The promotion of diversity in organizations has been one of the major tasks for business administrators who may represent various industries. This goal is essential for improving the cooperation between employees, minimizing conflicts, and protecting the reputation of companies. Overall, researchers offer different guidelines that can be useful for increasing the diversity of the modern workplace. Nevertheless, there are common themes that should be discussed. In particular, scholars stress the importance of such values as openness and integrity because they are critical for addressing the concerns that employees may have. Additionally, leaders should understand the impact of culture on the behavior of workers, their attitudes, and priorities. Finally, they should implement procedures that are necessary to eliminating various forms of discrimination. These approaches are critical for showing that every employee is valued by the management.
The review of sources
The need for diversity has become prominent several decades ago. In particular, many companies began to operate at the international level. Thus, the managers of these organizations understood that differences in cultural values and attitudes could profoundly impact the performance of workers. Additionally, companies employ candidates who have different backgrounds because they want to recruit and retain the best professionals.
In turn, such researchers as Geert Hofstede (1993) identified the dimensions that are helpful for comparing various cultures. For instance, one can mention such criteria as the degree of individualism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and time orientation (Hofstede, 1993, p.90). These differences should be considered by leaders because they must be able to anticipate how different workers may react to various challenges. For instance, employees, who come from Asian countries, may be unwilling to take independent initiatives without the permission of managers. However, there are limitations of Hofstede’s model. In particular, many researchers urge managers to avoid stereotypes about cultures that can change significantly due to the influence of globalization (Tung, 2008; Management Association, 2014). So, business administrators should not forget about these trends.
Moreover, scholars insist that managers should not regard the norms of their culture as the primary criteria for assessing the behavior of people (Bennett, 1993). This suggestion is important for improving the performance of workers and increasing the diversity of businesses. Overall, scholars advocate the so-called “ethnorelativism” or the approach according to which managers should be sensitive to the cultural values of workers (Bennett, 1993, p. 27). In many cases, this method is rather beneficial, but it can be criticized from a practical viewpoint. In particular, business administrators are obliged to meet specific financial and operational goals. Very often, they do not have the time to consider the cultural peculiarities of every worker. It is one of the challenges that should not be disregarded.
One should bear in mind that there are various dimensions of diversity. For instance, employees can represent different generations such as Baby Boomers or Generation Y (Tung, 2008). Their values and lifestyles are not the same. The critical task of managers is to make sure that these differences do not prevent employees from cooperating with one another. The workforce of modern companies cannot be homogeneous in terms of such criteria as gender, ethnicity, or race. In turn, the task of managers is to create an inclusive environment that enables employees to fulfill their potential.
Overall, scholars argue that organizational leaders may take several approaches to diversity in the workplace. Their strategies are dependent on the extent to which diversity is critical for such enterprises. For instance, Parshatam Dass and Barbara Parker (1999) argue that some businesses should continuously implement various programs aimed at empowering employees who could be disadvantaged due to their gender, ethnicity, race, and so forth. These organizations have to take these steps because their workers and clients have various cultural, religious, and ethnic backgrounds. To a great extent, they are pressured to implement such programs. In contrast, other businesses have no intrinsic need to increase the diversity. They may take only the “episodic” approach to diversity (Dass & Parker, 1999, p. 72). For instance, they may enable managers to participate in the seminars about conflicts caused by racial or ethnic prejudices. Parshatam Dass and Barbara Parker (1999) argue that under certain circumstances, each of these strategies is admissible. From a practical viewpoint, this approach is rather beneficial because it enables companies to reduce the expenditures, related to HR policies, especially the promotion of diversity. Nevertheless, other researchers warn that in many cases, a single incident can change managers’ views on the importance of diversity. Such a case has been described by Jeffry Connor (2000) who notes that even an unintended racial offense can considerably endanger the reputation of a company. Therefore, one should not suppose that businesses should only respond to possible problems. This approach is not suitable for improving the relations between co-workers. Furthermore, it cannot enable companies to retain the most qualified candidates.
Overall, scholars note that the promotion of diversity can be a valuable resource for businesses. Managers should not regard it only as a tool of showcasing their corporate social responsibility. They should keep in mind that it is a method of improving decision-making and learning in the organization (Ely & Thomas, 2001). This argument is particularly relevant to large organizations that operate at the international level.
Discussion and implications for organizational leaders
Overall, the review of these sources can be used for the development of guidelines and instructions that should be considered by managers who represent different levels of the workplace hierarchy. At first, it is critical to eliminate every form of discrimination that can be based on racial, religious, ethnic, or other grounds. This bias can adversely affect various HR processes such as recruitment, performance appraisal, and compensation. Apart from that, leaders should keep in mind that the inadequate performance of a person should not be explained only by incompetence. In many cases, cultural values can play an important role. For instance, the representatives of some cultures may be unwilling to take risks. However, one should not suppose that they are incompetent. In turn, managers should consider these issues and discuss them with employees as soon as possible.
This discussion shows that business administrators should focus on the transparency and equity of their HR policies. Much attention should be paid to such details as compensation, recruitment, and promotion. Apart from that, it is not permissible to disregard potential problems that could be caused by racial, ethnic, or religious prejudices. Finally, they should get in-depth insights into the peculiarities of cultural differences influencing the workplace behavior of people. These precautions can be vital to the success of companies that may represent various industries. Admittedly, business administrators may implement a broad range of programs that can support various forms of diversity. However, the principles that were mentioned in this review can benefit many enterprises.
Response to an Activity
In his book, Joseph Raelin (2010) creates a scale showing how a person perceives the importance of cultural adaptation. Overall, I am at the stage that is called “accommodation” (Raelin, 2010, p. 49). In my opinion, people should recognize cultural differences. Moreover, they should make sure that the representatives of minorities do not feel marginalized. This accommodation can be significant for improving the productivity of workers who will see that their values or worldviews are accepted by the management. Furthermore, this approach is necessary for reducing the tensions in the communities that tend to become more diverse.
Overall, during this project, I had an opportunity to observe the behavior of people who belonged to the Chinese culture. My journey took place in a Chinese neighborhood. In turn, I was able to look at the work of the organization hiring people who came mostly from China. In particular, I visited a Chinese restaurant located in this district. There are several details that were of great interest to me. In particular, the employees attached much importance to certain rituals such as offering small or symbolic gifts. This behavior is not frequently observed in the culture to which I belong. If I had known about this issue, I might have bought some small souvenirs. It is one of the aspects that attracted my attention. Overall, I have gained deeper insights into the peculiarities of the etiquette adopted in China. The key benefit of this project is that I have been able to interview one of the employees. She was kind enough to answer several questions about the Chinese culture, its worldviews, and values.
This interview has been very illuminating because I was able to change my perceptions of cultural differences. In particular, I have realized that time orientation is an important cultural factor that can often lead to misunderstanding. For instance, Chinese people attach importance to the long-term results that can be attained only in the distant future. Admittedly, I also think about long-term objectives, but I do not think about these issues in terms of decades. In turn, this long-term orientation is an essential attribute of successful individuals. Nevertheless, such people should also possess such traits as punctuality and diligence. Such qualities are vital to achieving ambitious goals. Apart from that, the respondent identified a very interesting aspect of conflict resolution. In many cases, Chinese people prefer to avoid open confrontations, even at the time when it is necessary to address significant problems. This issue can have significant implications for managers or employers because they will not be able to resolve possible concerns as quickly as possible. This interview has exemplified other aspects of Chinese culture. For instance, much attention should be paid to the power distance between senior managers and frontline employees. In many cases, younger workers are not expected to dispute the decisions of people who occupy a higher position in the hierarchy.
In my opinion, this project has been very informative and thought-provoking. It has demonstrated to me that people, who want to be become efficient leaders, should understand how cultural differences influence a person’s decisions or choices. This sensitivity is important for motivating employees or colleagues. To some degree, this journey is a starting point that prompted me to learn more about the importance of culture in the workplace. Thus, these experiences can significantly contribute to my professional and personal development.
Bennett, M. (1993). Toward ethnorelativism: a developmental model of intercultural sensitivity. In R. Paige (Ed.), Education for intercultural experience (pp. 27-71). Yarmouth, ME: Intercultural Press.
Connor, J. (2000). It wasn’t about race. Or was it? Harvard Business Review, 78 (5), 37-46.
Dass, P., & Parker, B. (1999). Strategies for managing human resource diversity: from resistance to learning. Academy of Management Executive, 13(2), 68-80.
Ely, R., & Thomas, D. (2001). Cultural diversity at work: the effects of diversity perspectives on work group processes and outcomes. Administrative Science Quarterly, 46(2), 229-273.
Hofstede, G. (1993). Cultural constraints on management theories. Executive, 7(1), 81-94.
Management Association. (2014). Cross-Cultural Interaction: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools, and Applications. New York, NY: IGI Global.
Raelin, J. (2010). The leaderful fieldbook: strategies and activities for developing leadership in everyone. New York, NY: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.
Tung, R. (2008). The cross-cultural research imperative: the need to balance cross-national and intra-national diversity. Journal of International Business Studies, 39(1), 41-46.