For more than a hundred years, human resource management, as a practice and discipline in people management in an organization, has evolved in definition and in scope. The most popular definition of human resource management is that provided by Storey and Armstrong. The duo define human resource management as “a distinctive approach to employment management seeking to accomplish competitive advantage through strategic deployment of highly capable and committed labour using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel technique” (Itika 2011, p. 12). Human resource management can further be defined as a management practice and a strategic approach towards employee management in ways that would result in attainment of organizational goals, objectives and mission. According to these definitions, human resource management uses tools that attracts, motivates, develops and retains the effective function of the management of people. His may not be easy as people are workplaces are made up of several differences that are visible or invisible, through age, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, personality and culture amongst others. Diversity in workplaces has resulted in the discriminations of certain individuals (OECD 2012). For instance, gender inequality is vice that cut across the globe, religion and ethnic segregation separates individuals in Middle East workplaces. In China, rural migrants are looked down upon by the urbanites and are mistreated in whatever kind of jobs they are allocated. Xenophobic incidences have widely been reported in South African workplaces, while the United States is blamed for racial discrimination.
A diverse workforce is made up of several beliefs, values, perspectives in world-viewing, understanding and any other unique formation. The escalation of internationalization and globalization at workplaces has promoted the need to understand human resource management in terms of diversity (OECD 2012). Although there is great understanding of how diversity impacts of the achievement of organizational goals, there are still multi-national corporations that are hesitant in hiring and promoting ethnic minorities and female employees, particularly to senior management positions. There have been studies that have shown that although certain human resource management practices are meant to increase diversity at workplaces, they have failed in highlighting the increase in top management. For instance, planning for training fails to lead to the top management diversity and the overall organizational diversity. Moreover, organizations made up of diverse workforces do not remunerate well their labour (OECD 2012).
Still, there is need for understanding human resource management in the perspective of diversity. A diverse conscious management comes up with innovative concepts and solutions to organizational challenges. A diversity-based human resource management results in information sharing that benefit in bottom-line outcomes (Onday 2016). Therefore, the management of diversity should be founded on diversity recognition and the differences occurring within the workforce instead of viewing it as an issue that need to be resolved. A diverse workforce brainstorms better, and exhibits corporate behaviours linked to increasing the efficiency of the organization. Therefore, human resource management based upon value diversity is one of the best sources of competitive advantage. Nonetheless, the probable benefits of diversity at workplaces are not only achieved through having a diverse workforce alone (European Commission 2012). The competency of human resource management in its management counts better in attaining the value associated with diversity, more particular in the today’s flexible, collaborative non-hierarchical management. Human resource managers, therefore, need not only understand that individuals at their workplaces are different, but, as well establish atmosphere that mines out the value of diversity (Onday 2016).
The core to the management of diversity at workplaces is based through the development and the implementation of people-centred policies. Diversity management is a concept revolving around employees human resource management functions as the custodian to these people management processes with functions undertaken in diversity management overlapping into those undertaken in by human resource management (Shen et al., 2009, p. 235). With the definition of human resource management as a practice assisting in issues in labour management by lining the workers or individuals involved in the production of organizational goods and services, human resource management matters in the acquisition of services from diverse people, developing their skills and motivating them to perform exceedingly high (Doaei & Najminia n.d.).
The functions of human resource management indicate that the practices are significant in enhancing the performance of an organization which is also the aim of diversity management (Onday 2016). This only occurs when the right people from whatever diverse differences are attracted, identified and retained with the skills, ability and knowledge required for the jobs. Human resource management in turn gets the workforce to behave in ways that support the achievement of organizational goals and not in the ways that diverse values held by individual workers conflict. Therefore, it is significant for an organization to employ human resource management practices that utilizes valued resources held by its diverse workforce (Burma 2014).
Understanding human resource management through diversity helps in understanding individual differences, and in the equitable development of each and every member of the workplace. An application human resource management tools while addressing inequality in recruitment, training, appraisal, promotion and reward enhance inclusiveness, equal employment opportunities and promote innovativeness in a diverse workforce. Human resource management practices are critical in overcoming group or individual process issues while it improves on the triple bottom line. Effective human resource strategies are geared towards organizational flexibility, knowledge creation, learning and establishment of an environment conducive to the management of diversity. Therefore, it is clear that management of diversity is a critical part in human resource management (Shen et al. 2009).Clearly, there is no organization across the world that can be a going concern without valuing workforce diversity (Bedi 2014).
Among the diversity observed at workplaces are gender differences. Gender asymmetries and characteristics of workplace structures founded on patriarchal concepts do not permit an organization in attaining its full potential. Gender aspect in human resource management is among the major issues in developed countries that are addressed at local and national levels. This may be due to the growth in the number of female employees in these countries. Despite the efforts to have human resource management understood in the context of gender, the occupational patterns of women and men differ greatly. For instance, the growth in the female workforce in the part-time jobs provides a significant tendency (Standing, 1999, p. 2). It is argued that by providing part-time jobs to the female workforce, women are permitted to maintain the work-life balance. In addition, companies providing flexible time to their female workforce are among those commended in the accomplishment in assessing human resource management through a gender lens (Senyucel 2009).
Workplace gender asymmetry is linked to legal designed stereotypic socio-economic relations as well as stereotypes in the division of labour across genders. For instance, in traditional gender attitudes, the biological nature of women impact on their professional success. Organizations applying these stereotypes would argue that female labour is much more expensive than male labour. In addition, management practices basing their decision on the argument that the psychological characteristics of women limit their capacity at workplaces fail to achieve their goals. Human resource managers must understand that such stereotypes bar the full development and realization of women potential in the labour market, thus hinders the attainment of organization goals (Standing 1999).