As noted by Mazur, cultural diversity can be defined as the presence of the individuals coming from distinctly different cultural environments and backgrounds in one social system (8). Cultural diversity in the workplace has become a rather massive trend over the last century; this is the case due to the development of globalization in the modern world (Martin 89).
The contemporary workplaces tend to unite people and groups with different cultural background. This phenomenon is usually accompanied by a variety of outcomes and effects on the people involved and the workplace in general. Naturally, most of the complications of the working process created by the cultural diversity are tightly connected to the fact that it is based on differences between people and groups (Greenberg par. 1).
The seeming simplicity of this phenomenon is illusory as it involves a multitude of factors and aspects such as ethnicity, race, age, gender, personality types, cultural and religious beliefs, attitudes, and lifestyle, to name a few (Greenberg par. 2). All of these differences are interconnected and may influence one another; also, the presence of just a few individuals with a certain type of differences is likely to affect every member of the staff or a team. Speaking about the problem of cultural diversity in the workplace one must keep in mind that the issue is based not only on the individuals’ ideas about themselves but also about their perceptions of other persons and groups (Greenberg par. 3). In turn, the attitudes of people towards one another produce a direct effect on the way they interact and communicate.
That way, misunderstandings, misperceptions, biases, and prejudices in a culturally diverse workplace would inevitably result in clashes between the staff members, conflicts, decreased job satisfaction and professional performance. As a result, the organizations are faced with a serious challenge of addressing the issues related to culturally diverse workplaces and helping the versatile teams of employees to become harmonious and successful high-performers. Namely, change, adaptability, and interpersonal communication are the contributing factors of the solutions employed in a culturally diverse workplace (Greenberg par. 3).
The researchers and analysts make an observation that the level of diversity in the workplaces of all industries and professional fields is likely to increase significantly over the course of the next decade (Greenberg par. 3). That is why the organizations that intend to remain competitive and successful in the future realize the need to manage the issues of cultural diversity today in order to avoid the potential challenges in the upcoming years.
Since the main focus of this paper is the issue of cultural diversity in the workplace, it is logical to explore the benefits it has to offer to the organizations and their employees, as well as the potential challenges it poses for the employers and the HR managers. In other words, the research question for this paper is the following: what are the benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace and which difficulties may arise and complicate the process management a diverse workplace?
It is important to explore this question in order to determine the advantages and disadvantages of the issue and equip the managers with the knowledge necessary for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of cultural diversity in the workplace and also to learn about the potential problems and solutions helping to manage culturally diverse staff easier and create benefits for the whole organization.
The effects produced by cultural diversity in the workplace are multiple and profound. For instance, such major aspect of business and organizational behavior as interpersonal communication is heavily affected by diversity. Namely, in the homogenous groups, the individual are more likely to cooperate and interact with one another due to the shared attitudes, views, and values (Mazur 8). At the same time, the groups comprised of people with different sets of values and perceptions are more likely to have internal disagreements and clashes between the members; as a result, the working process of such groups is complicated and slowed down.
The emergence of cultural diversity in a social system leads to the appearance of categorization and biases; that way, a diverse workplace is more likely to be highly fragmented (Mazur 8). Logically, collaborate projects requiring communication and cooperation would not be successful when assigned to diverse groups lacking agreement. At the same time, diverse workforce is more likely to adopt versatile perspectives on the same problems and generate unconventional solutions which may be beneficial for the projects and teams.
As mentioned above, one of the most significant positive effects of cultural diversity is that employees coming from different cultures tend to have different approaches and can analyze issues using different ways of thinking (Martin 89). At the same time, this benefit is unavailable or rare in a homogenous team where all the views are shared.
Besides, cultural diversity produces a positive effect on the organization as a whole making it more knowledgeable as to the specificity of interactions between the representatives of different cultures and thus enables the company to develop a global worldview and be more capable of growing internationally and becoming successful at the global arena (Ingram par. 3).
Moreover, a diverse workplace with the employees who are appropriately trained and educated tends to be more accepting and welcoming to the new talents. In fact, such workplace is more flexible due to the understanding of differences and can easily integrate new team members regardless of their peculiarities.
One of the major disadvantages of a diverse workforce is the managers’ need to address its differences leading to internal conflicts and misunderstandings. Conflict management can be costly as it requires hours off work for the training and team building sessions, hiring specialists who could help educate the employees, adjusting the operations and policies to match the needs of the diverse staff (Ingram par. 2).
The adjustment period in a company may take some time and effort reducing the business’s productivity or even causing lower job satisfaction among the employees and an increased rate of turnover. On other words, the emergence of cultural diversity in the workplace requires for it to change its organizational culture which may not be easy (Merchant par. 3).
As reported by Renee, some of the leading workplace problems related to cultural diversity include the development of respectable attitude and lifestyle acceptance, conflict resolution and management, the cases of harassment, the need to adjust duties and tasks based on the abilities that may be diverse, and the ensuring of fair and equitable treatment of the diverse employees (par. 2-10). Also, Patrick and Kumar specify that communication issues are the major challenge within the diverse workforce (2).
The researchers find that the ultimate requirement of the human resource management in a culturally diverse organization is fostering the skills and knowledge the workers require in order to handle the potentially dangerous situations and avoid bias and prejudice (Patrick and Kumar 2). Moreover, Green et al. agree with all the statements mentioned previously and specify that the main benefit of diversity is the fact that it is the source of a competitive advantage for an organization functioning in a globalizing world; and the main disadvantage is the difficulty of management of this phenomenon due to its complex and versatile nature (2).
Conclusion and Recommendations
The authors agree that the key to successful management of workforce diversity is education and training of the employees who require skills of conflict resolution, awareness, emotional maturity, and critical thinking in order to remain unbiased and accepting (Green et al. 2; Patrick and Kumar 2). That way, the development of management strategies is the main objective of the organizations willing remain competitive and embrace cultural diversity using the benefits it brings and handling to challenges it creates.
Moreover, it is important that such strategies are adjusted and selected specifically to match the workplace environments and dynamics typical for each business and company in particular and addressing their individual problems. Once managed and made an essential part of the organizational culture, workforce diversity becomes a powerful source of advantage for the businesses providing them with a higher level of flexibility, a worldly perspective, and a wide range of professional opinions, ideas, and approaches making each project unique and each team capable and creative.
Green, Kelli, Mayra López, Allen Wysocki, Karl Kepner, Derek Farnsworth, and
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