Diversity Factors in the Workplace, and their Impact on the Goal-Setting process.
To say the organization is to refer to integration as explained by Ulrich (1997), managerial capabilities are not individual competencies but organizational based. Moreover, in learning organizations, when leaders receive different points of view, they recognize it as part of something more profound. Under this premise, diversity promotes leaders focused on learning from the individual, group values, and heterogeneity strengths, but better yet, it empowers leaders who ensure the sustainability of organizational knowledge. Fernández (2012) commented that organizations that promote the diversity of race, culture, and critical thinking, tend to facilitate their effectiveness due to increased abilities, skills, and knowledge, which are more accessible in heterogeneous groups. Therefore, these advantages make diversity management a powerful strategy to promote organizational learning, manage company knowledge, and build a strong reputation. However, developing from diversity values requires to face some disadvantages as high costs that occur in some circumstances due to inefficiencies in the barriers of communication, as well as the time necessary to link different teamwork. This cost of adaptation represents the time in which the groups take to recognize themselves and work naturally and synergistically.
The new conformation of the global societies brings diversity as an essential factor to be considered in today’s organizations, since people of a different races, ethnicity, religion, among others, are integrating the workplace by generating productive relationships based on their diverse ideas and contribution. In conclusion, diversity is an intrinsic characteristic of human nature and, therefore, to deny its existence is to promote segregation. In turn, the fruitful enrichment provided by the multicultural encounter is not significant, and even the unstoppable technological dynamic is marking a clear trend towards global integration, so they are more exposed to isolation, those who reject diverse environments. It is from individual values that the foundations for better social integration are steadfast because only from individual values can organizations break the barriers of intolerance and discrimination but also incorporate a high significance value to their strategic goals.
Diversity Factors and Goal Definition Process
In a world of constant change, where interpersonal relationships each day are more conditioned and in which the professional demands more challenging outcomes, leaders must be more conscientious of diversity. In this sense, Kreitz cited by Podsiadlowski et al. (2013), explained the definition of diversity as “any difference that distinguishes one individual from others” (p. 160). It means that isolation is not for organizations, not for their technical knowledge or their workforce goals. Instead, in multicultural environments with different expectations, wishes, desires, values, and motivations, all together, they build an organization’s culture and behavior.
However, how does diversity impact the workforce’s goal setting in organizations?. Baudino (2015) commented that management of diversity aims to generate competitive advantages for the organization, balance the needs of individuals with justice for the group, surpassing the resistance to change, foster group cohesion, ensuring open communication, preserving the best employees, and managing competition for opportunities. This vision of heterogeneity as a key to the success of organizations is a necessary foundation of the organizational systems theory and contingencies, which requires open systems that recognize the existence of environmental factors and also part of the premise that organizations are diverse. Jong (2017) included the relationship between demographic diversity and individual perceptions by commenting that the complex nature of diversity reveals things about job characteristics. It reveals that job characteristics could be beneficial to reduce the potentially detrimental influence of demographic diversity on individual perceptions. This concept presents heterogeneity as an advantage of the organization by having in common the orientation towards environments of constant innovation and persecution of common and well-defined objectives. Diverse Organizations can adapt to adversity because basically that adaptation is part of its constant internal dynamics that are in favor of diverse knowledge.
Diversity Skills from Learning Organizations Perspective
When approaching the subject of success in the work environment, it should do it from how to be part of a learning organization. For Chávez (2013), organizational learning was a dynamic process in which the theoretical and practical skills known by each member of the company produce the improvement and development of the individual, group, and organizational capacities for it to be competitive. Therefore, to consider the development of organizational learning, a company needs to adapt to changes, promote economic and productive development, as well as increase capacity levels in employees. At this point, the conditions in which organizational learning must exist are clear, and one of the most relevant keys is the level of the diversity consciousness, not only from the organization’s cultural architecture but also from each individual who integrates it from their goal-setting process. Also, Bucher (2015) referred to the following skills for diversity consciousness: Teamwork, ability to balance “fitting in” and “being yourself,” flexible thinking and adaptability, ability to recognize and respect diverse intellectual strengths and learning styles, ability to appreciate and maintain pride in our background and culture, ability to deal effectively with the barrier to success, interpersonal relations and communications, self-evaluation, leadership, conflict management, social networking, and critical thinking.
Table 1 shows five key factors that determine the level of success of an initiative on cultural diversity management listed by Bucher (2015):
In the table above, five success factors can be used as suggestions for management to generate a real advantage of diversity. Besides, organizations that have achieved real success in the management of cultural diversity believe in its potential and declare diversity as a value. They integrate it into the organization on a strategic and tactical level. This concept makes diversity management a powerful strategy to improve the organizational climate, foster creativity, organizational learning, manage company knowledge, and strengthen a strong corporate reputation in their current markets.
Diversity Skills from Individuals Perspective
Since the goal-setting process is a typical interaction between upper management and the workforce, it is also essential to analyze how individuals’ perceptions affect their performance and expectations. About the perception of group status, Wagner and Berger as cited by Lucas and Baxter (2012) commented that “individuals typically assume that high-status group members highlight the interests of the group than are low-status group members, whom people are more likely to assume are more selfishly motivated” (p.56). From this standpoint, individuals’ perceptions play an essential role as they are continually evaluating how management is acting from a diverse context.
On the other hand, Dubrin is cited by Pasztor (2019) as extending this rationale into the organizational context, with the concept of Impression Management, which considers a “natural and major component of organizational life, the face through which organizations seek to link a publicly branded self with an idealized internal and external self-view” (p.469). The authors also commented that organizations need to make concerted efforts to reconcile these competing personifications using internal communicative practices to align internally mediated diversity practices with strategic rhetoric.
Another exciting contribution to the analysis is presented by Ely et al. (2001), who indicated that organizational heterogeneity success depends on “how people expressed and managed tensions related to diversity, whether those who had been traditionally underrepresented in the organization felt respected and valued” (p.2), and how people interpreted the meaning of their diverse identity at work. In this sense, how could individuals frame the diversity concept under a self-goal setting process?. One approach is presented by Bucher (2015) with the following six areas of diversity consciousness development:
1. Examining individuals’ worlds. Cultural awareness is the mainstay of effective intercultural communication and includes the ability to take a step to the side of individuals and become aware of their values, beliefs, and perceptions. Individuals need to take a step back to realize the impact their culture has on their behavior. In this sense, it is advantageous to receive feedback from peers to get more clarity on cultural traits.
2. Expanding the personal knowledge of others. Projecting similarities can also lead to wrong interpretations. When individuals assume that people are similar to them, if they project similarities that are not there, they can behave inappropriately. It is safer to take differences until checking the similarities.
3. Stepping outside of themselves. Certain attitudes help individuals to reduce the gap that separates diversity; empathy, humility, patience, tolerance for ambiguity, among others, would positively contribute to the evaluation of different behaviors under a new perspective.
4. Gauging the level of the playing field. This concept explains how to develop diversity consciousness means to understand social inequality, then contextualizing diversity is an ability to improve social integration. Under this concept, individuals should ask themselves the following questions:
• Are they blaming the individual or society?
• Are they assuming that if one person can succeed, anybody can?
• Do they see power and privilege as an all-or-nothing proposition?
• Do they immerse themselves in victimization to the point that they cannot see or comprehend the victimization of others?
5. Checking upon themselves. Self-awareness and Self-management processes require a change of mind in an individual’s ways of doing things. Following Moller (2005), the ability to manage changes and adapt to them depends on internal strengths and self-confidence skills. It means that people’s confidence is anchored in a strong sense of self-value and in a vital assurance of their capabilities to manage the challenges that they face.
6. Following through. Emotions play an essential role in all people’s lives professionally or personally speaking. The key is to utilize emotions intelligently to make emotions work deliberately for an individual’s benefit, allowing them to control their behavior and thoughts for better results. The concept that corresponds with this premise is Emotional Intelligence, an ability that knows and manages people’s feelings. It helps interpret or face other feelings and be useful in life, also to creates mental habits for an individual’s success.
Overall, the key is to integrate the differences making everyone feel accepted and valued in organizations since diversity could bring a double edge: it can be perfect if it is appropriately managed because it provides innovation and flexibility, but if it is not well-managed, there will become an individual’s lack of motivation.
Diversity Factors and its Impact on Departmental Goals
The paradigm of avoiding lack of motivation in the workplace is the reference to consider how managers include diversity analysis in their departmental goal communication, by clearing the message and avoid potential biases associated with the diverse component. Motel (2016), about Latham and Locke’s research, indicated that ambiguous goals allow people to judge performance on a wide range of self-decided criteria. It is precisely this ambiguity in the communication of departmental objectives, which must be avoided through the elimination of possible prejudices in managers and the workforce. Setting specific goals enable people to perceive what to expect from their capacities, but also how managers to the overall departmental success are considering their diverse identity. In the context of the particular concept, Table 2 presents the reviewed statement tool for departmental goal definition:
From the Table above and based on Kearney et al. cited by Jong (2019), individuals can genuinely engage in the goal-setting process, where diversity is evaluated, and the exchange, discussion, and integration of ideas, knowledge; and managers facilitate the exchange, discussion, and integration of ideas, knowledge, and insights on assigned tasks. Besides, Kearney et al. commented that “both information-decision-making and resource-based perspectives provide theoretical justifications that explain how diversity yields a motivational climate that can enhance positive goal-setting” (as cited in Jong, 2019, p.497). Therefore, with adapting to diversity factors, management of the diverse work environment is essential, since leaders should maximize their responses to the departmental challenges in favor of the overall organizational performance.
Diversity Factors and its Impact on Individual’s Goal
Individuals’ goals are restricted by ability, commitment, feedback concerning goal pursuit, the complexity of the task, and available resources. As explained by Latham and Locke (2007) who indicated that two factors are affecting the individual's goals, the importance of the goal to the individual, and self-efficacy. Latham and Locke (2007) also commented, “the effect of learning goals on performance was enhanced for people with a learning goal orientation. Self-efficacy and information search, which were reciprocally related, mediated the effect of specific, high, learning goals” (p.293). From these concepts and by considering diversity factors in the analysis, Table 3 shows the Individual’s analysis based on Diversity Factors:
From Table 3 and considering the research performed by Sarah et al. (2019), “a focus on the individual-level outcomes is necessary to more fully understand the circumstances under which diversity yields both positive outputs and outcomes for group members” (p.3). Knowing that a company has a plan also inspires employee confidence. Management of diversity arises from the idea of engaging employees in the decision-making process. Validation of the individual’s feelings in the workplace is a crucial element for organizational productivity.
Many organizations are limited to promoting tolerance and dealing impartially with people from different cultural groups when the real meaning of appreciating diversity is to respect, enhance and enjoy a wide range of cultural and individual differences as the only way to maximize productivity through diversity. Companies that have managed to transform diversity into a competitive strength have been able to translate these strategies into concrete actions. However, each person must have the disposition and the essential values for the self-analysis to guide objectives in the long-term result for success. That is why individuals’ values are those that facilitate the development of social competencies, not only to assess the differences but also for adding value to the organization that they work for. In conclusion, these crucial values are
• Integrity. It means to act with righteousness at all times and in any circumstance. Integrity allows honesty to personal principles and is attached to the "duty to be." Acting integrally, the prejudices and stereotypes that pigeonhole the valuation of human beings are ruled out, and that act as barriers to understanding diversity as a positive aspect of social coexistence.
• Tolerance. Respect for different practices or opinions is a vital aspect of promoting awareness of diversity. The practice of tolerance is itself an exercise of coexistence and acceptance of the preferences, cultures, and needs of others. The importance of being tolerant of diversity is enhanced when tolerance is not confounded with resignation, but rather when we understand that reality has different points of view that are valid and that are defined according to the individuality of each human being.
• Empathy. The ability to put oneself in the other's shoes to promote consensus and understand points of view or behaviors from a less critical and more positive perspective. Attitudes, contrary to personal beliefs, require the ability to adapt, which depends on internal strengths and self-confidence skills (Moller, 2005, p. 31). The importance of empathy to diversity is evident because when self-confidence exists, this manifests as high self-esteem, which means that personal confidence is anchored in a strong sense of self-value and in an essential assurance of the capabilities to manage the daily challenges that individuals face.
On the other hand, and According to Red Acoge (2014, p. 20), the company looks like a "black box" where it introduced some resources and "came out" some products or services, it only cared about its production and value. Today trends in modern administration are valuing the enrichment of labor climates through the presence of diverse groups in the work teams. Foldy (2004) commented that, at the organizational level, when establishing an adequate policy of diversity management, the research finds better returns and decisions more appropriate in that teamwork. Unfortunately, many human resources departments continue to implement policies and procedures that are only on paper. The labor trend towards efficiency and simplification of labor complexity to reduce costs in many opportunities are misinterpreted, and the increment cost adaptation when leaders are in the presence of diverse environments.
CEO & Founder of BPRO Performance Solutions LLC
Corporate Director at RGM | USA
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