How organizations gain competitive advantage towards a diversity and inclusion system at the workplace

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    Introduction

    In the COVID – 19 era organizations face challenges relating to employee retention due to deaths, long sicknesses and new health regulations being imposed by different governments.

    It is difficult to replace the employees who succumb to COVID – 19 as organizations worldwide are in a dilemma in terms of recruiting high performing expatriate employees because of travel restrictions. Therefore, organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace may gain a competitive advantage as they recruit remote employees across the globe.

    To be successful, worldwide, companies must continue to embrace equality at the workplace hence the need to recognise diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

    The aim of this blog is to discuss the benefits of adopting diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace as they are the drivers for competitive advantage which lead to a larger market share that ultimately results in high profitability.

    Furthermore, this blog discusses the opportunities for being an employer of choice based on the YZX case study. The following section discusses diversity and inequality at the workplace.

     

    Diversity at the workplace   

    According to Winters (2014) research has demonstrated that high performing companies employ Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), Senior Line Managers and Human Resource Managers with a strong background of workforce diversity. Occupational inequality is the unequal treatment of employees based on gender, sexuality, height, weight, accent, or race at the workplace (Itam & Bagali, 2019).

    Diversity is considered as a characteristic of groups that refers to demographic differences among members (McGrath, Berdahl & Arrow, 1995). Similarly, Larkey (1996) refers diversity to differences in perspectives resulting in potential behavioural differences among cultural groups as well as identifying differences among group members in relation to other groups.

    Cox (1993) defines diversity in terms of observable and non-observable characteristics. Observable dimensions include characteristics such as gender, race, ethnicity, and age which are legally protected from discrimination, particularly at the workplace under the employment act.

     

    Inclusion at the workplace   

    Research has shown that individuals from diverse social and cultural groups are often excluded from networks of information and employment opportunities in organizations (Ibarra, 1993, Pettigrew & Martin, 2020).

    Inclusion refers to worker participation and empowerment (Ibarra, 1993, Pettigrew & Martin, 2020). Inclusion refers to a person’s ability to contribute fully and effectively to an organisation (Miller, 1998). The following section focuses on the benefits that accrue to YZX a company that embraces diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace.

     

    A summary of the benefits for diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace

    At YZX there are systems in place which promote diversity and inclusion. There are benefits that derive from the YZY Company through strategies that embrace diversity and inclusion (see Figure 1.1).

    Figure 1.1: Benefits for Diversity and Inclusion Systems at the Workplace Source: Own Source, (2021)

    It is evidenced from the YZX Company case study that there is the main benefit for organizations that embrace diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace such as the employer of choice or preferred employer that ultimately result into benefits as shown in Figure 1.1. According to Rampl (2014) employer of choice or preferred employer is an employer who offers a good work culture and workplace environment that attracts and retains talented high performing employees.

    In addition, the characteristics of a good work culture favour the well-being, safety and happiness of employees and customers hence this resonates well with features for diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace (Rampl, 2014). The benefits of diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace are explained in the subsequent section.     

    Benefits for diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace

    The diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace are preferred as the best approaches for staff retention. Rampl (2014) argues that there are opportunities and benefits that may enhance a firm’s competitive advantage through effective and efficient diversity and inclusion frameworks as part of organisational culture.

    The benefits for diversity and inclusion systems are but are not limited to: enhanced recruitment processes; fosters staff morale; enhanced employee involvement; empowerment of employees improved; job security; employee recognition; improved information sharing; positive relationships; promote work-life balance culture; employee retention; attracts talented & high performing employees; improved reward & compensations systems; achieving a shared / vision.

    Therefore, it is believed that similar benefits emerge in the organisational culture for YZX Company hence it appears to have best practices that resonate well with a strong diversity and inclusion culture. However, for YZX Company to remain focused and continue to maintain a competitive advantage which eventually result into an employer of choice, it should consider the following recommendations. 

    Recommendations and lessons learnt for becoming an employer of choice / preferred employer  

    Proponents of effective and efficient diversity and inclusion systems such as Ibarra, (1993), Pettigrew and Martin, (2020) and Miller, (1998) postulate that for an organization to become and maintain as an employer of choice it should have sufficient best practices which embrace diversity and inclusion culture at the workplace.

    In addition, the company should always continue to benchmark with other competitors that practice strong diversity and inclusion systems at the workplace. Therefore, it is imperative for YZX to benchmark its internal processes with competitors such as Accenture, Lenovo, L’Oréal, and Alibaba.Com as they are believed to be some of the top champions with effective and efficient diversity and inclusion systems.

    Accenture’s focus areas include gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, persons with disabilities and cross-cultural diversity, Lenovo pursues a path of inclusion that embraces employees of all backgrounds, L’Oréal is famous for the global initiative in inclusion like disability awareness workshops and campaigns whilst Alibaba.Com does not discriminate on race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

    In the context of best practices, YZX should benchmark with the companies that are well known to be championing diversity and inclusion systems, to remain competitive.      

    Conclusion

    Finally, for strong diversity and inclusion systems to be successful YZX, should embrace the following: committed to its stakeholders especially employees and customers; promote openness; allow an opportunity for growth; positive relationships with co-workers; promote a work-life balance culture; staff personal development; implement cross-training programs, recognition of talented employees and zero tolerance for bullying and harassment. 

    Therefore, in this context, the YZX Company should effectively promote human resource management policies which embrace a business model that incorporates diversity and inclusion strategies. During COVID -19 Pandemic organizations should focus on reinforcement of diversity and include human resource systems to gain a competitive edge. 

    References:

    Cox, T., 1994. A comment on the language of diversity. Organization1(1), pp.51-58.

    Ibarra, H., 1995. Race, opportunity, and diversity of social circles in managerial networks. Academy of management journal38(3), pp.673-703.

    Itam, U. and Bagali, M.M., 2019. Diversity and Inclusion Management: A Focus on Employee Engagement. In Gender and Diversity: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications (pp. 1771-1788). IGI Global.

    Larkey, L.K., 1996. The development and validation of the workforce diversity questionnaire: An instrument to assess interactions in diverse workgroups. Management Communication Quarterly9(3), pp.296-337.

    McGrath, J.E., Berdahl, J.L. and Arrow, H., 1995. Traits, expectations, culture, and clout: The dynamics of diversity in work groups.

    Miller, C.C., Burke, L.M. and Glick, W.H., 1998. Cognitive diversity among upper‐echelon executives: implications for strategic decision processes. Strategic management journal19(1), pp.39-58.

    Pettigrew, T.F. and Martin, J., 2020. Organizational inclusion of minority groups: A social psychological analysis. In Ethnic minorities (pp. 169-200). Garland Science.

    Rampl, L.V., 2014. How to become an employer of choice: transforming employer brand associations into employer first-choice brands. Journal of Marketing Management30(13-14), pp.1486-1504.

    Winters, M.F., 2014. From diversity to inclusion: An inclusion equation. Diversity at work: The practice of inclusion, pp.205-228.

    Written By: Dr Robert P Machera (PhD)

    Dean Faculty of Business and Accounting Botho University: Botswana & Visiting Senior Faculty: Eaton Business School and Exeed School of Business & Finance LLC

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