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What is Diversity Management?

Human resources departments initiate diversity management programs to encourage cooperation among workers with differing backgrounds.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 July 2014
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Diversity management is a strategy that is intended to foster and maintain a positive workplace environment. Usually initiated by Human Resources professionals and managed by department heads and supervisors, an effective diversity management program will promote recognition and respect for the individual differences found among a group of employees. The idea of this management style is to encourage employees to be comfortable with diversity in the workplace and develop an appreciation for differences in race, gender, background, sexual orientation or any other factors that may not be shared by everyone working in the same area of the company.

The underlying principle of diversity management has to do with acceptance. While individuals retain their own sense of values and ethics, this type of program encourages people to recognize that not everyone is alike. Rather than being intimidated or prejudiced by those differences, employees are encouraged to accept the fact that there are diverse interests, diverse values, and diverse physical and emotional characteristics present within the office environment. Further, the diversity present in the office does not have to hamper productivity or create conflict. Instead, the diversity may function as helpful attributes that promote the attainment of the goals and objectives of the department.

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Diversity management can be adapted to many different types of working environments and be integrated into many different types of management styles. Promoting recognition and acceptance of diversity among the employees can convert a hostile workplace environment into a welcoming environment where people freely communicate and support one another with any tasks associated with the job. In doing so, the implementation of a diversity-focused program often makes it possible for productivity levels to increase dramatically.

One of the main advantages of a strong diversity management program is that it tends to encourage the development of latent skills and talents among employees. Individuals who may have felt unable to move forward in the company due to factors such as race, gender or sexual orientation find that these attributes are no longer issues. When this happens, employees begin to feel valued and are more willing to step outside their comfort zones and enhance their skill sets for the benefit of the departmental team, the company as a whole and for the individual.

Implementing a diversity management program successfully is not an overnight task. Often, the process of fostering a more accepting work environment takes time and dedication. But with patience, time, and structured efforts to educate employees, a diversity management policy and program will eventually make a huge difference in the communication among employees and the general productivity of the department.

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Discuss this Article

anon285889
Post 8

What could be the diversity plan at Zappos?

anon263249
Post 7

@anon251593: I think the key thing to remember is that there has been - historically speaking - no barrier in corporate advancement for the "straight, white, sports-loving male." The idea of diversity management is that minorities should no longer feel inferior and that they have nothing to contribute to the organization. In fact, they have much to offer and should be encouraged to do so.

I think the feelings of "white, straight, sports-loving guy" is latent racism or simply a matter of inferiority in the workplace.

anon251593
Post 6

What happens if you are a straight, sports loving, white male? Does anyone ever consider that by setting up all of these subgroups within the office (none of which explicitly cover the above) these individuals can, in fact, end up feeling the most isolated from the business?

For example, my workplace has groups for people from all sorts of ethnic, sexual and linguistic backgrounds, and a female network.

It does not, however, have a group for the stereotypical 'white, middle class, English speaking, English born, male...' Somehow, this feels wrong.

For reference, I work for a Big 4 firm in London.

anon148200
Post 5

Totally agree with the above! Diversity management has largely been about increasing the number of white women rather than recognize other minority or disadvantaged groups.

ChessPlayer
Post 3

anon77618- I agree with you to a certain extent. More women are now graduating from college than ever before and many are ascending to management positions.

However, I think that the numbers are still disproportionate. Statistically, more women are now graduating from college than men and yet males still outnumber women in management positions. Shouldn't there now be more women in management positions just because of their educational attainment? Or is experience more important than education?

anon77618
Post 1

Diversity management programs have largely been vehicles for increasing the proportion of women in management positions. They have achieved little for organisational productivity outcomes or other minority groups. Do you agree? Explain your answer.

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