Individual and Organizational Challenges of Diversity in Human Resource Development
October 22, 2013
Diversity is defined as similarities and differences among employees in terms of age, cultural background, physical abilities and disabilities, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. It has received increasing attention in the professional literature of many fields throughout the years. Furthermore, the projections that the labor force of the United States will become increasingly diverse in age, race, ethnicity, and gender in the years to come.
However, despite the enormity of the ethical, legal, economic, social and political lengths that define diversity initiatives in the workplace, the fields of human recourse development (HRD) have yet to develop an integrated vision for creating more inclusive work environments. Perceptual, cultural and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork, and low morale. There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The "we've always done it this way" mentality silences new ideas and inhibits progress.
Resisting HRD’s Resistance to Diversity
This article describes resisting HRD’s resistance to diversity and offers recommendations for a more authentic integration of diversity into HRD research, teaching, and practices. In the process of diversifying the world and globalizing the economy, the HRD field claims diversity as a vital responsibility, and diversity management as a key component. However, researchers have yet to develop theory-based models to explain failure or success of diversity (Bierema, 2010, p. 566).
There are many consequences to resisting diversity. According to Bierema (2010), failure to generate new theories and understandings of diversity’s impact and how effectively address it in organizations does a disservice to HRD practitioners, workers, and organization stakeholders. Thus, the HRD profession is tasked with being the organization conscience and employee advocate. Failure to add to the knowledge base in this area only worsens the problem. The consequences associated with resistance to diversity in organizations include individual emotional issues as well as organizational issues unclosing moral, absenteeism, turnover, and legal fees (Bierema, 2010, p. 572).
Bierema (2010) states that diversity is resisted because it threatens organizational well-being and effectiveness. Resistance is generally viewed as a negative force that may be either subtle or overt. For instance, subtle resistance to diversity may be scheduling diversity topics at a conference during a time when few people would show up. More overt resistance to diversity would be denying certain groups, such as women or gays and lesbians, official recognition as an interest group. Bierema (2010) explains that HRD professionals must foster self-awareness about diversity issues, understand diversity as a developmental process promote critical scholarship in diversity, and encourage diversity education in graduate programs in order to respond with a literate resistance to diversity resistance.
This article justifies the original topic by explaining why diversity is resisted within the organization and amongst individuals. This challenges discussed will allow the audience to discover new ways to incorporate diversity amongst their organization, and embrace self-awareness.
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