Diversity in the practice of human resource management (HRM) which leads to excellence in organizational performance is both goal and challenge for semi-governmental organizations. It still raises tension and discussion but serves as an affirmative action for the management of cross-cultural structure. People’s vision of diversity focuses primarily on ethical consideration of race, gender, originality, and other peculiarities of employees. However, as the example of democratic and multicultural team, a semi-governmental institution should address the issues of workforce diversity in favor of social guarantees, adherence to ethical code, and high moral principles. The purpose of this study is to determine the status of diverse workforce in the semi-governmental institution and develop the ways to improve it. The work implies the review and descriptive style of project research, devoted to recover modern diversity in the specific organizational structure. Theoretical and practical framework of the research justified the priority of workforce diversity in a semi-governmental institution due to appropriate dimensions and implications that should be examined and improved.
Keywords: diversity, managing diversity, human resource management, semi government organization.
Diversity in Semi Government Institutions
Diversity in a semi-governmental organization refers to specific techniques of HRM owed to globalization of economic processes and imitated international principles of employment. The researched semi-governmental institution is engaged in aviation industry, thus concentrating on competent labor and well-developed skills in the airline industry. Its mission is to lead the industry due to the efficient organization, highly talented employees, respect for stakeholders, world class services, culture of excellence and provided quality, and social and corporate responsibilities. The researched organization is guided by the board of directors as the supreme authority of the company is directly responsible for management and protection of capital, invested by Abu Dhabi Government. Such powerful company is a public joint-stock business, initiated by the government to redevelop the aviation infrastructure. The institution appreciates ambitious, proactive, innovative, focused, responsive, and collaborative activities, services, and decisions.
HRM in the institution occupies a key position for a company that is guided by the criteria of quality in the work evaluation, support of personal and professional development, ethical approach to HR diversity, value of innovative ideas, views about different vectors, and personalization. It was implemented and improved due to the institution’s function in multicultural environment and mission, oriented on global leadership, led by HR diversity. Its success lies in a strictly followed link quality and responsibility, respectful attitude to HR diversity and its transformation into a driver of innovation. However, there are failures such as insufficient use of teambuilding practice and uncertain attitude towards multiculturalism.
The research directs to answering the question, “Why diversity is successful in semi-government institutions, and which aspects can still be improved?” In the appropriate sections, the concept of HR diversity will be recognized and explained through examination of relevant literature. Current experience of observers, practitioners, and contemporary issues shape the way of discussion. After that, the next theoretical section implies the used methodology to come to core findings and landmarks of the researched case. The next stages are presentation of results, believed to answer the main research question, and discussion of the obtained findings to regulate the shortcomings and gaps with practical implications. At last, recommendations on the recognized reasons for success and critical problems which need improvements proceed before the ultimate conclusions of the research goal, survey, and findings.
The issue of diversity arose several generations of managerial practices ago when this approach gave its first results in the large corporate mechanisms, aimed at commercialization in different regions of the world. In order to understand better the various market sectors and related needs, managers employed people competent in similar cultural and social issues. In addition, a number of other coming advantages and benefits were recognized in HR diversity. Furthermore, in large companies of different cultural cells, HR diversity is acquiring more and more new features, expanding its scope and improving its application.
HR diversity is the differences in all human-inherent peculiarities of employees (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner, 2011). It is the specific characteristics in psychological profile, gender, origin, religion, and other differences that can be exploited to base a company’s policy and performance, oriented on the diversified products and heterogeneous targeted segments. As HR diversity may lead to cultural confrontation at first sight, it serves as the powerful, delicate, and skillful organizational success and international entrance. This term invoked due to the influence of globalization on the activity and vision of modern companies, appreciating the opportunities, emerged in diverse labor markets and sophisticated promotion toolset.
International companies of different national economies concentrate more on the involvement and retention of diverse HR. This approach and simultaneously specific personnel composition becomes essential for organizational performance because of a wide range of specific issues that appear and challenge common success of the company. Thus, employment, management, and development of diverse HR help address recruitment challenges in a particular area and support skill shortage. Peculiarities of labor market, skills, and experience gaps between different generations of employees and various workforce demographics led to the emergence of a pool of talents due to diverse HR.
Diversity is implied in HRM as it improves employees’ competition, retention, and job satisfaction. Applying this tool for HRM improvement, managers make workers more involved in a company’s affairs, increase their productivity, and nurture talent. As any institution is interested in professional growth and long-term application of skilled employees, its management follows the practice of recognition of sociocultural and the other human peculiarities that perfect organizational behavior, ethical approach to business, and motivate employees by tolerate relationship (Foot & Hook, 2008). However, there are certain challenges that the diverse HR face: incorrect behavior of employees or managers, personnel unavailability to collaborate with people of distinctive features or related changes in the work organization, the stereotypes and unfair creed, mismatch of HRM goals and diversity practices, insufficient code of ethics and corporate responsibility, and strict controversial cultural convictions (Noon, 2007). These are shortcomings of ignoring HR diversity.
From the primary origins, diversity comes from the necessity to clearly comprehend the specific customer needs and diversify organizational advertisement practice (Ulrich, 2013). On the other hand, when employees belong to the same community the institution works with, it adds trust and credibility to the organizational image of responsible, attentive, and involved employer and perfects its corporate citizenship (Dowling, 2008). The policy of such institution is vested by benefits to stakeholders. The institution gains valuable social and cultural knowledge and market awareness and strengthens cultural capacity. This peculiarity is tightly connected with the wider community engagement, allowing any institution to connect and learn from a broad variety of people and networks to recruit more talented individuals, link with supporters, service more customers, and obtain more profits.
One of the most favorable outcomes, expected and obtained from HR diversity, is encouragement to participate in an innovative activity, enhance the problem solution, and promote the institutional mission and values. Diverse HR drives fresh perspectives and diversifies the points of consideration and discussion. Consequently, the challenges and issues are addressed more quickly while problems are solved more easily. Various researches from different companies and countries have proved that there is a direct link between active innovative activity and HR diversity (Østergaard, Timmermans, & Kristinsson, 2011). In line with this fact, heterogeneous personnel are more efficient and creative. Regarding this benefit of diverse workforce, managers recognize diversity in the way of thinking, vision of different problems, features of cultural reaction, experience, competence, talent, and abilities.
From the experience of modern companies, HR diversity affects HRM and managerial functions (Mayhew, 2016). Thus, the labor legislation throughout the UAE and worldwide regulate equal working opportunities, healthy working conditions, timely delivery of information about rights and duties, regardless of genetics, origin, religion, gender, race, disability, or status. Employees’ treatment may result in assets value for stakeholders and governmental measures of control. HR diversity requires modification and adaptation of HR and recruitment policy and strategy due to the different demands and approaches to the members of heterogeneous team. In the framework of HRM, all the institutions or companies which employed people with diverse professional and personal characteristics do not strive only to explore their talents and experience, but also to develop and enrich them, according to the organizational needs and common success. Therefore, diverse HR change and define training and development programs. Furthermore, any affirmative actions or measures should be adapted to HR diversity to avoid problems and misunderstandings.
The research exclusively follows qualitative design because the approach to the question may find the answer through the empirical analysis. This design was implied in order to obtain the better understanding of the case in the framework of specified institution, country, and working conditions. Since qualitative design is well known as an unstructured type of research, appropriate efforts are believed to drive methodological considerations during the process of a respondent’s interview which includes the questions and manner of its conduct. An interview process accepts participant’s freedom to speak independently and directly from personal experience. Empirical research is based on the deep recognition of premises for the research and correct identification of the gathered information.
a) Selection of Participants
The interview of the chosen semi-governmental institution was focused mostly on the permanent employees of all the managerial levels to identify the specifics and scope of HR diversity. The participants were invited from all the departments of the institution’s hierarchical structure. There were several employees from the institution’s airports and managers from the other institution’s departments. Their age varied from 30 to 60. The diverse employees were Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. The participants were men and women who have already worked for the institution since last year. They were interviewed as they have already had some working experience. This fact imposes a tone of diversity due to different age characteristics. Participants varied in age, gender, job position, and experience. Thus, the study included visual signs of HR diversity. All the identities and names of the interviewed participants remained anonymous.
Due to the researched diversity of the institution’s human resources, all the participants used English in order to avoid any language barrier and misunderstandings. The interviews with participants were conducted at the institution’s office, located in UAE. They were recorded and saved in the laptop to continue with transcribing and use direct quotes from the participants’ answers.
During the interview, the notes were used to denote certain critical statements at once in order to focus on the potential answers of the research question as well as for further discussion. In addition, the materials of the future interview were provided for the participants, occupying managerial roles, to give them some time for preparation. As for the other employees, they did not receive the interviews beforehand. It was done intentionally to get the maximum spontaneous and honest answers, reflecting their perception of diverse personnel, including interpersonal relationship and attitude of the institution to such employees. Therefore, the procedure was aimed to get qualitative feedback and estimate successful level of HR diversity and its improvement.
All the materials after the conducted interviews were collected and stored. The records were listened to, compared, and grouped with the aim to conclude and discuss them. After these procedures, the compilations were sent to the participants for confirmation and verification. In the case of denial, the materials were removed during the validation.
c) Data analysis strategy
The study pursues the strategy of qualitative procedure of interviewing, data collection, processing, and results verification. The material was processed and grouped thematically. Results and conclusions were expected to obtain the answers of HR diversity quality, the most problematic issues in the institution, and attitude of managers to the diverse workforce. Conceptualization and data categorizing was essential for the qualitative research.
The study mainly estimates the success of HR diversity in the institution and possible ways of its improvement. It was interesting and essential to investigate the role of diversity in common HRM practice of the institution. The research of the case shows how specific diversity in UAE semi-governmental institution is due to the strict religion norms and devotion to the cultural traditions of commitment to non-precedent leadership and excellence. Because of its declared development and learning programs, the institution accepts and supports factual diversity in HR. However, even strong competitive training measures and knowledge base of the institution should be founded on clear statement of active position regarding recruitment and management of diverse employees.
The study has shown that the institution spends a lot of time and financial resources on the development of the employees’ talents and skills in aviation and related service provision. Therefore, the company is interested in professional growth of its HR. However, the headquarters and senior management may overshadow the organizational and competent needs of its own personnel, which is diverse. The employees of all the levels are different by age, gender, origin, religion, job position, and professional level. Therefore, the institution accepts factual diversity in its HRM. However, the goal of the research design is to identify its extent and perspectives. The survey was conducted among 100 employees. In the airline institution, 49 % of the participants differentiate from the local employees while the rest 51% have UAE citizenship. The male employees among non-Dubai workers make 87 % while 13 % are female participants.
Through interviews, the areas, confirming the moderate success of the institution, were identified. Thus, the employees enjoyed respectful attitude of their managers, interest of the institutional governance in improvement of employees’ skills, and support in ongoing performance, regardless origin, race, and other individual peculiarities. In the 90 % of cases, employees denoted the orientation on common mission of the airline institution and strong management towards the established goals. Subsequent observation of employees’ answers revealed that the practice of employing the competent individuals from another country was highly implemented into the HRM.
Responses revealed that the innovative activity was denoted among the advantages and benefits of the institution. The HR managers explore personalised approach to each ethnic group or person on appropriate level. In this way, the employees demonstrate appreciation of respectful attitude to their work and personality. In their own behaviour, diverse employees pursue the policy of HR diversity in the dominant cases while there are still some issues and doubts about its usefulness and completeness. Therefore, it was recognized as unable to motivate fully in order to attract the other colleagues or partners.
According to the unprepared responses of supporting employees or managers of low managerial level, there were mentioned such issues as time waste, unhealthy tension between people of different race groups, inability to create special workplaces for women, and frequent lack of productivity. These facts were remembered from the last periods of the institution’s function. The employees understood the meaning of HR diversity and clearly mentioned these facts as the factors able to change it. In addition, there were a lot of positive changes, believed to improve the practice of management of HR diversity.
In the following section, the materials of interviews as empirical research and theoretical framework are believed to match due to the similar outcomes and expectations. The results of the research showed that the HR diversity becomes essential for the international semi-governmental institutions. Regarding the fact that the institution remains partially owned by the UAE Government, the board of the company excludes the transfer of capital and management to the non-residents of the country. Consequently, the cultural features of the UAE are discerned. Therefore, it is natural to interpret that the part of diverse employees is still at lower levels of management. HR diversity is strictly limited by sociocultural and economic rules and principles. Some participants noted that the company policy in the area of HR diversity is not efficient enough to motivate them as it was mentioned by Foot and Hook (2008). However, this is explained by the fact that employees do not receive additional support that would recognize and mark their diversity. Nevertheless, almost 96 % noted that they are treated with respect to their ethnicity. In addition, the participants mentioned weak points of HR diversity. Among them, there are those that would be described in Noon (2007)) such as incorrect behavior of employees, stereotypes, mismatch of HRM goals, and diversity practices.
After the interviews of all participants, their results indicated that HR diversity drives the company to strong market research activity and intensified innovative performance. As in Ulrich (2013), Dowling (2008), and Østergaard, Timmermans, and Kristinsson (2011), the institution succeeds in external processes due to the estimated interests and needs of different communities which the diverse employees originate from. Furthermore, the institution follows its mission to be a leader in the industry worldwide that requires obtaining relevant knowledge about new ways to satisfy the estimated consumers’ needs though new competitive services. HR diversity takes on the role of such a tool. However, it lacks internal cohesion and cultural tolerance.
Due to the empirical research and revealed compatibility with theoretical framework, the study identified the following problems which challenge HR diversity of the semi-governmental institution. They include weak support of HR diversity, insufficient perspectives of diverse talents recruitment and weakness of motivational diversity levers, and single cases of lack of cultural tolerance, and team-building trainings.
In order to address and solve these problems, the institution should improve its HR diversity approach and identify its influence on common and human resource management. Thus, the diverse employees should be identified through celebration of special cultural days or common corporate meetings to familiarize with the cultural characteristics of non-residents, therefore increasing the level of cultural tolerance. It is connected with a fact that people often can have a negative or cautious attitude to the unfamiliar culture due to misunderstandings and lack of knowledge.
The institution should strengthen the recruitment of foreign employees and intensify the diversity as it has a number of advantages. Because of the governmental programs, external communication, and information and communication technologies, the airline institution may explore opportunities to organize the knowledge exchange, training of foreign honored masters, etc. These measures will help improve the respect for HR diversity, cultural tolerance, and openness to external opportunities and experience.
In order to motivate more successfully, enhance feedback with the diverse HR, and increase cohesion among the individuals with some differences, the managers should organize the team-building trainings. These meetings are believed to help achieve the already mentioned goals, rally the team, and nullify any conflicts, related to the diversity of interests and personal characteristics.
The conducted research was aimed to identify whether the HR diversity in the semi-governmental institution is successful as well as potential ways to improve it. The research design was qualitative which allowed obtaining important conclusions. According to the responses of the institution, the HR diversity is only particularly successful while its practical implications should be improved. Therefore, it is recommended to organize special measures, greeting the HR diversity, increase motivational mechanisms for such employees as they are located mostly on low managerial level, organize team-building trainings, involve external communication, and request governmental support.