We often ask ourselves how to define the word diversity. Some define it as differences among people, with no limitations on what those differences can be. This could mean that diversity is found in a crowd of individuals who follow the Jewish and Christian faiths. To others, diversity is exclusively a term meant to describe cultural differences, and these are often defined by race or ethnicity. The word diversity can also be used by hiring managers in the workplace to refer to a desire to add more women to a male dominated field, or vice versa.
Regardless of how one individual may interpret the meaning of the word, diversity is an important part of our world, especially in the workforce.
Hiring managers need to understand what diversity means to their company, and implement practices that promote this. It would be prudent of hiring managers to become well versed in their company's mission statement and what role diversity plays in this. A diverse workplace can contribute to productivity and morale, and hiring managers need to consider how hiring individuals of diverse backgrounds will provide this for their company. Having a strong grasp of these ideas will help a manager select appropriate candidates.
Some companies may seek individuals who were born in another country for their perspective. They may have ideas about how to promote unity within the workplace, or propose radically different strategies for conducting business. Every culture has something special to offer the world. Other companies may be frustrated that they have insufficient women in executive positions, or feel that they can really gain from a female perspective at all levels. Many companies may be concerned with the number of employees that consider themselves part of a minority group. It would then be up to the hiring manager to select a pool of candidates based upon the company’s diversity criteria.
We often get accustomed to seeing a certain "type" of person in a role. For example, we largely envision doctors as men, nurses as women and the President as a white male. The 21st century is a time of great progress, as we witnessed the most prevalent stereotype broken with the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama. However, we still need to be cognizant of the fact that discrimination exists. Stereotypes need to evolve to allow all qualified individuals to serve in such traditional roles. To this end the hiring manager must consider the following objectives.
- All races and ethnicities should be represented in an office. Many job advertisements state that they are specifically encouraging those who represent minorities to apply. This does not insinuate that managers will hire someone who identifies as a minority who is less qualified than someone who is not. The hiring manager is always looking for highly qualified individuals.
- In fields that were once dominated by men, many companies are now requiring that a certain number of qualified women be hired. Women are becoming more prevalent in the fields of accounting, science, medicine, and even on oil tankers as Maritime officers. Men have also been under represented in fields such as nursing, and teaching, and today we are defying these stereotypes by encouraging men in such professions.
- Age can also be a consideration when managers are recruiting for a diverse workplace. Older workers are often discriminated against, but they can provide valuable insight and considerable work experience. Similarly, younger workers may be fresh out of college and lack experience, but they can be highly motivated to develop their careers.
The goal is to work together to create a society that is virtually free of discriminatory practice. Diversity is important, and though we are now more favorable toward a diverse workplace, it won't happen instantly or without effort. If hiring mangers keep these ideals in sight, it will mean a better future for all.