Leveraging Workforce Diversity through Human Resource Management Initiatives

Leveraging Workforce Diversity through Human Resource Management Initiatives

Mercedes Sánchez-Apellániz (University of Seville, Spain) and Rafael Triguero-Sánchez (University of Seville, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1812-1.ch022
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Workforce diversity and the benefits resulting from its appropriate management is a topic that must be addressed from a strategic and not an emotional perspective; and more specifically, from the Human Resources Strategic Management perspective. This chapter intends to explore the Human Resources initiatives and practices in use, analyze which of them can be employed, and which are more appropriate for an optimal management of workforce diversity, creating a competitive advantage for companies.
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Diversity As A Strategic Value

There is a widespread recognition of the value provided by a diverse workforce. It is related, among others, to an improved quality in management decision making (Beeth, 1997), more innovative problem solving thanks to the contribution of new ideas (Cox, 1994; Elsass & Graves, 1997), the possibility of gaining access to new markets since it reflects the diversity of clients and suppliers (Ford, 1996; Cox, 1994; Cox & Blake, 1991), an improved corporate image (Kandola, 1995), and, as suggested by the resource-based view, the development of a sustainable competitive advantage due to the use of valuable, rare, inimitable and irreplaceable (human) resources (Barney, 1991).

Valuable because firms must have jobs requiring employees with different skills and employees that differ in the skills they have. Organizations that exclude certain people as potential employees based on irrelevant factors limit their ability to hire employees who may master some skills others in the company do not have (McMahan, Bell, & Virick, 1998). Moreover, the availability of different skills is something valuable inasmuch as it has been proven that diverse groups are more effective in identifying problems and finding solutions than homogeneous groups (Watson, Kuman, & Michaelsen, 1993).

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