Diversity in Organizations if We Are to Essay

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Diversity in Organizations

If we are to successfully change organizational members' attitudes and perceptions toward people from cultural groups other than their own, then we must start by examining how to effect that change so that it is implemented through all four layers of diversity. The approach that this paper discusses is based on the following model:

Individual Behaviors -- Group Behaviors -- Organizational Behaviors

This paper analyzes results of diversity training studies and provides direction as to the optimum approach to modifying the diversity climate within an organization.

A Time magazine article reported on the efforts of researchers who sifted through decades of federal employment statistics provided by companies (Cullen, 2007). Their analysis showed that there was no real change in the number of women and minority managers after companies began diversity training. When the study results are analyzed more closely, one finds that how well companies promoted a diversity climate was a function of the type of training that they provided. For example, companies that implemented mentorship training programs produced striking results:

"At companies that assigned a person or committee to oversee diversity, ensuring direct accountability for results, the number of minorities and women climbed 10% in the years following the appointment. Mentorships worked too, particularly for black women, increasing their numbers in management 23.5%. Most effective is the combination of all these strategies (Cullen, 2007)."

What these results tell us is that when diversity training is imposed upon the individuals of an organization by the organization, few behavioral changes result.
Change occurred only when individual managers were given or took responsibility for fostering diversity programs that included direct employee involvement, such as mentoring and networking.

The Washington Post reported on the same study (Vedantam, 2008). They reported that the kind of diversity training exercises offered at most firms showed the following results:

A 7.5% drop in the number of women in management.

10% drop in black female managers

12% drop in black men in top management positions

Similar numbers were reported for Latinos and Asians

The Post reported that diversity training programs work best when they are voluntary and focus on specific organizational skills, such as establishing mentoring relationships and giving women and minorities a chance to prove their worth in high-profile roles. The Post article explained that survey results showed that when diversity training is voluntary and undertaken to advance a company's business goals, it was associated with increased diversity in management. According to Alexandra Kalev, who led the research,

"When attendance is voluntary, diversity training is followed by an increase in managerial diversity. Most employers, however, force their managers and workers to go through training, and this is the least effective option in terms of increasing diversity . . .Forcing people to go through training creates a backlash against diversity." (Vedantam, 2008)

One can conclude from these studies that the best way to achieve increased diversity at the organizational level is by affecting organizational member's individual attitudes. This type of change begins with changes.....

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