Pakistan is multi-cultural country and inhibits people of different ethnicity, race, culture, language, socio-economic background, and religion. Therefore the workforce available is much diversified in nature. With the increasing opportunities and trends for female education, more women are opting for work in organizations. In this perspective, diversity management becomes very important for organizations to better utilize the diverse workforce to increase organizational performance.
In this case study, we have reviewed literature to find diversity management issues and studied the management approach of different organizations, from medium to large scale, towards difference concepts of diversity management like equal employment opportunity, age diversity, gender diversity, language and culture diversity, etc., and what best practices are followed to handle with these issues. We have conducted a survey in Pakistani industry using a survey questionnaire to collect data related to diversity management and performed a quantitative analysis of data to find the trends and patterns of industry towards diversity management.
The definition of diversity has evolved from a focus on legal issues like race, gender, age to a much broader definition that include all kind of human differences. Different authors have defined diversity in different context. In general, diversity refers to dissimilarities among people due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economical background and capabilities (Jones and George, p. 115). Or diversity is the variation among social and cultural identities among people existing in a defined employment or marketing setting (Cox and Blake 1991).
Diversity management approaches are required to handle with important ethical and social responsibility issues that rise due to diverse workforce in organizations. Effectively managing diversity can improve organizational performance while failing to handle diversity issues well can bring an organization to its knees
Diversity Management (DM) in organizations is also important as there is substantial evidence that diverse individuals continue to experience unfair treatment in the workplace as a result of biases, stereotypes and overt discrimination. When managers effectively manage diversity, they realize that diversity is an important organizational resource that can help an organization gain a competitive advantage.
Since the 1960s, anti-discrimination social movements in the United States have made workplace diversity an important issue within a business context. Some scholars tend to focus on equal and legal perspectives, while others tend to focus on strategic- and business-oriented perspectives. Until the 1990s, DM issues have been dominated by Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Affirmative Action (AA) programs. Equal employment opportunity ensures that employment decisions (e.g., hiring, promotion, pay) are made without regard to legally protected attributes such as an employee's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Affirmative action programs, in turn, seek to remedy past discrimination by taking proactive steps based on race or gender and to prevent current or future discrimination. Scholars began researching the potential benefits of diversity as a business case (Gilbert, Stead, & Ivanchevich, 1999; Thomas & Ely, 1996; Surgevil, 2010) with contribution of studies which focuses on DM impacts on organizational performance.
Diversity is a natural phenomenon in groups and cannot be avoided without taking proper measures in this respect. All humans tend to be ethnocentric such that in intergroup relations people tend to categorize based on any attributes that are available (Triandis, Kurowski and Gelfanc 1994, p. 790). Mostly these categorizations are based on physical and social attributes. Attributes that are readily detectable, such as race, age, sex may be more likely used for categorization than less salient attributes such as education, experience, or personality characteristics (Katherine and Charles, 1998). Once evoked diversity results in stereotype, bias and prejudices behavior in group members that leads to poor process and poor performance (Stephan, 1985).
There has been extensive studies carried out by different group of researchers and different theories exist about the effects of diversity on group performance. Some researchers have argued that organizations can benefit and improve performance if diversity is properly managed. This theory is also known as 'value-in-diversity hypothesis' (Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991). While other researchers have shown strong evidence that diversity is harmful to group functioning and results in poor performance (Guzzo & Dickson, 1996). And some other researchers have concluded that diversity can be both beneficial for the group increasing opportunity for creativity as well as harmful with the likelihood that group members will be dissatisfied and fail to identify with the group (Milliken & Martins, 1996).
Researchers have used multiple theories to explain the effects of diversity management on organizations' working and performance. Following section discusses the most common theoretical bases for investigating diversity issues. These theories or their variants are used in a number of demography studies and are important basis to interpret diversity related empirical evidence.
Social categorization and social identification theories is based on assumption that individuals have a desire to maintain a level of self-esteem. This is done through social comparison with others. In making these comparisons, the individuals first define themselves by a self-categorization process in which they categorize themselves and others in social categories using features such as age, gender, race, status, or religion. This process permits a person to define him- or herself in terms of a social identity (Tajfer & Turner, 1986) as an individual or member of one group compared to other groups.
This theory is based on the fact that demographic composition of groups could result in variation in communication, cohesion and integration. Research has shown that similarity on attributes ranging from attitudes and values to demographic variable increases interpersonal attraction and liking. Individuals with similar background may share common life experiences and values, and may find the experience of interaction with each other easier, positively reinforcing and more desirable. There is a strong tendency among people to interact with people of similar characteristics
These theories propose that diversity in group composition can have a direct positive impact due to increase in the skills, abilities, information, and knowledge that diversity brings (Tziner, & Eden, 1985). Demographically diverse individuals are expected to have a broader range of knowledge, skills and expertise compared to homogenous individuals. Diversity promotes creativity in the workforce and adds new information. The positive impact of diversity becomes very important and valuable when the task benefits from multiple perspectives and diverse knowledge like product design, innovation, etc.
Effects of Demographic Diversity
Diversity has many aspects and research has shown that not every aspect of diversity is expected to have the same effects on the group performance. In this respect, mostly organizations face demographic diversity issues due to diverse workforce with respect to age, sex, race and ethnicity. In the following section, we discuss each of these issues and its effect on the organization performance.
Age is a visible demographic characteristic and may affect the group performance with respect to social categorization. Group members with same age group increase the likelihood that they have developed similar outlooks towards life, interpersonal attraction, shared values and shared experience. This results in more homogeneity among the group members and should improve group process. On the other hand, age diversity might result in communication issues, and social integration. However, age diversity may have positive effect on creativity and performance of group.
Social categorization and similarity/attraction theory suggests that gender diversity can have very negative effects on the group performance and working. The presence of individuals with different gender may result in cognitive biasing. However, the relationship between gender diversity and group process is based on the proportion of each gender in the group (Kanter 1977). In general, research in gender diversity suggests that it has negative effects on groups especially on males.
Racial and Ethnic Diversity
Research with respect to racial and ethnic diversity suggests that it has an overall negative impact on the group performance. For example, all participants exhibited lower level of group commitment when work groups mostly composed of minorities. Information and decision making theories suggest that racial and ethnic diversity may have positive effects on group. Similarity/attraction and social categorization theories predict that racial and ethnic diversity will result in decreasing interpersonal attraction and cognitive biasing, leading to less open communication and more conflict.
In Figure 1, dimensions of diversity are shown based on Loden's model in which individuals are distinguished in terms of primary and secondary characteristics.
Source: Loden, M., Implementing Diversity, 1996
Diversity management is planning and implementing organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized and disadvantages are minimized (Cox, 1993). According to this definition, diversity management purpose is to utilize diversity as a competitive edge by minimizing the negative effects of diversity through proper planning. In another definition, diversity management is considered a pragmatic approach in which participants anticipate and plan for change and do not perceive diversity as a threat rather view workplace as a forum for individuals' growth, skills and performance with direct cost benefits to the organization (Arredondo, 1996). Therefore diversity management represents a shift away from activities and assumptions based on affirmative actions to human resource management practices that reflect the workforce diversity.
Diversity Management Approaches
Traditional approaches of diversity management are based on 'discrimination-and-fairness' and 'access-and-legitimacy' themes which matches the demographic characteristics of people to those of marketplace (Thomas, D., 1996). Nowadays, the integration approach is used to manage diversity and the theme of this approach is to accept differences as part of group and appreciate diversity. Following figure depicts the evolution of diversity management approaches.
Source: Harvey & Allard, 2002
Diversity management initiatives require a change in thinking towards diversity and a paradigm shift in order to maximize its advantages. Diversity management approaches of organizations shall be based on following underlying principles to reap benefits of diverse workforce and convert it into a competitive edge.
Diversity management should work as a framework to position people as a necessary factor for organization success and promote dignity and respect among group members in organization. Diversity management should be evolved to strategic organization goal to influence all aspects of organization including leadership, management practices, marketing, product development, etc. Diversity management most important principle requires a complete shift in thinking compared to mere observing and understanding demographic changes in the workforce. It requires a re-evaluation of beliefs and assumption to manage diversity. Top management has to exemplify this shift of thinking for the management principle to be effective and employees are willing to become part of (Cox, 2001). In addition, a vision is an essential tool to implement the principles. Following figure depicts the relationship between diversity management and related princples.
Advantages of Diversity Management
Diversity management purpose is to maximize the potential of each diverse individual and use it for organization success. In this respect following are some of the advantages of diversity management:
' Highly motivated employees
' Innovation and creativity
' Cost reduction
' Organizational flexibility
' Problem solving
' Knowledge transfer
Workforce Diversity in Pakistan
Pakistan was born with diversity issues and unfortunately, is still struggling to reach an amicable settlement of these issues. After careful and realistic study of the events from the secession of East Pakistan in 1971 to current conflict in Balochistan, it can safely be said that Pakistan has not reached a consensual conception of the nation. Communities / ethnicities belonging to different cultures with distinguished life styles, languages and different identities have politically mobilized in recent and distant past to create major crisis for the state and the government such as demands for political autonomy, separation etc. using the instances / existing practices leading to exploitation of deprived communities and minorities. The literature review undertaken by the group members revealed a precious finding in this respect : 'Cultural differences do not become a cause for conflict until the state neglects or exploits it' and 'Ethnic conflict and violence are dependent on the political system which serves to either attenuate or intensify feelings of ethnicity'.(2)
In light of the task in hand, the above finding can be rephrased at an organizational level as 'Diversity issues do not become a cause for conflict until the top management (or simply management) neglects or exploits it' and 'Conflict among diverse individuals is dependent on the organization's diversity management policy or approach which serves to either attenuate of or intensify feelings of discrimination'
It is well known that 'General Work Environment' of an organization overlaps with its 'Task Environment' and managers simply cannot make decisions in complete disregard to changes or conditions in the 'Organizational Environment'. Therefore, it must be appreciated that attitudes and inclinations embedded in management practices, policies and thought process in general penetrate through and are carried by organizational members including top management. Further, an organization simply cannot exist as a 'Closed System'.
Avoiding indulgence into political affairs, the group members are in complete agreement that work-force diversity problems and related ethnic and ethical issues exist the organizations in Pakistan whether Public, Private or Non-profits get affected by these issues like other aspects of country's everyday life, and are not similar to diversity issues of Japan or USA.
Following are the some recent trends in Pakistani workforce in relation to diversity:
a. Globalization, emerging minorities, and multi-culturism have created a diverse work-force environment globally which applies to Pakistan as well. Differences like age, culture, disabilities, race, religion and gender have emerged in the organizations and people from different regions and cities with different culture, race and religion combine and work together which creates differences among employees in terms of thinking, norms, values and religion.
b. Minorities and women are emerging in workplace because the have realized that it is the only way for them to prove themselves and get their rights.
c. Increasing inflation and worsening economic conditions are also two major reasons due to which women in Pakistan have opted to work in large numbers. This has falsified the practices that were the part of workforce before when the traditional ways of work were followed and workforce was not diversified.
d. Elderly people are willing to do work even after retirement age due to increasing inflation and economic problems of Pakistan and to maintain their standard of living. This creates a blend of young and old people in workplace. They have different goals, values, needs and experiences which create conflict of interest in workplace.
e. Due to globalization and increased number of minorities, multi-culturism can be observed in workforce. Times are gone when individuals from minorities could only dream of decent or higher positions in the organizations or state institutions.
f. Different cultures prevail in Pakistan because it has five provinces which diversify the work-force. Culture impacts humans behavior. If different people from different cultures join the workforce, they will have different values and behavior. In such situations, there is a need to handle diversity.
g. The response to workforce diversity management in public, private and non-profit organizations is distinctively contrasting. Public sector organizations remain bureaucratic and confused while waiting for Government to start a drive for the purpose. Private organizations in Pakistan mostly focus on profit objective and opt to fulfill minimum ethical or legal requirements. Managers of Non-profits are mainly concerned with building a trustworthy picture of their organization for attracting donors.
h. The issue of gender diversity is prominent. Despite several concessions encouraging recruitment of women in workplaces, reluctance as regards treating them on equal basis and accepting their capabilities is glaringly visible. Instances and attitudes of harassing women are known to all.
i. The concept of a work-force diversity management policy based on transparent ethical principles and translated into organization's mission, governance principles, objectives, projects and day to day activities is found lacking.
j. The order of diversity found out by researchers is gender, age and ethnicity.
k. Female employees face more discrimination in private sector as compared to public sector mainly due to presence of Government Laws and their support.
l. Employees generally love to work where managers are just and unbiased while dealing with their subordinates.
m. Financial constraints and education level of women are key determinants of their participation in work-force.
n. Drastic changes are occurring in the proportion of women work-force as managers at school, college and university levels.
o. Pakistan is among the lowest ranked diverse countries in the world including gender diversity and female economic activities among the emerging economies of the world. As far as sectarian diversity is concerned, Pakistan falls in bottom five. The least diverse work-forces are in Poland, Pakistan, Hungary, Turkey and Czech Republic.
p. As per figures of 2009, male work-force of Pakistan was 41.91 Million and female work-force was 11.81 Million.
q. Articles 25, 27 & 38 protect the rights of Pakistani citizens for seeking employment by preventing discrimination on the basis of creed, race, religion etc.
r. A 10% quota has been affixed for women in public sector organization with a right to compete for the remaining 90%. A new law for protection of women at workplaces making it legally binding for public and private organizations to frame policies and frameworks in order to provide a decent work environment to female staff.
s. Almost 74% of total female work-force is employed in agricultural sector, 12% each in manufacturing and services and less than 1% in each of construction, transportation, law enforcement etc. Almost 69% of female work-force in Pakistan is from Punjab.
The purpose of this study is to answer the following questions:
A. What is diversity?
B. What are its effects?
C. What is diversity management?
D. What are diversity management approaches?
E. What are diversity management issues in Pakistani organizations?
For this purpose an in-depth literature review has been performed and survey has been conducted in local organizations to find the management approaches with respect to diversity management. The survey questionnaire consists of five sections that explore diversity management related approaches used in organizations.
' Data Collection Format: Survey
' Data Collected from: Organizations + Universities
' Gender: Male / Female
' Responses: ~40
' Major Targets: Experienced Professionals
o Male: 23
o Female: 6
o 62% between 26y ' 30y.
o 21% between 31y ' 40y.
o 55% between 6y ' 10y.
o 34% between 1y ' 5y.
Survey Results and Analysis
Survey was conducted successfully and results received were portraying the true picture of diversity implementation and actions taken for implementation in the organizations. Organizations usually are not following any strict code of conduct or any set of objectives to ensure diversity. Policies are not clear and employees usually are lesser aware of these policies. Equal opportunity policies are there but recruitment sections are not following the rules properly. Discriminations and favoritism are there and there are no procedures strictly implemented to avoid or eliminate these. Complaints procedure is not usually hidden but employees avoid using this channel as they think that this can create problems for them. Employees are also not satisfied the way complaints are handled.
Some statistical results collected from survey are as:
- Policies are not published very clearly so around 40% of the total employees are not aware of those.
- Complaints procedures are not clear so employees do not know where to and how to complaint (~40% of employees)?
- Complaints procedures are not reliable so employees do not rely whether complaint will be handled properly or not?
o Another negative point is that employees think they can be the victim of bullying, favoritism etc.
- Favoritism is widely spread. This is the thinking of around 69% of audience meaning that some specific employees gets more opportunities, rewards, benefits from others.
- Discriminations and harassment are made majorly based on gender which means that dominant gender takes advantage of their dominance and consider others as minority and takes additional benefit like additional work load, cutting jokes, passing comments etc.
- Harassment policy is usually very strict in organizations but complaints are not recorded due to un-reliable procedures. From the survey, we saw that 74% of total audience preferred not to complaint however above 80% has opted to personally experience the same.
- Organizations don't make any special setup for the special needs of anyone so intend not to hire anyone with such issues. (~62% of audience)
(To make people comfortable to give independent opinions, Instead of any Organization name, word 'University' was used in survey.)
Detailed results are enclosed here and some important are shown below in graphical form:
In order to move forward, we need to change our originating hypothesis which are primarily negative, emphasizing discrimination and victimization, to explore diversity from a more positive and proactive stance. Questions, such as when and in what ways diversity aids in organizational success, move the focus from management and control to opportunity and possibility. Examples include asking subgroups to describe how they would like to be treated, what they want others to know about them, and what aspects of their work environment would need to change to create a highly functional organizational context with diverse employees.
Based on our review, we conclude that it is challenging, but possible, to develop an integrative theory of diversity. Such an effort will require efforts for change that reflect the human will and experience. It is clear from our review that there are core human issues and concerns embedded in the diversity literature that could form the basis for such a theory. Diversity objectives should be set and ensured to be achieved within organizations. Few important objectives should be like these:
- Diversity in Leadership
- Adaptable work practices
- Diversity support
These objectives should be assessed regularly as well as progress in achieving these. These should be published in annual reports.
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