People often take the meaning of diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity etc, but the truth is that diversity has a much broader scope than that. Diversity is mainly related to the different kinds of human qualities that are present in each of us but vary on different terms. The various dimensions of diversity comprise of but are not limited to the following factors according to Loden & Rosener in “Work Force America, Managing Employee Diversity as a Vital Resource”.[sky]

•    Age
•    Ancestry
•    Gender
•    Physical abilities/qualities
•    Race
•    Sexual orientation
•    Educational background
•    Parental status
•    Work experience
•    Religious beliefs
•    Income
•    Marital status

The important thing is to understand how these factors influence motivation, performance and interaction of employees with others. Managing diversity basically means to understand the differences in people and acknowledging them as important aspects in the work place. This practice helps to enhance the “good management practices” and prevents situations of discrimination. However; good management alone cannot help you work with a diverse workforce, because it is often complicated to distinguish what part diversity plays in a particular spot of management. Managing diversity is a lot more than just observing the policy and legal requirements.

Fair vs. Same Treatment

It is a common belief amongst people that fairness means to treat everyone the same, but the main question that arises here is that, how can you apply this concept to a diverse staff? For instance, if employees are not proficient in the English language, though this may not affect the quality of their work, but spreading important information through complicated memos in English may not be an effective way to communicate with them. This process may lead to a staff member thinking that the communication procedure is unfair, if in any case he/she misses out on the delivered message. So while working with a diverse workforce supervisors and managers need to take proper care about the small things that may turn out to be big problems in the course of time.

Managing diversity is different from affirmative action

For all those people who think that affirmative action is the same as managing diversity, it is not the same. Affirmative action focuses on particular groups because of discrimination in history, whereas managing diversity is about maximizing the capability of all the employees to add to organizations objectives.

[adsense1]In the end; remember, diversity has become a very important part of all organizations today, mainly because of globalization; a lot of companies have offices in different parts of the world so keeping that in mind it is almost impossible to ignore diversity. When talking about diversity in your workplace, keep in mind that ignoring diversity costs the organization efficiency, time and money. In some cases it may lead to unhealthy conflicts in the organization between employees with different cultures, race, etc. Such problems may lead to loss in productivity, employee turnout, legal actions etc. which may cost the organization in terms of training costs and recruitment. The solution however is to concentrate on managing diversity in a way that would suit your organization in the best possible and positive way.