Diversity's Advantages and Disadvantages
Modern organizations face many challenges because of globalization, but key among these is the challenge of diversity. America's workforce includes a much greater diversity of ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and other characteristics than ever before. More than just a question of demographics, "Diversity in the workplace is one of the most critical challenges facing US organizations today," and "Nearly every issue of Fortune, Business Week, or The Wall Street Journal addresses some problem related to workplace diversity (De Meuse, Hostager, Eau Claire, & O'Neill, 2007, p. 38). In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management conducted a survey in the late 1990s that found that "over 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies either had a diversity program or were planning to implement one within the next year" (De Meuse, Hostager, Eau Claire, & O'Neill, 2007, p. 38). Diversity has become a force to be reckoned with in American business.
April Taggart (2008) states, "Some argue that the demographic and cultural changes under way in North American society are akin to a 'paradigm shift,'" and that "the tectonic demographic shifts will impact every aspect of how we conduct business(big or small." As Taggart (2008) notes, "What was once global is now local." Diversity affects organizations on multiple levels, both positive and negative. It can provide a competitive advantage when it enables a company to understand its target market, but it can be a disadvantage when it creates internal conflict and turmoil. This paper will examine the pros and cons of diversity in the organizational context, highlighting the approaches of framing and organizational learning as ways of addressing diversity in a positive and beneficial manner and offering recommendations on how diversity can be managed and leveraged within an organization.
Diversity has been defined simply b...