There have been debates over diversity management for years -- heated debates. Opponents and proponents of the issue sight many reasons for their positions. There are many advantages and disadvantages of managing diversity. Some include reverse discrimination, high costs, language and cultural barriers, a better company image, better product and service ideas.
According to Cornell University's website, workplace diversity is a people issue, focused on the differences and similarities that people bring to an organization. The issue of diversity management became heated after Coca Cola and Texaco settled racial-discrimination cases in 1996 and 2000, respectively, for almost $200 million each. Of the settlements, tens of millions of dollars had to be put toward funding several diversity management programs.
A diverse staff contributes to higher production of products and services, and a variety of viewpoints and solutions. Ideas are generated on a global scale. Also, the company can be perceived as a company that supports diversity. This looks good to other businesses that might feel the same way and want to partner. It also looks good to future clients and customers and can attract good workers.
There can be a strong resistance to change. If a company has been practicing in a certain way for years, people might not be willing to implement new strategies. Also, with a staff that has various cultural backgrounds, there is an increased chance for miscommunication. Company goals and objectives must be stated clearly, and every staff member must understand. If some staff members think they are not treated equally, they might resign, which can become expensive, as it is costly to hire new employees. Tension can arise among staff members if they feel there are no advancement opportunities.
Diversity proponents believe managing diversity is expensive. Diversity managers, supervisors and analysts must be hired. Also, some think the programs are difficult to manage and quantify. Businesses that do not have an effective strategy for managing diversity will likely experience all or some of the following consequences: loss of productivity, employee turnover, lost opportunities and potential employment law mistakes.