring employees are engaging in initiatives aligned with the organization’s strategic plan and core values. Leaders must also ensure they are capitalizing on unique qualities, knowledge, skills,and expertise of their employees as a means to increase productivity within teams and their organizations. Incorporating diversity policies within every aspect of the workplace;providingopportunities for employees to engage in diversity workshops, trainings,and other activities; andknowing how to support employees in learning how to interact and work with diverse coworkers in work teams are all essential responsibilities of managers and leaders within organizations that are focused on diverse, inclusive,and productive work cultures.
Significance of Study
Much of the existing literature related to diversity and inclusion addresses areas that include specific demographics such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, religion,and level of education. Few studies have focused on staff member perceptions of diversity and inclusion initiatives as factors for improving the work culturein business organizations. Therefore, this study will fill a void in understanding diversity and inclusion initiatives as strategies for improving the culture of organizationsand willalsobe beneficial formanagement and staff in various organizations. Ultimately, it will help organizations to grow in terms of utilizing diversity and inclusion initiatives as they developeffective strategies to employ in creating high-performing work teams that positively impact productivity and performance.
Chapter 2 Diverse and Inclusive Work Cultures
Van Wyden (n.d.) stated that diversity and inclusion are issues complimentary of each other in the workplace. They work together and should be addressed in the workplace as such. Defining workplace diversity is contingent upon societal changing times. In the 1960s and 1970s, diversity was focused more on affirmative action and equal opportunity in the workplace. The focus was more on differences in race, sex,and gender. As society has changed overtime and the world has become more global, according to Van Wyden, diversity is definedin broader terms to include principles of equal opportunity whichencompass differences such as gender, age, ethnicity, race, cultural linguistic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, and intellectual and/orphysical ability. In addition, diversity refers to other ways people may be different such as life experiences, socioeconomic status, educational background, personality, marital status, religious beliefs, and family responsibilities. Diversity in the workplace involves recognizing the value of each individual while capitalizing on the qualities, skills,and expertise that each individual brings to the job(Mayhew, n.d.). Organizations benefit from a diverse workforce as different employees utilized their background experiences and ideas to contribute to the team. Managers and other employees grow and learn to work with and appreciate the contributions of different ethnicities, gender orientations, and other diversity dimensions.
Organizations thatare working productivelyand areutilizing diverse staff members benefit by increasingtheir standing in the community as well as globally. They become attractive places to work, thus increasing their abilities to recruit and retain diverse staff and usually have a positive reputation for providing a diverse and inclusive working atmosphere. Such a reputation enhances the company’s ability to become more competitive in global and emerging markets(Mayhew, n.d.). In organizations that are inclusive in nature, there are atmospheres of fairness, respect, equality, dignity,and autonomy. These principles promoted daily becomea natural part of how the organization does business on a daily basis (“An Employer’s Guide to Creating an Inclusive Workplace,” 2010).
Organizations today view diversity in the workforceasextending beyond antidiscrimination laws. Diversity in the workplace is viewed asameans for organizations to maintain a competitive edge in the global job market by focusing on inclusion and performance. Organizations have begun to recognize that diversity results in economic benefits when initiatives are aligned with their strategic plans, goals,and core values (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999).
As the workplace has become more diverse in terms of such dimensions as cultures, skills,and gender, it has become necessary to define diversity more broadly. Humphries and Grice (1995) defineddiversity as values; personality characteristics; education;language;physicalappearance;marital status;lifestyle;beliefs;and background characteristics such as geographical origin, tenure within the organization,and economic status. Additionally, other researchers have also defined diversity in broader ways reflecting today’s changing culture. Organizations have begun to recognize the need to change and incorporate ways inwhich they can utilize the unique skills and perspectivesdiverse employees bring to the workplace.