managing diversity by praveenanaswara

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Modern managers constantly face the challenges of handling situations involving diversity in organizations. Almost all countries in the world and their organizations are facing the challenges of diversity. India Inc is no exception. In India, majority of mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures etc. that has happened in the last five years involves foreign organizations. Women power in Indian workplaces has seen an unprecedented growth. Regional differences, age differences and lingual differences add to diversity. This report includes the essence of diversity management. A literature review has been made about the various aspects of diversity, perception of diversity as a challenge and opportunity. The traditional ways of diversity management and the modern concept of ‗Living diversity‘ have been explained in the Indian context. The report also explains various techniques to leverage diversity by effective recruitment and training, multicultural marketing, making strategic rejigs and by ‗Living diversity‘.


India Inc. today is riding the crest of the wave of success and progress. With positive indicators such as a stable 8-9 per cent annual growth, rising foreign exchange reserves, a booming capital market and a rapidly expanding FDI inflows, India has emerged as the second fastest growing major economy in the world. By all indicators, the economy is vibrant, flourishing and growing speedily towards even better days ahead. Interestingly, a significant aspect is evident by the broad-based nature of the growth process. The Diversity in Indian industry spanning core sectors to information technology and Service oriented industries is very much an integral part of this growth story. When a business goes beyond the national borders of its country, the complexity grows. This complexity is created by the sheer diversity of factors to be balanced and managed at every level. Beyond marketing, finance or production, a range of legal, political, cultural and sociological dimensions enter the picture. In context of globalization, diversity is inevitable. Indian companies have to tackle marketing challenges at a nationwide level by adapting to different languages, market preferences etc effectively, yet at the same time considering India as a homogenous market for optimizing on scale. The route to globalization is possible through exports, licensing of technology & knowledge, multinational trading, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, full fledged global operations. Diversity is most pronounced in case of mergers and acquisitions. India Inc had 92 merger and acquisition deals, valued at nearly US$ 6 billion, in the first two months of 2008. In fact, the year 2007 has been accredited as the year of mergers and

acquisitions. Indians bought up companies in Europe and the US, splashing out some US$ 33 billion. It is more about building a mindset aiming of taking on the challenges to transcend the barriers of language and cultures to leverage resources and create value, for maximizing organizational performance. When a company goes global, it undergoes a turbulence and flux. There is an inherent instability. Corporations that embark on this growth trajectory will face churn and uncertainty amidst change. The Indian multinational corporations shall encounter diversity at various levels, at the individual, organizational, national and global level. In this endeavor, success will come to those corporations in which the leadership is able to manage the challenges of diversity at each level in an integrated manner.


LITERATURE REVIEW Lot of research works have been done on the topic, managing diversity. In the modern world the idea has changed from ‗Managing Diversity‘ to ‗Living Diversity‘, which has got wider dimensions. ―Todays managers must continually deal with significant variability in the people (workforce, customers and stakeholders) who interface with the organization‖ (Samuel C. Certo, S. Trevis Certo, Modern Management). The number of women employees has been increasing in many organizations. ―More and more women have been joining the organizations in India and women executives have also been occupying important positions at the middle and top levels in the organizations.‖ (Human Resource Management: concepts and Issues, T.N. Chhabra). Studies have been done on the organizational cultures and flexible workplaces also.

―Organizations are modifying their workplaces to accommodate the varied needs of diverse work force‖ (StephenP.Robbins,Timotry.A.Judge,Organizationalbehavior). In the Indian context, where diversity is mainly due to gender and region, diversity training can help the employees to imbibe the organization culture and generate synergy in team works. ―According to one survey of HR directors, diversity-based programs included these elements: improving interpersonal skills, understanding and valuing cultural differences, improving technical skills, socializing employees into the corporate culture, reducing stress, mentoring, improving lingual skills etc.‖(Gary Dessler, Human resource management, 2006). India has a very diverse market and a company can survive here, only through precise segmentation and targeting along with building and sustaining good customer relationships. ―A child growing up in a traditional middle-class family in India

is exposed to the following values: respect and care for elders, honesty and integrity, hard work, achievement and success, humanitarianism, and sacrifice. Also sub cultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups and geographic regions. The solution for this diversity is multicultural marketing.‖ (Philip Kotler, Kevin Lane Keller, Abraham Koshy, Mithileshwar Jha, Marketing Management: A south Asian Perspective,2006). Diversity, when managed aptly, changes to an opportunity which can be utilized to yield benefits. Diversity can help managers to mould themselves to be skilled enough to manage any problem under the sun with confidence.


CHALLENGES FOR INDIA INC. A plethora of factors which contributes to diversity for India Inc. are listed below. Language, Race, Gender, Attitudes, Skills, Motivation, Internationalization and Strategic Orientation issues, Organization Structure and Size, Ownership, Recruitment and retention, Work Culture, Corporate Communication, Cultural Dynamics, Political environment, Macro Economic forces, Regulatory/legal frameworks, Public

Administration, Infrastructure, Financial Markets and policies, Communications, Ethics, Competitive advantage of the nation, Geographical Time Zones , Climate differences ,Geo-Political Factors, Demographic composition etc.

Fig1: Dimensions of Diversity


These factors can be amalgamated to three dominant categories of diversity and can be viewed from three different angles. 1. Work force Diversity 2. Diversity in the market 3. Stakeholder diversity In the Indian context workforce diversity is the most dominant. Employees of Indian organizations are becoming increasingly heterogeneous. With the passing of days, diversity is going to be an important issue for the HR manager for the following reasons. A large number of women are joining the work-force. Work-force mobility is increasing. Young workers in the work-force are increasing. International careers and expatriates are becoming common. Necessity of international experience is felt for career progression to many top-level managerial positions. Also in India, the secondary dimensions of diversity
have decisive influences on organizational cohesion. Affiliation of individuals to specific religions or castes, their marital and parental status or language play a significant role in the process of developing relationships with superiors, as well as subordinates. The Indian workforce consists of over 400 million employees originating from 32 different states that tend to be culturally and linguistically unique. Although two languages, Hindi and English, are used for official communication, about 2150 newspapers in 92 languages illustrate the complexity of the Indian linguistic landscape.

Due to the global relations of Indian companies, the workforce again becomes diverse because Indian companies are now hiring foreign workforce .Moreover Indian companies were on an acquisition spree for the last two-three years. A number of joint ventures were also realized with foreign companies. Living diversity becomes important in this scenario.


Market diversity is prevailing in India from ancient times, even before her independence. India is a large country and comprises 29 states and 6 union territories. Linguistically speaking, it has a variety of languages, dialects, and cultures due to which the companies have to plan special marketing techniques including multicultural marketing to build and maintain a strong customer base. Also the Indian companies are targeting foreign countries and the culture of customers in those markets are also diverse. They will be having different concepts about quality and customer service. Here comes the need of global managers. In Indian context the share holders are very sensitive and their satisfaction is a function of the performance of accompany. Moreover as companies go global, managing diverse clients becomes another hurdle. Vendor rating and selection procedure should be carefully done to choose the right vendor from a diverse list of domestic and foreign vendors. How to manage all these diversities and transform it to an opportunity?


MANAGING DIVERSIY IN INDIA INC. A single ‗one size fits all‘ solution‘ would be shortsighted, since we recognize that every organization deals with diversity in its individual situation, with unique nuances and intricacies. From a generalized view point, the following approaches can help managers of India Inc to manage diversity and yield benefits. 1. Managing diversity in India Inc should start from the individual level. Before moving for mergers and acquisitions the organization should prepare a master plan for recruiting and training people so that they can meet the needs of diversity management. Cultural training should be provided to the required managers of both the firms. Restructuring of the management structure should be well planned. International orientation of Indian Business needs to be improved. It is advisable not to view corporate strategy as secondary to daily operations, but to consider it as focus area. The vision, mission and values of the two merging organizations require alignment to have clarity on the core objective and purpose of the Indian Multinational and the way the objectives are to be achieved. Indian companies have management personnel and Board of Directors mostly comprising of only Indian nationals. It may be worth considering other nationals for different international perspectives. 2. Women‘s share of employment is steadily increasing in Indian organizations. Companies should recruit according to the required male-female ratio for the suitable job. Also mentoring programs should be arranged by senior managers to identify promising women employees and play an important role in nurturing their career progress. Issues concerning women employees including sexual harassments, night shift allocations etc should be taken care of.

Infosys the biggest Indian IT company, have employees from over 70 countries. Women constitute more than 32% of workforce. Infosys Women Inclusivity Network (IWIN) recognizes the unique aspirations and needs of women and provides avenues for vocational, personal and psychological counsel to enable professional and personal development. 3. The global Indian manager is challenged to retain the essence of the brand and message across diverse markets across different countries, while customizing the form, for effectively communicating the message. Indian managers should be trained and preconditioned to face these situations 4. A diversity manager has got a good role in the Indian context of managing diversity. He can really churn diversity to bring the hidden power out of it. He should coordinate diversity training programs at different levels and generate new programs to manage stakeholder diversities. In all the facets, diversity helps an Indian manager to be equipped with all arrows in the arsenal to face any global situations. 5. Leaders and managers within organizations must incorporate diversity policies into every aspect of the organization‘s function and purpose. Attitudes toward diversity originate at the top and filter downward. Management cooperation and participation is required to create a culture conducive to the success of any organization‘s plan. The top management should develop a harmony between the organization and its stake holders which is the essence of the CSR pyramid. (Fig 2 and Fig 3)


Fig 2: CSR pyramid

Fig 3: CSR and diversity 6. A diverse workforce is a better business proposition. Cross-fertilization of ideas at the workplace has acquired new significance with tremendous emphasis being placed on leveraging individual differences to business advantage. Managers should develop the skills to manage a diverse workforce (Fig 2).


Fig 3: Successful management of a diverse work force


Our findings, suggestions and the practical approach towards managing diversity are given below.  Regularly audit, review and evaluate progress (through surveys) and keep qualitative and quantitative data to chart progress and show business benefits.  Encourage employee consultation, involvement, good communication and feedback to make sure that the organization fosters commitment to diversity management. Ensure individual employee focus.(Fig 4)

Fig 4: Managing Diversity: How to move equity forward.


Include diversity objectives in job descriptions and appraisal systems and recognize and reward achievement.


Network with others, both inside and outside your organization, to keep up to date with ways of progressing diversity and share learning.


Develop an open culture with good communication channels based on open dialogue and active listening. Use different and accessible communication

methods such as newsletters, in-house magazines, notice boards and intranets to help people keep up to date with diversity policies and practices and consult employees for ideas.  Introduce a value system based on respect and dignity for all, which is actively supported by the chief executive and top management. Make it clear that everyone has a personal responsibility to uphold the standards and ensure they are met. Introduce mechanisms to deal with all forms of harassment, bullying and intimidating behaviour. Make it clear that such behaviour will not be tolerated and set out the consequences of breaking the organisation‘s behaviour code. Aim to describe desirable behaviours to gain positive commitment.  Be rigorous in checking for and removing unfair biases in systems, procedures and their applications. They can restrict the benefits of diversity.

Fig 7: Discrimination model  Build diversity concepts and practice into management training and teambuilding programmes and infuse it to the organization culture (Fig 2). This will increase

awareness about the need to handle different views, perceptions and ideas in positive ways.

Fig 5: An Organization culture for success


Look for ways of addressing the diverse needs of customers and clients to improve overall business performance.(Fig 6)

Fig 6: Customer and Employee relation.  Be aware that international culture issues add one more dimension to managing diversity. Organizations operating in world markets need to ensure that approaches to managing diversity take into account the ways that individual working styles and personal preferences are influenced by national cultures.


Managing diversity is a continuous process of improvement, not a once-and-forall initiative.


Focus on fairness and inclusion and providing options and choices that support business goals and reflect good practice.


Make sure that merit, competence and potential are the basis for all decisions about recruitment employment and development. Focus on essential and objective job-related criteria when making employment and training decisions about people. Remove subjectivity and only use ‗desirable but not essential‘ requirements to differentiate between candidates of the same caliber.


Let diversity be there. Watch it and be a change agent and help the employees to be aware about the benefits and significance of diversity. Train them to develop mutual respect and trust. Project the benefits of diversity to the stakeholders and let them also be a part of the game. Diversify the products and services and meet the diversity in market place. Living diversity can be magical. Living Diversity means to create a cultural and social ambiance that is inclusive and empowers all groups in the corporation and it is an on-going process which enables executives, managers, and the workforce to become world citizens—persons who are able to transcend their own racial/ethnic, gender, cultural and socio-political reality and identify with humankind throughout the world, at all levels of human need. They are thus a transcending people who know no boundaries, and whose operating life-principle is compassion. This is the principle that should be modeled in corporation at all levels, in the process of living diversity. The challenge is great but so is the reward

Fig 8: Living Diversity


REFERENCES Hard copy References:
1. "Communications, Funding, Affinity Groups Fuel Diversity Program," HR Focus 80 (April 2003): 9 2. "Diversity: A 'new' Tool for Retention", HR Focus 77 (June), 14. 3. C.W. Von Bergen, Barlow Soper and Teresa Foster, "Unintended Negative Effects of Diversity Management," Public Personnel Management 31 (Summer 2002): 239-251. 4. Gary Dessler, Human resource management, prentice Hall of India,2005 5. Human Resource Management: concepts and Issues, T.N. Chhabra 6. K. Aswathappa, Human Resource and Personnel Management, 4th edition, Tata McGraw-Hill, New Delhi, 2006. 7. Lin Grensing-Pophal, "Welcoming Diversity", Credit Union Management 25 (October 2002): 28-31. 8. Luis R. Gomez-Mejia, Managing Human Resource, PHI, 2003, p-139-145. 9. Managing Corporate Culture- Karl Ulrich, RS Chaudhary, Kishan S Rana 10. Matti F. Dobbs, "Managing Diversity: Lessons from the Private Sector", Public Personnel Management 25 (September 1996): 351. 11. Melissa Solomon, "Create Diversity in Culture, Ideas", Computerworld 36 (May 6, 2002):42-43. 12. R. Mondy and Robert M. Noe, Human Resource Management, 9th edition, Pearson Education, Delhi, 2006. 13. Samuel C. Certo, S. Trevis Certo, Modern Management, Tenth edition,2006 14. StephenP.Robbins,Timotry.A.Judge,Organizationalbehavior, twelfth edition, 2007 15. Suzanne C. de .Janasz, Interpersonal Skills in organization, McGraw-Hill, 2002, p-146. 16. The Promise of Diversity – Elsie Y.Cross, Judith H. Katz, Frederick Miller. Edith W. Seashore

Web References:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

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