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The first job I acquired while in New Zealand was working a few nights a week in a local club called XYZ. It was my first time working with so many foreign cultures and I soon found that I was the only Chinese girl. Both my boss as well as my two managers was typical New Zealanders. The rest of my colleagues consisted of people from different countries such as Mexico and Korea.
My initial training was over seen by a senior colleague who is a New Zealander and had been working there for 3 years. He was a patient teacher; however, a lot of what he tried to teach me, I could not fully understand due to his local accent. As a result, I could not carry out my tasks to the standard that I would have liked.
The training in XYZ was not very formal it lacked any basic structure from what I could tell and was different from my past experiences in other companies. This made it hard to implement my training or work on my own. In Chinese culture it is considered rude to ask someone for help when they have already explained, this was even more so when you were foreigners.
After three training days, my manager, Richard, offered me a contact to sign, I started a few days later on the first day, and I worked with a Korean girl and a Kiwi girl. Being my first day, I constantly required assistance, because I was still very unsure about the drinks on the menu. Another thing which also made things difficult was all the names of the alcoholic drinks. Fortunately, the Korean girl showed me how to prepare all of them step-by-step. Unfortunately, the kiwi girl was not as helpful or polite, missing out details as well as being very impatient when helping me. I grew embarrassed and eventually stop asking her for help.
The second day I worked with a kiwi boy (who graduated from Auckland University), he was very polite and friendly. However, his actions were so rapid and his speech so fast that I missed out so much what he was explaining. I was always under the impression that men did not like talking so much. There was also a new bartender, a Japanese girl, she did not say much, just introducing herself. However, later we spoke more and I found out that she was the type of person who followed the rules and regulations of the work place. I became comfortable and enjoyed working with her because she was always helpful, describing many rules and regulations as well as reminding me what we were supposed to be doing and whatÂÂÂÂÂ we were not.
One bad experience I had with my boss was a preparation dispute. I had been working a number of weeks by then and a customer ordered a Vodka and Red bull without ice. Usually we prepared them in a tall glass filled with ice, but I was told not to refuse customers' reasonable requests, so I made the beverage without ice. At the same time, my boss walked by noticing the drink I was preparing and in an annoyed tone asked me to come to her office. She was less courteous and spoke to me in a harsh tone of voice, not bothering to ask about any of the details. I did not argue with her or explain the reason why I was preparing it as such, because in my culture, we respect our elders and arguing is considered disrespectful.
As a result of that confrontation, I could not concentrate on my work. Later, when I explained the situation to my colleagues and they informed me that they had argued with her many times and that it was not a serious issue. Though, even now, I still can not help but feel awkward ever time that I talked to my boss.
Part two: Diversity in Cultures and individuals.
The significance of labour migration to the workforce of the contemporary hospitality industry is well documented (Shaw & Barrett-Power, 1998; Baum, 2006a; D'Netto & Sohal, 1999; Williams, 2005). Hospitality businesses have long relied on a culturally diverse workplace (Christensen-Hughes, 1992). The majority of luxury hotels and a number of top restaurants expect that a considerable proportion of the customers will be foreign. Many companies in the tourism industry and restaurants are run and owned by individuals of Asian descent. Furth more, in certain sectors of the industry, many managers and workers are of a foreign nationality or origin.
Cultural diversity should not be confined to differences between nationalities. However, focusing on diversity is both functionally and ethically significantly in the hospitality workplace. Baum (2007) established dimensions, which include gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability, age, social inclusion, motivation and choice. A good illustration is the issue of gender dimension. Service work is highly gendered in the majority of countries that are addressed by Sinclair (1997) and her contributing colleagues. Females frequently undertake the most undesirable and low status work in the hospitality industry. Other evidence from elsewhere in the services sector suggests that gender influences the fulfillment and status achieved in the service workplace (Guerrier & Adib, 2003; Williams, 2003; Korczynski, 2002; Mills, 1998). They are horizontally separated into particular jobs and area of operation (Ng & Pine, 2003). For example, culturally, gradual change leads to the absence of working females in the services sectors of certain societies (Baum, 2007). Likewise, women are vertically segregated into jobs regarded as requiring little skills. As a result, these jobs are low in status (Purcell, 1996. P. 18). Sexual harassment is an additional negative aspect of being a woman working in the hotel (Poulston, 2008), which is more common in the service industry than elsewhere, both in New Zealand (Human rights commission, 2001a) and overseas (e.g. European commission, 1998; Hoel & Einarsen, 2003).
This is relevant to managers because managers have to work with a variety of people as well as making there team efficient, know how to communicate with different groups of people will help them successfully.
Distinguish Cultural Diversity- The Four Dimensions.
The Hilton international and Holiday Inn corporations operate hotels worldwide; much of the industry in England has been significantly affected by overseas employees (Boella & MSc, 2005). As a large number of staff has economically and culturally diverse backgrounds, managers should utilize their abilities, such as cultural awareness and flexibility in different environments (Berger & Brownell, 2009). Geert Hofstede (1989) states," cultural awareness is one of the subtle features of competition in world markets, and firms which are better at it having a distinct advantage over their competitors". Hofstede (1991) a leading authority on intercultural management, identified four major dimensions in a research of over 1000 IBM employees working in over 70 countries that help distinguish cultural diversity. Although IBM does not belong to the hospitality sector, the group names are as followed power-distance, uncertainly avoidance, individualism, and Masculinity.
The four dimensions are divided into high and low categories. The power-distance dimension states how supervisors excise their power differently depending on the organizational culture of the specific country. For instance, Mexico has been found to have a high power-distance culture. Thus, supervisors of Mexico keep their distance, emotionally.
The uncertainly-avoidance dimension is the importance of structures and rules, with the degree to which it is preferred in a country. (Example of a strong uncertainty-avoidance is Japan and Greece).
The individualism dimension is concerned with the extent that a country's culture encourages personal fulfillment, while countries low on the individualism dimension prefer a collectivist cultural approach, such as Japan and Columbia, where the extended family and the clan are more significant than the individual.
The masculinity dimension focuses on assertiveness, performance rather than Feminine values (warm personal relationship, quality of life). Countries high on masculinity dimension include Latin America and Australia while countries which do not favor are being, Norway and Denmark. A manager communicates with staff efficiently by using these four key dimensions (Boella & MSC, 2005).
Diversity management in the hospitality industry is about recognizing, valuing and celebrating these differences among people. The service industry is constantly changing; females and older employees have more spending power, and disabled people are able to fully enjoy holidays in hotels. Focusing on diversity management all of following would be fulfilled:
Quality and customer service enhanced
Reduce the employee turnover
Develop the creativity of all staff
Get the best people from hospitality industry (Boella, 2000)
Part three: Edward Halls Explanation on Social Framework
As cultures mingle and the workforce becomes more culturally diverse, it is apparent that there is a gap in the communication between differing societies and cultures.
Edward Hall, a communications expert, has identified this social framework in diverse cultures and then, to better understand them, has divided them into two opposing groups; "low context" and "high context" (Reynolds & Valentine, 2004).
High context societies, such as Japan and China, are primarily collectively orientated; this means that each individual is taught to always consider the entire group in decision making. A culture that uses this type of communication relies heavily on non-verbal messages and implications to convey ideas. The United States and Australia would be prime examples of low context societies. They are more individualistic and rely almost entirely on verbal communication to convey ideas. In these cultures, decisions are made using statistics and information gathered rather than "gut feeling" and relationship statuses, as is the case with high context cultures.
In the international hospitality industry, peoples from both high and low context societies are forced to work alongside each other in the completion of tasks. The differing communication strategies often cause conflict and friction between work colleagues, as misunderstandings are a common issue. Take for example the differences in management from the two societies. A low context overseer might seek to establish his superiority over his colleagues by talking of the team's work as his individual accomplishments. Conversely, a high context manager would feel that taking credit for work done by his team is wrong.
High and Low Context Cultural Differences
As stated previously, high context cultures revolve around the idea of the each individual benefiting the collective as a whole (Hofstede, 2009). This culture values employees as one would family. This relationship is surmised by the Ukrainian adage, "Tell me who your friend is and I'll tell you who you are." If high context cultures are more emotionally invested in their business dealings, low context societies are mechanical in comparison. A main idea that is apparent is that business should run as a "well oiled machine" might and there is no place for feeling or intuition. This idea conveys the implication that, in business, there are always replaceable "parts" and that there is no need to base decisions on the whether or not it is beneficial for the grouping. Efforts need to be made in the service industry to bridge the rift that difference in opinion and society functions create in order to achieve a higher level of performance and efficiency from staff and management.
In my culture there are three major philosophical ideas that summarized and dictate Chinese thought; the teachings of Confucius, Taoism and the legalist philosophies (Hofmann & Johnson & Lefever, 2000). "A single bamboo pole does not make a raft" exemplifies the ideas that my culture instills since birth. These ideas promote karma, self control and emphasize devotion to friends and family. As a direct result, the high context communication is evident in both the business dealings of the Chinese people and in their personal lives.
I have experienced the impact that being of a high or low context society can have, while working in the Tianjin Sheraton Hotel as a banquet manager during the 2008 Olympic Games. The general overseer was Chinese and the vice manager American. Being of a high and low context culture respectively, their management styles were in contrast. The overseer would always encourage the team as a group and reward them as such (high-context culture). The vice manager would report good work by individuals only and would allocate separate tasks to individuals (low-context culture). This case of Chinese culture is involved in emphasizing collective initiative and decision making (Reynolds & Valentine, 2004).
This made some significant differences clear, which in turn reflects the distinction between high and low context cultures. One example of low-context in china is it being a necessity for detailed contract when dealing with business. Oral agreements rarely happen and every task is implemented through the contract. Contracts, if necessary, will be preserved by law.
It is evident that Hall's ideas on structural framework are valid, as it is documented that such differences do exist and I have personally experienced the contrast first hand.
In conclusion, throughout this essay the issues of cultural diversity management in the hospitality industry were discussed. I have mentioned my own experience of working in New Zealand, which involved my thoughts, feelings and reactions. Knowing what I know now, Diversity Management is about recognizing, valuing and celebrating the differences among people. The differences need to be identified and understood when considering dimensions in diverse societies, power-distance, uncertainly avoidance, and then in terms of individuals, the dimensions of gender, sexual orientation, ability and disability and age. The relevance as well as importance of diversity in cultures to managers can not be stressed enough as in understanding it managers can easily categorize employees putting them in the most efficient groupings and thus, benefiting the organization. This essay also analyzed the social frameworks-high Context and Low context and relating to Chinese cultures.