Addressing Societal Inequalities: Leading Organizational Change in Diversity and Inclusion Practices


Problem Statement: With the recent attention given to racial and other forms of inequalities in society, how would you, as a manager in your organisation, lead on any changes to your organisation’s diversity and inclusion practices? Literature on management has realised the importance of discussing diversity in the work several years ago. The dominant view in the past was that the employees should be a representative of the majority in a society. That viewpoint has been invalidated in a matter fo a few years, as global markets have opened up and the importance of encompassing socio-cultural diversity in the work environment has increased tenfold. From the beginning of the millennium, research began work on understanding the impact of diversity in the workplace. Belonging to a different cultural group, speaking a different language and having a different cultural identity is no longer seen as a disadvantage to the organization, but an advantage (Lazear, 1999). Dale-Olsen and Finseraas (2020), investigating in the linguistic diversity of a workplace, find several key things. Language is a key form of communication in any area of work, and lack of communication due to the language being unknown can cost the employer and the employee. Their discovery states that while workers are not discriminated based on the language they speak, a good knowledge of the predominant language spoken in the workplace is essential. In other words, the function of a manager in a professional space is to ensure that while the individual differences of the employee is respected, they also learn the language in which business is conducted on a daily basis in the organization. Whatsapp Hence, inequality based on identity can take the form of linguistic marginalization or racial discrimination, but it is the duty of the manager to take concrete steps in understanding how to mitigate conflicting beliefs and maintain an equal and diversity-friendly environment in the workplace. The following sections will try and elucidate on how to go about in achieving that goal.

Diversity in Workplace: Identification and Addressing

The concept of inequality in the economic setup of a country and ultimately the workplace is of much interest to academics, both in the management and the economic disciplines. In the early part of the research, predominant argument was regarding the issue of policy management in a nation or an organization with respect to accommodating diversity in a bid to mitigate inequality (Human, 1993). As the economy developed further, the need recognising diversity in the workplace has increased further as well. This has come with the realisation that in order for employees to reach their full potential and arrive at the peak of their productivity, there needs to be an environment where their diversity is recognised (Dwyer et al, 2003). However, sadly, most of the times research and discovery does not lead to actual reform. In a study of corporate organizations, undertaken by Zulu and Paramasur (2009), it was discovered that companies lacked a proper structure whereby they could recognise and address the differences within the workers. Even more dismal was the involvement of the management in the engagement of measures for cultural and social inclusivity, manager’s attitudes towards creating a working structure of inclusivity to improve productivity was very marginal.

The important distinction in understanding inequality in management and business perspective and in other academic arenas is that from a management perspective, the research has to be backed by an action oriented plan. The first part of that plan becomes recognizing inequality in the workplace. Using the example of racism, this section will further explore how inequality could be recognized.

Racism in the workplace can involve a range of actions, from biases which hinder appointment of certain individuals to workplace micro-aggressions. One of the main hindrances to recognizing this kind of racism is by engaging in denial. Individuals who engage in racism mostly hold the view that it is harmless. Denial on their part may involve them underplaying instances of racism and sometimes flat-out lying that they engaged in racism (Kaiser and Miller, 2003). Individual behaviour changes slightly when they become a part of a group. When in a group, individuals are more likely to engage in racist activities. However, when individually asked, they don’t believe they, as individuals or as a part of a group, participate in racist activities, even if they admit that the group they belong to partakes in racist activities (Taylor et al, 1990). However, Kobayashi’s (2009) analysis of racism is perhaps the most relevant when it comes to recognizing racism in

Diversity in Workplace: Identification and Addressing

the workplace. Kobayashi elucidates that in subtle forms of racism, the denial pertains to prioritisation of issues. Individuals, considering anti-racist protests, do admit that racism in their society exists. However, they mostly consider racist activities as the kind of broad and physically violent acts which are committed by a small minority. They do not believe in the fact that racism is entrenched in structure of the system or that small instances of micro-aggressions in the workplace by racial discrimination of people is a valid problem. Another prevalent form of bias which is prevalent in workplaces is gender bias. They can take the form of either descriptive or prescriptive type. Stereotypes based on gender bias may lead to several tangible losses like reduced pay, mostly on the part of the woman (Eagly and Karau, 2002). From the perspective of a manager, they need to ensure that the not even unconscious forms of gender discrimination takes place. However, it is easier said than done. Unconscious bias is when people actively think they do not have any biases, but internally hold beliefs that discriminate based on gender (Cook Ross Inc., 2016). An easy way to understand this gender bias is simply to look at the figures of different corporations. While no business organization actively promulgates that they aren’t equal opportunity in nature, figures suggest otherwise. According to a research study undertaken by Heidrick and Struggles (2020), women in 2020 still continue to be paid less compared to men, when both are doing the same work. Additionally, even in the nation with the highest number of female CEOs, women only make up 16% of the total number of CEOs across all organizations. In China, the percentage of female CEOs is only 1% of the total number of CEOs. Hence, there are a number of indicators which plainly show that inequality is taking place in the workplace. The first step in taking concrete steps by management to remedy this issue. Without identifying the problem areas in a workplace, it is difficult to come up with a plan of action with relation to mitigating these differences. The next sections will elaborate on what plan of actions organisations and managers can take with respect to planning and executing structural and organizational changes in order to promote positive attitudes towards diversity and ultimately influence tangible positive change. 2. Management Initiatives for Reducing Inequality Several lessons can be learned from studying about inequality in the workplace. As already elucidated earlier, diversity has become an important aspect of good management. Any organization which wants to have competitive advantage in the market needs to undertake proper initiatives in order to accommodate diversity in their company. One of the most common approaches to deal with the needs of a diverse workplace is through the usage of stakeholder initiatives. It places the responsibility of elucidating on the measures that need to be taken by the organization on the shoulders of the groups that feel marginalised, they will make the decision as they are the stakeholders. However, past experience has shown that stakeholder approach in a corporate setting is never completely effective as only very powerful stake holding groups are the ones which actually make a difference in the structure of the organization (Wood et al, 1997). Hence, in the contemporary age, it is important that another form of mitigating socio-cultural diversity and fostering an environment of acceptance in the workplace is needed. Diversity management consist of a set of practices which help with achieving that purpose. Programs under diversity management help both managers and employees to become aware of cultural differences and how it impacts their responses and behaviour in the workplace. This is especially important as businesses are becoming more and more widespread in the liberal environment, and they need to take into account the needs of cultural groups which they do not belong to or which aren’t the majority in their nation as well (Konrad and Linnehan, 1999). A significant way to promote diversity is firstly by being transparent about company policy and the ideals it hopes to uphold. Discourse in the official company website is a good way to tell potential employers about the ideals that the company upholds. Singh and Point (2006) discover, which studying about the inclusiveness in ideals of companies in the UK, that websites in the UK tend to have more discourse in their website which explicates heavily on race equality, whereas nations like Germany stress greater on cultural equality. While there can be no saying which approach is better than the other, there is absolutely no harm in maintaining a thorough record of the company principles in the website, be it about attain race, gender or cultural equality. In the following sub-sections, the research will critically look at some of the measures that management can take in order to promote the free expression of one’s socio-cultural identity in the workplace and ensure that they do not fall victim to any systemic inequality.

Performance Appraisal

The marketing plans and strategies are especially made to attract the customers and find the best possible way to serve them and grow the business (Shuen.2018). To conduct a market research one has to follow the few steps likely: identification of the demand, selection of the appropriate way of data collection, designing a questionnaire, collection of data with regards to the questionnaire, analysis of the data collected.Performance appraisal is the method of evaluating and keeping tabs on the work and performance of the employees periodically. It is a mechanism through which employers can holistically and systematically look at the performance of the employees to find out in which area they need improvement and which are the areas where they can be set as an example to other employees (Schuler, 1980). One of the main issues that organizations face when it comes to tackling diversity issues in the workplace is the inability to maintain a set of unbiased and objective structures for measuring performance appraisal of the employees. In Human Resources, the problem of bias in performance appraisals continues to be an entrenched problem in most corporate structures (Vigoda, 2000). Performance appraisals can be of several kinds. While the most predominant kind of performance appraisal can be done through the usage of rating scale, whereby numerical scales are used to measure performance. But while it is a universal and relatively easier method to collect and compile data about the performance of the individual, the collector and the compiler of the data can easily fall victim to personal biases. A few approaches that can be used to conduct performance appraisals, as prescribed by an MHRD report, are as follows: Critical Incidents Method: This is a method, through the usage of which the management can take into account important incidences in the workplace which making an appraisal. This is an especially important approach in work environments where the cultural minority is very small and the majority can easily dominate the minority. Both incidents of positive behaviour by the employees and negative attempts at marginalisation will be taken into consideration when making performance appraisals. The only problem with this approach is that negative incidences may have a bigger chance of getting reported than positive incidences and this may cause an involuntary bias in the report. Comparative Evaluation: One of the problems that people who are culturally marginalised or disadvantaged face is that they are not compensated as much as their counterparts for the same job (as was discovered in the previous section, with relation to the figures that showed that women in 2020 still get paid less than men for doing the same job). One way of overcoming this limitation in the workplace is by doing a comparative analysis of the performance of the workers. Employees are rated in pairs in order to make the comparison not relative to the whole office, rather compare it with another employee. This way, the manager will not be accused of having biases by singling out people who are already suffering socio-cultural inequality. Psychological Appraisals: Perhaps the least quantifiable in nature among all the models, this approach makes use of the employee’s present potential for development rather than concentrating on his/her past performances and their negative or positive outcomes in the workplace. This kind of appraisal is done with the assistance of in-depth interviews of the candidates, group interviews, focus groups, surveys and questionnaires and so on. At times, the management can also engage their employees in psychological tests, intellectual quizzes and so on to measure their intelligence quotient and emotional intelligence. In several ways, this approach makes up for the the other approaches being rigidly quantifiable and gives space to the employees to freely discuss their issues with their workplace. Additionally, it also makes the manager aware of an employee’s potential beyond their performance report and this knowledge could possibly help them relocate to a department where their skills fit better and they are more comfortable. However, the ambiguity of the results from this method prevent it from become a popular form of appraisal in the industry. Tests involving measurement of intellectual capabilities and emotionally intelligence are not completely scientific. Hence, these tests could be biased as well, thus defeating the whole purpose of the appraisal This section discussed appraisal as a form of concentrating on an employee’s ability rather than their identity in the workplace, in a bid to eliminate inequality. However, only appraisals will not be enough to bring equality in the workplace. The next section will discuss the role of cultural audits in bringing about positive influences in the workplace.

The Role of Cultural Audit

The Role of Cultural Audit

A good way to ensure that performance appraisals don’t fall victim to socio-cultural biases is by periodically holding audits which will educate the employees and the employers about factors which positively and negatively effect the performance of the workers . According to the Maccoby Group, a cultural audit consists of practices which include the studying and examination of the cultural norms and practices that are followed by the people who work in the organization. KPMG, in their website, lists cultural audit as one of the ways in which one can understand employee behaviour and the company can implement the soft control instruments while conducting a cultural audit. They postulate that an organization is made up of both hard controls and soft controls. Hard controls are the unbendable rules and regulations which made up the formal rules of an organization. However, in the context of accommodating diversity, the soft controls are more useful. They promulgate primarily four value; clarity of goals and expectations, ideals which a role model possesses, commitment to the organizations objectives and the practicality of the achievement chances to the goals. Soft controls such as transparency and openness are also soft controls which the management can employ in the pursuit of conducting its daily businesses. Another approach which is related to cultural audit is referred to as cultural assessment. Cultural assessment is the process through which organizations conduct surveys and ask questions to their employees in a bid to understand what the culture of their organization is for the employee. It is more micro in nature compared to cultural audit as it concentrates on the immediate work culture the individual is subjected to in order to understand if the work culture is healthy or not (KPMG). Forbes (October 12, 2019) describes organizational cultural assessment as important as managers often do not pay much attention to the culture of the workplace they are managing and this leads to a toxic work environment. In a report published by Entrepreneur, upon asking over 40,000 employees across 125 corporate offices, around 34% managers were unaware that their employees find it difficult to refuse them (March 4, 2020). This aspect of the report only showed how many managers were unaware, which means the majority were aware of the fact that their employees find it difficult to refuse them. Cultural assessment is a good way for employees to air out their dissatisfactions as manager-employee inequality is also a pertinent issue for many offices.

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Wage Equalit

One of the most important issues for widespread protest and dissatisfaction across corporate organizations in the present scenario has been the continuing existence of unequal pay for professions which do the same kind of work. The concept of equality in pay is also closely related to the concept of performance appraisal, as it also relates to the ideal that the person who scores the most in the appraisal will be proportionally paid the most. These two ideals in a workplace must work in tandem as an honest and unbiased performance appraisal will lead to an honest framework of employee productivity and that in turn will boost the wages of the employee that deserves it the most, not the employee who is the most socio-culturally advantaged (Vogoda, 2000). Dagher et al postulated, as early as 1988 that one of the key factors in encouraging diversity and promoting equality in the workplace is through equal pay. This ensures that productive employees have further incentive to increase their productivity and it would inspire other employees to maintain similar kind of productivity. Hence, it is clear that incentive plays a very important role in the productivity of the employee. Critically speaking, such an approach may have its disadvantages as well. For example, a mistake on the part of the reviewer in the appraisals process may cause widespread dissatisfaction among the general employees, as they may feel they performed well but haven’t been compensated as well as they should’ve been. If appraisal and equal pay work in tandem, a small bias in the department of appraisal can lead to mis-directed increase in pay. Such an action may achieve the opposite objective of the intended exercise; it may end up affecting the productively negatively rather than positively in the place of work. An important contention to be considered, especially when talking about inequality in wages, is the inequality women workforce around the world face. Equal pay for women isn’t only cut across the lines of their gender, it is also cut across the lines of the other identities these women possess, like their race, nationality and culture. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (2016), based on the progress that is being made to close the wage gap, calculated that women will not reach the status of equal pay with men before 2059, if they keep going at the same rate as they are going now. Not only that, Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 to gain equal pay and black women will have to wait till 2124 to get the same salary that her white and male counterpart gets.

Wage Equalit

Mili et al (2017) discover that equal pay has a profound impact in not just improving the equality in a household, it also has an impact, over time, in reducing poverty and improving economic gap between social groups in the society as a whole. This, in turn, has a profound impact on the lives of the children these women are rearing, and these children become tomorrow’s productive workforce. Hence, it becomes imperative for the manager to recognise such discrepancies in the workplace. While the responsibility of the state is to make relevant policies regarding gender wage gap, the manager must implement them. Engeli and Mazur (2018) prescribe four ways in which gender equality measures can be implemented in the workplace; using authority to forbid gender discrimination, giving incentives for adhering to gender equality, providing education and training for gender sensitivity and making symbolic gestures, like seminars on issues affecting mostly women. 3. Conclusion The purpose of the paper was to comprehensively discuss and review the various ways in which management can prepare themselves and conduct themselves in order to mitigate discrimination along socio-cultural lines and also to review the methods through which such an initiative could be undertaken. The report started with understanding how workers and managers in a workplace could successfully identify and address the difference of identity in the workplace without hurting the emotions and sentiments of that particular person. Then it moved on to some of the practices it could undertake in order to make sure that not only the practices of the organization remain free from bias, but the structural makeup of the organization prevents any kind of bias from happening. Making structural changes and updating the policies and programmes of the organization ensures that equality of opportunity becomes a principle which is entrenched in the organization. Word count (excluding references): 3488 words


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