Understanding values diversity within the organisation: a case study in UK construction

Any increasing diversity in a workforce necessitates a better understanding of individual and team differences in the organisation, as well as how such differences affect the organisation itself. Previous research has highlighted that diversity in people’s values will have consequences for an organisation, and is therefore critical in the area of diversity management. Nevertheless, understanding values diversity within the organisation is not an easy task. The difficulties are exacerbated by the dearth of literature offering practical guidance. The case study presented has been conducted in a UK construction company using Schwartz’s theoretical framework of human values as a framing device. Employees’ values profiles were collected and analysed through an organisational-wide survey. The process helped identify shared values, and highlighted differences between various sub-groups. It made the divergence of values explicit, thus facilitating mutual understanding within the organisation. It is argued that values diversity should be encouraged and respected within a collectivistic culture, enabling a heterogeneous workforce to work harmoniously toward their common goals, maximising the contribution of each member, and ensuring fair treatment for all irrespective of background. In addition, Schwartz’s circumplex model of values and its associated survey instrument are helpful framing devices to reveal values diversity and facilitate values communication within the organisation.