A diversity conscious leader is a leader who takes an active role in embracing diversity consciousness. Diversity conscious leaders take into account and are sensitive to the elements which make up diversity. Diversity encompasses many elements such as age, race, sex, religion, ability, etc. In his book Diversity in the Workplace (2011), Gröschl writes “Today, most regions and countries in the world are experiencing increasingly diverse populations and labor markets” (Gröschl, 2011, p. 3). Given the increasing diversification of labor markets it is important to professional and organizational success that leaders are well versed in diversity consciousness. In the past labor markets were less diverse and as a result there was not as much of a need for leaders who were experienced in diversity consciousness. In addition, the field of diversity consciousness is still in its infancy and thus still being developed. “In recent years, diversity has become a popular topic. Starting in the 1980s, Fortune 500 corporations, government agencies at all levels, and large and small non-profit organizations have all been doing diversity work“ (Ingram, 2001, p. 2). Times have changed in America and America’s evolving cultural landscape has necessitated diversity consciousness particularly in regards to organizational leadership. Diversity consciousness is not only necessary for success in our increasingly diverse domestic workforce but as well diversity consciousness is necessary for success as America does business overseas. American businesses are aware of the global economy which promises much business and profitability abroad. There are many examples of times when American companies have failed to be aware of these cultural differences which have hurt their bottom line and lost business opportunities. For example, “We cannot afford to make mistakes like Chevrolet made when it first tried to sell the Chevy Nova in Spanish speaking countries. In Spanish, “No va” means It does not go. Needless to say, the Nova never sold well in Spanish speaking countries” (Ingram, 2001, p. 2). Additionally, there exists the potential for discrimination lawsuits which can be quite costly for businesses. In their journal article Diversity Crises: How Firms Manage Discrimination Lawsuits (2006), James and Wooten write.
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Business crises have been a defining feature of corporate America in the last ten years. In addition to corporate scandals, accounting fraud, and ethical dilemmas, allegations of workplace discrimination have reached crisis status. Discrimination lawsuits now rank among the leading types of crises faced by business leaders in the United States. With the number of class action discrimination lawsuits against U.S. businesses rising more than 100 percent in 2003. Class action lawsuits are of particular concern to organizations because they represent a grievance brought by one or more individuals against a company whose actions have harmed a group or class of people in a similar way. When such cases are recovered successfully, either by settlement or trial, all members of the class receive a portion of the amount paid by the offending organization. (James & Wooten, 2006, p. 1103)
All things considered the lack of diversity consciousness carries with it implications on many levels which can be very costly to American businesses not only in terms of business loss but legal ramifications as well. For any business maintaining a positive reputation is essential for long term success and embracing the many facets of diversity is continually becoming paramount in the ever-changing landscape of America.
Cross-Cultural communication refers to the efficacy of communication between various cultures. Improper emphasis on cross-cultural communication skills can often result in miscommunication and misunderstanding which in turn can prove costly for businesses (Bucher, 2015, p. 127). Unintentional miscommunications caused by various interpretations of meaning can be interpreted unintentionally as being offensive by other cultures. “Transferring information across cultures has often presented difficult and complex communication problems” (Warren, 2017, p. 1). I agree that leaders must communicate inclusively in a diverse and multicultural world. This is essential because of potential ramifications of miscommunication in cross-cultural communication has the possibility to prove costly as well as the potential to harm the reputation of American businesses. Over the years there have been examples of American businesses unintentionally offending other cultures through miscommunication. Some examples include bacon flavored Pringles potato chips being marketed as part of a Ramadan promotion at a Tesco supermarket chain in Britain which was located a mile from one of London’s most important mosques. (Millward, 2015). In another example of cross-cultural communication gone wrong Nike pulls their line of women’s leggings which feature a traditional Samoan tattoo called the pe’a. Samoans were offended by the use of their traditionally male adornment which was reserved for men of status in Samoan culture (Unknown, 2013).
Cultural Intelligence or (CQ) is a measurement of one’s ability to know and to get along with another culture. In a book titled Handbook of Cultural intelligence: Theory, Measurement, and Applications (2008) Van Dyne and Ang write.
The world includes top mathematicians, pianists, statesmen, economists, educators, philosophers, athletes, and so on. All of them are intelligent; some aspects of their intelligence are the same and other aspects are different. There are also individuals who are extraordinarily effective in getting along with people from other cultures. These are the individuals who are culturally intelligent (they have high CQ). (Van Dyne & Ang, 2008, pg. xi)
The ability for one to be educated on and to know another culture can prove invaluable to minimizing conflict and building successful business relationships with foreign cultures. Cultural Intelligence essentially encompasses elements of Diversity Leadership and Cross-Cultural Communication while adding additional culturally specific knowledge to achieve success both domestically and abroad. There is no doubt to the value which can be placed on cultural awareness and learning the intricacies inherent in other cultures for the benefit of bridging cultural divides. There are three components to Cultural Intelligence which are the cognitive, emotional and behavior components which correspond to the head, heart and body. It is these three components which build upon the teachings of emotional intelligence (Mosakowski, 2004, pg. 139). The study of Cultural Intelligence is also in its infancy with the study being first conceptualized in 2002 (Michailova, 2018, pg. 99). Examples of Cultural Intelligence in action include HSBC Bank’s advertising campaign.
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It seems a fair point. But as the FT points out on Tuesday, HSBC is moving to replace the “Assume Nothing” campaign after the former phrase was mistranslated as “Do Nothing” in some countries. Obviously this spin was not the most desirable for a private bank keen to promote its money management expertise. Let’s also not forget, HSBC has brought us some of the most striking – and memorable – ad campaigns in modern banking history – from the “local knowledge” series to the current “different points of view” series. Remember the photographs festooning airport gangways of grasshoppers labelled “delicacy” in one shot, and “pest” in another? (Robinson, 2009)
With the ever-increasing cultural diversification of our domestic workplace an emphasis on cultural differences are of ever-increasing importance. And not only domestically but abroad as well as many other countries are experiencing not only an influx of immigration from various nations but the effects of the global economy which increase trade with foreign nations. I would posit that in countries which are not culturally diverse an emphasis on cultural differences would not be of importance but only on a domestic level. But for these more homogenous countries on an international level they would also benefit significantly as well in international trade matters by focusing on cultural differences in the field of diversity consciousness.
Temperament is perhaps one variable that is fixed but I believe even that can change through knowledge, enlightenment and understanding. Additionally, attitudes in my opinion are ever evolving and even less so fixed and thus capable of change. Changing attitudes is of particular importance to those in leadership roles are they are responsible for the management of their subordinates and thus accountable to them in the sense that they must provide fair and equitable treatment in terms of management. In order for a leader to bring together various cultures which is critical to mission success it is necessary that they understand the things which distinguish these cultures.
I have gained new insights into my diversity awareness and my consciousness of global perspectives during this course which I found to be both rewarding and educational. While I felt as though I already had learned much in the way of diversity consciousness this course introduces specific examples of both the benefits of being well versed in diversity consciousness as well as specific examples of the consequences of failing to be well versed in specific aspects of diversity consciousness. I realized that for me personally as well as historically I would have benefitted from the teachings of this course in my past as I can personally recall times before when my lack of diversity consciousness unintentionally caused problems in my understanding and interaction with foreign cultures. Had I known then what I know now my career could have benefitted as well.
- Ang, L. V. (2008). Handbook of Cultural Intelligence : Theory, Measurement, and Applications. Retrieved from EBSCO: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.chapman.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzI3NTUxMl9fQU41?sid=6deb9275-50eb-4af6-8af6-e1bd006ad4e0@sdc-v-sessmgr02&vid=2&format=EB&rid=14
- Bucher, R. D. (2015). Diversity Conciousness. Boston: Pearson.
- Gröschl, S. (2011). Diversity in the Workplace: Multidisciplinary and International Perspectives. Retrieved from EBSCO: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.libproxy.chapman.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzM5ODI5MF9fQU41?sid=a7947524-b73a-4278-8054-632e51c4f054@sdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=1&format=EB&rid=4
- Ingram, P. D. (2001). An Overview of Diversity Awareness. Retrieved from Pennylvania State University: http://www.wiu.edu/advising/docs/Diversity_Awareness.pdf
- Michailova, D. L. (2018). Cultural Intelligence: A Review and New Research Avenues. International Journal of Managment Reviews, 99-119.
- Millward, D. (2015, June 25). Tesco under attack for offering bacon flavoured Pringles as part of Ramadan promotion. Retrieved from The Telegraph UK: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11697716/Tesco-under-attack-for-offering-bacon-flavoured-Pringles-as-part-of-Ramadan-promotion.html
- Mosakowski, P. C. (2004, October). Cultural Intelligence. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KlZ6kO9afiKTIerDwEfMOsTyYZEBP72G/view
- Robinson, G. (2009, February 10). HSBC tries to 'do something' in private banking. Retrieved from The Financial Times LTD: https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2009/02/10/52264/hsbc-tries-to-do-something-in-private-banking/
- Unknown. (2013, August 14). Outrage over Nike's use of Cultural Icon. Retrieved from Australian Broadcasting Company: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-08-15/an-samoa-nike-tattoo-row/4888662
- Warren, T. L. (2017). Cross-cultural Communication : Perspectives in Theory and Practice. Retrieved from EBSCO: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.chapman.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzE0ODA5NjNfX0FO0?sid=f6fc6ad5-3bea-482d-a6fd-978fae0114ba@pdc-v-sessmgr01&vid=1&format=EB&rid=1
- Wooten, E. H. (2006). Diversity Crises: How firms manage discrimination lawsuits. The Academy of Management Journal, 1103.
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