diversity in an organization essay

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Diversity is what we chose to analyze based on the desire to understand an inclusive environment and be able to incorporate this into our companies. This paper will describe diversity and it’s importance to the workplace environment. We plan on describing how a company should evolve into an inclusive environment. We will analyze three different companies and discuss the importance of diversity in these organizations. We then will create a diversity benchmark for corporations to incorporate into their policies.
Diversity is defined as “describing human qualities such as race, gender, and ethnicity that are different from our own and outside the groups to which we belong Вќ (Gibson, pg. 477). Diversity is important to companies because with a diverse environment people can benefit and learn from others’ ideas. Other reasons for the importance of diversity to many organizations are the recognition of differences as prerequisites for high performance and continuous improvement, enhancing the effectiveness and creativity of the organization, and valuing conflicts as opportunities for more effective decision-making and problem solving (CIGNA’s seminar).
Diversity has a major impact on our behaviors and the decision making process. The success of individuals in the organization and the organization as a whole is effected by these decisions and behaviors (CIGNA’s seminar). Our cultural values and beliefs influence our way of doing things. For example, if I strongly believe in women’s rights then I am going to potentially hire more women and take their viewpoints into higher consideration.
With society integrating so many different cultures into one working melting pot, we need to take into consideration these differences and understand how they will all work together. “As in any relationship, the key to its strength is mutual understanding, facilitated by sensitivity to the differences among us Вќ (CIGNA newslette

Essays Related to Diversity

The Importance and Benefits of Diversity

Kgundy26
1. I mostly enjoy off the wall bands and singers; I listen to a whole bunch of types of music. 2. I believe this can be said both ways. If I'm sad I listen to less upbeat songs but if an upbeat song happens to come on I feel much happier. 3. My best friends listen to songs on the radio, all modern stuff. I like their music but I do prefer slightly dated music. 4. I do agree with the statement. When people listen to different genres of music it opens them up to different things. 5. I feel like people do judge based on the music people listen to. For example, I listen to Ed Sheeran, but I also listen to a Rage Against The Machine- two very different genres with two very different connotations to the music. 6. My parents don't filter my music. They don't care what I listen to because I'm not negatively influenced by music.

Feb. 29, 2016 at 9:20 AM • Report

Ciara
1. all over the place 2. both 3. my friends listen to all different kinds of music 4. I agree because listening to music can broaden your perspective. 5. No. 6. No.

Feb. 29, 2016 at 9:16 AM • Report

(respectfully)
I’ve never read someone who has speaks such sophistry with such conviction. Your reasoning for encouraging diversity can be summed up into “They bring fresh ideas and help us to understand our differences”. Before I get into how ridiculously unfounded that reasoning is, let me first tell you that the rest of your article revolves around stating quotes from various leftist “researchers” and your own opinions, neither of which are reputable sources of evidence, nor are of any value to debate. You, (understandably given the fact that your thoughts are young and malleable) are confusing diversity with multiculturalism. It is fair to say that to “have new experiences”, you do not need a person from another country living in the house next to you. Cultural tourism is a very successful industry, but it’s actually in decline. That’s because we aren’t achieving multiculturalism. We’re causing uniculturalism. As a British man, (straight and white; you must hate me..), I can tell you in person that celebration of British culture is at an all time low. Traditions are side-lined to maintain “Social cohesion” with new arrivals, patriotism is “racist” and is bigotry. So when a white man stands up for western values, he gets shouted down by his countrymen for failing to acknowledge some “privilege” he has. The only “fresh” ideas migrants have provided are self-censorship, and self-loathing for the actions of our ancestors. The rest of these migrants have surrendered their own cultures and assimilated a distorted version of our own, and we theirs, leaving a cultural wasteland, formally called uniculturalism. That’s why tourism is on the decline. Foreign nations are becoming westernised, and are losing their charm. Western nations are becoming apologist regressives, and are losing our own identity. With immigration, they either want to integrate, and lose their cultural charm, or they dont want to, and they become marginalised lunatics telling us how horrible we are.

Jan. 27, 2016 at 4:51 PM • Report

Managing Cultural Diversity At Workplace Business Essay

In management theory and business practice, dealing with diversity, especially a diverse workforce has played a prominent role in recent years. The acceptance and management of cultural diversity have been promoted and touted as a positive tool in social and organizational engineering aimed at solving and preventing group dynamics problems in both business organizations and society as well. Positive attributes of cultural integration in business organizations have received fair and significant attention in the past two decades. What have not been sufficiently presented are the challenges and pitfalls inherent in the management of culturally diverse work groups.

This paper develops theory about the conditions under which cultural diversity enhances or detracts from work group functioning. By identifying the conditions that intervene between the demographic composition of a work group and its functioning, this paper helps to explain mixed results on the relationship between cultural diversity and work group outcomes.

Keyword: Cultural Diversity, HR practices, competitive organizations, cultural differences

Introduction

Culture refers to the values, norms, and traditions that affect the way a member of a group typically perceives, thinks, interacts, behaves, and makes judgments. Cultural competence, in brief, is the ability to interact effectively with people from different cultures. This ability depends on awareness of one’s own cultural worldview, knowledge of other cultural practices and worldviews, tolerant attitudes towards cultural differences, and cross-cultural skills.

In brief, culture – as the descriptions reveal – is a mixture including knowledge, belief, art, law, morality and conventions shared by nearly all of the members of a specific society and separating one group member from another; other skills and habits; also common attitudes and responsibilities learned subsequently, such as original lifestyles, emotions etc. (Miroshnik, 2002; Dansman, 2000; Zel, 2000; Mutlu, 1999). Barriers and norms get their source from cultural merits (Develioglu, 2001).

Individuals express their cultures and their normative qualities through the values that they hold about all aspects of human life and the world around them. These values in turn have influence on their attitudes about the form of behaviour considered most appropriate and effective in any given situation (Miroshnik, 2002; Parkhe, 2001). The reason is that culture is a way of life and a form of communication for resolution for people.

Owing to actual socio-demographic trends such as rising globalization and internationalization, heterogeneity of organizational workforce is increasing (Jackson et al. 2003). However, diversity, defined as heterogeneity of members regarding, for example, gender, age or ethnicity, is a double-edged sword (Van Knippenberg and Schippers, 2007). On the one hand, by enhancing the range of perspectives available in the team, diversity can enable processes of information sharing and decision making, thereby enhancing team performance (Van Knippenberg et al. 2004). On the other hand, however, diversity may trigger processes of social categorization, resulting in conflict, which in turn will derogate the performance of the diverse team (Tajfel and Turner, 1986; Jackson et al. 2003; Gebert, 2004).

The concept of diversity includes acceptance and respect. It means understanding that each individual is unique, and recognizing our individual differences. These can be along the dimensions of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies. It is the exploration of these differences in a safe, positive, and fostering environment. It is about understanding each other and moving beyond simple tolerance to embracing and celebrating the rich dimensions of diversity contained within each individual.

As more and more number of firms move from domestic, multidomestic, multinational strategies to operating as a truly global firm, the significance and impact of cultural diversity increase markedly (Adler, 1997). Management of cultural differences has become more important for creating advantages and getting competitive edge.

Figure I: Culturally Competent Organization

CULTURALLY COMPETENT ORGANIZATION

PERSONNEL PRACTICES

Employment opportunities advertised in ethno cultural media

Active recruitment of qualified culturally diverse staff/ volunteers

GOVERNANCE

Cultural diversity in the community reflected in board membership

Representation of relevant social, political, and economic sectors of the community in the Board

On-going diversity training for all board members

Explicit recognition of cultural diversity and commitment to culturally competent services in the organization’s mission statement and goal

ADMINISTRATION

Diversity management knowledge and skills as requisite requirements for the executive director and program managers

Collecting demographic data relating to cultural diversity in the community and among clients

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

Respect for the right of an individual to his/her cultural customs, beliefs and practices

Recognition of an individual’s culture as an integral part of his/her well-being

POLICY & DECISION MAKING

Input from all staff and volunteers in decision making

Culturally diverse people in the community consulted to identify key diversity issues

Cultural competency incorporated into all policies

COMMUNICATION

Barriers in communication with culturally diverse people identified and removed

A list of culturally diverse media developed and used

Availability of interpretation and translation

Culturally appropriate languages

Reasons for creating a diverse workforce are as follows:

Diversity enhances creativity and innovation and produces advantages.

Diversity helps organizations for entering the international arena.

Diverse teams make it possible to enhance flexibility and rapid response to change.

The word ‘‘diversity’’ here can be defined as a mixture of people with different group identities within the same social system (Fleury, 1999). If the workforce profile in an organisation is composed of worker groups which show differences depending on demographic or other characteristics, diversity emerges.

Management of cultural diversity has been suggested as the human resource strategy enabling the effective management of the workforce diversity created by demographical changes generally in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. Cultural diversity implies a holistic focus in order to create an organisational environment that allows all the employees to reach their full potential in pursuing the organisational goals.

For companies consciously undertaking the work of promoting and building cultural diversity, the biggest mistake is to roll it out as yet another company program – more training to take, another poster on the wall. Rather, employees should embrace diversity as a value, a way of doing business and the best means of improving performance. Cultural diversity must be a strategy, supported by goals and objectives and communicated through the words and actions of the leadership team. Finally, every organization must perform the introspection necessary to uncover and fix policies, procedures and systems that are inconsistent with the future state. All the pieces must fit together and make sense.

Diversity should describe the extent of our thoughtfulness in generating ideas and solving problems, not just the composition of the workforce.

Cultural Diversity and Management

The cultural impact on management is reflected by basic values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of the people. Culture can affect technology transfer, managerial attitudes, managerial ideology and even government-business relationships. Moreover culture affects how people think and behave (Hodgetts and Luthans, 1994). In some societies important decisions are made by few top managers, while in others, these decisions are diffused throughout the enterprise. American society comes under the first case and Japanese comes under the latter case. American and other Western countries’ cultural norms require individual rewards that are not so in Japanese culture. In some societies, risk-taking is encouraged which is not so in others. People identify themselves very strongly with their company as in Japan against America where people identify themselves with their occupational group. Some societies encourage cooperation between people. Others encourage competition between people. Some countries believe in short-term goals, while others are more interested in long-term goals. Western countries put high value on innovation and change as against rest of the countries where stability is being encouraged. So, it is the cultural background that creates differences (Reynolds, 1986).

Figure: II

MAIN ACTIVITIES FORMING THE CENTRE OF

CULTURAL DIVERSITY MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME

LEADERSHIP

The commitment and encouragement of top management

Management and counselling groups

Responsibility

Continuous improvement

Cultural Diversity Management – Reaching a Strategic Approach

Five main influences on contemporary approaches to cultural diversity management are discussed.

1. General diversity management – a strategic approach to diversity management in general provides an enabling framework to deal with cultural diversity in particular. Organisations which proactively learn from diversity and which integrate the varied perspectives and ways of working in a holistic manner can fully unleash the benefits of a diverse workforce. Key organisational features contributing to the success of diversity management are openness, communication and flexibility.

2. International business – research on managing across cultures has had a major impact on our understanding of culture and how it affects individual and organisational behaviours. National cultures have significant influence on the management assumptions and on the way business is conducted. Business negotiations, marketing, sales and purchasing among other activities are all facilitated through knowledge and understanding of cultural differences.

3. Multicultural marketplace – in the context of cultural diversity, these market segments may reflect ethnic and language minorities etc. In large diverse markets the critical mass of minority purchasing power has also been the driving force behind this approach in the past. While there are clear benefits of employing immigrant workers to address the needs of the multicultural marketplace, the danger of pigeon-holing individuals exists whether the target market is within Ireland or abroad. Strategic diversity management stresses the importance of looking holistically at the individual’s entire skills bundle and potential.

4. Human resource management (HRM) – HRM has become of strategic importance as organisations recognise the value of their employees as a source of core competence and competitive advantage. As HRM has risen to a strategic level, it brings cultural diversity management along with it as part of its bundle of practices. Cultural diversity management interacts with other strategies and, for example, can play a key role in achieving improved productivity and innovation through effective talent management as a HRM strategy.

5. Globalisation – globalisation reflects the increased ease of mobility and communications for organisations and individuals. A positive consequence of globalisation is a radically changed workforce as new skills have been imported. The resulting diversity gives Ireland the potential to be among the most innovative and dynamic places to work in the world.

Dimensions of Difference

Initially Hofstede found that managers and employees vary on four primary cultural dimensions:

• Masculinity/femininity (Career success/quality of life).

Later Hofstede along with others identified a fifty dimension i.e. Confucian dynamism (Adler, 1997).

Individualism implies loosely knit social networks in which people focus primarily on taking care of themselves and their immediate family only. Countries with high individualism trait like United States, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Australia and India tend to have greater support for Protestant work ethic, individual decision-making, and promotions on the basis of market value. In contrast, collectivism is a tendency of people to belong to groups and to look after each other in exchange for loyalty. Countries like Pakistan, Taiwan, Peru, Columbia, Singapore etc. have high collectivism trait (low individualism). These countries with high collectivism tend to have less support for the Protestant work ethic, less individual initiative, and promotions on the basis of seniority.

Power distance measures the extent to which less powerful employees accept an unequal distribution of power. In high power distance countries, such as Philippines, Venezuela, Mexico, South Korea and India, superiors and subordinates consider bypassing to insubordination; whereas in low power distance countries, such as Israel, Denmark and USA, employees expect to bypass the boss frequently in order to get their work done (Adler, 1997). Decision-making is decentralized in low power distance countries as against high power distance countries.

Uncertainty avoidance dimension measures the extent to which managers and employees feel threatened by ambiguity and, therefore, try to avoid ambiguous situations by providing greater career stability, establishing more formal rules, rejecting deviant ideas and behaviour, and accepting the possibility of absolute truths and the attainment of expertise. Lifetime employment is more common in high uncertainty avoidance cultures like Japan, Portugal, and Greece whereas high job mobility is more common in low uncertainty avoidance countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark and India (Adler, 1997). The country United States with high job mobility ranks is relatively low on uncertainty avoidance.

The dominant values in Masculine (Career Success) societies are success, money and things. The values in quality-of-life (femininity) societies are relationships among people, concern for others, and the quality of life. Highly masculine cultures are found in India, Japan, Austria, Venezuela, USA and Italy. Feminine cultures are found in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

The integration of these cultural factors into two-dimensional plots explains the complexity of understanding culture’s effect on behaviour. Further, empirical evidence on the impact of cultural dimensions may differ from commonly held beliefs or stereotypes (Hodgetts and Luthans, 1994).

Therefore, companies should completely reshape the working culture that make possible the integration of a broad range of viewpoints that leads to a redefinition of how work gets done and how diverse markets are approached and capitalized upon. All employees should be held accountable for their behaviours and human resources results. Companies must create a post bureaucratic organization based upon trust and respect in which diverse employees are valued and integrated into all aspects of the work. Companies should rethink and redefine missions, strategies, management practices, cultures, markets, and products to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse body of employees, customers and stakeholders (Fernandez, 1998).

Strategies for managing cultural differences

The extent to which managers and employees recognize cultural diversity and its potential advantages and disadvantages defines an organization’s approach (strategy) to manage cultural diversity. Adler (1997) has identified the following strategies for managing cultural differences.

(i) Ignore cultural differences

(ii) Minimize cultural differences.

(iii) Manage cultural differences.

Ignore differences: By following this strategy, managers do not recognize cultural differences (diversity) or its impact on the organization. This strategy is very popular in parochial type of organizations. In such type of organizations, managers and employees believe that "our way is the only way" to manage and organize. Therefore, they do not see any impact of cultural diversity on managing an organization. They consider the diversity is irrelevant. The strategy of ignoring differences precludes effective management of cultural diversity and also precludes the possibility of minimizing negative impacts and increasing positive impacts of diversity.

Minimize differences: This strategy of minimizing cultural differences is commonly adopted by ethnocentric organizations. Here managers do recognize cultural diversity but only as a source of problems. In an ethnocentric organization, managers believe that "our way is the best way" to organize and manage. They consider others’ ways of doing as inferior ways of managing. In this approach managers try to reduce the problems of differences by reducing diversity. They do not think about the advantages of diversity. Such type of organizations tries either to select a culturally homogenous workforce or to attempt to socialize all employees into the behaviour patterns of the dominant culture. Ethnocentric organizations, by minimizing differences, prevent the possibility of benefiting from the many cultures present.

Managing differences: The organizations which adopt the strategy of managing differences are synergistic organizations. These types of organizations recognize the impacts of cultural diversity that leads to both advantages and disadvantages. Managers using synergistic approach believe that "our way and their way of behaving and managing differ, but neither is superior to the other". Creative combinations of our way and their way may be the best approach to organizing and managing. By adopting synergistic approach, managers and employees minimize potential problems by managing the impacts of cultural diversity, not by attempting to minimize the diversity itself. In the same manner, managers maximize the potential advantages by managing the impacts of diversity, rather than by ignoring them. Organizations which use the strategy of managing differences train their managers and employees to recognize cultural differences and to use cultural differences to create advantages for the organization.

Cross-cultural Training

Cross-cultural training stresses on training employees about other cultures and sensitizing them to the discrimination and biases diverse employees feel (Farren and Nelson, 1999). Cross-cultural training aims at helping employees live and work comfortably in another culture. Organizations can use two approaches of training that can play a big role in managing diversity.

(i) First approach offers training to diverse groups of employees. People from diverse groups can be trained for an entry-level skill.

(ii) Second approach is to provide training to managers and other employees who work with diverse employees (Luthans, 1995).

Many organizations impart practical, real-life training to teach employees how to handle situations those arise due to cultural differences. The organizations can use the following cross-cultural training techniques:

Environmental briefings: to provide information about history, geography, climate, schools, government, economy, etc.

Orientation in culture: to familiarize the employees with value systems and culture of the host country.

Cultural assimilator: is a programmed learning technique that is designed to expose employees of one culture to some of the attitudes, customs, etc. of another culture.

Language training: to teach conversational language skills.

Sensitivity training: to develop attitudinal flexibility.

Field experience: to give first hand exposure to another culture (Hodgetts and Luthans, 1994).

Valuing and Utilizing Diversity

The companies can succeed at diversity if the initiative to create and manage the diverse workforce has the full support from the top management (Hayes, 1999). With this, five other steps must be considered which are as follows:

Conduct an organizational audit: The organizational audit should include a continuous monitoring of all human resource management decisions around hiring, placement, training and development, evaluation, promotion, compensation, and reward systems.

Assess the pulse of the company: If diverse workforce in the organization feels good about their stay and experience and enjoy at work, then the well-being, motivation, satisfaction, and commitment of people of any organization will increase.

Establish and communicate clear performance standards: Performance standards must be based on critical competencies necessary for each job. These must be clearly and objectively established, effectively communicated, and used on objective criteria.

Provide continuous feedback: Employees should be trained about how to give and receive feedback continuously on clearly identified undesirable behaviors the company want to change and desirable behaviors the company want to encourage. Identification of desirable and undesirable behaviors must be based upon performance feedback discussions involving diverse workforce.

Avoid copying: Very often, companies rely on benchmarking/copying to take advantage of the latest strategies. Copying may backfire. To be successful, the strategy (diversity or otherwise) must be based on the will of the human resources, strength, and culture of the organization.

Adopting a diversity strategy for a company whose culture and history are different and not suitable for diversity strategy reduces the viability and utility of the strategy. Managers must understand their firm’s culture first and then implement diversity strategies according to that culture.

Diversity also causes certain problems those are as follows:

Communication becomes more difficult. Employees from different cultures fail to understand one another. Firms operating in different language areas find difficulty in communicating with the local employees as local employees speak different language.

Diversity increases ambiguity, complexity and confusion.

Diversity also causes problems when managers and employees overgeneralize organizational policies, strategies, practices and procedures.

Cultural diversity creates difficulties for an organization when it wants to reach on a single agreement.

Cultural diversity increases the complexity and problems in developing overall organizational procedures.

Implications for HR Managers

The focus of the workforce diversity issue has changed from equal employment opportunity to effectively managing workforce diversity as an organizational imperative (Torres and Bruxelles, 1992). As the globalization is increasing, workforce diversity is here going to stay. Those recognize the globalization of labour as a positive trend and facilitate the flow of workforce will benefit most (Johnston, 1991). Keeping this in mind our strategy should be aimed at creating change in organizations. To be successful in such type of new environment, managers must learn to value and respect cultural styles and ways of behaving those differ from our styles. Managers must be able to tie the issues of managing cultural differences to the needs of the business and be well versed in business issues, goals and results. Managing workforce diversity should be considered by managers as an opportunity to serve the needs of customers better and to penetrate new markets. By valuing and managing diverse workforce, it is possible to enhance creativity, flexibility, and rapid response to change. Managers, to utilize the potential of diverse workforce, must link diversity to every business function or strategy i.e. recruitment, selection, placement, development, succession planning, performance appraisal and rewards. To remain competitive, organizations must develop long-term intervention strategies rather than short-term solutions or strategies. Managers have to remove the barriers which prevent the organizations from developing and utilizing fully equitable systems that allow workforce to achieve its full potential.

Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures, and work with varying cultural calendars. While there are myriad cultural variations, here are some essential to the workplace:

Communication: Providing information accurately and promptly is critical to effective work and team performance. This is particularly important when a project is troubled and needs immediate corrective actions. However, people from different cultures vary in their perception and expressions, for example, People from some Asian cultures are reluctant to give supervisors bad news – while those from other cultures may exaggerate it.

Team-building: Some cultures – like the United States – are individualistic, and people want to go it alone. Other cultures value cooperation within or among other teams. Team-building issues can become more problematic as teams are comprised of people from a mix of these cultural types. Effective cross-cultural team-building is essential for benefiting from the potential advantages of cultural diversity in the workplace.

Time: Cultures differ in how they view time. For example, they differ in the balance between work and family life, and the workplace mix between work and social behaviour. Other differences include the perception of overtime, or even the exact meaning of a deadline. Different perceptions of time can cause a great misunderstanding and mishap in the workplace, especially with scheduling and deadlines. Perceptions of time underscore the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace, and how it can impact everyday work.

Conclusion

A company with a diverse workforce can better serve and compete in diverse markets. Hiring a diverse workforce can be challenging but the greater challenge is to retain the diverse workforce. Exploring best HR practices helps in identifying the best tools for retaining a diverse workforce. These practices include establishing open communication, supporting on-going training and mentoring programmes and linking pay to diversity goals. Ultimately, the key to create, develop, and retain diverse workforce is to find a way to make workforce to feel connected to their company (Farren and Nelson, 1999).

Organizations with diverse employees are better suited to serve diverse external customers in an increasingly global market. Such organizations have a better understanding of the requirements of the legal, political, social, economic, and cultural environments.

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