Pros & Cons of Diversity Management in the Workplace

Andrea Lladro
Note by Andrea Lladro, updated more than 1 year ago
Andrea Lladro
Created by Andrea Lladro about 3 years ago
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Pros & Cons of Diversity Management in the Workplace

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Diversity management, a term that's become popular since the 1980s, is really a very ambiguous way to describe how your company is handling its diverse workforce. There are diversity consultants, diversity trainers, diversity experts and others who purport to be knowledgeable about any type of diversity--for a fee. Businesses are now bringing diversity management in-house by developing a new position which is usually connected to the human resources department functions. Meaning of Diversity Management Diversity management can include developing affirmative action programs, providing support to minority member groups in the workplace and resolving employee conflicts based on characteristics and traits that are not job-related. A small business might not experience issues pertaining to diversity until its workforce grows to a number of employees representative of diverse cultures, sexual orientation or national origin. Nevertheless, forward-thinking companies are looking at the future and what diversity will mean for their bottom line. According to Black Enterprise columnist Brittany Hutson, "As a leader, it is crucial to communicate how leveraging diversity is a skill and a strategy that needs to be utilized for the success of an organization." There are, however, pros and cons to diversity management and leading diversity initiatives in the workplace. Pros Proponents of workplace diversity cite studies that indicate diversity can have a positive effect on the company's bottom line. One of the main advantages to having a diverse workforce is the synergy that occurs between people from different backgrounds, cultures and work values. Collaboration among diverse populations can bring out the creativity in otherwise bland work teams. Employees feel good about diversity that occurs naturally, instead of forcing diversity into the workplace. If your company enjoys a reputation of fair employment and good business practices, recruiting a diverse pool of applicants is not at all difficult. The pros to diversity management include one very tangible aspect--the company does not have the additional expense of consultant fees. Compare the cost to hire, train and retain employees against the cost to outsource your diversity management. Staffing your human resources department with a diversity expert can be a much more reasonable way to spend money. Another pro is that the expert is easily accessed by employees and management. A consultant might not be available for consultations with individual employees. Your company's client base could increase because of your reputation as a business that values diversity in the workplace and among its suppliers and customers. Cons Opponents of diversity management in the workplace have valid arguments against diversity management. The common claim is that employees tire of being continually reminded of diversity through peer groups, work teams and recruiting methods. When diversity is the primary concern, members of nonminority groups sometimes feel excluded, and that minority groups are receiving preferential treatment. Another claim is the misconception that diversity and affirmative action are the same. Affirmative action can be voluntary or mandatory. However, mandated affirmative action is for government contractors required to achieve a diverse workforce through test outreach methods and other ways to reach a diverse pool of applicants. An article in the All Business website says, "Diversity is not about quotas or affirmative action. And it involves, in part, the conscious recognition of the changing face of our nation and the economy in which we operate." The opposition to diversity management manifests itself in many ways. The most detrimental is an employee who is resentful concerning diversity. Some employees believe that mandatory diversity training is not a panacea for the workforce, and therefore, any type of training is useless. Cost is an important concern. A small business in the beginning stages of developing a diversity management program might need to hire an expert to develop the program. There are millions of dollars to be made in the diversity consulting business. Therefore, many diversity experts charge thousands of dollars to implement a diversity program. Still, the business isn't guaranteed it will receive any type of metrics concerning the effectiveness of a new diversity management program.

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