Paradigms of Diversity
by Marten Hoyle
The point of the article, “Making Differences Matter: A New Paradigm for Management Diversity” by David A. Thomas and Robin J. Ely is that a workplace with diversity will cause a business’s success to raise. Diversity in the workplace will boost the morale of workers and improve a business’s output by giving access to whole new marketplaces and to increase productivity of the existing marketplace. The article will describe paradigms which have effectively worked in the area of diversity and introduce a new idea for the integration of diversity in the workplace.
Why be concerned about diversity? To begin with, it offers an increase in profitability. It opens doorways to new learning opportunities, creativity and flexibility. Diversity offers structural and individual growth. The article states that diversity represents effectiveness. However, sometimes women and people of color are set in their own individual sections and trapped in jobs the work of which focuses primarily on their background, which limits the efforts of bringing diversity into a better light in which differences are not being concentrated on. Sometimes people are judged by the way they look or the places they come from. It is considered a good thing that diversity will bring “varied perspectives and approaches to work that members of different identity groups bring.” Diversity is anything which shows variety or differences, but it is necessary not to allow those differences to separate us.
The argument of the article is that it is necessary to take a new approach towards diversity in order for a business to flourish.
The dictionary defines a paradigm as an example of a pattern, or a model. There are three paradigms in this article. They are: The Discrimination and Fairness Paradigm, the Access and Legitimacy Paradigm, and finally, the Learning and Effectiveness Paradigm. Each connect diversity to the approach of work.
The Discrimination and Fairness Paradigm focuses on equal opportunity and fair treatment with “Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Requirements.” Under this paradigm new groups of people are being introduced into the workplace. In its structural approach, The Discrimination and Fairness Paradigm reflects society. Unfair treatment is avoided, but the paradigm follows the usual lines for affirmative action. Employees are trained to appreciate the backgrounds of others. It does not draw from things such as the color of the skin, the sex or sexual orientation of an employee in order to be more effective. The progress of this paradigm depends on how the company brings people of diversity into the workplace. The problem with this is that the staff is being concentrated on while the goal of the business is not. According to the article, with this paradigm there is the risk that only the staff will become diverse, not the work.
The Discrimination and Fairness Paradigm is led by people who value equal treatment. An increase in diversity is the goal. However, the process can stop people from identifying with work. Women and other minorities may feel they are being left out and given little authority as in the Iverson Case.
The Access and Legitimacy Paradigm is an acceptance of differences that even “celebrates” diversity. An example of a benefit from this paradigm is having bilingual members who can communicate with clients of their background thereby offering more to the company. There are more opportunities for people of different backgrounds and for women. The whole company can comprehend the approach as the approach itself is to look at the role of cultural differences and to add the capabilities of others into work without really paying attention to one another’s differences. However, this approach may not show precisely what the differences between groups are. The employees might not understand the “subtleties” of every culture’s determination and ethics.
In this paradigm the leaders may also have a difficult time. They may not be able to see the specific skills of people from other cultures. They have no idea how exactly the organization can benefit from these differences. The efforts of each group will be different but will not be focused on. In the case where the business was spread across America and European countries, each company became its own individual “spin off.” The organizations couldn’t understand each other. They had no idea what kind of small but significant differences in work ethic were featured between the different cultures. Some employees have even believed they were being exploited due to the fact that diversity is sometimes only applied to niche markets.
The Emerging Paradigm offers fresh perspectives. There is an example of a Hispanic lawyer being introduced into a firm of all white-male lawyers. She brought whole new opportunities through introducing cases the employees had not even thought of before. The approach goes over “Assimilation and Differentiation” by promoting opportunities to everyone and giving emphasis to the value of differences between employees. When a business does this, the business will grow.
There are eight preconditions to the Third Paradigm.
1.) Leadership must understand diverse workforce.
This is about making a link between different groups to know how to correctly and efficiently do work. It means finding different perspectives and approaches along with valuing variety and opinions. We must also be open to the insights of the different groups.
2.) Leadership must recognize learning opportunities and challenges.
Leadership should be committed to making it through the issue of learning and relearning the requirements of the new paradigm.
3.) The organizational culture expectation of high standards.
This simply put means that the leader must believe and know that all employees will equally contribute towards the company’s goal. If everybody is putting in the same amount of work in an environment where differences are not being focused on, the paradigm will emerge.
4.) Must stimulate personal development.
The suggestion is to offer training and education programs to each employee. To work together as one group will be beneficial to the company, but training is required. It might be a good idea to show videos of how to treat one another with equal respect, programs in which people learn about the cultures of other, and reading material about good ethics toward people of different backgrounds, sex or sexuality.
5.) Must encourage openness.
It is important to have a “tolerance” for debate and “constructive conflict.” We must learn to respect that each culture’s definition of ethics and work will be somewhat different and therefore some ideas are not going to fit together comfortably without some discussion about how to bring concepts together.
6.) Must make workers feel valued.
In order for employees to be committed in the workplace and be comfortable about using their own skills and experience in the office, they must feel valued. Employers need to take the opinions of each employee into consideration along with realizing that different cultures will present different insights and ideas.
7.) Must have widely understood mission.
An understood mission offers clarity. This clarity offers discussion concerning work and the changes which employees might suggest. It is important for everybody to understand the main goal of the company. The article states that a clear mission will keep people on task and that they will work more effectively.
8.) Nonbureaucratic Structure
There must be a means of changing the mindset of the “Bureaucratic Model.” The company must separate everything that has to do with getting things done (place tasks in different areas so that there is no confusion) by getting rid of the things which cause resistance toward the goal.
The paradigms constrain our thinking about diversity because they introduce a whole new mode of thinking. It is important with any paradigm shift to be open to a whole new list of ideas, and treating people equally is, unfortunately, an idea a great deal of people do not take into consideration. By introducing the idea of a celebration of diversity in the workplace, we are inviting each other (in our different groups) to share ideas we might not have considered before. It is a difficult task to completely accept one another with the range of what is normal for one person of any background and what is normal for another, but I think there is hope in any business which tries to incorporate the idea of sameness into the workplace.
In the article “In-house Resource Group Can Help and Harm” we are introduced to the idea that businesses portray themselves as a family but are presented with the hard truth that these “families” are often broken down into groups, mostly of women and minorities who can “take care of themselves.”
We are then told about The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies based in New Jersey and that it is one of those “family units” which is broken up. Every group from African Americans to the disabled, to working parents is set up in its own private section. Midlevel manager Keith Ellsmith is in the group of gay and lesbian employees. He states that being out and being yourself in this business is relieving and allows one to perform more effectively. There are now domestic partnership packages in the company.
According to Chub’s diversity manager, networking groups attract talent from outside. Especially young people who may be using Google to seek employment. She states that Chub’s is one of the top fifty companies for Latinas and that the people who look at the website see rewards such as being recognized by the Human Rights Movement. In May, resources from the Asian business network helped to create a program geared toward Asian-American agents.
But according to Harvard sociologist Frank Dobbin, when groups come together, white workers may see diversity as opposition. Though he acknowledges some of the benefits (being in a greatly female-oriented place means a woman may find a female mentor) the groups may become nothing more than an image for the outside world to see as something flashy and alluring but altogether a failure for making the company look “more like America.”
This article reminds me of the Access and Legitimacy Paradigm. The employers are all about the diversity and even offer programs for the groups. All are accepted and celebrated there. The company understands the approach and is willing to work in it, but there is the risk that the subtleties of each group may be overlooked. The differences aren’t really being regarded so much as they are being flashed like a display to make the company more interesting to the outside. It doesn’t look like the skills of these cultures are being properly analyzed. It also seems that each group is separated rather than working together as one unit. In the article by Ely, we were told it is important for the groups to function as a whole rather than separately. This article doesn’t state anywhere that people’s opinions and ideas are being taken into consideration.
I have learned that integrating diversity in the work place is not as easy as it looks. There are just too many prejudices and too many attempts that might fail to bring people together. I understand the idea of groups working together as one, but I think it would be a difficult process for an organization to reach that point. The Emerging Paradigm gives me hope with its list of how to create a functioning, diverse body. I learned that there are more paradigms out there than I expected there to be, even including titles pertaining to their subject matter. I found a whole new definition for diversity as applied to people as something which should be celebrated and never isolated. Everybody should learn to work together in order for a company to stay afloat. I have thought about my own cultural background and the possibility of unfair treatment in a business dominated by one group, but also of the rewards of finding a company to work for which includes the benefits I found in the paradigms. If I were to run my own business, I hope that I would be able to employ people under the Emerging Paradigm so that all would be valued equally.