This paper examines the concept of diversity and inclusion and their importance in staffing. The author gives the definitions of diversity and inclusion and provides a historical background of their emergence. The research also analyzes the levels of these concepts as well as their influence on the workforce and the performance of business. It is substantiated that diversity and inclusion, even though they are different concepts, should be applied in a conjunction for the achievement of the best result in team management and boosting productivity of the firm.
With globalization and strengthening of human rights, liberty and freedom of expression around the globe, society has become unique and quite diverse. These values have also made it possible to realize that if managed correctly, the workforce, combined of people from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, and lifestyles, can dramatically boost productivity, performance, and competitiveness of a firm. This fact as well as the growing necessity in finding flexible and revolutionary ways for team management and staffing has led to a great interest of businesses in implementing diversity and inclusion practices. Nevertheless, to understand how organizations ensure diversity and inclusion in their work as well as to see their impact on businesses, a more detailed analysis of these concepts is needed.
The term ‘diversity’ is used to describe the environment or a workforce that is combined of the people who have distinctions among themselves and who retain those differences while being united at the same time in a single team. In particular, Hays-Thomas and Bendick define it as a “mixture of attributes within a workforce that affect how people think, feel, and behave, and how others respond to them.” Out of this definition, one can see that diversity is not formed merely by the visual differences between people, but it is rather a broader concept that takes into account even inner distinctions of people.
According to Hays-Thomas and Bendick, the formation of the concept of diversity began in the 1960s. At that time, the world witnessed an increasing number of human rights movements and numerous attempts on the legislative level to ensure equality in the work environment. For instance, the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the United States made it illegal to employ discrimination in hiring based on such factors as race, gender, and disabilities. In fact, this legislative act in fact had a tremendous impact on the equality and employment rights of minorities and women, as well as encouraged human rights activists to struggle for introduction of even greater antidiscrimination practices in businesses.
Hays-Thomas and Bendick also suggest that only in the end of the 20th century, it became evident that diversity in the workforce should be ensured while considering not only physical distinctions, and this concept had to be expanded to non-visible traits. Social movements forced businesses to look broader on what made team members different and ensure diversity of not only observable characteristics. As a result, the concept of diversity was expanded to include inner differences among people such as their religious beliefs, sexual orientation, education, and even personality traits.
Diversity represents a complex set of distinctions between people and refers to all aspects of personality – visual appearance, experiences, way of thinking, and individual’s self-understanding. In this matter, Lew defines four dimensions of diversity such as internal personality dimension, unchanging and evolving external dimensions, and organizational dimension. Each of the dimensions represents different aspects of personality, and it has to be considered by the organization in shaping the strategy for implementing diversity in the workforce. For this reason, it is necessary to examine the specifics of each dimension and define traits that they include.
Internal personality dimension represents psychological traits of a person that are given at birth and further shaped by the environment and experience the individual accumulates throughout his life. These include habits, religious and political beliefs, educational background, knowledge of languages, dispositions, and interpersonal skills. Lew also refers to Myers Briggs type indicator as an effective tool that is often used to assess personality of individual in recruiting process. This indicator considers the following pairs of traits such as introvert and extrovert type of person as well as the reliance upon sensing and intuition, feelings and logical conclusions, judgements and perceptions.
As Lew claims that while unchanging external dimension shows innate physical traits of a person, such as his race, gender and ethnicity, the evolving external dimension reflects the characteristics that can be affected with or without the will of the individual. They can include age, body constitution, physical strengths and appearance, sexuality and even outer expression of the belonging to a particular gender.
Finally, the organizational dimension represents characteristics of an individual that are linked with his management position, professional functions and experience, seniority, and even location of work. At this level, Lew is of the opinion that an individual can directly control his working position, yet the greatest influence on the belonging of this individual to a particular group in organizational dimension is made by the company he works for. This layer is crucial for the staffing and recruiting processes since is usually determined by a combination of internal and external dimensions, and it can have a retrospective influence on these dimensions as well.
Diversity ensures that no discrimination is applicable in the company. Therefore, according to Nelson, diversity has reached the peak of its importance thanks to the observation that diverse workforces produce better results and address challenges that arise before the team more effectively. In particular, this is caused by the ability of people to learn while interacting with each other, share thoughts and ideas as well as resolve business cases with a greater range of perspectives.
The positive outcomes of diversity can also be supported with statistical data. Thus, Nelson informs that the companies with high percentage of female managers show better financial performance; in the period from 2007 to 2009, these companies have received the 41% increase of returns on equity as well as the 56% rise in earnings as compared to the companies that have homogenous male management teams. The same results and increase in the number of customers appear if the workforce is staffed with representatives of different races and ethnicities. According to Nelson, diversity also has a tremendous impact on the innovation for businesses, and since 1980, even the number of patents coming from multicultural and diverse teams was 42% higher than in homogenous and low-diversity businesses.
Nevertheless, despite all the positive outcomes of diversity in the workforce, this concept in recruiting and team management can cause negative and unintended outcomes as well as face challenges. In particular, the intense focus on diversity in recruiting can cause unconscious bias and stereotypes. Furthermore, she suggests that in most cases, stereotyping is not reported, and unconscious bias is very hard to detect. As a result, the focus on diversity in hiring and trainings, as well as high level of latency of stereotyping, can result in legal liabilities for the company, where employees can feel offended by the increased importance on their racial, ethnic, and sex specifications instead of their compliance with formal work-related skills.
Years of attempts to integrate people from different backgrounds and promote diversity in businesses have seen only limited success. In fact, pure diversity practices often result in the inability of the workforce to accept differences, decreasing trust among employees and leading to subsequent exclusion of diverse social groups. For this reason, the concept of inclusion has emerged, and it was called to ensure active participation of all team members in the business processes, regardless of their belonging to a particular minority or the differences they had.
Nair and Vohra refer to the definition of inclusion that indicates to what extent people are engaged in the work process and the team, as well as the degree of their influence on decision-making in all levels of the business. Thus, while diversity is oriented mainly at filling the workforce with people of many visible and inner distinctions, inclusion is used to empathize the importance of active participation of people and their integration into a single and effective team, while retaining their differences. In this matter, inclusion is a logical extension of the concept of diversity, and it serves as a mechanism for the effective maintenance of diverse workforces and support of the individualism of employees at the same time.
Levels of inclusion directly depend on the extent, to which an individual is accepted, recognized, and respected by the group for their psychological and external differences. Thus, Nair and Vohra define the levels of exclusion, differentiation, assimilation and inclusion. Each level can be characterized with a combination and degree of belongingness and acceptance of distinctions of a person in the workforce. For this reason, a more thorough analysis of the levels of inclusion is needed.
Further, Nair and Vohra suggest that level of exclusion appears in the instances, where the workforce and the management of the organization treat the employee as an outsider and create a feeling of insufficient belongingness, causing an individual to accept dominant rules, beliefs, and give up their own. When this level is poor, but the person is recognized as an insider and their differences are well recognized, the differentiation level appears. In fact, this can result in the increased stereotyping practices, and with time even, it can worsen to the total exclusion of diverse element from the workforce.
In regards to assimilation, Nair and Vohra suggest that it can take place in the case an individual is given a high level of belongingness, while his personal distinctions are ignored and not recognized by the organization. In this case, an individual must get along with the team and take up the dominant characteristics in exchange of their own. However, the inclusive environment, in its turn, appears only with the combination of both of these factors, when the person is treated as an insider and their differences are well respected, while the management of the company encourages the person to keep them.
To implement the diversity and inclusion practices in recruitment and staffing of the workforce, businesses have to elaborate the strategic plan of actions, and they should be based on a previous research of the existing policies of the company and be directed towards particular goal. In this regard, Saleem offers a guideline that starts with a review of a business plan and building a vision for the organization. As a next step, the author proposes to survey and interview the senior management of the company and the workforce about the current issues that prevent diversity in the team and cause conflicts. Furthermore, the investigation process should take into account the understanding of the employees of how they see possibilities for a more inclusive environment.
Saleem suggests that with an explicit list of concerns from the staff and management, the next steps provide an analysis of the current challenges and assessment of effectiveness of the measures used by the company. The composition of a plan and the establishment of measurements for its evaluation allow identifying weaknesses rapidly and proceeding further down the guideline, getting a wide talent pool. Another step provides the engagement of competent leaders in overseeing the diverse workforces for the identification of room, where a wide focus on inclusion is needed. As a result, the company will be able to have a combination of diversity and inclusion practices working alongside, where the latter serves as a mechanism for maintaining diversity in the team.
Diversity and inclusion are distinct but highly interrelated concepts that are used in staffing and recruiting for composing a team of people with unique and different backgrounds and the management of interpersonal relations in such diverse environments. While diversity is oriented mainly at filling the workforce with the people of different visual and inner distinctions, inclusion has been developed as a logical supplement to the former. Thus, itis called to ensure that all people in the team, regardless of their differences, can be equally engaged and valued in the organization. Therefore, positive results in staffing can be achieved only if businesses take both concepts into account.