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AFFIRMING THE BENEFITS OF A DIVERSE WORKPLACE
Workplace diversity was described in Chapter 5 of this topic as acknowl-
edging the value, acceptance, and contributions of all people. It was
further explained as understanding that each person is unique and impor-
tant, while recognizing their individual differences. Workplace diversity
can also provide a variety of positive benefits that can be brought to an
individual, organization, or business setting. As demonstrated during the
current economic downturn, an organization's success and competitive-
ness will increasingly depend upon its ability to embrace the benefits
gained from the diverse backgrounds and experience of its workers. By
not affirming diversity, an organization's ability to obtain the best creative
talent from its workforce is clearly limited. Employers who promote
equality of opportunity among their workforce can draw upon a much
wider pool of the culture in the workforce. In the rapidly changing social
and economic environment, diversity must be fostered or supported if an
organization or business is to remain truly competitive ( Fine, 1996 ).
For most businesses, surviving the economic downturn has meant
using drastic cutbacks in every possible area, from plant renovation to
personnel or health costs. For a number of businesses and organizations
the elimination of many employee benefits and programs was deemed as
absolutely necessary. In order to plan for the future survival of a business
and the economic severity of the times, it has often felt essential that costs
be cut down to a basic operational level. The idea of maintaining diversity
programs in the workplace has been challenged, but it has proven to be a
good investment in the overall stability and financial returns to many
businesses ( Society for Human Resource Management, 2010 ).
Diversity programs that were found to be an asset to a company and
workforce during better economic times can continue to have a positive
benefit during an economic downturn. The dynamic of a diverse work
environment has historically been a catalyst for greater creativity and can
help maintain employee loyalty during a recession. Businesses that are
committed to employing and showing commitment to a diverse work-
force are creating positive labor relations. A diverse workforce provides a
unique distribution of talent from a wide range of the population.
Individual characteristics, experiences, and the backgrounds of each
employee make for a more flexible and innovative workforce. Harvey and
Allard (2012) noted that the recession has posed problems and challenges
that extend far outside the realm of normal business, and a team of
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