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Current Trends in Business Environment Essay


Introduction

The current trends in the business environment are changing due to increasing diversity in the modern workplace environment. According to Ireland, Hoskisson, and Hitt (2008), the emerging technologies in transport and communication has transformed the world into a global village. People can now move easily from one part of the world to the other, and communication has become simpler than it was in the past. The United States of America still remains the leading destination for immigrants moving from their home countries in search of greener pastures. A study by Ordóñez (2013) shows that most of those who migrate into the United States are people with a sound academic background keen on finding better opportunities in the country. Most of these immigrants, especially those from the developing countries, are often willing to accept lower salaries, making them more popular among employers.

The United States is a highly diversified country in terms of race and religion. Diversity is often reflected in the modern workplace environment. It is the responsibility of the management unit to find a way of managing this diversity. It is often said that diversity is a source of strength in an organizational setting because the weaknesses of one person can be addressed through the strength of another person. However, the truth is that bringing people from different social backgrounds together can be a very challenging process. People tend to focus on the differences that exist and ignore the benefits that the difference can create. Current trends in the business environment show that diversity is a factor that can no longer be ignored. In this paper, the researcher will look at the issue of diversity in the modern business environment and how leaders can manage it for the benefit of their organizations.

Understanding Diversity in the Workplace

Diversity in the workplace is an issue that, for a long time, has been ignored in most organizations across the world. According to Handlechner (2008), diversity is often looked at from the perspective of people from different races or religions. As such, an organization that has Whites, African Americans, Indians, and Arabs would be considered highly diversified. However, this is a misconception of the real meaning of the word diversity in the workplace. According to Peters (2008), diversity means any marked difference amongst employees within an organization. Even if a firm decides to hire people of the same race, diversity will still be evident in many areas.

Age is one of the most common factors that create diversity. Any organization that hires people of different age groups will be considered diversified. It is so because the approach of thinking of the youth under 25 years of age is very different from that of people aged over 50 years. Any normal organization that has over 50 employees cannot avoid this form of diversity. Gender is another factor that creates diversity within a company. The time when women were expected to wait for men to provide for them is gone. Women are currently just as successful as men in the corporate world. As such, it is common to find firms that hire both male and female employees, which is a manifestation of diversity.

The race still remains a major determinant of diversity in the workplace. However, it is taking a whole new dimension from what was the case in the past. An African American, born and brought up in Maryland, and a White American born and brought up in the same environment are likely going to have almost a similar view towards life because of the shared environment. However, a White who spent his whole life in Russia may not reason the same as the first two individuals given in the example above. As such, instead of looking at diversity from the perspective of skin color, it has become relevant to look at it from the angle of socio-economic and political background.

People who grew up in different social, economic, and social backgrounds are likely going to have different perceptions of different things in life. Religion is another factor that cannot be ignored in the current work within the American community. Islam is still wrongly viewed as a belief that is characterized by violence and, in some cases, terrorism. This is so because most of the radicalized groups or terror organizations all over the world identify with Islam. In the workplace, there is always the suspicion that a co-worker may be a secrete sympathizer or member of a terror group simply because he or she identifies with a given religious group. Such suspicion makes it difficult for the employees to integrate successfully. Physical disability, different political standings, and even the physical strength may be considered a form of diversity in an organizational setting. These factors make us different create an environment where people must learn how to be tolerant in order to have a sustainable workplace environment.

Historical Practices in the American Workplace Environment

In the United States, there has been a historical problem of social discrimination. Before the country gained independence in 1776, Africans were sent to North America to work as slaves in the farm and industrial sector during the industrial revolution. Whites who owned large plantations of various crops had exclusive rights over the African slaves and could do anything they wanted with them. They could not be tried in court in case they killed their slaves because that was their property (Paludi 2012). It was, therefore, deeply entrenched into the American culture that Blacks were slaves who were meant to serve the Whites.

As the caste system disappeared around the world, slavery was still a common practice. In the United States, the Whites were considered superior to any other race. In a workplace environment, such as in companies, there was a hierarchical order of command that was often defined by one’s race. At the top of the management, unit were the Whites. They were responsible for any major decision making process in an organization. The aboriginals were allowed to hold supervisory roles as they were expected to be the link between the Whites and the Blacks. At the lowest level in the Rank were the Blacks who most often held position that required limited skills but lots of strength. It was a social structure in the workplace that the society had embraced.

When the country gained independence, it was declared that all the American residents at the time of independence- including the Blacks who were at that time working mostly as slaves- would become American citizens with equal entitlements. In the Emancipation Proclamation, it was stated that all mankind were equal irrespective of their skin color. Although this declaration changed a lot in terms of how African Americans were treated, they remained at the lowest rank within any organizational setting. Until in the 1960s, there are so many privileges that that African Americans and people of color were denied because of the ‘Whites Only’ policy. At this time, it was possible for people of color to get access to higher education. However, their education would be of little help to them because the best they could be would be supervisory roles.

Critical decision-making processes were still meant for the Whites. However, the civil rights movements were revolutionizing the workplace environment. Civil rights movement leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mohammed Ali, and Malcolm X made great contribution in championing for the rights of the people of color not only at in the workplace but also in the socio-economic sphere. Leaders such as Malcolm X even championed for the use of violence to help ensure that people of color were treated with equal respect as the Whites. The government often responded with force to such revolutionary rebellions. In most of the workplaces, things started to change. People of color were getting more involved in higher positions than it was before. However, the pace of change was always slow. At the top, the Whites still dominated everything and it seemed that the society was comfortable with everything. The activities of the civil rights groups was a major course of concern to many organizations during this time as they tried to create changes that would make them appear positive towards the changing environmental forces.

In the twenty-first century, a lot has changed and the United States of America even elected an African American to the highest office in the country. However, the issue of diversity is still a major problem in most organizations across the country. The issue is not as bad as it was before, but sometimes it raises concern because of statements that others make or actions considered racially discriminative. Stereotype based on sex, religion, or age is also common in the modern American workplace environment. They often hinder the integration process because they create mistrust, suspicion, and sometimes hatred. Diversity can be of great benefit to an organization if it is managed in an appropriate manner.

However, the problem is that in most cases people dwell more on the negativities of diversity that the positive aspects. Some Fortune Five Hundred firms such as Yahoo are currently led by women, a sign that the workplace environment in this country is becoming increasingly tolerant towards diversity. As Peters (2008) puts it, the kind of environment in the workplace is a direct reflection of the society in which we live. The society has become more tolerant to people from diversified background and that is why the same is being reflected in the workplace. However, more still needs to be done in order to ensure that diversity do not affect normal operations of firms. achieving organizational success require unity and that can only be realize if people do not dwell on socio-economic, cultural, and racial differences.

How to Manage Diversity in the Modern Organizations

According to Paludi (2012), managing diversity in the workplace is one of the biggest challenges that firms face. According to Syed and Özbilgin (2010), firms often find themselves in situation where they have to employ people from different social backgrounds. It may not be possible for a firm to hire people of the same race, sex, religion, or social background in the current diversified American society. Success of a firm depends on the talent and skills of its employees. Companies are currently looking for these skills within the society without paying any significant attention to the socio-cultural factors. As such, it is necessary for firms to come up with ways of managing diversity in order to fight the existing negativities. As Handlechner (2008) says, this can be done using various approaches.

Workplace policies and regulations offer the first step towards creating an integrated workplace environment. The government of the United States of America has laws that prohibit any form of discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination is the most common way in which negativity is exhibited towards diversity. In line with national policies, a firm is legally required to come up with policies that prohibit any form of discrimination. Employees should be informed that they are required to desist from any form of discrimination in the workplace. Ordóñez (2013) warns that sexism is still one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace.

Some men have failed to appreciate that women are just as powerful as men, and therefore, deserve to be treated with respect at all times. Coming up with strict organizational policies may be one of the best ways of dealing with this problem. Employees should be made to understand that their actions have consequences. These policies should define corrective measures that may be taken against those who broke these laws. There should be a possibility of one losing his or her job if it is confirmed that he or she violates these laws repeatedly. They should be reminded that it is a legal requirement that this company protects all its employees from all forms of discrimination in the best way possible. Handlechner (2008) says that when people realize that their actions have consequences, they will act with restraint. They will strive to behave in a manner that is respectful towards other employees.

According to Syed and Özbilgin (2010), creating an integrated workplace environment is one of the most important roles of the management. This integration can only be created if employees from different social backgrounds are allowed to work together on different projects. If workers are given opportunity to choose those whom they would prefer to work with on various projects, they may prefer working with people whom they share a number of characteristics with because of prejudicial nature of human beings. However, it is the responsibility of the management to ensure that people of different gender and from different social background are assigned similar projects so that they can work together.

The more they work together, the more they get to identify areas of common interest. They get to understand that although they may have different social background, there are more factors that bind them together than those that set them apart. Working as a unit on various projects also helps in addressing specific stereotypes that often make some people be viewed with fear or hatred by another group. For instance, there is a wrong perception that African Americans are often violent (Syed & Özbilgin, 2010). When a White is allowed to work alongside African American, he or she will learn that the general perception that African Americans are wild people is not true. By eliminating these stereotypes, it is possible to create a workplace where there is more understanding among the employees.

The management should also make direct plea among the employees to fight all forms of discrimination in the workplace. It all starts with the actual activities undertaken by those in the top management unit. Recruitment of employees and their promotion should purely be based on merit. At the senior management level, there should be a reflection of diversity. It is important to convince employees to embrace diversity if the management itself is not doing the same. It should be seen that the management is serious with the issue of having a diversified workplace. If an employee is qualified for promotion, he or she should not be denied such a position on a narrow basis of gender, race, religion, or any other irrelevant demographical factor. When it is seen that the management is practicing diversity, it can then be possible for the top managers to remind all employees to avoid all forms of discrimination because it shall have the moral authority to do so.

End of the year parties are traditional practices in many organizations within the United States. Ordóñez (2013) says that such parties offer a perfect opportunity for firms to showcase the benefits of diversity and to enhance integration among employees. However, it is unfortunate that most firms often look at these occasions narrowly as times to be happy and celebrate success of their firm. On such occasions, the top managers should also make an effort to identify how diversity has helped their firm successful and explain that fact to the employees. The management must make employees appreciate that indeed having an integrated workplace is a factor that can help achieve the desired success.

Other organization-wide events should also be conducted with a clear concern towards diversity. The organizers of such events must be people from diversified background. Those who selected to give important speeches should not be from one section of the society. Handlechner (2008) says that affirmative action and its relevance in enhancing diversity in the workplace in still important. Although women have become so successful in the workplace that affirmative action is become almost irrelevant in the modern society, the truth is that men still dominate the socio-political and economic spheres of the society. As such, the management may consider embracing the concept of affirmative action if it becomes clear that a section of the society- especially women- is not fairly represented in the management unit.

Conclusion

Business environment is changing and firms are currently required to master these changes in order to achieve their desired success in the market. One of the areas that have experienced massive change over the recent past is the issue of diversity. People from all over the world have been coming to the United States of America looking for better employment opportunities. It means that the society will be getting increasingly diversified. However, studies show that many firms are still unable to manage the issue of diversity in an effective manner. Managing diversity in the workplace defines how successful a firm can be in the market. Achieving integration makes it possible for employees to work as one unit.

References

Handlechner, M. (2008). Managing cultural diversity and how to manage it within an organization. Munich, Germany: GRIN Verlag GmbH.

Ireland, D., Hoskisson, E., & Hitt, A. (2008). Understanding business strategy: Concepts and cases. Masontown, PA: South-Western Cengage Learning.

Ordóñez, P. (2013). Business, technology, and knowledge management in Asia: Trends and innovations. Hershey, PA: Business Science Reference.

Paludi, A. (2012). Managing diversity in today’s workplace: Strategies for employees and employers. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO.

Peters, A. (2008). Managing diversity in intergovernmental organizations. Wiesbaden, Germany: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Syed, J., & Özbilgin, M. (2010). Managing cultural diversity in Asia: A research companion. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Current Trends in Business Environment." September 3, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/current-trends-in-business-environment/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Current Trends in Business Environment'. 3 September.

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