Human Resource Management

Essay by ataf78Junior High, 8th gradeF, March 2006

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Diversity is a context dependent concept. No one can be defined as different in isolation. It is only against the background of a variety of contextual factors that it is possible to evaluate the extent to which they appear similar to or different from the people in their environment. A lone female among a group of males, for example, is more likely to be defined according to her gender than would otherwise be the case. Much research has shown that individuals choosing non traditional roles at work (e.g. male nurses, female construction workers) generally require additional "bolstering" in the form of particular personality traits (e.g. higher levels of self esteem) or through supplemental support from their organisation (Hellriegal et al., 1995). A lack of such support is often linked with highly negative experiences at work as individuals struggle to come to terms with a culture that may at best be alien (and thus harder to adjust to than a familiar culture would be) or at worst hostile, actively creating obstacles against their successful participation (Maddock and Parkin, 1994).

Diversity is a selective concept. Some characteristics are used as stronger indicators of diversity than others. The characteristics that are selected may vary from culture to culture, from organisation to organisation or social group to social group. Generally though, strong indicators of diversity tend to include such dimensions as gender, skin colour, age, cultural background, accent and levels of physical ability. Weaker dimensions include other physical characteristics such as height and eye colour. However, people may also be discriminated against in subtle ways, using these types of weaker dimensions of diversity. Brady (1996) has shown for example how non justifiable height requirements have been used by employers to disqualify applicants who fall below the average height associated with a particular organisational or...