Social and Business Case Approaches to Diversity
Under the influence of contemporary globalization trends, business entities are particularly interested in the diversity of their staff. The inclusion of people from different backgrounds, of different gender, race, or ethnicity, allows the organizations to achieve better company recognition, increased customer flow, and ultimate growth of profits (Bui and Eguaikhide, 2019). Companies with a diverse workforce have a higher-level capacity for achieving strategic goals, sustaining long-term competitive advantages, making faster decisions, and obtaining more opportunities for innovation (Lambert, 2016). Therefore, business leaders deem diversity a key component of organizational success. However, the approaches to managing diversity differ; the social case and the business case approaches are both aimed at recognizing diversity and eliminating discrimination. Despite this similarity, the two approaches employ different methods to manage diversity in the workforce. This paper identifies these differences and illustrates them with organizational performance examples.
Within the realm of human resources management, the issue of diversity might be addressed from two perspectives, providing equal opportunity for all or deliberate managing of diversity. The first approach is characteristic of the social justice case, which justifies the necessity to treat all individuals equally, providing the same opportunity. The corporate culture is not managed toward the recognition of diversity and the beliefs about discrimination and equal opportunity remain unchanged (Liff, 1999). The second approach is characteristic of the business case, which is used by the companies as a tool to increase profit and achieve strategic goals. According to Guillaume et al. (2017), the business case approach “benefits the organization through more innovations, better decision-making, a larger talent pool, and a wider customer base” (p. 276). The difference in the vision of diversity implies the difference in corporate culture and organizational outcomes.
Thus, the social justice case is limited in its potential to recognize differences between people of various backgrounds and capacities, which, in turn, diminish equal opportunities. As Noon and Ogbonna (2001) illustrate, a person might be hired based on procedural justice or on the representativeness basis, which does not specifically create an opportunity for a particular population. On the contrary, the business case approach implies the recognition of the differences and the deliberate creation of opportunities for them. This perspective allows the company to obtain strategic goals using diversified human resources whose capacity is amplified. However, it fails to provide fairness to all populations since profit-making is prioritized throughout the human resource management procedures (Noon and Ogbonna, 2001). If it is not cost-efficient for a business to accommodate a person with a disability, the organization will not offer a job to such an individual. This demonstrates the weakness of the business case in eliminating discrimination.
To illustrate the utilization of the two approaches by organizations, one might identify the business case approach’s use of workplace surveys and training sessions for diversity improvement. Also, community events and intercultural sessions are initiated to foster favorable workplace conditions and cultivate a culture with zero tolerance for discrimination (Bui and Eguaikhide, 2019). Such interventions are effective for the company’s culture because they contribute to diversity awareness and address tentative issues in contemporary society. As for the examples of the social justice case practices, the recruitment procedures employed by a company might be constructed based on compliance with particular standards. Thus, a firm ensures that it will hire the best candidates, but the opportunity to demonstrate the achievements against the set criteria will not be fair, since the background and abilities are disregarded.
Bui, L. and Eguaikhide, O. (2019) ‘Institutional resistance to managing workplace diversity, International Conference of LIGS University, LIGS University, Hawaii, USA, pp. 26-32.
Guillaume, Y.R., Dawson, J.F., Otaye‐Ebede, L., Woods, S.A. and West, M.A. (2017) ‘Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity?’, Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(2), pp. 276-303.
Lambert, J. (2016) ‘Cultural diversity as a mechanism for innovation: Workplace diversity and the absorptive capacity framework’, Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 20(1), pp. 68-77.
Liff, S. (1999) ‘Diversity and equal opportunities: Room for a constructive compromise?’, Human Resource Management Journal, 9(1), pp.65-75.
Noon, M. and Ogbonna, E. (2001) Equality. Diversity and disadvantage in employment. New York: Springer.