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The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of workforce diversity on employee performance. The survey research design method was adopted for the paper. The instrument used to gather relevant data for the study was the questionnaire. The study centred on the Nigerian Banking Sector to examine the level of diversity practiced in terms of gender, age, ethnicity and educational in Nigerian Organizations. First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Ota, Ogun State was the focal organization. A total of 81 copies of questionnaire were disseminated to the respondents of the study and they were all filled and returned and also relevant for the study. In order to attain the research objectives, four hypotheses were created. The data were collated and analyzed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) percentages and frequencies tables were used to for the descriptive aspects. To test the hypotheses, Spearman Rank Correlation Coefficient Analysis was adopted, Regression Model, Anova were adopted to examine the relationship between variables and identify the influence of the independent variables on the dependent variable. The limitation to the study is that the study made use of only few aspects of workforce diversity and as such, findings can not be generalized to cover other dimensions of diversity not covered in the study. The research findings showed all aspects of workforce diversity used in the study has a significant relationship with employee performance except for ethnic diversity. It was also discovered that gender, age and educational diversity have strong influence on employee performance. Hence, based on findings, it is recommended that management continue to uphold its diversity policies and practices in order to increase the benefits of diversity. Management should ensure that all employees are properly trained on diversity issues as these trainings will also help employees to change those unconscious behaviours that hinder diversity and inclusion practices. This study will add to the already existing literature on diversity and it will help First Bank, other organizations, employees, government and the society as a whole to fully understand diversity issues, how to manage it and how to reap the benefits.
Keywords: Workforce Diversity, Diversity Management and Employee Performance
1.0 Background to the Study
The world’s increasing globalization needs a lot of interaction among people from various backgrounds than ever before. This is so because, individuals no longer live and work in narrow surroundings; as they are currently a part of a worldwide economy competing in nearly all part of the world (Patel, 2016). On these grounds, organizations are aiming to become more diversified in order to gain competitive advantage by becoming more creative, innovative and open to useful change.
Today business workplace is changing at an increased speed and the change in the employees’ demographics, increase of jobs in the economy, continuing growth of the globalization and requirement for efficient and effective collaboration have surfaced as significant forces driving the importance of diversity in organizations. With the increase of globalization and competition, the workforce in all industrialized countries has become progressively heterogeneous. Advances in technology and the advent of a worldwide economy have brought the people of the world existing in the same place, nearer to each other. Griffin & Moorhead (2014) pointed out that having a diverse workforce requires managers to identify and manage the varied attribute that exist among the employees in the organization. Therefore, businesses, educational systems and other entities are investigating ways to better serve their constituents to attract and retain the finest and most qualified employees (Gupta, 2013). On these grounds, organizations are aiming to become more diversified in order to gain competitive advantage by becoming more creative, innovative and open to useful change.
Workforce diversity refers to those significant differences and similarities that are present among employees within an organization (Griffin & Moorhead, 2014). Nwinami (2014) said it represent those uniqueness which includes; an individuals personality, age, gender, ethnicity/race, religion, marital status, income, the work experience and all those views which supposes and sustains an organizations core values. It also means those organizations that are
turning out to be more varied with respect to it workforce composition based on characteristics as age, ethnicity, expertise, etc. (Robbins & Judge, 2013).
Human resource is an important asset for any organization, and as such, having a diversified workforce is a primary concern for most organizations. Although, it has become necessary for organizations to employ a diversified workforce, at the same time, it has become quite challenging for organizations with increasing diversified workforce to reap the benefits of diversity while managing its potentially disruptive effects (Kreitz, 2008) (Kreitz, 2008; Saxena, 2014). Organizations have recognized the fact that it is through the collective effort of its diversified workforce that monetary resources are harnessed to achieve organizational goals.
For organizations to reach its goals, the skills, knowledge, attitude and efforts of its workforce have to sharpened occasionally to optimize the effectiveness of its workforce and to enable them to meet greater challenges. Organizations are made up of individuals and without the workforce, organizations cannot achieve its goals (Mullins, 2010). For this reason, the management of its human resources is also a a crucial issue for organizational leaders (Saxena, 2014).
To be successful, it is imperative that organizational leaders understand just how the social work environment have an effect on the employees’ beliefs about work and they must have effective communication skills to be able to develop the self esteem and confidence in all its members (Griffin & Moorhead, 2014). Hence, to achieve and maintain competitive advantage over competitors, managers must be able to draw from the most valuable resources i.e. the competencies of its workers. Based on the growing richness of diversity in the world and in the workforce, managers have to spread out their outlook and use innovative approaches to achieve success.
1.1 Statement of the Problem
The work environment is becoming more complex due to globalization and competition which as a result has necessitated the need for a workforce that is made up of people with varying age, experience, knowledge and backgrounds to maximize competitive advantage (Ragins & Gonzalez, 2003). According to Childs (2005) organizations that wants to gain competitive advantage must widen its perspective about workforce diversity and diversity
management, and the management must commit themselves to ensure that diversity management is a part of it daily operations.
Nigeria is known to be the giant of Africa with a population of over 180 million people and more than half the population consists of people of working age (Akinnusi, Sonubi, & Oyewunmi, 2017). Hence, there is a large pool of talent of which organizations draw from to achieve its goals. To manage the workforce, managers have created diversity policies that are in line with the a Labour Act and other laws that have in put in place to protect all kinds of employees from discrimination because of his/ her social categorization (Ugwuzor, 2011). However, Foma (2014) opined that some organizations in a bit escape lawsuit or other legal actions and to also put on a public show that makes them gain good corporate image, they pretend to embrace diversity rather than show a genuine desire for it by demonstrating true commitment to the principles of diversity and inclusion.
As Ugwuzor (2011) citing Mustapha (2005) pointed out, in Nigeria, there appear to still be cases of tribalism, regional identities, nepotism and discrimination both in the public and private organizations. Cases of ethnic bias and other forms of discrimination still take places in organizations during hiring, promotion and other employer-employee relation practices. Hence, managements are faced with the big challenge of managing its diverse workforce and the challenge of making sure that conflict of interest in policies and practice implementation are minimized (Akinnusi, Sonubi, & Oyewunmi, 2017).
Though some organizations train their new intake upon hiring on job related issues yet, individuals still take decisions and showcase attitudes and bahaviour that go against diversity principles. One reason could be that with diversity practices, employees enter into an environment that compels everyone to work together with other workers that are dissimilar to them. This kind of forced inclusion can create an environment of conflict amongst employees, discrimination and other challenges of diversity.
Nwinami (2014) said so long as individuals with differences work in the same environment, diversity in the workplace will always be an issue. Though our individual differences can promote creativity and increase satisfaction at work nonetheless, it can be the root of conflict and frustration betweens groups (Mullins, 2010). Hence, some organizations leaders have failed to understand how the workforce interacts with one another as individuals and as groups, and how the behaviour of the workforce can affect both employee and organizational
performance (Ugwuzor, 2011). Performance is affected when managers fail to understand diversity and are not skilled enough to manage issues of diversity (Assefa, 2014). Another problem is the issue of organizations still depending on the old programs that they have been using over the years to manage the present issues of workforce diversity, minimize bias and increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace. It is important for management to know that the diversity plan that works or is encouraged by one organization may not work in another as it may be challenged by the hierarchical structure that is present in such organization. For this reason, some organizational leaders lack the knowledge on how to effectively management diversity, create an inclusive environment and what strategies to employ to assist them in dealing with issues of diversity in the organization.
From the web search on workforce diversity, it was discovered that only very few researches on workforce diversity and its relative effect have been conducted in Africa precisely Nigeria. Some that exist, focused more on diversity effect on organizational performance or productivity, not so much have been done to inspect the relationship and effect of workforce diversity and employees’ performance which in turn improves the entire organizational performance. Few of such studies that exist, have failed to deliver detailed examination of what workforce diversity is. Nigeria just like most countries of the world is diverse in its population content (e.g. people) and the people are ethnically or culturally diverse. Not only ethnically diverse, it is also characterized by other aspects of diversity which are even evident in organizations (e.g. age, gender, educational background etc.) Therefore, this study seek to add to already existing literature on workforce diversity by examining empirically and theoretically concept of workforce diversity in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and educational background and its relationship with employee performance (effectiveness and efficiency).
1.2 Research Objectives
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