more on diversity…

Diversity of the employees of an organisation on the basis of social variables such as gender, race or ethnicity, physical ability, age, socio-economic status, sexual identity or orientation and religious, political and ethical beliefs or ideology can be of great value to an organisation. Diversity on the basis of these variables connects those individual to a subculture of the society with their own shared language, meanings and values, allowing those individuals to connect more meaningfully with clients of the organisation who share those characteristics. This results in more effective communication and therefore better outcomes for the organisation.

The problem in recruiting employees only from the dominant culture is that they may have access to a limited understanding of the meanings, beliefs and values of other cultural groups and limited experience in bridging the gaps between subcultures and therefore, other societies. This would be unproblematic if the organisation’s clients were drawn from only one, the same, cultural group, but in modern multicultural societies, the clients and constituents of both medicine and the public service are from diverse cultural, linguistic and ethnic groups and it is necessary for both health service providers and bureaucrats to be able to equitably meet the health service and bureaucratic needs of all of their clients and constituents. Likewise in business, it is unlikely that an organisation would actively seek to limit its client base to one cultural group. Businesses would be seeking to service the needs of the broadest range of potential clients better than any of their competitors.

If the organisation values the diversity of its employees and encourages others to do so, this can result in skills and knowledge transfer that benefits other employees and the organisation to better communicate with clients. If employees feel they have the support of the organisation to express a different perspective, their fresh perspectives on the status quo can challenge the dominant culture, providing insight, stimulating debate, and potentially, resulting in change that strengthens the organisation and its practices.  This allows the organisation to perform and compete more effectively in their chosen work environment. There is ample evidence of the value of this approach in medicine, the public sector and in the private sector management literature.

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