THE MANAGEMENT OF WORKFORCE DIVERSITY IN PUBLIC ORGANIZATIONS IN NIGERIA

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND STUDY 

In Nigeria, workplace diversity has been widely attributed to the demographic composition of a workforce, whether in the private or public sector. In empirical studies, diversity is usually measured using the compositional approach, otherwise known as Surface-level or demographic diversity which refers to the extent to which a unit is heterogeneous on characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, religion, age, functional background, and organizational tenure (Tsui and Gutek, 2000). Contemporary believe system is marked by a generalized sense that traditional work arrangements are inadequate to address the challenges organizations encounter in recent times. It appears that the shifts from an industrial to an information-based society and from a manufacturing to a service economy, coupled with the forces of globalization, have forced innovative changes on the work place arrangements. These tendencies have affected work not just in industrialized societies of the global north, but also in the developing countries such as Nigeria. Several conjecture on the best way to organize tasks and people as well as the solutions to organizational problems based on those hypothesis do not seem to make sense any more. A paradigmatic shift is taking place in contemporary time on how we think about contemporary organizations and their governance. The Nigeria Public Service is however not exempted from this modern organizational reality.

Diversity is a subjective phenomenon, created by group members themselves who on the basis of their different social identities categorize others as similar or dissimilar: “A group is diverse if it is composed of individuals who differ on a characteristic on which they base their own social identity”. Diversity could be defined as that which differentiates one group of people from another along primary and secondary dimensions. Primary dimensions of diversity, those exerting primary influences on our identities, are gender, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age and mental or physical abilities and characteristics (Odita and Egbule 2015).

Advances in technology and the advent of a global economy bring the people of the world closer together than ever before. Workforce diversity has important implications toward management practices and policies. Frequently, diversity is viewed in a limited fashion, primarily addressing issues of race, ethnicity, cultural or gender differences. With regard to this study, we used a very broad definition of diversity, to encompass most characteristics that individuals possess that seem to affect the way they think and do things.

There are many legally mandated actions that employers must take to minimize employment discrimination. In Nigeria, for example there is the Federal Character Law which stipulates that recruitments in Federal Government Agencies and Parastatals must reflect the Federal character. But many CEOs recruit to favour their own people to the detriments of other Nigerians from other places. This is unethical and tends to negatively affect the performance level of most organizations in Nigeria (Ogbo, Kifordu, and Wilfred, 2014). The most important issues of workforce diversity are to address the problems of discrimination in terms of gender, age, ethnicity, education background and culture.

The discriminatory attitude of some workforce, individual identity, lack of cooperation amongst workers has been extended by workers in same diverse organization beyond limits, which dampens morale with negative performance index. This is because departmental goals are pursued more at the expense of broad organizational goals and objectives. Corporate profitability dwindles because the core values of diversity are not properly harnessed (Salami, 2010).

When left un-managed, employee diversity is more likely to damage morale, increase employee turnover, and cause significant communication problems (Jehn et al., 1999), in Eugene et al., (2011).

There are different dimensions of diversity. They are:

1.     Primary diversity which involve race, ethnicity, gender, age and disability

2.     Secondary diversity which involve religion, culture, sexual orientation, family status, education, language, nationality, lifestyle, work experience etc.

3.     Tertiary diversity which include beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, attitudes, feelings values, group norms etc. (Odita and Egbule, 2015).

Diversity creates groups of like minds within an organization. In the public organizations in Nigeria, there are several ways diversity affect efficiency both among the employees and employers as well. From the stage of searching for employment to the stage of retirement, diversity has played its role in all of the stages. This most times led to conflict in organizations.  

Today, before one can get an employment in the Nigerian public sector, there has to be a kind of connection between the applicant and an important person in government or that particular organization.

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The 21st century managers are saddled with the responsibility of both leading employees and responding to the needs of customers who are more ethnically and culturally diverse from each other. Leaders in both the public and the private sectors are focusing more attention on the issue of diversity. Whether the goal is to be an employer of choice, to provide excellent customer service, or to maintain a competitive edge, diversity is increasingly recognized and utilized as an important organizational resource. Leaders and managers within organizations are primarily responsible for the success of diversity policies because they must ensure that the policies are effective. It points out that, countless studies have been conducted on work place diversity. This study is provoked by the gap left unfilled by a substantial number of research works that has been conducted on workplace diversity and its significance on the corporate culture. In recent years Diversity Management and workforce diversity have been substantial and as such have forced companies to embrace these concepts in their companies with the aim of increasing productivity and profit. This forced integration has created divergence and uncertainty in the workforce, as management is not skilled enough to control the concept of diversity management and its ethics, and so managers are finding it difficult to effectively practice diversity management, which in turn has become an albatross on their neck. Managers find it difficult in knowing the factors that contribute to effective diversity management or the exact leadership tasks that can be achieved to effectively and efficiently deal with issues related to workplace diversity. In completing this study, relevant theoretical works are considered in order to ascertain the factors that could lead to the formation of a favorable working environment that pertains to diversity management. In reality, it is also important to establish the implications this has had on companies so as to create a very conductive working atmosphere through workplace diversity management.

OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The general objective of this study is to examine how workforce diversity can be managed in public organizations in Nigeria. The specific objective are:

1.     To ascertain the effect of workforce diversity in public organizations in Nigeria.

2.      Determine strategic ways in which workforce diversity can be managed in public organizations in Nigeria.

3.     Study the views of various companies regarding the choice and implementation of workplace diversity.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

The important research questions related to this study are: 

1.     What are the effect of workforce diversity in public organizations in Nigeria?

2.     Are there strategic ways in which workforce diversity can be managed in public organizations in Nigeria?

3.     What is the view of various organization regarding the choice and implementation of workplace diversity.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of workforce diversity and performance. Various factors that enhance the relationship between workforce diversity & performance in the public organizations in Nigeria as mediators are also explored.    

SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The scope of this study is concentrated on the management of workforce diversity in public organizations in Nigeria. It will cover a range of public organizations selected at random to gather information about the positive and negative influence of workforce diversity in an organization, particularly in the public sectors in Nigeria.

LIMITATION OF THE STUDY

The issue of finance for the general research work will be a challenge during the course of study. Correspondents also might not be able to complete or willing to submit the questionnaires given to them.

However, it is believed that these constraints will be worked on by making the best use of the available materials and spending more than the necessary time in the research work. Therefore, it is strongly believed that despite these constraint, its effect on this research report will be minimal, thus, making the objective and significance of the study achievable.            

 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Workforce: the people engaged in or available for work, either in a country or area or in a particular firm or industry.

Public organizations: the public sector consists of governments and all publicly controlled or publicly funded agencies, enterprises, and other entities that deliver public programs, goods, or services.

Diversity: It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences, along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies


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