Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Why Diversity Matters in Public Service

Diversity refers to human qualities that are different from our own and those of groups to which we belong; but that are manifested in other individuals and groups. Dimensions of diversity include but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, parental status, religious beliefs, work experience, and job classification.
Public Administration experts hold that traditional work arrangements are inadequate to address the challenges organizations encounter today. According to these experts the shifts from an industrial to an information-based society, and from a manufacturing to a service economy, have propelled revolutionary changes on work place arrangements. Thus, these trends have affected work not only in industrialized societies, but in all nations including the developing countries. Organizational arrangements based on those assumptions are not responsive to the organizational problems and organizations cannot organize their tasks properly based on such assumptions. In fact, a paradigmatic shift is taking place in how we think about contemporary organizations and their governance.
According to Ospina, public organizations are not exempt from this reality. From a managerial perspective, the Nation state is a large and complex supra-organization. To effectively accomplish its mission in today’s turbulent environment, it must engage in similar challenges as any other large corporation. In the same way, a professional civil service system is just one version of another contemporary personnel system based on the merit principle. Public service, of course, represents a particular type of employment relationship that, by its very nature, is different from private employment. Nevertheless, from the point of view of organizational theory, a national public bureaucracy, its conditions of employment, and its employees, are all equally subject to the tremendous pressures shaping the fate of any complex organization today. It is in this context that the challenge of managing diversity in the civil service becomes an urgent and important agenda. 
Workforce diversity has, indeed, become an imperative for organizational competitiveness and effectiveness and diversity management is increasingly becoming a principle of human resources management. However, it is not considered properly in the Afghan government institutions. Diversity is not a value in Afghan public Administrations and even the authorities intentionally make measures to exclude specific ethnic groups from the public administrations. Hazaras presence in Afghan public administration clearly shows that they are systematically excluded from both military and civil service sectors. According to the official statistics, Hazaras form 9 percent of the population of the country, but they are only representing 1 to 2 percent of the total public servants and the situation is even worse in the security and defense institutions.
Lack of diversity, including ethnic diversity has held back Afghan public administration and security sector to remain competitive, and these organizations are not able to adapt to and manage new environmental forces. Afghan public Administrations do not search for different work arrangements, and leaders resist flatter organizational structures designed around teams and networks, and boundaries do not become permeable to facilitate intra and inter-organizational cooperation. While the new complexity of work operations demands more diverse functions and the use of more diverse talents, Afghan public administrations continue pursuing old PA assumptions for ethnic purposes. 
Diversity poses tough challenges for managers in both public including security sector and private organizations. These are compounded in the public sector by pressures creating additional dilemmas for the civil service system. Public sector organizations in most countries, rich and poor, experience an environment characterized by greater scarcity of resources.  In this context, incentives to invest in human capital to adjust to the new demands will be minimal. Public officials and managers must respond to competing and give equal opportunities to all Afghan citizens. Indeed, Hazaras also want the best person for the job in a department that is diverse and reflects the community it serves. Reasons for the slow progress are no doubt complex, but it’s hard to believe that minorities including Hazaras aren’t interested in these jobs or lack the intellect and physical ability to serve the nation. We need to stop the self-inflicted wounds we are doing to ourselves in the public sector and security sector by ignoring diversity goals.