Diversity Management: Bringing Equality, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Diversity Management: Bringing Equality, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace

Rossella Riccò (OD&M Consulting, Italy)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0047-6.ch015
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Abstract

Despite twenty-five years of debates and researches on how to devise efficient, effective and equitable ways to manage people's diversities in organizations, professionals and academics have produced neither a shared definition of diversity management nor a general accepted assessment on the outcomes that diversity management can deliver for organizations and persons. Very often the concept of diversity management remains unexpressed and unexplained leaving people unsure on its meaning. The aim of this chapter is to expand the understanding of diversity management by systematizing it on the basis of McGregor's new human relations framework. The proposed definition implies to bring equality of opportunities, equity and inclusion in the workplace and allows to revise three causes of criticism ascribed to diversity management, namely, the lack of theoretical foundation, the vagueness of the concept, the reduced anti-discrimination force compared to equal employment opportunities.
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Introduction

The increasing diversity of markets, customers and workforces is one of the main characteristics of global society1. Factors such as demographic changes, international and national anti-discrimination measures, globalization, service-economy shifts, stakeholder pressures on organizational commitment to corporate social responsibility, and technological advances are heightening the international attention paid to the increase in people’s diversities, thereby fostering discussion on their management in organizations. Academics have defined “diversity” in rather different ways (Barak, 2008; Carnevale & Stone, 1994; Cox, 1994; Kandola & Fullerton, 1998; Kossek & Lobel, 1996; Milliken & Martins, 1996; Thomas, 1991; Zanoni & Janssens, 2004). Here, by “diversity” is meant the multiplicity of differences and similarities that exist among people (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2004) and which, combined together, create each person’s multiple and intersecting identities. These identities define a person’s uniqueness, which is expressed in how s/he lives with, sees, and relates to other people and to the world in general. Kossek and Lobel (1996) emphasize that each of these potentially overlapping identity group memberships can affect an employee’s attitudes and behaviors in the workplace, as well as influence his or her ability to work well with other organizational members (p. 2). According to Thomas’s idea that diversity is inherently neither good nor bad, but rather a reality (2004, p. 10), companies have to gain a sense of how to plan and implement organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimized (Cox, 1993, p. 11). This induces organizations to shift from a management undifferentiated in terms of strategy, policy, solutions and tools to a “conscious” diversity management (Thomas, 1990; Worman, Bland & Chase, 2005). Even though since the beginning of the 1990s professionals and academics have been trying to find efficient, effective and equitable ways to manage people’s diversities in organizations they have produced neither a shared definition of diversity management nor a generally accepted evaluationt, be it positive or negative, of the outcomes that diversity management can deliver to organizations and persons (Curtis & Dreachslin, 2008; Janssens & Zanoni, 2014; Kirton & Greene, 2005; Shen, Chanda, D’Netto & Monga, 2009; Theodorakopoulos & Budhwar, 2015; Zanoni & Janssens, 2004). Therefore, academics are divided into two main groups: those who support diversity management on the basis of the so-called “business case”, and those who adopt a more critical approach to the issue.

In order to systematize the concept of diversity management using the new human relations framework revolving around McGregor’s thought (2006), this chapter proposes a definition of diversity management and explains it in depth. The proposed definition shows that diversity management brings equality, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Moreover, it allows us to revise three causes of criticism which are often ascribed to diversity management, namely, the lack of theoretical foundation, the vagueness of the concept and the reduced anti-discrimination force compared to equal employment opportunities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Integration: The process whereby people’s diversities are combined in the organization to create new ways of communicating, collaborating, analyzing and coping with situations.

Inclusion: A personal perception of belonging felt by people when they perceive to be respected in their entirety and integrated in the organization.

Diversity Management: An organizational approach aimed at achieving better organizational results by creating a non-discriminatory, equitable and inclusive work environment.

Inclusive Workplace: A workplace characterized by mutual respect, individual commitment and cooperation, where people’s diversities are recognized, respected, enhanced and integrated, and individual needs are taken into account. In an inclusive workplace, people have the voice, space, responsibility and resources with which they can actively contribute to improving organizational results by means of their uniqueness.

Equity: Fairness, honesty and accuracy perceived by employees in the organization with reference to the outcomes obtained through their work, and the processes followed to define those outcomes, as well as the quality of interpersonal treatment.

Theory Y: A managerial approach proposed in 1960 by McGregor. It focuses organizational attention on persons and their proactive participation in the organization. It maintains that organizational goals can only be achieved through the availability of committed employees and through the integration of the organization’s and the individual’s needs.

Diversity: The multiplicity of differences and similarities that exist among people and which, combined together, create the uniqueness of each person.

Equality: Recognizing to all people that have the same competences, level of talent and willingness to use them the same chances to enter and develop within the organization.

Business Case: The number of economic, competitive and reputational reasons ascribable to a more differentiated, efficient, effective and equitable way of managing people’s diversities.

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