This essay is about cultural diversity in work place and how it affects the process of doing business and affects managing, as the world is becoming more and more connected and the geographic boundaries have less effect in separating people. It seems as the world is going to have a common culture. In this piece of work I am trying to define the culture diversity and show its effects in managing labour and doing business and talking about globalization and the forces behind it, and showing how cultural diversity could lead to discrimination and inequality treatments, and attempting to show solutions for this dilemma.
During making this research I came across a short story about a mountaineer fallen into a valley in which all people are blind and how his advantage turned into disadvantage, and at the end he chose to have his eyes removed in order to fit and get accepted by the community, however this shows us how can be high-skilled labour be undermined by the society's culture.
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Culture is the way in which a group of people solve problems and reconciles dilemma. Culture is a shared system of meanings, it dictates how we act and what we pay attention to and what we value.For human beings culture is very important and crucial that you can not find any society without it. According to Trompenaars and Turner (2007) " a fish only discovers its needs for water when it's no longer in it , our own culture is like water to a fish , it sustains us , we live and breathe through it "
And to give more specific definition. Culture is a system of values and norms we believe in according to Daniels et al. (2007) "culture refers to the learned norms based on attitude, values and beliefs of group of people". However, we can divide culture into two layers , and these two layers show us the exact structure of culture. According to Trompenaars and Turner (2007) the two layers are: first, the outer layer: the observable things as language, food, Art, Fashion, Houses and buildings ...etc.
Second, the middle layer: reflects deeper layer of the culture such as norms and values. According to Trompenaars and Turner (2007) "norms are the mutual sense a group has of what is right and wrong" ,whereas ,Values determine the definition of good and bad ,however , as everyone agrees that national culture differ from one country to another , so the Japanese culture is not the same as the Korean culture , though these differences between cultures came as a result of developing cultures their solutions for problems and dilemmas and at the same time these solutions distinguish every culture from others. And that is what Trompenaars and Turner (2007) mention by stating that "every culture distinguishes itself from others by the specific solution it chooses to certain problems which reveal themselves as dilemmas".
However, it's norm to see these problems in every culture under three headings: those which relate to the relationships with other people, those which relate to the passage of time and those which relate to the environment. Firstly those which relate to relationships with people according to Pearson (2006). Pearson's five relational orientations:
Universalism versus particularism: The Universalists think the good and right can be always defined and applied but the particularistic give a huge attention to the obligations of relationships;
Individualism versus communitarianism : the individualist regard themselves as individual more than as a part of group , and the communitariaists give greater attention to the community and regard themselves as a part of group;
Neutral versus emotional : is about performing business with emotion acceptable or not acceptable which is varied from culture to another;
Specific versus diffuse : this grade about how much is the person involve in a business relationship , so it's specific relationship by a contract or it's a diffuse relationship;
Achievement versus ascription: in an achievement culture you are judged on what you accomplished, in an ascription culture you will judged by your birth, age gender or kinship.
And the other two headings which relate to time and environment are: first attitude to time - it's the grade in which culture give attention to the time, as some culture appreciate what people have achieved in the past. Other cultures give more attention to future plans, second attitude to the environment - as some societies think that they should control the environment, whereas other societies see environment as more powerful than individuals and they should not control it.
Always on Time
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And as a result of the huge grows in telecommunication in 20th century, the world has become more connected and the communications between countries grow more than before. However this revolution in communication made it easier to communicate with far countries on different continents ,and we can see this clearly in sport , art ,movies and food , almost everyone knows New York Yankees or Nascar or Hockey even though there is no snow in some of these countries, and this will lead us to talk about the globalization. First globalization is the increasing tendency of the world to act as one market according to Daniels et al (2007) "globalization is the process of growing interdependence among countries". And this global market provide more opportunity to the business, so many companies started making business overseas ,and they changed their market target from domestic to international one .According to Thill and Bovee(2002) "domestic markets are opening to worldwide competition to provide growth opportunities for a company's goods and services".
And so as people have established businesses all over the world, they have expanded the market, services ,and people available to them. And the advanced technologies allow businesses to sell, buy and produce their product in foreign countries. According to Robbins and Decenzo ( 2005) " McDonald's sells hamburgers in China , Exon a so-called American company receives more than three -forth of its revenues from sales outside the United States ,Toyota makes cars in Kentucky , General Motors makes cars in Brazil".
The forces behind globalization
There are several forces that stimulate globalization in the world. According to Daniels et al (2007) " globalization has been increasing since the middle of the twentieth century , currently about 25 percent of the world productions sold out its country of origin".
However, the forces behind this growth of globalization are:
Increase in and expansion of technology;
Liberalization of cross- border trade and resources movement;
Development of services that support international business;
Growth in consumer pressures ;
Increased global competition ;
Changing political situations;
Expanded cross-national cooperation.
Cultural diversity (work force today):
As a result for globalization and other factors, today's work force is made up of workers who are differ in age, race, religion , gender and culture , and the labour market is determined by the number of people of working age. According to Beadwell et al (2004 ) " currently the UK and many other members states within the European union faces future problem of labour supply , the population of Europe is ageing as the birth rate has fallen and life expectancies have risen", and the ageing was a result for the developing in health care system and with the busy life style a lot of people prefer work than having families and settle down .
Therefore plans are being put in place to widen the labour market. According to Robbins and Decenzo , (2005) "well-trained and reliable workers in such countries as Hungary ,Slovakia and the Czech republic become a rich source of low - cost labour for organisations everywhere". Therefore many companies gave the opportunity to foreign labour, and there is another advantage to companies to recruit labour from other countries. According to Beadwell et al (2004) "the advantage to employers of employment system based on open external labour markets and occupational labour markets is that they can minimise labour costs by quickly adjusting the size of their work force in response to changes in their production requirements". And for these reasons the labour market was opened for minority and female applicants and labour market today is made up of males and females , able and disabled people ,white and people of colour , straight and gays , young and old people , national and international labour. And it's very important to recognise these differences between labour according to Beadwell et al (2004) "in the real world, of course, key characteristics such as gender, race / ethnicity, disability, age, religion and sexuality are typically the bases for disadvantage, people can suffer rejection, non- acceptance and unfair treatment within a particular setting".
Therefore , this discrimination can be noticed in different areas ,for example a writer in London lite shows that obesity harms a woman's career ,and they will have less chance of promotion than their overweight male colleagues according to (London lite ,2009) "women who are overweight have much less chance of being promoted at work than plump male colleagues" , so it's very important to recognise and deal with these differences between labour. One of the best approaches to deal with these differences is first to understand the human character and how it work .This will lead us to the fact that people's characters differ in. According to Beadwell et al (2004) the people characters can be different in two ways:
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Stable characteristics such as sex and race;
Visible characteristics: the features which people can not hide such as race, ethnicity and disability.
And also culture differences between labour should be noticed, and dealing with cultural differences will lead us to mention Hofsted's framework for assessing cultures, according to Robbins and Decenzo (2005) Hofsted's framework is one of the most referenced approaches for analyzing variations among cultures, and he found that employees and managers vary on five value factors of national cultures and there are:
Power distance: the level to which people in a country accept the power in organisation to be unequally shared;
Individualism versus collectivism: individualism is the degree to which people in a country prefer to act as individuals more than members of group and the opposite is collectivism;
Quantity of life versus quality of life: quantity of life is the degree to which people values like acquisition of money and goods and assertiveness prevail , quality of life is the degree to which people value relationships and have a concern for the welfare of other people;
Uncertainty versus avoidance: the level that shows people in country prefer structured than unstructured situations;
Long-term versus short -term orientation: long-term orientation the degree to which people in a country look to the future and value saving and persistence. Short-term orientation the degree to which people value the past and emphasize respect for tradition and social obligations.
So it's very crucial to the business firstly to see clearly these differences and treat every labour as individual. Secondly not to treat workers as a part of ethnic or race group, but why it's important to business to recognise these differences and why is it important to managers to have a good understanding of these differences, according to Beadwell et al (2004) there are two important cases :
The social justice case refers to managers who should have a moral obligation to treat labour with dignity and fairness in making decisions without resorting to prejudice and stereo types.
And this will lead us to give a definition of prejudice and stereotype, According to Heery and Noon (2001) "prejudice means holding a negative attitudes towards a particular group, and viewing all members of that group in a negative light, irrespective of their individual qualities and attributes" and stereotype is "stereotyping is the act of judging people according to our assumptions about the group to which they belong. It is based on the belief that people from specific group share similar traits and behave in a similar manner, rather than looking at a person's individual qualities". The other case is:
The business case. In this case the point is about the fair and dignified treatment that makes good business sense. Beadwell et al ,(2004) give several reasons for this :
Its better use of human resources as it's by discrimination that businesses will face the risk of neglecting talented and efficient workers to other organisations and these businesses will waste potential and valuable resources;
It leads to a wider customer base, as it's by widening the diversity of the work force that businesses will appeal to wide range of customers and this is so important in face-to-face services;
It creates a wider pool of labour for recruitment, and this is important when businesses need labour with specific skills;
It gives a company a positive image, the business will have a positive image by making an equal opportunity policies and putting this in practise. The organisation will appeal to suppliers and employees and this will be perceived by people as a good company worth working with.
However, there are limitations to this argument, and these limitations are according to Beadwell et al (2004) "critics of the social justice case tend to argue that the goals of managers in organisation are profit and efficiency, rather than morality. If social justice were to guide their decision-making it might have a detrimental effect on the operation of the business and ultimately the bottom line". Also there might be some situations when good business sense gives the justification for not acting in the interest of particular group of people.
However, to overcome and improve workplace diversity, there are several steps that can be taken by managers, and this requires the managers to widen their recruiting choices to increase the diversity in work place. Managers are required to find employees in non-traditional recruitment sources such as disabled people centres, ethnic newspapers and women's newspapers. According to Robbins and Decenzo (2005) "effort must be made to ensure that the selection process does not discriminate, applicants need to be made comfortable with the organisation culture and be made aware of management's desire to accommodate their needs".
Also there should be programmes for new and current employees that focus on diversity issues, and maintain their understanding about this issue. (Robbins and Decenzo , 2005 ) state that you need to "provide special workshops to rise diversity consciousness among current employees as well as programmes for new employees that focus on diversity issues, the thrust of these effort is to increase individual understanding of the differences each of us brings to the workplace".
In order for an organisation to solve the issue of discrimination in the work place, there should be equal opportunity for every labourer. This requires company to have an equal opportunity policy. Beadwell et al, (2004) suggest that "increasingly, organisations are creating equal opportunity policies in order to guide managers in decision-making". And there are some points about the purpose of equal opportunity policy which every company is encouraged to apply them. According to Beadwell et al (2004) the points are:
Develop an equal opportunities policy that covers promoting training and recruitment;
Make an action plan, with clear goals;
Provide training for all staff members including the managers to make sure employee's have a good understanding of the importance of equal opportunities;
Assess the present position to establish the organisation's starting point;
There should be a review of recruitment, promotion, selection and training procedures, to ensure the policy is delivered properly;
Draw up fearful job criteria;
Think about your organisation's image, are there disabled and ethnic minority staff in the organisation, and do you encourage applicants from under-presented groups;
Offer pre -employment training, and set a positive action training to help ethnic minority employees;
Consider career breaks, flexible working, and consider providing better services to women and disabled staff;
Have a link with schools and local community groups and ethnic clops , in order to widen your employees choices.
In my research, I found that almost 85% of the managers think that age doesn't matter in the rate of selection among candidates, whereas 10% of them think it may matter, and 5% think it matters. This shows a good understanding of age differences among labour.
While 90% of managers regard the gender as an unperceived factor in the employees' work, whereas 10%think gender matter in how workers are perceived.
And When i asked managers if individual differences are respected in their organisations 90% said yes, whereas 5% of them said they didn't know and 5% said no.
And I found almost 85% of organisations have done programmes or publications about cultural diversity for the workers in order to give them a better understanding of cultural diversity in the workplace, whereas 15% of organisations have not done anything about this. About 40% of organisations have these publications and programmes every 3 months ,whereas 20% of them have these publications or programmes every 6 months and 20% have these programmes or publications once a year and 20% of them have not done anything about this. Overall, I think there is a good understanding of the importance of these programmes, but the interesting thing some of them told me is that they do these programmes in informal ways.
And when I asked them if they have received any complaint about equality diversity 90% of managers said no while 5% refused to answer this question, whereas 5% said they received complaint and it was about sexuality issues. However this shows exactly how open-minded the community is about cultural diversity issues.
And I found that About 85% of organisations think they have enough equipment for disabled staff, whereas 10 % did not answer the question and 5% think they do not have enough equipment. In spite of this fact, some of these organisations lack in disabled staff.
About 75% of managers think the (minority /women/disabled people/ethnic) are more than 50% presented in their organisation, whereas 15% did not answer and 10% said they are presented 5% in their organisation.
And About 90% of managers think organisations gain by providing cultural diversity programmes to their employees ,while 5% think their organisation don't gain and 5% refused to answer .
Although most managers think organisations gain by providing cultural diversity programmes to their employees, though just 50% of them think most organisations give enough attention to cultural diversity issues and 45% think most organisations don't give enough attention to these issues.
Overall, in this modest piece of work, I noticed this subject is too sensitive for many organisations and individuals as I came across many individuals who refused to answer my questionnaire, reason being that as they can't give out sensitive information about their organisation without permission, or having answer the questionnaire and asking me not to write their names in my work, which leads me to raise questions about the culture diversity in these organisations. However, I like to conclude this work by the old proverb treat other in the way you want to be treated. (3606 words)
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Littlejohn,g(2009)'women who are overweight have much less chance of being promoted at work than plump male colleagues',the London lite,London,09 April.