APPRECIATING DIVERSITY AND THE CONTRIBUTION OF MINORITY GROUPS: The Character of Competence in Leadership (PART 1)

Introduction

Diversity refers to the political entities with members who have identifiable differences in their cultural backgrounds or lifestyles. People come from various backgrounds and are raised differently depending on their origin, culture, heritage and so on. In the modern workplace where globalization has left the world a global village, people from all walks of life integrate. There is therefore a great need to embrace people no matter the colour of their skin, their origin, their language, their physical abilities, their gender, their tribe, beliefs, religion, abilities, status of life in terms of wealth, and so on. Respect for diversity is in fact a human rights issue which deserves seriousness as it could even carry legal repercussions if not adhered to. Today we live in an extremely informed world where people know their rights. Therefore, acceptance of people regardless their background has been a centre of focus in recent decades. To be precise, human rights and education have gone hand in hand since the Charter of the United Nations (UN) was adopted years ago. The charter made states commit themselves to obeying and cooperating to promote universal respect for and observance of every manner of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to which walk of life on comes from. Diversity is important in developing critical thinking and leadership skills. It cannot be ignored. Studies have shown that diversity has the capability to affect research findings. This is a message to people in leadership, that it cannot be ignored.

Leadership is all about selflessness when helping others rise. The leader paves the way for the others to follow. In this regard, this term paper will seek to look at a combination of applications that define a good leader especially at the modern workplace. The major themes will revolve around ethics in leadership, respect for diversity and recognition of the contributions of the minority groups, community service and competence while in the role of leadership.

Integrating Diversity with Appreciation of the Minority Groups at the Marketplace.

In addition to this, diversity comes with the inclusion of the minority and the disadvantaged groups. There has been an intensive campaign by employers to say that they are equal opportunity employers. Pless and Maak (2004) argue that organizations have paid a lot of attention to the strategic dimension of diversity policies, systems and processes, but have given less thought to the normative dimension, the norms and values involved. This is basically meant to say that they recognize all people regardless of their origins or gender, religion of orientations and so on. Actually, they go on to add that women and persons with disability are encouraged to apply when advertising for jobs. Campaigns have also come up telling us that our diversity is our strength. It is therefore vital for people in leadership to recognize what a person given an opportunity and the respect they deserve can do and contribute to the overall wellbeing of an organization. It is the newest model of uplifting forgotten communities whose children have seen their God-given gifts waste away without recognition and appreciation. Minority groups could include the disabled, immigrants in a given country, ethnic groups with very little representation and the like. Women and girls have been subjected to gender stereotyping owing to their ability to perform in mathematics and sciences. But the stereotyping cannot be further from the truth. Women who have been put in the limelight properly have proven this fallacious belief wrong. Some have gone to the levels of winning coveted prizes, for example Prof. Wangari Mathai, the first Kenya to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US York Region Report (2014), opportunities that come out of an organization that has the space for diversity include: Heightened awareness among decision-makers about the existing impact of their decisions on different groups; increased capacity to identify how diversity considerations can be incorporated into the core functions of the organization; a proactive approach to further promote inclusive programs and services; improved ability to identify more efficient, effective and targeted use of limited resources; emphasized use of evidence and quantitative data for future planning; involvement of affected stakeholders in the assessment process and enhanced accountability for diversity outcomes.

Sensitivity to the contribution of the minority groups encourages a leader to appreciate them and include them in decision making processes so that ownership of shared values can bring pride and satisfaction to all. When President Barack Obama visited Nairobi recently, he gave an outstanding illustration of what non-inclusion means: a group of players with a team whom they do not give a chance to play… “That’s stupid…” he scoffed. There is no use of having a team which you do want to include in the match. This is the basis of inclusion. It helps to break the monotony of doing things the same way using the same strategies and expecting difficult results. According to the US Research Centre for Leadership in Action Report (2011), though growing in population, people of color remain underrepresented in the leadership of the public service sector, an issue that can and must be resolved if governments are to effectively change their nations most pressing social issues — from education to health, environment and justice. The report continues, that, “When current disparities in public service leadership are addressed, the public service sector will have greater ability and appeal to people of color with the leadership skills to solve social policy dilemmas.”

Organizational leadership can solve non-inclusion of minorities in their institutions through their own staff, residents and communities from diverse backgrounds whereby they participate in the decision-making process that shapes the policies and programs of the organization, and diverse and ‘marginalized’ communities develop their capacity in identifying issues facing them, building strong communities and participating in the social, economic, cultural and political life of their institutions or even regions.

References:

1. Research Center for Leadership in Action, (2011). Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion. Public Leadership Diversity Initiative, NYU Wagner, (pp 4).

2. Pless, N. M., & Maak, T. (2004). Building an inclusive diversity culture: Principles, processes and practice. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(2), 129-147.

3. Friedman, L. (2012) Leadership Requires Character Plus Competence. Building a Smarter Planet.

(Retrieved from http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2012/05/leadership-requires-characte...)

4. Forest Framework Network (2007). Character and Leadership. Forrest & Company Limited (pp. 3)

5. Cheng, C. S. (2005). The Design and Implementation of a Character Programme for Gifted Students: 16th World Council for Gifted Children.

6. The Holy Bible. Proverbs 29:18. King James Version. Thomas Nelson, Inc.

7. Society for Human Resources Management (2008). Leadership Competencies.

Retrieved from: http://www.shrm.org/research/articles/articles/pages/leadershipcomp...

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Comment by Rituu B Nanda on October 25, 2016 at 14:17

Thanks Paul for posting this article. Would you have any experience to share on this important issue? Warm greetings!

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