IntroductionThe term ‘diversity’ here is used to mean both a diverse workforce as well as the diversity of stakeholders, i.e. both in the internal and external environments. The effectiveness and success of diversity management strategies that an organization adopts depend on whether HRM is vigilant and creative enough. Mathis and Jackson (2004) concur that it is the HRM that defines and oversees the implementation of policies and roles that ensure strategies adopted an in lie with the broader organizational objectives and goals. However, in the contemporary organization, both the marketplace and the workplace have come to present even greater challenges.
The challenge, argue Schuler et al (2002), lies in reconciling the two, i.e. meeting global objectives and attaining responsiveness from the internal environment. According to Thomas (2008), organizations do develop in line with the culture that dominates at any particular point in time, i.e. organizational culture changes with the scope of focus. In other words, as focus shifts towards the global platform, so must its culture so as to cater for a diverse pool of stakeholders. This is especially necessary so as to maximize the potential of all stakeholders, what Thomas (2008) calls ‘stakeholder value’.
On the basis of these factors, many HRM experts have proposed certain strategies for human resource development to enhance the organization’s capacity and ability to meet broad social goals such as diversity, i.e. address the issues of equal opportunity versus social exclusion. This paper explores the various aspects of diversity both in the organization’s internal and external environment, what implications such aspects have on organizations and the HRM, and finally offer suggestions on what HRM can do to deal with such issues.
Diversity: culture and ethicsThe contemporary marketplace has seen competition become increasingly stiff. Thus, to gain the upper hand, i.e. have competitive advantage, most organizations have been prompts to find novel ways of surviving. The novel ways/strategies must be effective, efficient and productive. These depend on how innovative and flexible such strategies are. This does not mean that the traditional/conventional become void. But they must be redefined within the contemporary context and be accompanied by an organizations’ capacity and ability to manage people effectively and successfully.
This management of people (human resource) includes hiring and retaining a talented and competent workforce supported by HRM competencies, reflected in the established policies and accompanying practices (Kundu & Vora, 2009). This talented and competent workforce, assert Kundu & Vora (2004), is the key to gaining a perpetual competitive advantage. The hiring and retaining of this workforce should take into account the circumstances in the external environment. This is in line with Schuler et al’s (2002) call on reconciling both the internal and external environment. To achieve this, Cascio (2006), argues that the HRM must provide important and significant effects for the survival of the organization, i.e.
productivity and performance. The HRM strategies therefore involve both the identification and analysis of the needs of its workforce and other stakeholders. One of the elements of diversity is culture. Broad as the concept of culture is, one fact is that it defines people (in terms of individual values, nations, professions, etc), and thus influences how people perceive the world. In relation to organizations, culture can be viewed from two main dimensions: society and organization, i.e.
societal versus organizational culture. These two are both significant. Societal culture does impose itself on the organizational culture as much as organizational culture imposes itself on the societal culture. The ideas that underlie the policies and practices of HRM are perceived differently by people of different cultural origins. In other words, diversity management can be said to be the attempt to reconcile the two. But before such a reconciliation can be achieved, it is important of understand the aspects of culture that cause the strain between the two.