Diversity in a Police Force Literature Review Chapter

Pages: 15 (5218 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Business

Diversity in a Small Police Department

The Importance of Diversity in a Small Police Department

Diversity is a significant issue in life, and in the workplace. Unfortunately, there are a number of workplaces where diversity is not seen. This could be deliberate, but it could also come from simply not hiring specific people who did not meet the job requirements. Overall, people like to be with others who are similar to them, and like gravitates to like (Allen, 1995). When getting involved in any type of business, especially one that works with the public, it is important to consider how best to add diversity to the workforce (Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). That can make the job better for everyone, and can also help the public when it comes to interactions with the people who do that job (Harvey, 2012; Miliken, Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003). The more people are open to diversity, the better they will generally do at understanding and empathizing with others. For a police force, this kind of connection with the public is a critical part of the job. It can deeply affect how the officers do their jobs, and how the people they interact with feel about those officers.

Beginning in the 1960s, there have been models and cases that have addressed the value of diversity in the business environment (Brownell, 2003; Cockburn, 1989; Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010). Affirmative action was part of a program of forced diversity, and many of the early models that dealt with how a company could be more diverse were centered around that plan (Harvey, 2012). However, there were also other ways of providing diversity to companies and their workers, which allowed for more people to work with others who were not like them. That provided them with insight into how they wanted to look at the world, and helped them focus on the kinds of things that truly mattered to them. Understanding and accepting diversity is not always easy, hence the reason that it really had to be forced in many ways before people would agree to it (Miliken, Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003). Much has changed since that time, though, and there is a greater acceptance of diversity than what was seen in the past. This has brought many people closer together, and helped them focus on the important things in life -- some of which involves caring for and appreciating others.

One of the biggest problems with the Affirmative action way of bringing in new and different people to businesses, was that it led to the feeling of tokenism (Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). This is when a person who is different from others is the "token woman" or "token black" in the group. It implies that the only reason the person is there is to ensure that a quota is met or a law is not violated (Fine, 1996). That does not allow the person hired much chance to really become part of the group and/or have his or her ideas heard and appreciated. Since the person was not hired for his or her skills but only for an appearance of diversity, the job is not one that is really appropriate for the person and very little respect or assimilation will be seen from the other people who work there (Mumby, 1988; Page, 2007). Diversity is not something that happens easily in many of today's companies, even when those companies are not violating the law or do not feel they need a "token" person or a particular gender, color, or ethnicity (Miliken, Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003).

Laws to encourage diversity have really not helped, in that they have forced companies to hire more diverse workforces in some cases, but those companies do not value the diverse workers that they have (Harvey, 2012). Because the laws have not provided the desire for diversity that was hoped for, it is important to look at other reasons diversity should be seen and other ways in which it can be encouraged. One of the models that evolved after affirmative action was the social justice model. It advocated for diversity, and did so by expounding the idea that hiring people who were different was the right way to handle things when it came to good business (and moral) decisions (Miliken, Morrison, & Hewlin, 2003). The idea was to take people who did not fit with the dominant culture or group at the workplace, and either hire or promote them, so that diversity would spread. It was still "tokenism" in many ways, but it also helped to encourage a better fit between companies and their employees.

Because the country and the global market are both changing, it is important for businesses to do the same. Too many businesses remain stuck in the past, where they only hire certain kinds of people as much as possible. What they fail to understand when doing that, is that there are a number of people they will have to work with who will not be like them (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010). If they do not have employees who have similarities to their customers, they can experience breakdowns in communication and other problems that come with not having a diverse workforce (Allen, 1995). That is true for something as simple as a coffee shop, and even more important for businesses that work closely with others in sometimes tense situations. Police officers fall into that category, whether they are on a standard force or they work for a private company. Diversity encourages productivity and a culture where people want to learn from one another (Cockburn, 1989). The more diversity is seen in a particular company, the more likely that company will be to have employees who can interact well with customers and clients.

Being able to work with the public is a gift that not everyone possesses, but the people who do this best are often those who are open to new thoughts, ideas, and ways of doing things (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010; Page, 2007). They are also generally happier in their jobs, because they get to work with a mix of people who challenge them and keep them thinking about the world and all it can offer (Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). There are still a number of organizations and companies that are not serious about diversity, though, and that do not make an effort to include all types of people in their employee roster. They may feel more comfortable with what they already have, but overall they are keeping their company from getting needed help and information from people who have other ideas and belief systems based on their diverse backgrounds. Because studies have shown that more diverse workforces mean happier employees who are more productive, miss fewer days, and stay with their employers longer, one would think that diversity would be very important to companies (Brownell, 2003; Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010; Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). However, there is still discomfort about it that can be difficult to overlook, and that businesses have not yet been able to completely get past.

Issues with diversity are really not as easy to address as it would seem when it comes to companies and businesses (Harvey, 2012). Recent research into the concern has shown that there are three different types of organizations, and they all work with, address, and consider cultural diversity somewhat differently. These organizations are monolithic, plural, and multicultural (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010). In the monolithic organization, there is minimal cultural diversity. In the workforce it is possible to find people who are diverse in that they do not "match" what is commonly seen throughout the organization (Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010). However, none of these people are going to be found in real leadership or power positions. They may be employees, but they will be kept there. It is not possible to see them as managers, or as anything more than the people who take orders from the people who make the rules. While that is unfortunate, it does not take long to spot these kinds of organizations. Then they can be avoided by people who are looking for diversity in the company they work with, or who need that diversity to get hired (Brownell, 2003; Eisenberg, Goodall, & Trethewey, 2010).

By contrast, the plural organization is much more open to hiring people from diverse backgrounds (Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). While many of them will remain at the employee level, there are opportunities for them to receive promotions to management. There is still a dominant group, but that group is willing to be more inclusive, and takes steps to encourage people who come from different cultures and races (Tatli & Ozbilgin, 2009). These kinds of organizations generally consider the people who are different from them to be marginalized to some degree by society, so they want to give chances to these people and allow them to grow and develop from a business standpoint (Tatli & Ozbilgin,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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