Diversity Managements

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LLH201 Legal Research – Semester

1 Literature review

This section first looks at different researches about the diversity managements that are conducted globally and in the United Arab Emirates in order to identify the benefits of having a diverse workplace, its challenges are also determined and the strategies that help to deal with these challenges are examined. As well as workplace diversity in UAE is provided. 

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1.1 Diversity 

Many authors have defined the term diversity in many ways. In 1995, Esty et al developed a general definition of diversity; they have defined diversity as accepting, understanding, acknowledging, valuing and supporting the differences between individuals such as education level, age, race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religious beliefs as well as sexual preferences (Esty, 1995). Likewise, Patrick and Kumar state that diversity comprises respect and acceptance, meaning that it should understand that each person is different and unique, and realize our changes and differences from each other. These could be in the same mentioned diversity factors. Moreover, they define Diversity as a collection of conscious activities which include the appreciation and acknowledging the interconnection of human beings, environment and cultures. (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). According to Algahtani, diversity is associated to differences and changes in information that reflect the background, education and communication style of a person in the workplace, and also on objectives and values. (Algahtani, 2013) 

1.2 Diversity of workforce 

Workforce diversity linked to the differences in individuals along with, race, ethnic heritage, sexual preference, religion and beliefs, physical and mental abilities, personalities and qualities, both gender and age cannot be reversed in the workforce of an organization. 

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1.3 Workplace diversity 

Diversity in the workplace is one of the significant phenomena of the present time. Which is refers to the differences among employees within an organization. (Rahman, 2019). This concept has lately accessed the textbooks of human resources and organizational behaviours and has become increasingly common in social media. (Prasad, 1997)  According to Shaban, workplace diversity relates to the wide range of changes between individuals within a company. That is associated with several factors comprising: culture, religion, race, gender, personality, ethnic group, education, physical form, family and marital status, origins, cognitive and communication style, and many more factors, (Shaban, 2016)    

1.4 Diversity management 

Such as the case of diversity, there are different diversity management definitions, it was defined as the organizational practices and policies to hire, keep and lead individuals of different personalities and backgrounds, whereas building a culture and community where everyone is fairly capable of achieving and attaining personal and organizational goals. (Syed & Tariq, 2017). Including as strategies to recruit and maintain talents from diverse experiences and backgrounds. (Cox & Blake, 1991) Because of the people’s migration around the world and globalization, the concept of diversity management has become more significant (Yadav & Lenka, 2019). It is considered as a business strategy that organizations adopt in order to recruit, retain as well as develop workers from various perspectives and backgrounds (Prasad, 1997). Moreover, it is a method aimed to create and retain a positive environment for working whereby employees’ differences and similarities are appreciated, in which they will be able to achieve their potential and raise their improvement to the strategic goals of the company. (Patrick & Kumar, 2012)

Studying diversity is important to business science as it affects an individual’s performance in organizations. Employees who are from the same culture act equally, whereas employees who are from diverse cultures act differently. (Vladi, 2007)

As reported by prior research some researchers have demonstrated that diversity can be viewed as an advantage to the organizations whereas other viewed that it can be a disadvantage. 

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2 Benefits of managing workplace diversity

Diversity is beneficial for organizations as well as for their employees; workforce diversity enhances the performance of an organization and increases its results (Hubbard, 2004). According to Armache, organizations that sincerely value people with diverse backgrounds are in a role not just to achieve a competitive advantage, but also to form the expectations of potential stakeholders of a diverse organization’s capability (Armache, 2012). 

Various companies favour diversity workforce for the reason that they frequently perform better than a non-diverse workforce (Adam & Sippola, 2007)

According to (Fjelkner & Ferlenius, 2004) the benefits resulting from successful diversity management can categorize into two groups; the first one is the internal outcome or effect of the organizational structural change resulting from managing diversity for an organization including increasing creativity and innovation, high quality problem-solving in a team, highly motivated employees and many more internal benefits. And the other one is the external outcome or effect on the organization environment including marketing aspects, recruitment and retention of human talent, increased organizational performance. 

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  • diversity management benefits with an internal impact:

2.1.1 Increasing creativity and innovation: 

Workplace diversity leads to innovative thinking in other words outside box thinking and motivate creativity, it allows workers to offer various perspectives and points of view for creative duties and tasks to be performed,  (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000) which will provide a wider pool of experiences, ideas, and perspectives, that will be beneficial to organizations to efficiently fulfil the needs of their business strategy and clients. (Greenberg, 2004). Another author state that a heterogeneous workforce has a greater level of innovation and creativity than the homogeneous one  (Egge, 1999) and that because of diverse points of view, ideas, arguments and meanings of the group diversity lead to more alternatives. (Adler, 2002 ), some of the organizational activities examples that are related to creativity and innovation are quality and process improvement, design of product and advertising. (Nemeth, 1986) 

  • High-quality problem-solving in teams 

Workforce diversity can raise income by improving decision making and problem-solving. Therefore, diverse teams have different backgrounds and a richer and wider life experience base in which to manage and handle problems and issues. In addition, the critical analysis of decision-making procedures in a diverse workforce is improved. (Gentile, 2004). Cultural diversity will definitely carry various viewpoints and increase the quality of decisions (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000), and also better profits. (AbdelHakim, 2008)

  • Highly motivated and productive employees 

The satisfaction of diverse employees is high when they receive positive treatment, in other words, their references are respected and valuated, this will raise the motivation among them which will lead to lower absenteeism rates and turnover rate that ends in cost reduction. (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000). Workers who are motivated can perform well and achieve organizational goals effectively and fast. (Gentile, 2004).

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  • drop in discrimination lawsuits 

According to (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000) effective diversity management can lead to a significant decrease in the volume of lawsuits filed as well as discrimination complaints counter an organization, including age discrimination 

  • Improved organizational performance and continuous improvement  

organizations can recognize a continuous improvement in all activities, related to successful problem-solving processes, better decisions, more alternatives, employees’ creativity and innovation, as well as the fluent transfer of information and knowledge. And with effective management diversity, workers will be the time execute better their duties and become more effective and productive and that lead to high organizational performance, especially economic improvements. (Fjelkner & Ferlenius, 2004)

  • diversity management benefits with an external impact:
  • Recruitment and retention 

Human resources recruitment, with the intention of attracting, recruiting and retaining the most talented and skilled human resources, can be considered as the organization’s main competitive factor. Due to the rising diverse labour market, organizations now have the opportunity to recruit employees with inadequate global skills as well as international knowledge backgrounds (Cox & Blake, 1991). Which mean talented individuals will be attracted to organizations that have effective diversity management practices including valuating their competencies, skills and their differences, they will be more likely to assist to the organizational objectives if they feel they are treated equally. (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000) 

  • Marketing aspect:

Based on previous research regarding consumer behaviour have clearly demonstrated that diverse socio-cultural influence on purchasing behaviour and marketing will rely to some extent on the organization’s ability to successfully recognize and react to the complexities of the culture of the workplace diversity. Organizations will benefit from diverse workforce’s distinctive preferences, perspectives and experiences where may perceive them as diverse segments of the market. (Cox & Blake, 1991). Therefore, diversity management understands the possible value and importance of market segmentation based on cultural identity categories. (Gentile, 2004). Employees with a diverse range of experience, skills and culture like cultural understanding and languages permit an organization to offer customer services internationally and promote selling goods & services. (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000). According to (Gentile, 2004) American newspaper companies use the participation of individuals from a vastly diverse range of cultural backgrounds and experiences in their meetings in order to realize marketing accomplishment. 

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3 Challenges of diversity management 

Despite the fact that managing a diverse workplace has various benefits for the organizations, it is not simple to get most of those benefits, many organizations have many challenges and issues to make employees from diverse cultural backgrounds, personalities and knowledge work effectively and successfully together. (AbdelHakim, 2008) So, managing workplace diversity also has its challenges. some of these challenges are:

3.1 A common definition of diversity  

According to (D’Netto, Smith, & Pinto, 2000) understanding what diversity exactly means is one of the greatest challenges that organizations nowadays face. Diverse management is more than just understanding human differences. This requires an appreciation of the value of it, the promotion of inclusivity and the battle against discrimination.

3.2 Communication difficulties 

the ineffective communication resulting from language & cultural barriers lead to lead to a less pleasant and efficient working environment within a diverse team, which will create a shortage of teamwork, demotivation, misunderstanding (Greenberg, 2004) and conflicts among the employees. These impacts can lead to higher challenges for decision-making processes. Not only all cultures yet to all individuals have changes and different and unique styles of communication.  (Fjelkner & Ferlenius, 2004)

  • Resistance to change

Another challenge that occurs in the diverse workplace is about dealing with cultural and social differences. There are still workers who would fail and refuse to acknowledge the reality that the workplace’s cultural and social compositions is shifting. Especially those who have the mentality of “we have always done it this way” which quiets new ideas and prevents growth. it will lead also to a lack of respect and accept the differences of others. (Greenberg, 2004). In addition, some of the employees refuse to accept others’ opinions as well as trust and commit with their colleagues who are from diverse backgrounds and cultures. (AbdelHakim, 2008). If diversity in an organization is not recognized, that because of the various rates and forms of discrimination that exist usually. Ethnic, cultural differences, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical and mental disabilities, religion, income are some discrimination types that do exist. (Nayak & Joshi, 2012) 

  • Aligning diversity management practices with unique organizational objectives

Implementing diversity management in a workplace is a big task because the objectives and the culture of each organization are different and unique from the others. And this is could be an overarching challenge for diverse organizations. (Greenberg, 2004)

  • Negative behaviours and attitudes 

Another challenge of managing diversity is the negative behaviours and attitudes which could be obstacles to organizational diversity and this is because they could destroy the work-life balance and the relationships of work and harm work productivity or the organizational performance as well as the morale. (Esty, 1995). The negative behaviours and attitudes in the workplace comprise the following bias or racism, discrimination as well as stereotyping, which can result in expensive litigation. (Nayak & Joshi, 2012)

  • High cost of diversity management

In order to raise diversity management in the workplace and to improve organizational performance could often be very costly. If an organization seeks to handle its diverse workforce efficiently, it experiences compulsory diversity training where managers, supervisors, and workers obtain lectures about how best to communicate with staff and consumers. Lately, there are plenty of programs of diversity management accessible, which organizations may select, considering the size of the organization and its staff, in addition, certain training programs demand a large cost of travelling and attendance. (Dike, 2013)

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  • Involvement of the leadership 

One of the most significant management challenges is leadership involvement. Leadership is the greatest important part of the change, which could be defined as an action that sets a path or aims to change the vision, that gives the vision a meaning of danger and significance. the leadership is responsible for several involvements that are related to the organization like building the vision, creating the design of the organization, building management philosophy and communication strategy and combining diversity management with the objectives of the organization which is not an easy task to implement. (Fjelkner & Ferlenius, 2004)

4 Strategies for effective diversity management  

To effectively manage the challenges and issues of workforce diversity, organizations should focus on identifying the diversity’s primary causes and discover that diversity management could solve the issue and improve problem-solving, organizational performance, and decision-making efficiency. There are 2 strategies for effective diversity management listed below:

  • The strategy of MBI (Mapping, Bridging, Integrating) for diversity management

MBI is a three steps model for managing a diverse workforce developed by (DiStefano, 2003). Those steps are: Mapping which means knowing and understanding the differences, bridging which means communicating over the differences and Integrating which mean creating synergy differences

Mapping is about recognizing the potential presence of changes or differences among the employees, then understanding them and trying to identify various circumstances in order to solve possible issues and challenges (DiStefano, 2003).

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Bridging is a way to interact more effectively. This includes 3 communication skills. Starting with the first skill which is to build a framework by inspiring diverse employees to understand and respect each other, also by making them feel they are more relaxed, productive and successful when communicating and working together. The second one is decentralization which involves both thinking and communicating from the angles and viewpoints of others. The last one is to refocus; it is done by building a shared hub from which all members of groups can think. (DiStefano, 2003)

Integrating differences of employees contributes to greater decision-making and execution. It demands involvement management, idea creating, and conflict resolution. Managing a diverse workforce could be raising from gathering different ideas and opinions from different employees. Which will lead to innovation and creativity. Diverse leaders and managers face difficulties to solve conflicts and that is because of the diverse employees who come from different backgrounds and cultures and have different opinions and ideas. Here it is the duty of the leader to secure that conflict and disputes will not impact the workforce performance. Lastly creating ideas comes when the employees achieve a level of innovation and cohesion that enables them to work on creative approaches as well as produce more than the defined targets.  (DiStefano, 2003)

  • The strategy of Higgs for managing diversity 

(Higgs, 1996) has determined a list of solutions to be accomplished in order to effectively manage and deal with diverse workforces. Firstly, it is important to understand the significance and consequences of cultural and national differences among employees. This means diversity in the workplace should be appreciated and valued. Secondly, a basis must be laid for acceptance and recognition of the factors of diversity including culture. Lastly, there must be a strategy for implementing and creating a diverse high-performance workforce that is ready to cope with diversity. 

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The case of the United Arab Emirates

Diversity management is especially significant in the United Arab Emirates considering the fact that the United Arab Emirates is the 6th country worldwide to host foreign immigrants with the highest number in 2017. As it has the most diverse residents in the Arab Gulf States as well as the Middle East region  (Warner & Moonesar, 2019) with 83% of the population are expatriates who come from around two hundred nationalities, and the rest seventeen percent comprises Emiratis (World Population Review, 2020), the United Arab Emirates has become home of a huge number of expatriates. (Haak-Saheem, 2016) 

The cultural diversity in The United Arab Emirates encourages its economic, intellectual social and growth and this is due to the fact that UAE is a country where over two hundred nationalities live all together in UAE and this is a source of strength innovation and productivity in the country, which mean organizations in the UAE are benefits from diverse minds and perspective. 

However, The United Arab Emirates are under massive pressure to hire and lead individuals with diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds adequately. therefore, skilful management of organizational diversity by multiple methods is considered a new goal within the United Arab Emirates. This leads to a growing need for the managers of the organizations in the UAE to recognize and implement the most suitable approaches for collaboration and diversity while dealing with an extremely diverse workforce. (Al-Jenaibi1, 2012 ). 

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The management of a diverse UAE workforce has raised an unprecedented challenge for the private sector. Where the UAE government using a new method to solve the challenges and problems of the management of diversity by using a partnership between the private and public sectors, as an economic model for pushing its strategic goals (Warner & Moonesar, 2019)

In order to identify the existing challenges and benefits of diversity management, the study examines the following research questions 

  • What are the benefits of having workplace diversity in the UAE?
  • What are the main challenges facing organizations and managers in the management of workplace diversity in the UAE?
  • What are the impacts of workplace diversity on organizational performance in the UAE? 
  • Do expatriates and locals have similar or different answers in their value and evaluation of the practices of workplace diversity in their organizations in the UAE? 
  • What are the solutions and strategies for managing diverse workforces in the UAE?

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