A diverse workforce is a highly advantageous asset to any organization. A workforce that contains people from many walks of life has at its disposal many perspectives which can enhance the products and/or services it offers to customers. The topic of workforce diversity has in terms of research primarily been the purview of management and “has not drawn broadly from the core disciplines of sociology and psychology” (DiTomaso, Post, & Parks-Yancy, 2007). This seems like a mistake, to neglect the sociological and psychological aspects of workforce diversity.
The emphasis on developing a diverse workforce is laudable and enables an organization to appreciate the perspectives and concerns of their customer base. However, without understanding how to meet the different needs or accommodate the different perspectives of those members of the workforce means it is unlikely that an organization will retain that diversity. Recruiting diverse individuals is emphasize in the literature – but what about retaining them? Furthermore, as DiTomaso, Post, & Parks-Yancy (2007) point out, it is possible to turn difference into something negative in overeager efforts to highlight or emphasize that difference.
One way of emphasizing and respecting difference is to connect such individuals with others like them within the organization in order to not isolate them. For example, at Cornell University Colleague Network Groups (CNGs) have been established in order to connect similar employees so that they “could find camaraderie and establish professional support systems” (Doolittle, 2014). This seems to suggest that it’s not enough to simply seek out diversity; it must be fostered.
- DiTomaso, N., Post, C., & Parks-Yancy, R. (2007). Workforce diversity and inequality: Power, status, and numbers. Annual Review of Sociology, 33, 473-501.
- Doolittle, N. (2014). Colleague Network Groups share commonalities, explore differences. Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved from http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2014/05/