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Dealing with such conflicts may not always be possible. Diversity programs can create conflicts for a variety of reasons. Any program that is explicitly aimed at increasing the numbers of certain groups of people in a company, and on encouraging employees to act in ways that are accommodating to members of those groups, may be deeply irritating to people from other groups who feel they are being shortchanged or devalued.
That said, there are things a firm like Macy’s can do. First, it can ensure that its diversity program is not too heavy-handed. It can ensure that its program involves things like actively seeking diverse applicants of high quality. This will be less likely to cause conflict than a program that gives “diverse” applicants preference in the actual selection process. Second, the firm can try to have a diversity education program that is well-crafted and does not put “non-diverse” employees on the defensive by making them feel that they are being criticized.
Even if the diversity plan is well-crafted, conflicts may still arise. One thing Macy’s could do would be to highlight the business importance (as opposed to the social importance) of the program. This might make employees less hostile if they can see that the firm is trying to improve its business prospects rather than simply giving in to “political correctness.” The firm might also try to ensure that all of its teams are diverse. If the firm is hiring good employees of all groups, employees should come to respect one another on their merits rather than seeing the “diverse” employees as people who do not deserve to be employed at the firm.
Of course, all of these things may not prevent or ameliorate all conflict, but they are steps that can be beneficial.
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