Diversity at the workplace refers to the variations exhibited among individuals who serve as employees in an organization. The attributes which display the broader scope of differences between people are gender, age, race, skills, ethnic background, the language of communication, and religion, among other defining characteristics (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). Diversity encompasses the perspective upon which one person holds an opinion towards other people with whom he or she has no similarity. Consequently, the differences among people influence their interactions and reflect greatly on the productivity, consistency, and adaptability of employees in an organization (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Therefore, this paper discusses cultural diversity in the workplace. It emphasizes the management of cultural diversity and how it impacts people and organizations during operational activities.
The Notion of Cultural Diversity
Cultural diversity is defined as the variations existing among people originating from different demographic or ethnic backgrounds. Among them are the dressing codes, religion, diet constituents, skin color, and initiation rites among communities. According to Velten and Lashley (2018), cultural diversity can be categorized as primary and secondary differences. The primary aspects of cultural variations entail individual characteristics which occur naturally and cannot be modified: skin color, sex, age, and intelligence. On the other hand, the secondary perspective of diversity in culture is subject to modification, such as religion, level of education, and dressing code. In an organization, cultural diversity entails embracing the values exhibited by people from different ancestral origins and their beliefs (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). Cultural diversity, therefore, brings into the realization that variations among communities all over the world are essential to hold onto in an economically dynamic setting.
Impacts of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Cultural diversity is associated with confrontation in various workplaces globally, becoming a subject of concern in both public and private sectors. The effect of cultural diversity reflects on the recognition of an employee in an organization, which in turn serves as an index of his or her determination to achieve set objectives (Spivak, 2020). However, in many instances, a worker’s motivation in an organization is an intrinsic characteristic that is evident in the dedication to routine tasks (Civitillo et al., 2018). On the other hand, deep considerations also justify that employees’ engagement towards meeting organizational goals could stem from substantial reasons such as tokens and encouragement by team members (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Thus, it reflects that cultural diversity could bear an impact on the development of an organization, either positively or negatively.
Positive Impacts of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
An organization with a broad scope of diverse cultures must enhance profit generation. Workplaces that have ensconced employees from different demographic backgrounds enjoy peaceful co-existence during operational hours (Velten & Lashley, 2018). The personnel gets satisfied with the surrounding influences and experiences among co-workers; thus, job satisfaction is achieved, and customers’ attention is captured. The rates of turnover are also reduced in the environment of employment. Eventually, the developed skills are quickly consecrated to the services within the organization, following high profitability realized through cultural diversity (Spivak, 2020). It becomes easy for an organization to generate profit and develop when the talents within its scope are easily retained through peace brought by diversity of culture in the workplace.
Cultural diversity allows an organization to span into new markets. An industry constituted by staff from different ethnic backgrounds benefits from the talents within its capacity. The abilities and competencies of personnel can be instrumental in developing new products and providing services that fit the interest of the targeted customers. Moreover, the organization can identify the needs of people in different communities and design its products and services to satisfy their demands (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Thus, cultural diversity is an effective tool for a company to extend its services to new markets.
Cultural diversity promotes innovation and enhances creativity in an organization. The dynamics of the financial world require consistency in capturing customers’ attention and satisfying their interests through quality products and services. Therefore, new ideas from the employees are essential assets to the organization (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Uniting people from different communities and cultural backgrounds serves to pool multiple skills towards achieving the same objective. The variations exhibited in the approaches other people give are instrumental in resolute decision-making among co-workers. When individuals from different societies work in an environment where they prefer similar industrial cultures such as missions and visions, it becomes easy for them to develop new concepts for maximum output (Launois et al., 2019). Thus, cultural diversity in the workplace serves as an instrument of industrial development by promoting creativity and innovation.
Employing workers from diverse cultural backgrounds provides an organization with ground-breaking ideas and a knowledge base for decision-making. When people from different communities work together, learning is quickly initiated among them since each person gets exposed to new thoughts from the fellows (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Different languages of expression and ways of thinking drive diverse thoughts among employees. Moreover, problem-solving skills are exchanged, which in turn reflects in the growth of the organization. The vast experiences among workers in an organization also serve as an information resource through which harmonized resolutions are drawn for development purposes. People from different communities have diverse encounters with issues and approaches based on beliefs and customs on solving problems (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). Therefore, cultural diversity serves as a knowledge bank in an institution.
Negative Impacts of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
The benefits experienced by organizations and employees through cultural diversity are excellent. However, challenges are also associated with it in the environment of practice. Miscommunication is one of the obstacles deterring effectual output among workers in various employment institutions in cultural diversity (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). When employees from different ethnic backgrounds are united in work, misunderstandings can quickly stem from the language barrier. Chances of collision due to non-verbal cues and prejudice resulting from tension can quickly accelerate among workers with varied beliefs about a specific matter (Civitillo et al., 2018). Communication barriers are likely to negatively impact an organization when employees are from different cultural backgrounds.
A culturally diverse field of employment is associated with conflicts among individuals. People holding onto different opinions, customs, values, and traditions tend to be at logger’s heads with other persons who are not flexible enough to ensconce in such practices with them (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). The dissimilarity gets accelerated in racial discrimination, gender and age issues, and concerns towards competitive positions of employment and job ranks. Moreover, differences among people often lead to alienations and grouping among individuals, thus, intensifying biasness (Civitillo et al., 2018). Eventually, it becomes challenging to achieve teamwork following the variations exhibited among people holding onto contradicting opinions at the workplace.
Management of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Sustaining diversity in the work environment is an essential responsibility to the managers in an organization yet faced with the strong challenge of bringing harmony among individuals. The process of achieving cultural diversity and ensuring that all employees embrace it entails developing certain practices at work (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). The frontline approach for managers is to provide mechanisms for open communication among workers. Fair exchange of information and platforms for expressing personal opinions are necessary for managers to realize the needs of every worker in an institution (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Moreover, communication enhances cohesion among workers and initiates collective responsibility toward realizing organizational goals. Consideration should be given to every person’s opinions as a show of concern for meeting the cultural needs of the employee (Coleman, 2019). Therefore, managers’ responsibility is to provide platforms for open communication to embrace cultural diversity in the workplace.
Training programs about cultural differences among individuals is a significant managerial practice towards maintaining diversity in an organization. Educative programs about culture impart in the mind of employees the essence of accepting the customs and beliefs of their co-workers (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). In addition, it eliminates chances of alienation which can exist when people become sensitive towards a given attribute of an individual or group of people. Therefore, managers in an organization hold the foremost responsibility is uniting and reconciling people from different cultural backgrounds. Moreover, it is an effective practice to mentor individuals through counseling to eradicate stigmatizing specific beliefs, religion, race, gender, and customs based on preformed opinions (Civitillo et al., 2018). Mentorship promotes networking and reduces the chances of discrimination among workers due to cultural variations.
Accounting for cultural diversity by managers is an effective way of giving equal opportunity to people and embracing variations in the workplace. Managers hold the sole responsibility of diversifying the workforce for maximum gain through the job descriptions. People cling to their opinions about specific characteristics of individuals from a given demographic background in various workplaces (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). However, when the managers take responsibility for hiring people from different social settings, it enlightens employees on the need to be inclusive in their opinions. Globally, managers are cognizant of the importance of diversifying the workforce in a company; however, very few industries value its contribution toward maximum work output and compensation (Velten & Lashley, 2018). Therefore, more emphasis should be laid to ensure that equality considerations are given to people without focusing on demographic factors as indices of disqualification for hire.
Challenges to Proper Management of Cultural Diversity
Maintaining harmony in a workforce with cultural differences among individuals requires the commitment of the leaders in the organization. New issues often arise among workers following the dissimilarity of behavior and beliefs among them. However, managing the variations is faced with multiple constraints, such as the conservation of culture (Coleman, 2019). The fear of losing identity and failing to achieve personal goals makes people resistant to change. As a result, adapting to the multiple customs presented by different people in the same environment appears to be a struggle for the conservative individual. The fear of alienation also makes people not identify themselves as citizens of a given nation. Instead, workers tend to integrate themselves into the institution’s managing team (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). Therefore, resistance to change and discrimination are barriers to the management in sustaining cultural diversity.
Toxic and unreliable employees hinder effective management of cultural diversity in an organization in the same workstation. Alleviating the pressure stemming from the divisions among workers would require stringent measures from the leaders. At times, an employee can get moved from one station to another or from his or her colleagues (Kulkarni & Parmar, 2017). Eventually, the approaches taken to mitigate the disharmony among workers makes it hard to maintain a culturally diverse workforce in an organization. Moreover, the responsibilities at work and roles in a family hinder diversity maintenance in an institution. Women often get subjected to dilemmas following the scope of duties calling for their attention at home. Usually, the female personnel performs caring and nursing roles for the young ones (Manaf & Yazen, 2021). Therefore, maintaining a consistently diverse workforce with a good gender balance becomes hard.
Cultural diversity is a component of life in an organization and draws people’s attention to achieve it for maximum gain. The differences exhibited in customs, religion, race, gender, age, and lifestyle, among many people’s values from distinct communities, significantly impact an organization’s positive and negative aspects. Majorly, diversity in the workforce benefits industries or institutions through profit generation, innovation, and ground-breaking knowledge for making resolute decisions. On the other hand, it is a drawback to embrace the diversity of culture in an organization since it often results in discrimination, miscommunication, and misunderstanding due to the language barrier. The leaders have the foremost responsibility of training, mentoring, and initiating open communication to embrace diversity in the workforce. In a nutshell, maintaining cultural diversity requires overcoming the challenges associated with managing it.
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