Challenges and Opportunities

MBA502
Emotional Intelligence,
Cultural Intelligence and
Diversity
Workshop Week 8
DIVERSITY: Challenges and
Opportunities

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2
Learning Objectives
• Understand that cultural diversity poses both
opportunities and challenges for business
managers
• Examine the negative impacts of diversity in
the workplace
• Consider the positive benefits of diversity in
the workplace

Defining Diversity
A popular attempt to explicitly define
diversity conceives it as “a situation that
includes representation of multiple (ideally
all) groups within a prescribed environment,
such as a university or a workplace”.
(Dietz, 2007)
Inherent Diversity
These are diversity traits by birth heritage which are
mostly enduring over a person’s lifetime, although
changes can still occur in some cases:
• Race
• Age
• Gender
• Sexual orientation
• Family-ties
• Country of birth/nationality
• Cultural heritage
• Religious heritage

Acquired Diversity
These are acquired over a person’s life-time and are
dynamic and changing.
• Personal and professional experience
• Cultural background
• Political affiliation
• Citizenship
• Educational background
• Socio-economic strata
• Adopted faith
• Marital status

Surface-Level Diversity vs
Deep-Level Diversity
• Surface-level diversity refers to the observable
demographic and other overt differences among
members of a group (e.g. race, ethnicity, gender,
age, physical capabilities).
• Deep-level diversity refers not just to
demographics but also to differences in the
psychological characteristics based on
“experience and thinking styles” such as beliefs,
values, attitudes etc.
(Casper, W.J., Wayne, J.H. and Manegold, J.G., 2013 )
Activity
• In groups, identify as many surface-level
and deep-level diversity factors among
yourselves as you can.
• How many do you share in common?
• Which ones are isolated to just one group
member?

Diversity: Global Challenges
• Workplace challenges are varied depending on the county.
• For example, some countries do not grant equal rights for
people of all sexual orientations.
• In other cases, tough immigration measures restrict or prevent
the free flow of labour in the global economy.
• Gaps in gender-based equality are prevalent even in a
majority of advanced economies.
• The inclusion of certain and ethnic and cultural groups may
also be limited in some workplaces.

Activity
• Each group will be allocated one of the following groups:
– LGBTI
– Migrants
– Women
– People with disability
– Indigenous Australians
– Older workers
• Use your smartphone device to research, and report back to the
class, on the following areas:
– In what ways does your group encounter workplace discrimination?
– What are the direct and indirect consequences of that discrimination?
– In what ways can that discrimination be eradicated?

The Diversity Factor
• The key ideal of introducing diversity into
organisations is to work towards achievement of a
world where everyone can achieve their potential
on a level playing field.
• As workplace demographics shift, the work
landscape is changing with a melting pot of
different backgrounds.
• How are leaders and managers responding to this
diversity?

What are Diversity Challenges?
• Diversity challenges are any obstacles,
roadblocks, and discouraging situations in
reaction to diversity in the workplace.
• Sometimes it comes in the form of active
management resistance.
• In other cases, it’s due to a lack of selfawareness and a dearth of soft skills.

Diversity Challenges at the Top
• Despite changing demographics at work, many senior level
roles are still held by white males in the majority of
companies.
• Many such senior managers feel misunderstood or held to
standards that do not seem fair. Termed as “white angst”, this
underlying feeling of anger and resentment is an
uncomfortable subject that often is not openly discussed.
• This phenomenon can occur when employees are not helped
to find suitable ways to embrace the diversity with which
workplaces are characterised today.
(Klimley AW, 2011; Kochman,T. 2011)
Lack of “Soft Skills”
• Hard skills generally involve “learned” skills and are often
reflected in a leader’s level of education or training.
• Soft skills, on the other hand, are often intangible and difficult
to quantify or learn. They are often what we call people skills.
• Leaders who understand how to use people skills and
motivate their teams – especially in an era of diversity – are
those who will stand out.
• It takes self-aware leadership to realise the behaviours that
not only reflect on themselves, but also the impact on their
teams, customers and ultimately their company’s success.

Activity
• The following link contains a list of 87 soft
skills:
http://training.simplicable.com/training/new
/87-soft-skills
• In groups, see if you can come to an
agreement on the top ten that you think
are most vital when it comes to
managing
a diverse team.

Diversity Fatigue
• Diversity fatigue occurs when firms try to deliver diversity
training or cultural change programs but encounter resistance.
• Sometimes this is because their efforts are seen as a boxticking exercise. In other cases, employees have become
cynical after witnessing inappropriate behaviour (post-training)
with no action taken in response.
• Another contributing factor is an over-emphasis on diversity
makes some people question whether hiring decisions are still
based on merit.
• It can also require quite a bit of effort to manage diversity well,
and this can be exhausting for those responsible for changing
such cultures within organisations.

Diversity-Related Incivility
Source: Clayton Sr., CB 2010, ‘A new way to build the business case for
diversity based on the numbers: The Diversity Profit Equation (d/PE)’,
Diversity Factor, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 1-10
.
• The pain that racism, sexism, homophobia and
other forms of bigotry cause cannot be conveyed
sufficiently by charts and graphs.

Diversity-Related Incivility
Source: Clayton Sr., CB 2010, ‘A new way to build the business case for diversity based on the
numbers: The Diversity Profit Equation (d/PE)’, Diversity Factor, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 1-10
.
• As the diagram below indicates, this incivility
results in increased costs and decreased
productivity …
even when the incivility is
witnessed rather than experienced.

Witnessing Incivility
• The Institute for Diversity has found more than 71
percent of employees witness an average of four
derailing behaviours per year.
• When asked about these acts in a follow-up study,
two out of three acts of incivility were said to be
diversity related.
• These diversity related acts of incivility (DRIs) were
believed to be associated with the primary
dimensions of diversity – race, gender, age, religion,
and sexual orientation.

Activity
• Have you ever witnessed diversity-related
incivility in the workplace?
• In groups, share your stories. In particular,
please focus on the following:
– How did this affect you?
– How did the employee react?
– How did the manager deal with the situation?
If you were the manager, what would you
have done differently?

Prioritising Diversity
• Prioritising diversity in a way that simultaneously
culminates in greater organisational performance is
comprised of two factors:
Diversity climate: “Employees’ perceptions regarding the
extent to which an organisation values and integrates
diversity and supports it through fair employment
practices.” (Singh et al 2013)
Psychological safety: “Feeling able to show and employ
one’s self without fear of negative consequences to selfimage, status, or career.” (Kahn 1990)

Prioritising Diversity

Diversity climate

 

Psychological safety

Employee
performance
(Singh et al, 2013)
ACTIVITY:
Each group will be allocated one of the two main components from the model:
• If you’ve been allocated
diversity climate, identify a list of actions that could
help employees perceive that the organisation genuinely values diversity.
• If you’ve been allocated
psychological safety, identify a list of actions that
could help employees feel that they can express their true selves at work.

Summary
• This workshop presented some of the key
challenges and opportunities that diversity
in the workplace causes.
• Next week we shall explore some of the
strategies to promote diversity and
inclusiveness in work environments.