Improving workforce diversity

How can workforce diversity be managed?

In this article we discuss how workforce diversity will affect basic HRM concerns as recruitment, selection and orientation.

Improving workforce diversity requires managers to widen their recruiting net. For example, the popular practice of relying on current employee referrals as source of new job applicants tends to produce candidates who have characteristics to those of present employees. So managers have to look for applicants in places where they haven’t typically looked before. To increase diversity managers are increasingly turning to nontraditional recruitment sources such as women’s network, over 50 clubs, urban job banks, disabled people’s training centers, ethnic newspaper and gay rights organization. This type of out reach should enable an organization to broaden its pool of applicants.

Once a diverse set of applicants exists, efforts must be made to ensure that the selection process does not discriminate. Moreover, applicants need to be made comfortable with the organization’s culture and be made aware of management’s desire to accommodate their needs. For instance, at Hewlett Packard India, management works diligently to accommodate differences and create workplace choices for a diverse workforce through well designed HR policies; so too do companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, IBM India, and Satyam computers.

Finally, orientation is often difficult for women and minorities. Many organizations today, such as Lotus and Hewlett Packard, provide special workshops to raise diversity consciousness among current employees as well as programs for new employees that focus on diversity issues. The thrust of these efforts is to increase individual understanding of the differences each of us brings to the workplace. A number of companies as have special mentoring programs to deal with the reality that lower level female and minority managers have few role models with whom to identify.
What is Sexual harassment?

Sexually suggestive remarks unwanted touching and sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue in both public and private sector organizations. More than 12,000 complaints are filed with the EEOC each year, with more than 15 % of the companies in terms of litigation. It is estimated that it is the single largest financial risk facing companies today – and results in upwards of a 30 % decrease in company’s stock price. At Mitsubishi, for example the company paid out more than $34 million to 300 women for the rampant sexual harassment to which they were exposed. But it’s more than just jury awards. Sexual harassment results in millions lost in absenteeism, low productivity, and turnover. Sexual harassment furthermore is not just a US phenomenon. It’s a global issue. For instance, sexual harassment charges have been filed against employers in such countries like Japan, Australia, Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand, Sweden, Ireland, and Mexico. Sexual harassment cases focus on creating an unpleasant work environment for organization members and undermine their ability to perform their jobs.

Any unwanted activity of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment can be regarded as sexual harassment. It can be between members of the opposite or of the same sex – between employees of the organization or between employee and non employee. Although such an activity has been generally protected under Title VII (sex discrimination) in the United States, in recent years this problem has gained more recognition. By most accounts, prior to the mid-1980s occurrence was generally viewed as isolated incidents, with the individual committing the act being solely responsible (if at all) for his or her actions. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, charges of sexual harassment have continued to appear in the headlines on an almost regular basis.