A summary of the paper shows that the debate focuses on the impact of implementing a diversity training program to fight workplace discrimination.
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Organisations implement diversity training programs as an afterthought when they have lost cases of employee discrimination. The paper discusses the advantages, disadvantages, and the practical implications of the diversity training program using different and practical examples.
The advantages of workplace diversity programs include the ability to transform individuals to enrich their knowledge, respond to social needs, improve intra-group and interpersonal relationships, address personal prejudice, avoid impulse management, practice personal accountability, improve problem solving abilities, become a better workforce, plan well, and attain greater levels of complexity for the organisation to achieve competitive advantage in its operations (Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter & Ng 2001).
According to DeFour, David, Diaz and Thompkins (2003, p.34), the disadvantages of the diversity training program include the people’s poor perspectives on culture and diversity, which increases stereotyping and fosters feelings of racism among employees.
According to Zeidner, Matthews and Roberts (2004, p.45), the academic perspective of the debate from the side of employee is based on the heterogeneity and identity of a diverse workforce, which from a practical perspective is influenced by the behavior and interactions among organisational employees.
The underpinning factors include leadership, comparative values, demographics, organisational culture, comparative attitudes, conflicts, individual psychology, and social psychology and their impact on workplace discrimination.
Adopting the diversity training program could have an effect on the approach organisations use to retain a pool of talented employees, their recruitment and retention capabilities and the effect on innovation, strategy accomplishment, and individual complexity.
Here, the manager’s perspective is based on the views by Salin (2003, p.1213), Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee and Podsakoff (2003, p. 900), and Mavin and Girling (2000, p.430) who argue that the role of the manager is to implement programs to empower people with the right attitudes and knowledge at organisational, group, and individual levels to fight and overcome workplace discrimination.
According to Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter and Ng (2001, p. 435), the next perspective is anchored on the organisational response to the impact of the legal and political environment, which introduce diversity training programs when they have lost cases against discrimination.
Colquitt, Conlon, Wesson, Porter and Ng (2001, p. 435) argue that managers focus on the diversity training programs as the most reliable diversity management tool. Organisations focus on organisational function, gender, cognitive style, and personality to improve the perceptions and behavior of employee towards each other and to make them cope with workplace diversity.
However, Chiaburu and Harrison (2008, p.1090) support opponents to both perspectives by arguing that diversity training might not be very useful, but are gateways of increasing discrimination at the workplace.
Chiaburu and Harrison (2008, p.1091) support the position with practical examples by affirming that when such a program was introduced in one organisation, the number of white women promoted increased and that of black women demoted increased.
In another organisation, students showed more bias towards older people, which made more people to develop ill feelings towards their colleagues and an increase in cultural diversity and stereotyping was noted.
From the debate, it is recommended that organisations can implement workplace diversity programs as the best approach to overcome stereotyping by strategically integrating the program into the culture of the organisation.
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Chiaburu, DS & Harrison, DA 2008, ‘Do peers make the place? Conceptual synthesis and meta-analysis of coworker effects on perceptions, attitudes, OCBs, and performance’. Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 5, no. 93, pp. 1082-1098.
Colquitt, JA, Conlon, D E, Wesson, MJ, Porter, CO & Ng, KY 2001, ‘Justice at the millennium: a meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research’, Journal of applied psychology, vol. 3, no. 86, pp. 425-450
DeFour, DC, David, G, Diaz, FJ & Thompkins, S 2003, ‘The interface of race, sex, sexual orientation, and ethnicity in understanding sexual harassment’, Academic and workplace sexual harassment: A handbook of cultural, social science, management, and legal perspectives, vol. 1, no.1, pp. 31-45.
Mavin, S & Girling, G 2000, ‘What is managing diversity and why does it matter?’, Human Resource Development International, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 419-433.
Podsakoff, PM, MacKenzie, SB, Lee, JY & Podsakoff, NP 2003, ‘Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies’, Journal of applied psychology, vol. 5, no. 88, pp. 879-900
Salin, D 2003, Ways of explaining workplace bullying: A review of enabling, motivating and precipitating structures and processes in the work environment. Human relations, vol. 10, no. 56, pp. 1213-1232.
Zeidner, M, Matthews, G & Roberts, RD 2004, ‘Emotional intelligence in the workplace: A critical review’, Applied Psychology, vol. 3, no. 53, pp. 371-399.