By: Ezekiel Gacee

Over the last few decades, there has been a significant change in demographic patterns due to an increase in the number of ethnic-racial minorities. With the country experiencing a slowed growth rate, local governments’ efforts towards managing diversity have fallen under different labels, such as; managing diversity, celebrating diversity, embracing diversity, and valuing diversity. Regardless of the reference used, the common philosophy is that municipal governments should ensure that they have in place structures and management practices that promote diversity in that ethnic similarities and differences are respected.

Studies show that municipalities with more diverse management practices tend to promote inclusivity, hence managing diversity more effectively. The impact of effective diversity management is the existence of a more diversified workforce. There are different reasons why diversity management is an essential key, among them being to improve organizational effectiveness and competitiveness.

Organizations in the private and public domains are implementing and restructuring management systems and organizational structures to ensure management accountability.

A recent study looked at diversity management by different municipalities and used it as the dependent variable. The outcome was supposed to conclude that a high diversity management practice score is an indication that the cities were using more practices. The study examined several demographic factors that included; the population size, the percentage of minorities in the municipalities, the urbanization levels, the economic status in the city, race, gender, and ethnicity of the manager, the manager’s age, the manager’s government service experience, the manager’s and the manager’s education level.

The methodology used in the study involved sending surveys to cities and towns in North Carolina that have a population of more than 5,000 people. North Carolina, just like many other states in the U.S., has experienced significant demographic changes (Hur et al., 2010). According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the state’s population increased by 14.6 percent in 2000 and 2008.

Thirty-three percent of this figure involved ethnic minority groups. From the 116 municipalities in North Carolina, approximately 50 percent of the cities with a higher DMP score had specific characteristics in common: a higher population, an increased number of people per square mile, a high percentage of African American population, and a large portion of the population below the poverty level.

The cities with a large DMP score appeared to have city managers with a higher education level, experience in government service, and higher age.
Most cities took diversity management issues such as diversity training, empowerment, management involvement, and diversity training as their priority. These are some of the critical factors that influence diversity management in these cities, regardless of their DMP score.

There were also some DMP that were more popular in most cities compared to others. These include plan, mission, affirmative action programs, training, policy, and involvement.

The study confirmed a direct relationship between population size, heterogeneity, and urbanization about diversity management. However, the research established that city managers’ backgrounds directly impacted the DMP score in different municipalities. The age of the city managers had a significant impact on the DMP score of the city. The study, therefore, raises a fundamental question of whether a city manager’s background has any significant effect on diversity management as it is the case in the private sector.

Therefore, cultural identity theory views diversity management based on cultural identity as having a positive impact on performance in both the private and the public sectors. The other research ideology is that a less diverse setting hurts performance; this is because; the majority and minority groups tend to behave differently based on status and power.
People will evaluate others based on ethnic background, meaning that the majority group often behaves differently than the minority group (Martin, 2005).

Since many empirical studies have established that there is a direct link between diversity and performance, municipalities now have a way forward in creating structures that promote diversity management regardless of the ethnic backgrounds of the city managers.

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