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Discuss Why Understanding 'surface-Level Diversity' and 'deep-Level Diversity' Is Good Business Practice for Managers Working in Organisations

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Introduction

The different kinds of diversity in organizational settings refer to the two selected diversity levels that are posed as challenges in the workforce, be it a positive impact or negative impact. These 2 major types are surface-level diversity and deep-level diversity. They are notable in today's labor force and the importance of them may be well addressed in certain organizations. Surface-level diversity refers to the noticeable and heterogeneous characteristics such as age, gender, ethnicity, language etc whereby it is easy to measure and can be easily misled in the managers' practice of judgment and discrimination based on these factors (Williams C. 2007). Deep-level diversity expresses differences in communication through verbal and non-verbal behaviors such as attitudes, values, beliefs and personality etc (Williams C. 2007). Recognizing and understanding the two levels of the diverse workforce allows managers to see it as an integral part of the business plan to significantly make a difference for group outcomes and affect the experiences of participating individuals within a team (Lee, 2009-11). A diverse workforce used to a company's advantage can help achieve globalization by embracing various backgrounds and perspectives so as to serve their broad customer base worldwide. With today's increasing globalization, companies with heavy emphasis on good management need diversity to become more creative and open to change (Green, López, Wysocki & Kepner 2002). The workforce is ever changing and evolving therefore understanding the different levels of diversity could help to break negative attitudes and behavior which can be barriers as well as prevent prejudice and discrimination in the organization (Green, López, Wysocki & Kepner 2002).

Main discussion

Recent studies that have examined the implications of observable differences of surface-level diversity between individuals in teams or workgroups suggest that these implications affect team cohesion and productivity (Harrison, Price, & Bell, 1998). The better the group members learn about one another over time, the less influence surface-level diversity has on the individuals while deep-level diversity becomes key to the explanation of groups' functioning (Harrison et al., 2002). When individuals in teams/workgroups experience similarity and appear to have agreeable views, the assumption is that they are similar to other members of their workgroup in their point of view (Laio, Chuang, Joshi, 2008). These similarities in thinking or attitudes would translate into positive outcomes in work performance, which also inhibits the tendency to withdraw or depart from work (Laio, Chuang, Joshi, 2008). The idea of innovation might be derived from diversity among work group members (Cox, Lobel, & McLeod, 1991). It is further explained that diverse people are supposed to possess more diverse and novel ideas as they approach the same task from different points of view, which will more likely result in task-related conflicts. When these diverse perspectives are combined, it is expected to evoke a more thorough and complete consideration of all aspects, which will ensure more high-quality and innovative solutions (Dreu, Bechtoldt, Nijstad, 2007). However, if the individuals experience deep-level diversity and dissimilarity in the workplace based on surface-level qualities, their commitment to the job as well as job satisfaction would be greatly affected (cf., Harrison, Newman, & Roth, 2006). Negative attitudes and behaviors in the workplace such as prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination can be barriers to organizational diversity as well as be harmful for working relationships, work morale and productivity (Esty, et al., 1995). From the perspective of the similarity-attraction paradigm (Byrne, 1971; Riordan, 2000), individuals assume that interactions among people with shared unobservable qualities will be more seamless, rewarding and desirable and subsequently become more committed to their workgroup. Such similarities in the individuals within their workgroup would increase their sense of identity or belonging which will allow them to feel more committed and satisfied (Brewer, 1979). Effective managers that stress on good workforce management must understand discrimination and its consequences. It is important that managers manage for diversity because they are the keys to creating a successful and diverse workforce not only in the present but in the future as well (Flagg, 2002). Managers in organizations take steps to engage their employees, which in turn, respond by engaging their organizations (Greenberg, Baron, 2008, p. 27). The similar-to-me effect refers to the tendency for people to perceive more favorably others who are like themselves than those who are dissimilar (Greenberg, Baron, 2008, p. 97). This constitutes a potential source of bias when research has shown that superiors, who in this case are the managers, rate their subordinates according to the level of similarity between both parties (Greenberg, Baron, 2008, p. 97). The different dimensions of similarity include work values and habits; beliefs about the way things should be at work, as well as demographic variables (Greenberg, Baron, 2008, p.97). Managers should possess certain skills such as recognizing the differences among individuals, as each individual is unique and does not represent or speak for a particular group. Managers must also be willing to change the organization if necessary (Koonce, 2001). As stated in the Workplace Diversity Management Tookit and Manager's Guide p.4 viewed on 10 August 2011, in the study on Inclusive and Harmonious Workplaces conducted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2010, 87% of companies surveyed agreed that workplace harmony was vital in order to achieve positive business outcomes. Shared by Singapore's F&B restaurant, Han's Deputy Manager, its diversity management strategy reduced staff absenteeism greatly and staff turnover dropped fivefold between 2006-2009

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