There are numerous studies in the field that reveal the importance of cultural diversity, and its effects on productivity, performance, and corporate success. In an article posted in the Houston Chronicle, Paul Merchant describes some of these effects (Merchant, 2013). The article is titled "the Positive Influence of cultural Diversity in Organizational Behavior" and can be also found on the online version of the publication.
The article addresses numerous issues regarding cultural diversity within the workplace. Some of these issues are represented by how companies define and establish their cultural diversity, how organizational behavior can be transformed with the help of cultural diversity, how cultural diversity can be influenced, and how it can be improved through certain programs. The targeted audience of the article seems to be represented by individuals that work in human resources or organizational development departments, but also by people that want to learn more about behavior. Employees can also find certain benefits from reading this article, because it provides scientific explanations on the importance of cultural diversity. Therefore, they can learn how cultural diversity can help them improve performance, which makes them more tolerant to other employees that represent different cultures.
The article states that cultural diversity involves the differences between members of different organizations that are determined by nationality, race, gender, religion age. However, there are also other factors that determine diversity between employees. Diversity also refers to different lifestyles, to different musical preferences, to different leisure time spending, and others.
Organizational behavior reflects the nature of interactions between people and groups within organizations. Cultural diversity and its effects help people within the organization develop relationships, and tolerate each other's differences. It is important that companies understand the importance of cultural diversity on organizational behavior.
However, there are also certain potential threats when trying to develop cultural diversity within the workplace. If this process is not supervised and kept under control, employees in an environment where cultural diversity is attempted to be increased can find themselves in conflictive situations. There are numerous examples of situations where younger employees prefer to work during listening to music, telling jokes in order to reduce the tension of the atmosphere, and sharing their personal problems with their colleagues. This can be disturbing for some of the elder colleagues that cannot focus on their work because of their colleagues' behaviors.
In such cases, most employees usually think that age differences are the reason. However, this is not entirely true. There are also elder employees that like listening to music and telling jokes when working. This means that the differences in behavior are determined by differences in lifestyles. In addition to this, the requirements of each job determine these different lifestyles. There are jobs where employees must work longer hours. In these cases, employees do not have so much time for their personal lives. Therefore, they are determined to solve their personal problems during their working schedules, and to share them with their colleagues, which can be disturbing for others.
In these cases, where people do not understand each others' lifestyles, it is necessary for the organization to arbitrate these conflicts. Most of these small conflicts are solved by employees that are involved in them. But in the case of conflicts generated by cultural diversity it is necessary that managers solve them. This is because conflicts determined by cultural diversity refer to the different perceptions of individuals. It is difficult for them to change perceptions, or to understand the fact that other people have different perceptions from theirs.
Recommendations for Improving Cultural Diversity and Reducing Conflicts
There are several strategies that companies can develop in their attempt to reduce conflicts and improve cultural diversity within the workplace. It is important to define and establish cultural diversity in the case of each company. This helps them to establish objectives and to determine the direction in which the company intends to orient.
The issue is not necessarily that companies do not develop cultural diversity. The issue is that they do not always know how to manage it and how to counteract their negative effects. The effects of cultural diversity on individuals take place at personal, internal level. This means that in order to accept cultural differences, people must filter them through their personal perceptions. This can be easily reached by improving personal relationships within the workplace.
In numerous companies there are conflictive opinions and strategies intended to improve cultural diversity. They state that they want to improve cultural diversity within their workplace, but they keep their employees at distance from each other. They put people in open spaces, but they build tall cubicles that do not allow employees to communicate correctly with each other.
In order to communicate efficiently, to understand each other and the differences between them, people need to communicate naturally. This means they must use all of their communication channels. These communication channels are represented by the visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels. When they build tall cubicles, companies block the most important communication channel, the visual one.
But employees' need for communication is the same, which means that they compensate this through the auditory channel. This means they talk more and louder. This is not accepted by some of the employees, which determines numerous companies. Therefore, the intention of improving cultural diversity is not supported by companies' acts.
It is important that organizations change their perspective on cultural diversity and on what it is required in order to successfully improve it. Probably the most important action that companies can do is to strengthen relationships between employees. This objective can be reached through team building programs. It is important that these team building programs take at least three days and are performed outside of town.
In addition to this, companies can invest in education programs for their employees where they can be trained into increasing the sensitivity and appreciation towards cultural diversity. It is important that managers set an example in this direction. If they simply tell their employees that they must accept their different colleagues, it might not have the established results.
There are also other actions that can be performed by companies that want to improve their organizational behavior with the help of cultural diversity. Job rotation is another action that can be addressed. This means that occasionally, employees can perform some of their other colleagues' tasks and activities. This helps them understand the nature of other people's jobs, the length it takes to do them, the resources they require, and others. This increases their understanding level, their sensitivity to others, and helps reduce conflicts.
In addition to this, companies can organize different social meetings where employees from other departments can meet, socialize, and discuss their personal interests. This is intended to help employees understand that their colleagues should not be reduced to professional positions they represent during their working schedule. By understanding that others are just like them, it helps increase their acceptance of culturally diverse individuals.
However, most companies have not understood how cultural diversity should be integrated within their organizational behavior. In other words, they want to develop workplace environments with cultural diversity, but they do not want to improve relationships between their employees (Sims, 2002). In most companies, personal relationships are forbidden. There are managers that do not like their subordinates socializing. This is because they think that by socializing and improving relationships between them, their subordinates can develop coalitions between these managers. They prefer discipline instead of normal relationships between employees.
It is obvious that employees cannot behave at work as they behave at home or with their friends. But this does not mean that companies should refuse their need to socialize. If companies refuse socialization between their employees, this does not mean that the need for socialization will…