In 1996, Judith Pringle and Jennifer Scowcroft wrote an article titled, ‘Managing Diversity: Meaning and Practice in New Zealand Organizations’. The article was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Human Resources in 1996. The article is a report on a survey conducted within ninety organizations in New Zealand, which focused on the practices and attitudes of managing diversity. The article describes the context of managing diversity based on the aspects of legislation, demographics and bi – culturalism. The article reviews the difference between managing diversity and valuing it, by discussing the complexity of diversity management in practice.
In 1993, Jennifer Scowcroft carried out a survey of attitudes towards diversity management in a sample of workplace organizations in New Zealand. The survey focused on the following major aspects:
- The priorities of the human resource department
- How the organizations understood the phrase ‘managing diversity’
- The perceived impact of gender and ethnicity in the organisation’s operations
- The nature of equal employment opportunity programmes in the organizations
Scowcroft issued ninety questionnaires to ninety different organizations, receiving a response rate of 14%, from which she computed her results.
The report by Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) found out that there was a general understanding of diversity at the workplace. On the other hand, diversity was given minimum priority by the organizations. A majority of the human resource personnel lacked any documentation of the workforce’s demographic information, as well as any equal employment opportunity programs for the organizations. The research also found out that the human resources personnel acknowledged that it was difficult to manage diversity, but had not taken any action towards solving the problem. Therefore, according to the report, New Zealand has very few equal employment opportunities programs in practice as well as a challenge in managing diversity within the workforce.
The sample received a very low response rate which can be attributed to the approach used by Pringle and Scowcroft’s (1996) research. The questionnaire was sent to all the members of the Institute of Personnel Management in Auckland and Wellington. These members consisted of academics and consultants as well as other people who are not in business organizations. As a result, the responses from these people made the survey inaccurate. Shakhray (2009) states that human capital is a combination of knowledge, skills, experience and qualification possessed. Therefore, to achieve a strong workforce with a summation of skills and knowledge, diversity at the workplace is inevitable. However, diversity comes along with multi – culturalism and multi – lingualism thereby posing a challenge with regards to communication. Stockdale and Crosby (2004) agree with Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) that it is the responsibility of the human resource professionals to create a balance where there can be diverse personnel who can communicate effectively and get along with each other’s cultural differences.
Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) argue that managing diversity focuses on the differences associated with race, gender, language, age and nationality. However, according to Stockdale and Crosby (2004), diversity at the workplace is more of a psychological phenomenon than a physical one. Therefore, diversity could impact the productivity of a workforce even within people of the same ethnic group, age – group, gender and nationality. The approach to managing diversity should focus on individuals at the workforce based on more specific aspects such as their personality and level of literacy. As a result, the research by Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) is too broad and does not offer a detailed solution on managing diversity.
The late 1980s and early 1990s were a revolutionary period for New Zealand with radical transformation from a welfare state that was heavily regulated to a free state enjoying the ideologies of a free market (Russell, 1996). The research by Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) was conducted during this period of revolution that was accompanied by drastic social and economic changes. As a result, the study was influenced by this revolution making the results an inaccurate representation of the ability of New Zealand’s workforce to manage diversity. Harvey and Allard (2015) state that economic and technological advancements directly influence the management of diversity at the workplace. Therefore, the study only reflected the New Zealand situation in 1996 and is not viable for the period before or after the study was conducted.
Grant and Kleiner’s (1997) research supports Pringle and Scowcroft’s report regarding the need for organizations to experiment with new practices by doing more research and development on their human resource theories. Examples of such practices are performance appraisals, reward systems and staff training. Creating mass awareness of the need to manage and value diversity at the workforce is also a key action point which will enable the workforce and the management to work hand – in – hand in addressing the issue. As stated by Harvey and Allard (2015), it takes a joint effort to successfully manage diversity, through the use of both vertical and horizontal communication.
The research by Pringle and Scowcroft (1996) was conducted twenty – one years ago but still has relevant lessons that relate to today’s society. However, there have been a lot of changes in the demographic factors such as population increase, immigration and emigration in New Zealand and the world at large. The research also took place immediately after a revolutionary period in New Zealand in the late 1990s. As a result, the surveys conducted were influenced by these external factors, as has been described by subsequent articles written on managing diversity at the workplace. However, as seen in recent studies on diversity, little has been done over the years regarding the issue. As a result, there are a lot of similarities between the New Zealand situation in 1996 and the current situation around the world, with regards to managing diversity at the workplace (Harvey & Allard, 2015).
Grant, B. Z., & Kleiner, B. H. (1997). Managing diversity in the workplace. Equal Opportunities
International, 16(3), 26-32.
Harvey, C. P., & Allard, M. (2015). Understanding and managing diversity. Pearson.
Pringle, J., & Scowcroft, J. (1996). Managing Diversity: Meaning and Practice in New Zealand
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Russell, M. (1996). Revolution – 1, Fortress New Zealand. Retrieved online from
Shakhray, I. (2009). Managing Diversity in the Workplace. Verlag.
Stockdale, M. S., & Crosby, F. J. (2004). The psychology and management of workplace
diversity. Blackwell Publishing.