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Diversity is the dissimilarities, differences, among people due to age, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background and capabilities/disabilities (Jones & George, 2003:115)
The four layers of diversity model created by Gardenswartz and Rowe has influenced and broadened the conversation about diversity. It sets the tone for inclusion by reflecting each person’s reality in the organization.
The Four Layers Model
Personality: At the core of diversity is personality, which is the set of stable characteristics responsible for a person’s identity (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2001:37). This includes an individual’s likes and dislikes, values, and beliefs. Personality is shaped early in life and is both influenced by, and influences, the other three layers throughout one’s lifetime and career choices
Internal dimensions: These include aspects of diversity over which we have no control (though “physical ability” can change over time due to choices we make to be active or not, or in cases of illness or accidents). They are also referred to as primary dimensions of diversity. This dimension is the layer in which many divisions between and among people exist and which forms the core of
many diversity efforts. These dimensions include the first things we see in other people, such as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity and physical ability and on which we make many assumptions and base judgments.
External dimensions: External dimensions of diversity include geographic location, income, personal habits, recreational habits, religion, education background, work experience, parental status and marital status (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2001:38). These include aspects of our lives which we have some control over, which might change over time, and which usually form the basis for decisions on careers and work styles. This layer often determines, in part, with whom we develop friendships and what we do for work. This layer also tells us much about whom we like to be with.
Organizational dimensions: This layer concerns the aspects of culture found in a work setting such as seniority, job title, functional level, management, union affiliation, and work field. While much attention of diversity efforts is focused on the internal dimensions, issues of preferential treatment and opportunities for development or promotion are impacted by the aspects of this layer.
Jones, G.R. & George, J.M, 2003, Contemporary Management, 3rd Edition, Boston, McGraw Hill
Kreintner, R. & Kinicki, A., 2001, Organisational Behaviour, 5th Edition, New York, McGraw Hill Irwin
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