Human Resources

Diversity: An Introduction to Theories of Diversity

Written by Clayton Reeves for Gaebler Ventures

Many theories of diversity have emerged in corporate America. Some are better than others, but understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these theories and their applications will enable you to better prepare your business for a global world.

Diversity is a hot topic in a world that is becoming increasingly diverse and flat.

Theories of Diversity

Workers in India work with people in Chicago, and China collaborates with London. These collaborations offer great returns for their firms. Diversity of perspective can lead to innovation, creativity and rethinking your business model.

Sometimes companies believe that people of different ethnicities can offer certain things to their organization. However, diversity of perspective is not always on the list. It is generally accepted that people feel more comfortable dealing and working with people that resemble themselves. That is why corporate America remains overwhelmingly white and male. White males generally hire other white males.

The opposite can also be true, when companies hire salespeople to deal with certain demographics. These can include knowledge of the behaviors and practices of their own race. For example, a company operating in a Hispanic dominated region may feel that it is necessary to hire someone who is also of Hispanic descent. While their Hispanic customers may appreciate a Spanish speaking worker, the value does not stop there.

It should not be looked at as a way to deal with a certain demographic, but rather as a way to get new perspective into your business practices

Presently, diversity programs are not fulfilling the promises and targets that they set out to accomplish. This is mostly because companies are approaching diversity as a costly problem instead of a value adding solution. This is not a good way to look at diversity.

Diversity should be looked at as a way to increase the points of view within your organization. People from different backgrounds have different views and can help your business in different ways. The key is to make diversity a fundamental and holistic change for your business. It is something that must be bought into from the top management to the lowest worker.

Usually, companies either expect people of different ethnicities or gender to either blend in or do roles that they are specifically assigned to because of their differences. This cheats both the worker and the company out of certain perks of the work relationship. For the worker, it can pigeonhole them in specific aspects of the business and restricts their ability to contribute. The firm loses out on the prospective value that the employee could add given the right opportunities.

There are several theories of diversity that can be applied to your business model. Some are better than others, but it is wise to investigate these options and figure out how to best apply them to your business and ensure that your workers are being treated as any other worker would be treated.

Eager to learn more about diversity theories? In some other articles I've written I discuss two diversity theories: the Discrimination and Fairness Paradigm and the Access and Legitimacy Paradigm.

When he's not playing racquetball or studying for a class, Clayton Reeves enjoys writing articles about entrepreneurship. He is currently an MBA student at the University of Missouri with a concentration in Economics and Finance.

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