Work identity and Cultural Diversity terms

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

An individual's identity is formed throughout their life in the different phases each person goes through in growing up. Each phase will influence the identity as they will learn different values and norms by which people live by. An identity is not static the individual will align themselves with the various groupings in society that they are apart of but it is important that they manage their identities correctly according to how they value themselves and the norms which they themselves live by. It is important to remember that an identity is what makes an individual diverse, but it is defined by Freud as "Identity is not a state: it is the Ego's search for an answer which can only be found in the object's and reality's reflection of it." In other words depending on how individuals react in situations it will determine their uniqueness.

Our identity has an influence on our careers, an individual's personality, interests and what they perceive as being a secure job would influence the kind of career that the individual enters into. Once an individual has entered the working world it is important that they are aware of their behaviour and how they act in certain situations as their observable behaviour is a reflection of their personality and from this people develop opinions about their work ethic and this will in turn develop a reputation within the company. "People are what they do, and what people do affects every aspect of who they are" (E.Kazan). We can determine from this that people find meaning within their jobs as it is where they are able to achieve some form of status whether it be a manager of the company or simply just as an employee who is a hard worker or whether it be in the form of success and this helps them to relate to the job and find their identity. As Elia Kazan said it our careers and identities equivalent, there is a definitive bond between them. Our identity will influence our work identity as it will determine how the individual will react in a certain situation when it comes down to ethics and values. Identity will determine whether the individual is willing to ignore what is being asked of them or who will let their morals step in. As Jackall (Gini, 1998) states it "who of us is above the temptation to cut corners, turn a blind eye or simply overlook the requirements and niceties of ethics?" An individual's behaviour at work is how the individual behaves out of work so we are painting a picture of how we see ourselves and how we want other people to see us. (Jackall) (Gini, 1998)

Diversity could be defined as the differences in people or the number of characteristics that make individuals stand out from the rest, identifying individual differences such as age, race, and gender and so on. In a South African context diversity comes into play with our motto which is represented by the Khoisan people in our national coat of arms and is written in their language. The motto is !ke e:/xarra//ke and stands for "Diverse people unite" this signifies that diversity play a big role not only in organisations but in our country as we try to extend our welcome to all nations and to make every single individual no matter their differences feel like they belong in our country. Laws have been made to ensure that we preserve the diversity within our country; every citizen within the country is permitted to human rights no matter what their demographics are, if they were refused these rights it could be seen as discrimination (Nabudere). An important law which has been created to protect the diversity of individuals in organisations is the employment equity act, the purpose of this act is to ensure that individuals receive fair treatment and equal opportunity in employment and to promote black economic empowerment (BEE) as well as affirmative action and this is all done by eradicating discrimination. This brings me to my next point of workplace diversity.

Workplace diversity describes the mix of people that is working at an organisation at a particular time with regard to their demographics such as age, race, sexual orientation and disability. Organisations should be more heterogeneous rather than homogenous as heterogeneity promotes the diversity of employees within the company and eliminates discrimination. This change in the workforce has occurred due to migration, an organizations need for a competitive edge, globalisation and effective adjustment to a changing environment,(Van der Zee, 2004) from this change diversity could benefit the organisation's input as it will result in an increase in small group solidarity and effective team work, creation of an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect so that harmony is created, enhanced collaborative effort and alignment, meaningful and positive human relations, improved interpersonal relations, a decrease in miscommunication, anger and frustration, an increase in the variety of ideas and viewpoints which in turn is important in problem solving, the creation of an atmosphere which is favourable to the fullest growth of every individual, work which is more fun and interesting, an increased willingness to take risks, employees of an organisation play to win rather than to lose, brings about a sense of empowerment (employees), brings about a sense of the employees own potential in and value to the company, in more creativity and in turn result in innovative outcomes (Van der Zee, 2004-Mumford and Gustafson, 1988) and lastly but most importantly for corporate survival and growth. In order for the workforce to be successful each individual member needs to believe in diversity and co-operate with the organisations plans of implementing diversity into the company. Work place diversity management is about planning and implementing organisational systems and practices to manage people so that potential advantages of diversity are maximised while its potential disadvantages are minimised with the goal of maximising the ability of all employees to contribute to organisational goals and to achieve their full potential unrestricted by group identities such as gender, race, age, nationality and departmental affiliation. Organisations should embrace diversity; they should be willing to accept this change in their structure and accept the concept of diversity and in order for this change to work the leaders of the organisation should accept the change, manage it correctly and create a long term vision for the company which includes diversity in it, if this is not done the organisation will fail. Functionally diverse work groups are made of people who present a variety of talents and perspectives and this is important for creativity, innovation and renewal in organisations (Schneider, 1999-Amabile 1983). If diversity is managed correctly it will positively affect the organisation through an increase in creativity and innovation and by the variety of perspectives offered by the workforce it will aid in decision making (Robbins S. J., 2009)

One of the major problems with regards to diversity is the poor management of it, according to Triandis (Nabudere) et al(1994) (Schneider, 1999) researchers have blamed the lack of conceptual frameworks in understanding how to manage workforce diversity correctly, the lack of these frameworks has resulted in the apathetic success of diversity in organisations (Economist 1995) (Schneider, 1999)

People have entered the workforce at different generations. The latest generation to enter the workforce is called the Nexters. They started entering the workforce in 2000. This does not mean that they are the only generation involved, as there are older generations still participating in the workforce. Different generations have different ways in doing things as well as different values and perceptions of how things should be done. While older generations definitely have experience on their side, the younger generation has a new way of looking at business and how business should be conducted, bringing unique ideas into the business world. Older generations have values such as hardworking, dislike towards authority, dislike of rules and loyalty to careers just to name a few. The new generation has somewhat different values, namely financial success, loyalty to one's self and relationships as well as self-reliant but they are team orientated. Organisations might have certain goals it wants to achieve and expects its workforce to get it there, but within the workforce different generations have different ways in which to achieve these organisational goals. This could result in employees acting in different ways. Deviant workplace behaviour is a possible result and there are different ways in which employees can be deviant. Employees could start spreading rumours about their colleagues, blaming the people they work with, favouring others, verbal abuse and in extreme cases stealing from other employees and sexually harassing them. Workplace deviance could be a result of cultural differences, gender as well as generation gaps. On the other hand organisations could benefit from these generation gaps because different generations have different ideas. This would benefit the organisation's creativity department with regards to researching different ideas for different tasks.

Works Cited

Alvesson, M. (2001). Knowledge work: Ambiguity, image and identity. Human relations, 1-25.

Beech, N. (2008). On the nature of dialogic identity work. Organisation, 51-75.

Bergh, Z. T. (2009). Psychology in the work context. Cape Town: Oxford university press Southern Africa(Pty) ltd.

Gini, A. (1998). Work identity and self: How we are formed by the work we do. Journal of business ethics, 707-714.

Kreiner, G. E. (2006). On the edge of identity: Boundary dynamics at the interface of individual and organisational identities. Human relations.

Kriesberg, L. (2007). System context- Shared culture and institutions. In L. Kriesberg, Constructive conflicts: from escalation to resolution (p. 35). Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers inc.

Minolli, M. (2004). Identity and relational psychoanalysis. Int Forum psychoanal, 237-245.

Nabudere, P. D. (n.d.). Human rights and cultural diversity in Africa.

Ng, E. S. (2008). Why organisations choose to manage diversity? Toward a leadership-based theoretical framework. Human resource development review, 58-78.

Northcraft, S. K. (1999). Three Social Dilemmas of Workforce Diversity in Organizations: A Social identity perspective. Human Relations, 1445-1467.

Robbins, S. J. (2009). Managing workforce diversity. Personality and values- Generational values. In S. J. Robbins, Organisational behaviour: Global and Southern African perspective (pp. 12-13; 101-102). Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.

Schneider, S. K. (1999). Three social dilemmas of workforce diversity in organisations: A social identity perspective. Human Relations, 1449.

Van der Zee, K. A. (2004). The Influence of Social Identity and Personality on Outcomes of Cultural Diversity in Teams. Journal of Cross- Cultural Psychology, 283-303.

Watson, T. J. (2008). Managing identity: Identity work, personal predicaments and structural circumstances. Organisation, 121-144.