Term Paper: Diversity Issues in Human Resources Advances

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Diversity Issues in Human Resources

Advances in technology, particularly in the field of communications have made the globe a smaller place. Many companies conduct business internationally at an ever-growing rate. Travel is easy and many companies find themselves with an increasing number of foreign nationals in their community and in their workforce. Cultural differences can create tension within the work environment. This tension reduces productivity and in its most serious form, can create a hostile work environment. Many companies are instituting diversity training as a part of their workforce training programs. Hiring foreign nationals creates another challenge in the global workforce. However, little has been written on this topic at this point, some countries are beginning to limit impatriation in favor of hiring nationals. Counties such as Saudi Arabia cite problems within their own country, particularly the unemployment rate as a key factor in this decision (Alrajhi, Metcalfe, and Roussel, 2006). This is becoming an important topic in workforce diversity. Impatriation can mean a clash of cultures. In order to make impatriation work takes understanding and tolerance of differences on from the employee and the company for which they have chosen to work.

Diversity is now considered a global issue, rather than an issue that is limited to individual companies. Diversity used to be seen as a liability in terms of expense, training and productivity issues. However, the technologically driven workforce now sees diversity as an asset. Companies know that they can benefit from the differences in perspective that a diverse workforce can bring.

There is a growing body of research that focuses on the effectiveness of diversity training programs. Companies began to implement diversity-training programs in order to promote understanding and tolerance among a diverse staff. However, recently managers have begun to question the effectiveness of these programs. A majority of research studies indicate that these programs accomplish their goals and that they promote understanding among employees. However, there are some studies that contradict the majority of the studies. One of the key issues in this area of research is that there might be differences in the quality of the programs themselves and that this might affect the results of these studies.

Managing a diverse workforce from a human resources perspective presents many challenges. The first is the problem of equity in the hiring process. The second is that there must be many adjustments in order for the relationship to work. However, research indicates that if one can overcome the challenges of managing a diverse workforce, the company can experience many benefits that can increase their competitive advantage. A diverse workforce is particularly advantages in industries that wish to attract different segments of the population, such as the banking industry (Griffin, & Sufhoff, 2004). Diversity is now considered "human capital" rather than a necessary evil imposed by the government. Ideas about diversity in the workforce are changing and these changes necessitate changes in the way human resources are managed. This Annotated Bibliography addresses the major topic areas involving diversity and the human resources field.

Annotated Bibliography

Al-Rajhi, I., Altman, Y., Metcalfe, B., Roussel, J. (2006). Managing Impatriate Adjustment as a Core Human Resource Management Challenge. Human Resource Planning. 29 (4): 15-29.

The topic of diversity and international human resource management cannot be separated. Impatriation is the practice of hiring foreign nationals for fixed-term temporary employment. This practice is common, especially as companies attempt to offer their goods and services to a larger global marketplace. It will continue to become an important issue in human resources management. Although this is an important topic, little academic research has been done on it. This study investigated the demographics, policies and "Saudisation" of Saudi Arabia. It addressed the topic from the standpoint of a foreigner becoming an impatriate in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is changing its policy regarding impatriates so that it better reflects the goals and needs of the country. It wishes to take a harsh stance on the issue in an attempt to alleviate its own unemployment problems and to recapture invested income that would otherwise go overseas. It also wants to build up its own knowledge bank of nationals so that it will be better prepared for the future.

This study took a case analysis approach to study of how changing policies will affect the chosen company. This study contained a thorough analysis of government policies in Saudi Arabia that effect impatriation, but it its conclusions were largely theoretical in nature. There were many assumptions in the conclusions and analysis of this case.

Arneill, a. And Mcarthur, S. (2004). 2004 HRPS Annual Global Conference: Interviews & Insights. Human Resource Planning. 27 (2), 52-63.

This article summarizes the topics presented at a global conference on Human Resource Planning. Although it is not a traditional study, it was included because it addresses the most current trends and issues in the human resources industry. It is important to stay abreast of the issues that are currently being faced in the industry. This can help to determine the topic chosen and the impact that it will have on the industry. One of the key topics at this conference was diversity in a global marketplace. As the world becomes more integrated, diversity issues are quickly becoming one of the most significant issues in human resource management. All speakers were considered to be experts in their profession. This article highlights the growing importance of diversity issues in the field of human resource management.

Brotherton, P. A History of Determination: Minority CPAs Have Come a Long, Way, but True Diversity Has Yet to Be Achieved. Journal of Accountancy. 200 (4), 71-80.

The accounting profession has come a long way in the acceptance of African-Americans into the profession. However, inequalities still exist at upper levels of the organizations. Women also experience inequalities at the upper levels. This article was published in a professional journal. It relied on historical data concerning the number of women and African-Americans as the basis for its conclusions. The data sources were credible and included government reporting agencies. However, the article was written with a rather one-sided slant towards African-American rights. Although, the data was credible and the conclusions drawn from it were correct, the article contained more opinion than fact.

Buttner, H., Lowe, K., and Billings-Harris, L. (2006). The Influence of Organizational Diversity Orientation and Leader Attitude on Diversity Activities. Journal of Managerial Issues. 18 (3), 356-371.

Diversity awareness programs are becoming an increasingly important part of the corporate landscape in America. This study explored the extent of diversity activities, the influence of demographic characteristics and racial awareness on leader attitudes, and the influence of diversity orientation on diversity activities within the organization. This study used an N-658, which is sufficient size to draw conclusions that are applicable to a larger population. The study divided the group according to demographics. These divisions among the group served as the independent variable. The dependent variable was the diversity strategies and attitudes among the leaders. The study concluded that racial awareness was a better predictor of diversity attitude than was the respondent's own sex or race. The leader's attitude was not a significant factor in diversity strategies. However, diversity orientation was found to play a significant role in the development of diversity attitudes. This study was conducted using sound methodology, leading to conclusions with a strong theoretical basis.

Vickers, M. (2005) Business Ethics and the HR Role: Past, Present, and Future. Human Resource Planning. 28.(1), 26-38.

Managers must continually balance the needs of many individuals. They must meet the needs of the organization, the stockholders and the need of the other stakeholders. Vickers addresses the lack of consensus on Business Ethics and what it means. This research stresses the important role that ethics plays in today's corporations. Vickers feels that these pressures are still present, even though many solutions have been enacted, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, that are meant to ensure ethical practices by companies. Vickers stresses the conflict that Humans Resources directors face as when they work for an unethical boss. They must attempt to balance the needs of the company with the wishes of their unethical boss.

Vickers conducted a literature review of academic articles that address ethics problems in Human Resources. A majority of the studies indicated that human resource personnel are aware of the importance of ethics problems and place them as a priority topic. The literature review relied on current, academic sources. It used comparative analysis to arrive at conclusions. Vickers addressed the issue of gender diversity and its role in ethics. Vickers found that all women boards were more honest than all male boards. Religious, gender and racial diversity are becoming important topics in the Human Resources department. Vickers conclusions were based on the body of evidence found. However, they can be criticized as being too general to have any real practical application.

Fink, G. And Meierewert, S. (2005). The Use of Repatriate Knowledge in Organizations. Human Resource Planning. 28 (4), 30-40.

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