Cultural diversification is a term that has become very popular in the recent years, especially among the people working in various organizations. A lot of concerns have arisen due to the flow of the immigrants into the major cities of the United States. Due to the arrival of the immigrants and the varying concerns of the people, a lot of human and civil rights organizations have started to ask the authorities to pay attention to this matter. There are many organizations where a need for the trainings and lectures regarding the cultural diversity has been felt by the officials for the employees. This trend and need has mainly taken place after the September 11 incident. Therefore, in today's world the understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity by employees in a workplace is of crucial importance for the successful management, leadership and running of an organization. Today the term cultural diversity is also known as multiculturalism. United Stated and Canada are known to have the highest number of immigrants in the higher-education institute. However, there are many other places where the ratio of multiculturalism is very high (Green et al., 2009).
One of the reasons because of which it has become very important for the people to understand and accept cultural diversification is globalization. In today's competitive business environment people from all around the world don't work in their separate business environment rather they are contributing to the economy of world. Therefore, now-a-days the profit-making companies as well as the non-profit organizations have started paying a lot of attention to the cultural diversity. In order to succeed all these organizations have accepted the fact that they have to be more open to change and creativity. Now-a-days for organization workplace diversity has become a very important factor in order to capitalize and maximize (Green et al., 2009).
In order to deal with this challenge of multiculturalism in a workplace it is important for the managers to have the effective managerial skills; as, only then will they be able to teach their employees how to deal with multiculturalism, not only with regards to the fellow employees, but also the customers (Green et al., 2009).
Definitions -- Diversity and Culture
If the word diversity is looked up in a dictionary, it can easily be noticed that it is mainly defined as the differences. Therefore, the basic meaning of the term cultural diversity is "different." If we observe we can easily notice that diversity can be seen in every culture, workplace, society or community on the basis of distinctions like religion, race, and nation of origin, ethnicity, language, age, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, class and occupation (Green et al., 2009).
Cultural has been described by many people and in many different ways over the years. Although, there are many definitions for it but a lot of them agree upon the fact that culture is set of learned actions. According to the people who have explained the phenomenon of cultural diversity, culture is a combination of related values and traditional ideas that an individual expresses through his/her actions. According to William Sonnenschein who is also the author of "The Diversity Toolkit," culture is something that is not only learned but also shared and transmitted over the generations. Sonnenschein also believed that culture helps us in organizing our lives by helping us in interpreting various situations and scenarios in life (Sonnenschein, 1999).
Cultural Diversity in Workplaces
According to Esty, et al. (1995), cultural diversity is a phenomenon which basically defines a person respecting, accepting, and understanding, valuing, celebrating and acknowledging the various differences between race, class, mental and physical abilities, ethnicity, sexual orientation, public assistance status and gender (Esty, et al., 1995).
It is of great importance for the companies to not only understand diversity but also look for various ways to become inclusive because it can help the organizations in getting a competitive advantage as well as increase the productivity (Esty et al., 1995). According to Stephen G. Butler who is co-chair of the Business-Higher Education Forum, America can't ignore diversity as it is an invaluable asset (Robinson, 2002). In order to improve the workplace productivity effective people management is a phenomenon of great importance which can be obtained by valuing and managing diversity (Black Enterprise, 2001).
Organizations need to alternate and make new policies according to the changes in the demographics such as: women working in the offices, restructuring of the organizations, equal opportunity legislation, etc. (Parvis, 2003).
Women in the Workplace
The need to understand diversity in today's world has also increased due to this increasing trend of women working in the organization. The ratio of working women employees is the highest in history. The number of dual income and single working mothers' homes is increasing day by day. The ratio of traditional family homes is decreasing. As a result of all these changing scenarios it is important for the organizations to develop strategies accordingly as, it is evident that diversity has conquered age and gender both (Parvis, 2003).
The huge trend of downsizing and outsourcing which is being seen all over the world has changed the structures of the organization to a great extent. Technological advancements have enabled the organizations to get the job done by fewer and fewer people. As a result of all this the work practices have changed a lot and the trend has shifted towards longer working hours (Losyk, 1996).
Discriminations have been made illegal by the State and the Federal authorities. Both the employees as well as the associates are held responsible for any sort of discriminations by the laws (Parvis, 2003).
Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace
It is the usual point-of-view of many people that diversity has a lot more disadvantages than advantages in a workplace. However, the truth of the matter is that diversity provides the organizations with many advantages. Some of the advantages are: creativity, new ideas, forms of devotion, different approaches to various problems, innovations, history and different lifestyles etc. (Flagg, 2002).
In a situation where diversity isn't dealt with in a proper and positive manner it can lead to many problems. These problems can be: racism, homophobia, sexism, and ageism. All these factors can create many problems in the workplace which ultimately affects the productivity of the organization (Koonce, 2001).
For associates as well as the employees, diversity can prove to be very beneficial. Although the associates don't really have to follow and respect the diversity but in doing so they gain the trust and respect of their employees which not only helps in creating a positive image of the organization but also helps in improving the productivity. Furthermore, the fact is that respecting and understanding diversity can also result in lesser lawsuits, increased creativity, recruitment, more marketing opportunities etc. (Esty, et al., 1995). We are living in a world where is it of utmost importance for the organizations to come up with different ideas and think out of the box, this is where diversity can play a huge role.
When it comes to understanding and respecting diversity it is important to recognize the fact that diversity is a lot more than simply accepting the differences of others. Diversity means to understand those differences and to provide such an environment to the people belonging to different cultures that they don't feel out-of-place. With regards to diversity the managers may comes across challenges like hostility among the employees, loss of workforce because of lawsuits against the organization etc. (Devoe, 1999).
Negative behaviors and attitudes such as: discrimination, stereotyping, biasness, prejudice can create a lot of barriers to the organizational diversity. These are all the factors that can harm the organization by not only effecting its working environment but also the productivity (Esty, et al., 1995).
Managing Cultural Diversity
One very important characteristic possessed by effective managers is that they realize that there are some particular skills that are essential for the creation of a diverse and successful business environment. Firstly, it is essential for the managers to understand and realize what discrimination is and what can its consequences be. Secondly, the managers should be able to realize if they have some cultural prejudices or biases (Koonce, 2001).
Diversity is a phenomenon that is not found among the groups but rather among individuals. Therefore, managers need to have a willing attitude towards changing the policies of the organization if they have to order to deal with the discrimination in an effective manner (Koonce, 2001).
When it comes to dealing with diversity, there isn't any particular solution. Different scenarios may require different actions. This mainly depends on the abilities of the manager to understand what the requirements of the situation are and how he/she needs to respond to those requirements. Training is one way through which the managers can make the employees deal with their biases. However, the organizations need to create, implement and maintain an ongoing training process in order to ensure that the employees remember what important…