Diversity Management: The Objectives and Activities

Introduction

Diversity management has initiated in late 1990s as an organisational mechanism for faster growth. Implementation of diversity management in a small sized organisation is a multicultural city with a diverse workforce; HR managers have a vital role to working with backgrounds, ethnic, gender, racial and religious. People who advise organisations for diversity management necessities wider space in the organisation to implementing greater openness to differences in the workplaces.

Stoner, J. A. F., Freeman, R. E., Gilbert, D. R. (2006) mentioned that Human Resource Managers are ready, willing, and able to contribute to organisational goals; they work in the organisation and also known as personnel. Human resource forecasts predict an organisation’s future demand for employees. On the other hand, human resource planning systematically forecasts an organisation’s future supply of and demand for employees. To be meaningful, human resource plans must consider both the strategic plan and the external environment of the organisation.1 A human resource audit evaluates the human resource activities used in an organisation. The management functions through which manager’s recruit, select, train, and develop organisation members are human resource management (HRM).

The purpose of Human Resource Management

Mejia, L. R. G., Balkin, D. B., and Cardy, R. L. (2006) added that the purpose of human resource management is to improve the productive contribution of people to the organisation in ways that are strategically, ethically, and socially responsible. The purpose guides the study and practice of HR management, which also commonly called personnel management. The study of HR management describes the HR-related efforts of operating managers and shows how personnel professionals contribute to those efforts. Human resources determine every organisation’s success. Improving the human contribution is so ambitious and important, however, that all but the smallest firms create a specialized personnel or HR department. It is ambitious because HR departments do not control many of the factors that shape the employees’ contribution, such as capital, materials, and procedures.2 The department decides neither strategy nor a supervisor’s treatment of employees, although it strongly influences both. Simply put, the HR department exists to support managers and employees as they pursue the organisation’s strategies.

The objectives and activities of Human Resource Management

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007) argued that Managers and the HR departments achieve their purpose by meeting objectives. Objectives are benchmarks against which actions are evaluated. Sometimes they are carefully thought out and expressed in writing. More often objectives are not formally stated. Either way, they guide the HR function in practice. Human resource objectives not only need to reflect the intention of senior management, they also must balance challenges from the organisation, the HR function, society, and the people who are affected. Failure to do so can harm the firm’s performance, profits, and even survival. These challenges spotlight four objectives that are common to HR management and from a framework around as bellow-

  1. Organisational objective: To recognize that HR management exists to contribute to organisational effectiveness. Even when a formal HR department is created to help managers, the managers remain responsible for employee performance. The HR department exists to help managers achieve the objectives of the organisation. HR management is not an end in itself; it is only a means of assisting managers with their human resource issues.3
  2. Functional objective: To maintain the department’s contribution at a level appropriate to the organisation’s needs. Resources are wasted when HR management is more or less sophisticated than the organisation demands.
  3. Societal objectives: To be ethically and socially responsive to the needs and challenges of society while minimizing the negative impact of such demands on the organisation. The failure of organisations to use their resources for society’s benefit in ethical ways may result in restrictions. For example, society may limit HR decisions through laws that address discrimination, safety, and other areas of societal concern.
  4. Personal objectives: To assist employees in achieving their personal goals, at least insofar as those goals enhance the individual’s contribution to the organisation. The personal objectives of employees must be met if workers are to be maintained, retained, and motivated. Otherwise, employee performance and satisfaction may decline and employees may leave the organisation.

Not every HR decision can meet these organisational, functional, societal, and personal objectives every time. Trade-offs does occur. But these objectives serve as a check on decisions. The more these objectives are met by the department’s actions, the larger its contribution will be to the organisation’s bottom line and the employees’ needs. Moreover, by keeping these objectives in mind, HR Specialists can see the reasons behind many of the department’s activities. To achieve their purpose and objectives, HR departments’ help managers obtain, develop, utilize, evaluate, and retain the right numbers and types of workers.

Key human resource activities

Luthans, F., & Davis, K. ((2004) stated that Human resource activities are actions that are taken to provide and maintain an appropriate workforce for the organisation. Not every manager or HR department undertakes every activity and small companies may not have an HR department, and numbers of staff members. These departments simply focus on the activities that are most important for the organisation. These activities are the responsibility of all managers in the organisation, even though many of them may be delegated to specialists in the HR department. HR activities can be viewed as a system of interrelated actions. Each activity affects other activities directly or indirectly. Managers and HR specialists view information and human resources as the primary inputs. They transform these inputs through various activities to produce results that help the organisation meet its goals and increase its productivity. Ideally, managers and HR experts undertake this role proactively.4

Table: The Relation of Activities to Objectives in Human Resource Management.

Management Objectives Supporting Activities
A. Societal Objectives
  1. Legal compliance
  2. Benefits
  3. Union-management relations
B. Organisational Objectives
  1. Human resource planning
  2. Employee relations
  3. Selection
  4. Training and development
  5. Appraisal
  6. Placement
  7. Assessment
C. Functional Objective 1. Appraisal
2. Placement
3. Assessment
D. Personal Objective 1. Training and development
2. Appraisal
3. Placement
4. Compensation
5. Assessment

Viewpoints of Human Resource Management

Griffin, R. W. (2006) stated that several ways of looking at HR management those were called viewpoints. These viewpoints provide complementary themes that help managers and HR professionals keep the HR function and its activities in the proper perspective. These underlying themes include:

  • Strategic approach: HR management must contribute to the strategic success of the organisation. If the activities of managers and the HR department do not help the organisation achieve its strategic objectives, resources are not being used effectively.5
  • Human resource approach: HR management is the management of people. The importance and dignity of human beings should not be ignored for the sake of expediency. Only through careful attention to the needs of employees can organisations grow and prosper.
  • Management approach: Human resource is the responsibility of every manager. The HR department exists to serve managers and employees through its expertise. In the final analysis, the performance and well-being of each worker are the duel responsibility of that worker’s immediate supervisor and the HR department.
  • Systems approach: HR department takes place within a larger system: the organisation. Therefore, HR efforts must be evaluated with respect to the contribution they make to the organisation’s productivity6. In practice, experts must recognize that the HR management model is an open system of interrelated parts and each part affects the others and is influenced by the external environment.
  • Proactive approach: HR management can increase its contribution to the employees and the organisation by anticipating challenges before they arise. If its efforts are reactive only, problems may be compounded and opportunities may be missed.

Environmental challenges and managing workforce diversity and equality

Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006) acknowledged that modern organisations exist in a turbulent environment filled with challenges over which an organisation and its HR department have little influence. These challenges shape the way the organisation operates and thus affect HR policies and practices. Changes in the external environment, such as a new technology, affect corporate strategy and planning. Less obviously, changing technologies affect the type of workers, their performance. Managers and HR departments then respond to these changes and help the organisation meet its objectives7.

Changes in the organisation’s environment evolve at varying rates. The composition of the workforce changes over many years, for example, while new laws and court rulings seemingly occur overnight. Managers and HR professionals deal with these changes by taking the steps. Constantly searching the environment for changes and evaluating their impact on the organisation and the HR function. When noteworthy changes are uncovered through reading, continuing education, or studying company strategy, proactive plans are developed and implemented, as suggested by Continental’s effort to create a more flexible work environment for its employees. Common sources of external challenge to the HR department include workforce diversity, technology, Economics and government.

Workforce diversity

DeCenzo, A. D., and Robbins, S. P. (2007) confirmed that almost always of immigrant ancestry- mixed with newcomers from around the globe, within this diversity of national origins there is an even wider diversity of cultures, religions, languages and dialects, educational attainment, skills, values, ages, races, genders, and other differentiating variables. Knowledge of these variations challenges managers and HR professionals to develop proactive policies and practices. For example, in a study of 1705 respondents, it was found that workforce diversity lowered the psychological attachment of group members to the organisation, calling for more proactive efforts by HR departments in the face of increased diversity. Different segments of workforce diversity can be explained as bellow-

Demographics diversity

Stoner, J. A. F., Freeman, R. E., Gilbert, D. R. (2006) declared that proactive managers and HR departments value individual diversity because it brings a rich source of innovative perspectives to the company. Knowledge about diversity comes from personal observations and from demography, the statistical study of population characteristics. Workforce demographics describe its composition: education level, race, age, sex, percentage of the population participating in the workforce, and other characteristics. Changes in workforce demographics usually are known in advance, occur slowly, and are well measured. For example, increases in the educational levels of the workforce are a slow-moving trend. Although slow-moving, these trends can have a significant impact on an HR department’s activities.8

These demographic trends will continue in the coming years, ensuring even greater diversity. During the 1990s, the growth of the U. S. workforce will slow to 1.2 percent from about 2.0 percent in the 1980s and nearly 3.0 percent in the 1970s. By the end of the decade, 47 percent of the workforce will consist of women and 26 percent of all jobs will be held by immigrants and minority group members. The traditional white male majority found in the workforce of the early 1980s and before will constitute only 45 percent of U. S. workforce by the end of the 1990s.

These demographic changes have implications for the diversity of new recruits whom managers and HR recruits will have to evaluate. Growing numbers of immigrants may present managers with more complex communications issues in dealing with people whose native language is not the same as that of the vast majority of their coworkers. The slower growth of the workforce among developed nations especially multicultural city suggests that companies are going to have smaller pools of applicants, thus reducing the range of candidates from which a company can select.

Cultural and attitudinal diversity

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007) mentioned Diversity in the workforce is also influenced by cultural values and societal norms. During the 1970s and 1980s, for example, more than half the growth in the U. S. workforce came from women seeking employment. Changing values and laws have contributed to greater participation rates by women in the employment market, creating a variety of implications for HR departments. For example, parental leave and child-care facilities provided by employees are becoming more common demands, leading some employers to create work and family programs.9

Different viewpoints about illegal drug use and sexual freedom also have an impact on HR departments. In many companies new hires and even current employees are expected to submit to drug tests. Similarly, employee concerns about working with AIDS-infected (or potentially infected) coworkers often are left to the HR department to resolve. It is impossible to identify every changing value in society. As society becomes more varied in its attitudes, culture, and other dimensions, managers and HR departments must try to anticipate the impact of changes and act accordingly. The primary response by HR departments has been to increase employee awareness of diversity issues through training activities.

Diversity through immigration and migration

Stoner, J. A. F., Freeman, R. E., Gilbert, D. R. (2006) added that most advanced economics face some diversity within the workforce. This diversity may come from immigration across national borders or from migration within a country. Countries such as Germany and Saudi Arabia have large numbers of guest workers- foreigners who are granted work visas but not citizenship. Other countries, such as Japan, actually discourage guest workers and immigration, leaving Japan with a very homogeneous workforce and growing labour shortages- particularly for menial jobs. Regardless of national policies, the greatest extent of this diversity is most commonly observed in the large cities of countries with advanced economies.

Diversity and professionals

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007) argued that Diversity creates new challenges for managers, HR professionals, and their organisations. Consider just three sets of implications behind some of the workforce diversity encountered in the early 1990s: an aging workforce, working mothers, and workforce participation rates. Since demographic measurements of the workforce imply even more diversity among workers in the future, HR professionals and managers must value this diversity and make it a benefit for the organisation and its people. That is, they must embrace diversity and make it a source of competitive advantage, not merely a part of the organisation’s social responsibility. Organisations that value diversity will find a larger pool of potential applicants from which to hire new employees. And as workforce growth slows, the acceptance and integration of nontraditional employees will be essential to the recruitment plans of growing organisations. Diversity- particularly in managerial, professional, and sales positions may even give a competitive edge in language and cultural sensitivity in international markets.

Technological challenges

Mejia, L. R. G., Balkin, D. B., Cardy, R. L. (2006) agreed that Jobs and job skills are changed by technology. Perhaps the greatest potential impact on jobs since the industrial revolution is artificial intelligence. The industrial revolution allowed people to make greater use of mechanical power- from water wheels and steam engines to nuclear power- to amplify human productivity. Artificial intelligence will give a growing number of workers access to expert systems- computerized programs that capture the knowledge and decision-making approaches of experts. As the capabilities of artificial intelligence give people and machines greater problem-solving powers, jobs and the skills they require will change dramatically, affecting the employment, training, development, compensation, and employee relations activities of the HR department. One of the biggest impacts of technology alters industries and lifestyles.10

Economic challenges

Global competition puts pressure on all the firms in an industry to be more productive. Robots and other technological advances boost productivity, but robots are designed, installed, programmed, and maintained by people. Whether economic challenges become more intense because of robots, artificial intelligence, or foreign competition, HR professionals will need to find more innovative ways to help line managers increase productivity through people.

Government challenges

Luthans, F., & Davis, K. ((2004) said through the enforcement of laws, government has a direct and immediate impact on managers and the HR function. Federal laws regulating the employee-employer relationship challenge the methods HR departments use. Some laws, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the Civil Rights Act, make major demands on HR management. The impact of these laws has helped elevate the importance of HR decisions. Government involvement in the employment relationship is meant to achieve societal objectives- usually the elimination of practices that are considered contrary to public policy. For managers and HR specialists, government involvement requires compliance and proactive efforts to minimize the organisational consequences and laws related employment discrimination, compensation, unions, and other issues illustrate the challenges and actions faced by HR departments. 11

Organisational challenges

Besides external demands, managers and HR departments find current challenges within the organisations they serve. Internal challenges arise because employers pursue trade-offs among financial, sales, service, production, employee, and other goals. Since HR objectives are just one set among many in the eyes of top management, managers and HR professionals must confront internal challenges while maintaining a balanced for other needs. The employer does not exist to assist the organisation in achieving its other objectives. Managers and HR departments are faced with several internal challenges from unions, informational needs, organisational character, and conflicts.

  • Unions: In the HR environment, unions represent an actual challenge to unionized companies and a potential challenge to companies that are not unionized. In companies with unions, the employer and the union sign a labour agreement that specifies compensation (wages and benefits), hours, and working conditions. This agreement limits the HR activities of supervisors and HR departments. For both, the challenge is to achieve company objectives without violating the agreement.
  • Information systems: Griffin, R. W. (2006) confirmed that Managers and HR departments require large amounts of detailed information. Increasingly, the quality of HR decisions depends on the quality of information. Many HR activities and much effort by HR professionals are devoted to obtaining and refining the department’s information base. The information requirements of a full-service department are only hinted at by questions.12
  • Organisational culture and conflicts: Every employer is unique. Similarities between organisations can be found among their parts, but each organisation as a whole has a unique culture. Organisational culture is the product of all the organisation’s features: its people, its success, and its failures. Organisational culture reflects the past and shapes the future. The challenge for managers and HR specialists is to adjust proactively to the culture of the organisation. For example, objectives can be achieved in several acceptable ways. This idea, which is called equilfinality, means that there are usually multiple paths to objectives. The key to success is picking the path that best fits the organisation’s culture.
  • Professional challenges: Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006) added that Professionalism is another challenge to HR management. HR management skills are too important to organisations and society to be ignored. External and internal challenges require practitioners who are at least minimally qualified. Since the actual capabilities of experts vary widely, the professionalism of the HR management field became a matter of growing interest. The Society for Human Resource Management took an important step toward building the profession of HR management: certification-the society studied the question of certification for a decade. By late 1975 it had established standards and credentials for certification. Experienced practitioners and academics were admitted under a “grandfather” clause that granted them certification on the basis of letters of recommendation and experience.

International challenges and workplace diversity

Challenges of workforce diversity are international HR management. Not only must managers and HR experts contend with diversity in the domestic workforce, globalization means increased diversity both at home and abroad13. Compounding this diversity are a growing maze of international alliances among firms, with the key determinant of their success often being how well human resource policies can be integrated and implemented. Diversity increases as foreign nationals are transferred to the home country; it also increases as jobs are transferred to other countries. Compounding this diversity will be immigration from a variety of countries, as suggested by the year’s pattern of immigration.

Equal employment challenges

Equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws require managers and human resource (HR) departments to provide applicants an equal opportunity for employment without regard to race, religion, sex, disability, pregnancy, national origin, or age. Since many violations of these laws result from failure to inform managers, EEO-related laws are of concern to both operating managers and HR professionals. These laws have an impact on nearly every HR activity, including planning, recruiting, selection, placement, training, compensation, and employee relations. Although other developed nations have various forms of equal employment opportunity-such as Japan’s Equal Opportunity Law, which into effect in 1986, making men and women “officially” equal- the most extensive laws are found in the United States.

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Laws:

The following are the most important EEO laws:

  • Equal Pay Act of 1970- Prohibits discrimination in pay between men and women performing the same job in the same organisation.14
  • The Sex Discrimination Act 1975- Prohibits employers from basing employment decisions on a person’s race, colour, religion, sex, or national origin. It has been amended or interpreted to prohibit discrimination based on pregnancy (the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978) and sexual harassment. Most recently, it has been replaced the burden of proof in a discrimination case squarely on the defendant (employer), prohibits the use of quotas, and allows for punitive and compensatory damages as well as jury trials. Executive Order 11246 prohibits discrimination against the same categories of people that Title Vll protects but also requires that government agencies and contractors take affirmative action to promote the employment of persons in protected classes.
  • Provision of EC Treaty: Prohibition of pay discrimination between men and women More recently the EC has broadened its focus to deal with discriminations in the areas of age, race, religious, believes and sexual orientation. Provision on sex discriminations or gender discriminations have been part of the Treaty science its beginning. Article-2 of EC now includes the promotion of equality between man and woman as one of the task of the community and Article-13 EC includes a general power for the community to act to combat discriminations on various grounds in sex.15
  • Article-141 EC: Equal Pay for Equal Work: Article 141 (1) provides that, each Member States (MS) shall ensure that the principle of equal pay for male and Female workers for equal work. Article 141 (3) provides a specific legal basis for the adoption of measures to give effect to the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatments. The ECJ has extended the scope of Article 141 EC to encompass indirect discrimination. This is where a group of employees – such as part-timers – are paid less, and that group is predominantly of one sex.16
  • Equal treatment Directives: Meanwhile EU ensures several directives provide for equal treatment of men and women:
    • Directive 76/207 (employment)
    • Directive 86/378 (occupational social security)
    • Directive 79/7 (social security)
    • Directive 86/613 (self-employment)
    • Directive 92/85 (pregnant women and working mothers).
    • Directive 96/34 (parental leave)
    • Prohibits dismissal of women from the beginning of their pregnancy to the end of maternity leave
    • Directive 96/97 (equal treatment occupational social security schemes)
    • The Equal Treatment Directive (ETD): Directive 76/207 as amended by Directive 2002/73.17

Conclusion

Even though management confronts a variety of historical, external, internal, and professional challenges, it exists to further the organisation’s strategy with maximum effectiveness and efficiency in an ethically and socially responsible way. This paper demonstrates dilemmas from the perspective of an HR manager working in a small organisation located in a multicultural city however, that executives and lower-level managers have different expectations about HR activities and these perceptions differ from those of lower-level managers. For example, executives and managers rank selection differently. To be effective, HR specialists must determine the areas of concern among the different groups they support. Otherwise, their advisory authority will be less effective and more likely to be ignored.

Bibliography

DeCenzo, A. D., and Robbins, S. P. (2007), Management, 8th ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Singapore, ISBN: 9812-53-171-8.

Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006), Managing Human Resource, 4th ed., Prentice Hall of India, New Delhi.

Griffin, R. W. (2006), Management, 8th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston New York, ISBN: 0-618-35459x.

Luthans, F., & Davis, K. ((2004), Human Resource and Personal Management, 5th ed., McGraw Hill, London, ISBN: 0-07-123218-4.

Mejia, L. R. G., Balkin, D. B., Cardy, R. L. (2006), Managing Human Resources, 4th Edition, Prentice-Hall, Inc, New Delhi, ISBN: 81-203-2804-3.

Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007), EU Law, 9th ed., Oxford University Press, London, pp.491–527, ISBN: 978-019-927959-3.

Stoner, J. A. F., Freeman, R. E., Gilbert, D. R. (2006), Management, 6th Edition, Prentice-Hall of India Private Limited, ISBN: 81-203-0981-2.

Footnotes

  1. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  2. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  3. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  4. Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006).
  5. Griffin, R. W. (2006).
  6. Luthans, F., & Davis, K. ((2004).
  7. Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006).
  8. Stoner, J. A. F., Freeman, R. E., Gilbert, D. R. (2006).
  9. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  10. Mejia, L. R. G., Balkin, D. B., Cardy, R. L. (2006).
  11. Luthans, F., & Davis, K. ((2004)..
  12. Griffin, R. W. (2006).
  13. Gomez-Mejia, L. R., Balkin, B. D., and Cardy, L. R. (2006).
  14. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  15. Report on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (COM 2003) 98 Final.
  16. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).
  17. Steiner, J., and Woods, L. (2007).

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