DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY: UAE CONTEXT
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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1 Background of the study
Managing workplace diversity and equality is a priority concern among various organizations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today. Being one of the largest net immigration rates in the World, the UAE has increased significantly for decades. The mobility of its cross border has led to the interaction of people from various parts of the world who belong to different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds (Powell, et al., 2013). Migrants in the UAE mainly seek work in the domestic and construction work sectors. Diversity and equality have proven to have a number of benefits such as the enhancement of employees? creativity and competency in the workplace. However, diversity is also known to lead to creation of barriers which otherwise reduce the benefits of diversity in the workplace and also leads to miscommunication (Powell, et al.,2013). There is high pressure in the UAE to employ and also to manage people of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds. This has led to the skillful management of diversity in the workplace to be prioritized.
The construction industry in the UAE consist of a diverse and multi-cultural workforce. It is therefore very important to consider the nature and influence of this diverse workforce since non-national employees constitute of more than 51% of the construction workforce. There is great need of managers of organizations to understand and develop strategies within which they can manage a workplace that is highly diversified (Randeree, et al.,2012). However, many companies in the UAE have inconsistent policies and strategies for dealing with diversity and intercultural communication. Workplace diversity simply means that staff from different racial and cultural backgrounds co-exist within their place of work (Powell, et al., 2013). Organizations value diversity due to a number of reasons. It is very important when it comes to sustaining equality of access and opportunity in the workplace. The support for equal opportunity is beneficial for organizations especially when dealing with a multi-cultural labor force. Hence, initiatives which support diversity have an aim of ensuring that a particular organization does not lose its taste or waste talent.
Powell et al., (2013) argues that in the UAE, the construction industry is male dominated, recording a high percentage of male employees and also exhibits the greatest degree of vertical segregation. The reality is that women are under-represented in the construction industry although they have a highly skewed representation within the industry with approximately two thirds working clerical and secretarial roles. Some categories such as the managerial and administrative category have a high concentration of women in specialist positions rather than in main stream management. Also, there is a significant under representation of women in technical and engineering occupations as compared to their male counterparts (Powell, et al.,2013). Additionally, segregation of women depends on the type of organization they are working in.