Managing a Diverse Workforce in Contemporary Organizations

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  • 0:45 What is Diversity?
  • 1:54 Managing the Workforce
  • 2:35 Flourishing Talent
  • 3:05 Communication
  • 4:05 Managing Viewpoints
  • 5:00 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rob Wengrzyn
Diversity is all around us and is a huge part of the business climate today. All companies strive for diversity, so they can have a unique perspective and look at issues through the eyes of their employees. This lesson will address diversity in a global setting.

Diversity All Around Us

The next time you are sitting in a food court, take a moment to look around you and see all the different cultures - diversity, if you will - of the people there. You will undoubtedly see people of varying cultures and backgrounds all in one place. Now, they are not necessarily working together as if they were in a company, but the mental image is important.

Keep that image in your mind and think about the challenges a manager would have managing such a diverse workforce. Compound that with the fact that some of that workforce might actually be in other countries, and you can begin to get an idea of how big the challenge is to be a global manager well suited for a diverse workforce.

What Is Diversity?

The goal of diversity in business is to have people of varying backgrounds, education, sex, creed and age all working in the same organization. This allows an organization to have an employee base of very different people that can bring different ideas and thoughts to the table. For example, let us say you had a company, and your employees were going to be painting pictures. If everyone in your company painted with the color gray, there would be boring paintings that all looked similar. However, if some painted with gray, yet others painted with red, blue, yellow and green, the pictures would be more interesting and different. That diversity allows your company to not just look at things one way or from one viewpoint but from many viewpoints.

Diversity is something all companies strive for, and they set diversity goals to help achieve it. These goals allow the company to be more well-rounded. Additionally, being diverse helps the company to attract a wider range of qualified employees, as, in a sense, it shows everyone can fit in at the company. This is attractive to potential employees because all of us want to feel like we belong at our place of employment.

Managing the Workforce

Managing a diverse workforce is not hard. It just takes a certain level of sensitivity and awareness to ensure employees work well together. We have to remember that we are talking about people from different countries and of different ages and genders. For a manager to manage this workforce in a contemporary business, he or she must understand a few basic aspects to ensure success:

  • They need to create a workplace where talent from different backgrounds can flourish and grow.
  • Language and communication barriers must be high on the level of importance to ensure everyone can communicate.
  • They must manage the varying viewpoints of each person within the workforce as they relate to gender, nationality and age.

Talent Can Flourish and Grow

As one would expect, different people grow and develop in an organization at different speeds and in different ways. In order for individuals to flourish, a manager has to be in touch with these issues. For example, someone from Ecuador might learn in a different style than someone from Canada. In order for the talent to flourish, a manager has to be able to tap into those differences and help a person grow. It cannot be one-size-fits-all, and a manager has to adjust to the needs of each person involved.

Language and Communication

Ever play the old game called telephone, where you get a group of people together, and one person says a phrase to another, and they pass the phrase on and so on until the last person repeats the phrase? Usually what the phrase started as and what it ends as are two totally different things. This little game may underscore the importance of communication, but it still shows it is very important.

It is no secret that communication is an important aspect of business. It can be tough to keep communication flowing, but when you add in communicating with people of different cultures and languages, now the problem becomes an even larger one. One a manager has to be aware of in order to be effective.

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