International and Domestic Workforce Diversity

The trends towards global businesses and the diversity of the workforce also challenge the HR department. For example, cultural attitudes about women in the workforce caused many companies to redesign their development programs and put women in jobs that had been largely held by men. The diversity of educational attainment among workers had led companies to provide increasing amounts of remedial education in reading, writing, arithmetic, and English as a foreign language, with the large number of non-English-speaking workers in some firms, training materials are sometimes adapted to a second or third language.

Proactive HR department are expanding their programs to include diversity training. Here the concern is less with techniques, such as role playing or behavior modeling, and more with creating sensitivity to diversity in the workplace. For example, a survey by a major U.S. based consulting firm found: Employees is one survey reported providing:

Cultural diversity sensitivity training in 53% of firms.

Communication-across-cultures training in 32% of firms.

Gender issues training in 42% of firms.

Harassment-free-workplace training in 71% if firms.

Sexual awareness training in 15% of firms.

Disability awareness training in 56% of firms.

Elder issues awareness training in 235 firms.

“Today’s workplace is a melting pot of human differences,” says Mercer Consultant Richard F. Federico, “but companies that capitalize on this human mosaic can give an edge, particularly after corporate right-sizing, restructuring and re engineering have run their course….being sensitive to a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the good business thing to do.” “Ad global workforce and empowered teams become more prevalent,” he says, “employees will need to work closely together despite differences to satisfy equally diverse customers.”