MANAGING WORKPLACE DIVERSITY 5
Issuespertaining to diversity in the workplace have always been emotive andcontroversial. This is especially in the United States whose historyis rooted in racial discrimination. Indeed, some researchers haveacknowledged that this vice has been eliminated only in writing butis still practiced on numerous occasions and fronts. Unfortunately,this always brings up turmoil and has the capacity to bring downcompanies. This is especially considering that allegations of racialintolerance and discrimination are bound to create an unfavorablepicture pertaining to the company, not to mention the class suits andother legal implications pertaining to the same. This is the case forElli Lilly & Company, a pharmaceutical company that was bestrecognized for the technique it used in developing diabetes drugs.
Inthe case provided, the company was facing a federal law suit that wasraising serious questions pertaining to its policies and practicesregarding human rights. The company was alleged to have been actingin a discriminatory manner against its African American employees onthe basis of race. Part of the allegations stated that there was adisparity in the manner in which promotions, discipline, wages andperformance evaluations were applied to employees depending on therace to which they belonged. As much as the company had policiestargeting the minority groups, they were rarely followed and have,therefore, remained paper policies. Further, it was alleged that thecompany often took action against employees who complained aboutdiscriminatory practices instead of tackling the problem.Alternatively, they would establish a diversity strategy, smug taskforce or a training program. These incidents alongside theunwillingness of the company management to tackle the pertinentissues often resulted in mental and emotional distress for theaffected employees.
Asmuch as these allegations are extremely grave, it is imperative thatits case is examined with a critical eye. It is noted that thecompany acknowledged that diversity is fundamental to the enhancementof innovation and creativity in any company. This should not besurprising as workers from varying parts of the globe, races, andreligions often have different ways of solving problems, in whichcase there is bound to be a multiplicity of solutions to a particularissue. In this regard the company had taken up “Equal OpportunityPolicy” with the aim of safeguarding fair treatment for all itsemployees and avert the possibility for any form of discrimination.On the same note, it adopted an employee talent tracking system so asto identify minority employees that could be trained for leadershippositions. Part of its efforts to enhance the management of thediverse workforce was to initiate a diversity training program andmaking it compulsory for all its employees to attend the same. On thesame note, there were claims that the company had put in placemechanisms that ensured that its employees were protected againstharassment and discrimination on any basis through ensuring that theyhad access to officials who could provide redress for theirgrievances.
Whileit is evident that issues pertaining to discrimination are quitepertinent, it is also imperative that a balance is put betweenworkplace diversity programs or management and safeguarding theprofitability of the company. Indeed, it is noted that there appearedto be a tag of war between individuals who alleged that there wasracial discrimination and another section of employees who felt thatthe company was compromising on or sacrificing its effectiveness bymaking numerous efforts to hire, promote and groom minority employeeswho were not sufficiently qualified for the positions.
Asmuch as there may be some basis for such allegations, it is notsurprising that the company is facing the law suit. Indeed, it isnoted that the pharmaceutical industry has for a long time had itsexecutive positions held by the major races. This may be primarily asa result of the fact that a large number of minority employees areyet to have the requisite knowledge and skills to handle suchpositions (Mor-Barak,2013).As much as the management of pharmaceutical companies may not bedifferent from that of other companies, it is well noted that somefield-specific knowledge is required so as to ensure that theappropriate decisions are made regarding any issue that comes up(Crosby&Stockdale, 2003).On the same note, as much as the company may be required to hire,groom and promote employees from minority races, it still has a dutyand a responsibility to its shareholders to remain profitable. Thisputs it at a tough position where it would be required to maintainits profits and still ensure diversity in its workforce. Themanagement of diversity in the workforce becomes even morecomplicated considering the deficiency of sufficient talent in theminority groups, or rather skills that are particular to thepharmaceutical industry (Albrecht,2001).Nevertheless, the company must put in place mechanisms that wouldallow for the necessary actions for redress to be taken in instanceswhere blatant discrimination is evident.
Albrecht,M. H. (2001). InternationalHRM: Managing diversity in the workplace.Oxford [u.a.: Blackwell.
Crosby,F. J., & Stockdale, M. S. (2003). Thepsychology and management of workplace diversity.Oxford, UK: Blackwell Pub.
Mor-Barak,M. E. (2013). Managingdiversity: Toward a globally inclusive workplace.New York: BlackwellPub.