Diversity in South Africa

Introduction In the workplace, diversity in terms of ethnicity, locality, education and skills, age, and gender exist. Managers or employers therefore require innovative ideas to successfully manage employees in the workplace. Diversity management is a relatively new field in the South African business environment. Managing employees and the work environment involves different aspects and is influenced by the internal environment such as in the mission, vision and goals of the organisation as well as the external environment. These aspects include areas where diversity management is important.

Managers have various roles to carry out in an organisation in order to provide effective management and deal with the ethical issues. Factors such as changing structures and polices, providing diversity skills training, creating cross functional teams and employee network groups, building relationships, and providing complete managerial support are all factors that contribute towards effective diversity management. A successful diversity management approach must be more accommodating and more capable of promoting the diversity within an organization to bring everyone together and generate effective participation.

This means that employees should be regarded as an organized whole that brings meaningful contributions from their social, political, economic, and geographical experiences. 2. Diversity Diversity can be defined as all the ways people differ, that is the different influences to approaching the workplace, communication between employees, satisfaction achieved from performance and identification in the workplace (Daft, Kendrick, & Vershinina, 2010).

It is a commitment to distinguishing and appreciating the range of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that supports and celebrates individual and collective achievement (Tennessee, 2003). Diversity “represents the multitude of individual differences and similarities that exist among people (Kreitner, 2001). According to Erasmus, diversity applies to all employees and does not only encompass certain differences but rather the entire spectrum of individual differences that make people unique. Therefore diversity cannot be viewed as only racial or religious differentiation but s all differences combined. The notion of diversity describes differences among people as well as similarities. The discipline of managing diversity requires that these two aspects are managed simultaneously. He further suggests that managers are expected to integrate the collective mixture of similarities and differences between workers into the organisation (Erasmus, 2007). Diversity is more than being politically correct; it is about nurturing a culture that values individuals and their wide assortment of needs and contributions Diversity management is a moderately new field in the South African business environment.

Diversity management is ensuring that the necessary factors are in place to provide for and to encourage the continuous development of diversity in the workplace, by incorporating actual and perceived differences to achieve the utmost efficiency (Bandyopadhyay, Hazra, & Goswami, 2007). Diversity management can also be defined as the commitment on the part of the organisations to recruit, retain, reward and promote a heterogeneous mix of productive, motivated and committed workers, including people of colour, whites, females and the disabled (Inancevich & Gilbert, 2000).

The two areas where diversity management are particularly important include: * Workplace diversity. * Global diversity. Workplace diversity refers to the array of distinctions between people in an organisation. Some of the benefits of implementing workplace diversity are; increased adaptability which supplies a variety of solutions to problems in service, sourcing, and allocation of resources, various opinions which include ideas and experiences, and effectiveness in terms of employee performance to attain goals (Greenberg, 2005). Furthermore, enhanced use of employee capacity is encouraged.

This involves competitive advantage over other organisations along with prospects and development of employees for retention purposes. Diversity initiatives retain a competitive advantage by improving employee confidence, decreasing interpersonal conflict, facilitating development in new markets and increasing creativity. It also includes the understanding of the marketplace in terms of the changing needs of consumers. Building workplace diversity will also result in the improved extent of understanding in leadership positions that encompasses a variety of skills.

Better quality of team problem solving to bring in different perspectives resulting in creativity of ideas and solutions and lastly reduction of costs induce lower turnover, absenteeism and lawsuits (Daft, Kendrick, & Vershinina, 2010). Global diversity is more than just demographical factors (such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation), it is about thinking, leadership, skills and style which integrates peoples differences to achieve all the goals planned and is acceptable universally, that is by breaking though barriers through globalisation (Dell, 2011).

Globalisation refers to standardisation of products plan and marketing strategy throughout the world by assuming a homogeneous global market of consumers and industrial products (Daft, Kendrick, & Vershinina, 2010). A benefit of global diversity is broader services through customer satisfaction and product availability. By managing diversity, managers access a range of skills which the organisation has never had before and thus a broader array of individual strengths, experiences and perspectives.

There is also a wider legitimacy and organisational image across a wider audience. Managers however should realise that managing diversity is fairly tough and cannot be implemented immediately. It is instead a long-term strategy in order to correct the imbalances in the workplace. 3. Mission, Vision and Goals A mission is defined as the organisations’ reason for existence. A mission statement is a broadly stated definition of the purpose of the company. Well designed mission statements can enhance employee motivation and organisational performance.