Cultural integration and workforce diversity

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In a diverse workplace, employees are more likely remain loyal when they feel respected and valued for their unique contribution. This, in turn, fosters mutual respect among colleagues who also value the diverse culture, perspectives, and experiences of their team members. An inclusive atmosphere of cross-cultural cooperation is an excellent way to bond colleagues and teams across the business. Studying and sharing a campus with students from different nationalities has been an awe-inspiring experience.

Diversity and international exposure have always been important to the decisions I have made in my career. By drawing from a culturally diverse talent pool, companies benefit from hiring professionals with a broad range of skills that are often not accessible when hiring locally. Globally oriented companies can add to their service range by leveraging the skills and experience their international employees bring to the table. A broader skills base and a more potentially diverse offering of products and services can help your business to have the competitive advantage of adaptability.

Adaptability means faster and more effective planning, development, and execution. A company with cultural and cognitive diversity can be quicker to spot a gap in the market. It will also have the global or market-specific insight and experience to help a new or adapted product to meet changing consumer behavior—and succeed.

The range of experience, expertise, and working methods that a diverse workplace offers can boost problem-solving capacity and lead to greater productivity. In fact, studies have shown organizations with a culture of diversity and inclusion are both happier and more productive. Where working in homogeneous teams can seem easier, it can cause a business to settle for the status quo. Diversity, on the other hand, can breed healthy competition, stretching a team in a positive way to achieve their best.

This atmosphere of healthy competition can lead to the optimization of company processes for greater efficiency. Fundamentally, an inclusive and culturally diverse business will attract talented, ambitious, and globally minded professionals who will appreciate the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Working across cultures can be a truly enriching experiencing, allowing others to learn about perspectives and traditions from around the world.

Bonding over similarities and differences can help you to become a global citizen, abandoning prejudices or an ethnocentric world view—something that is increasingly valuable. A diverse set of colleagues can be professionally enriching too—exposing you to new skills and approaches to work, and developing an international network that can take your career in exciting new directions or abroad. However, the presence of diverse brain power alone is not enough. This can be particularly challenging for colleagues from polite or deferential cultures.

For instance, professionals from Asian countries such as Vietnam or Japan may feel less comfortable speaking up or sharing ideas, particularly if they are new to the team or in a more junior role. Conversely, assertive colleagues from the U. This can be a challenge to overcome, particularly if there are underlying prejudices between cultures, making them less inclined to work together. Negative cultural stereotypes can be seriously detrimental to company morale and affect productivity.

For instance, the centuries-long antipathy between the British and French, or the Polish and Germans can sometimes creep into the workplace. Although not all stereotypes are necessarily negative—like the notion that Americans are confident or Asians are intelligent—all are simplifications that can prove limiting or divisive in the workplace. And while outright prejudice or stereotyping is a serious concern, ingrained and unconscious cultural biases can be a more difficult challenge of workplace diversity to overcome.

Sometimes, a little bit of humor is the best way to diffuse negativity. Here are the top 10 wrong yet persistent cultural stereotypes and the truth behind them:.

While quality translations are key for effective marketing, there can also be a real risk of communication getting lost in translation among multicultural colleagues. Language barriers are just one challenge. Moreover, effective cross-cultural communication comes down to much more than just words spoken. Non-verbal communication is a delicate and nuanced part of cultural interaction that can lead to misunderstandings or even offense between team members from different countries.

Corporate cultures that display characteristics of global awareness and inclusion capture critical benefits of workplace diversity. Corporate culture is the collective behavior of people who are part of an organization and the meanings that these people attach to their actions. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other internally, as well as with clients and other stakeholders. Enabling an inclusive culture is highly advantageous in capturing the value of diversity. Inclusive cultures are focused on values that empower open-mindedness, promote healthy conflict, value new perspectives, and avoid judgmental attitudes.

The primary threats to an inclusive culture are groupthink, discrimination, stereotyping, and defensiveness. Inclusive cultures : Inclusive cultures accommodate a variety of perspectives. An organization may also adhere to a policy of multiculturalism, integrating diversity into the mission and vision statements and various other internal policies. Creating an inclusive culture means not only stating support for it via various corporate-wide outlets, but also working towards an ideal level of open and inclusive behavior.

Culture is a matter of organizational behavior because it is inherently about how people act mostly subconsciously , and thus requires a great deal of energy and effort to alter. The following paradigms are a result of extensive academic research by experts in diversity. The list below can be seen as a linear progression in achieving inclusion, the first being the simplest and least effective and the last being the most complex and most effective:.

Cultural intelligence is the ability to display intercultural competence within a given group through adaptability and knowledge. Analyze the key components inherent in developing strong cultural competence as a manager in a diverse global economy. Diversity in a rapidly globalizing economy is a central field within organizational behavior and managerial development, underlining the critical importance of deriving synergy through cultural intelligence.

The concept of cultural intelligence is exactly what it sounds like—the ability to display intercultural competence within a given group through adaptability and knowledge. Studying the components of culture, the theories pertaining to cultural dimensions and competencies, and the current initiatives in promoting these concepts are all powerful resources for managers involved in foreign assignments.

The components of cultural intelligence, from a general perspective, can be described in terms of linguistics, culture religion, holidays, social norms, etc. As a result, individuals interested in developing their cultural quotient CQ are tasked with studying each of these facets of cultural intelligence in order to accurately recognize the beliefs, values, and behaviors of the culture in which they are immersed. An interesting perspective on cultural intelligence is well represented in the intercultural-competence diagram, which highlights the way that each segment of cultural knowledge can create synergy when applied to the whole of cultural intelligence, where overlapping generates the highest potential CQ.

Intercultural competence : This diagram illustrates the three factors that constitute an effectively intercultural understanding for management: Regional Expertise, Language Proficiency, and Cross-Cultural Competence. With these components in mind, it is useful to apply them to varying theoretical frameworks designed to illuminate the cultural dimensions and value differences across the globe.

His theory notes six specific variables to measure:. These theoretical variables help in analyzing what is currently being done in pursuit of higher CQ, as well as what challenges lay ahead for international managers. Understanding linguistics, cultural norms, and varying values will allow for higher localization and efficiency within global businesses. To capitalize on ethical and economic benefits, businesses are promoting increased diversity in the workplace. Analyze the social and legislative trends that define the trajectory towards higher levels of diversity and equality in the workplace.

Diversity within the workplace is a broad topic, incorporating both the need for social justice and the high potential value of employing a workforce diverse enough to compete in an increasingly global economic environment. As a result, the workplace has undergone a number of trends that promote diversity and minimize group biases, as the ethical and economic importance of diversity is well-established.

Analyzing trends in equality and value in diversity is useful for managers seeking to incorporate both. The early stages of pursuing equality in the workplace arose in the s, most notably with the concept of affirmative action. Affirmative action essentially establishes legal quotas—set by the U. Minority populations are generally defined according to race, ethnicity, or gender. One difficulty with affirmative action is that it can encourage employers to fill quotas rather than avoid bias, potentially motivating some employers to hire specifically by race, ethnicity, or gender; hiring based upon any of these characteristics is illegal.

Parvis emphasises that diversity exists in every society and every workplace. In his view, diversity brings great benefits, including development that enriches lives in many ways. According to Varner and Beamer , p. According to him, this software or mental programming is based on social environments where people grew up and developed their life experiences Hofstede, , p.

Cox , p. This definition will be used in this study. Barney , p. Scott wonders if for instance, organisations with inclusive cultures that in all procedures embrace diversity more likely than others to benefit in terms of development from cultural diversity.

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He showed that homogeneous groups tend to be more effective and developmental in situations with a complex context where heterogeneous groups fall short owing to perception and attribution differences as well as communication issues Thomas, , p. Although conflicts arise easier in heterogeneous groups, they can be more productive, developmental and creative in the long run with more generated ideas McLeod et al.

It appears from this argument that none of these groups is superior to the other. It could be assumed that a company could benefit more from using both types of groups in different situations McLeod et al. The notion of hatred towards the heterogeneous groups is detrimental to development as is the case in Africa.

Adler argues that oftentimes people view cultural diversity as something that will not benefit their organisation yet it can bring many developmental and progressive outcomes. Africa has proved to be a well-resourced continent with another mother tongue of speaking mainly English. It is fundamental to learn about different cultures to recognise cross-cultural fertilisation of ideas Parvis, , p. This could also be an issue in African institutions because diversity is a broad concept that needs more research than what currently is there at the expense of development. Seymen , pp.

In dimension 2, the advantages of cultural diversity should be enhanced while the disadvantages are minimised. Dimension 3 suggests that diversity should be amalgamated into a homogeneous organisational culture while dimension 4 suggests universalism instead of multiculturalism and dimension 5 views cultural diversity as a human resource function. These will be tersely discussed below. Dadfar and Gustavsson contend that the advantages of cultural diversity are affiliated to high performing organisations and provide proof that the performance of the organisation excels more in a heterogeneous environment than in a homogeneous environment.

The major aim of increasing cultural diversity is to dominate pluralism for single-culture and ethno-relativity for ethno centralism Daft, Ludlum , pp. This increases their participation, development and job satisfaction while making them motivated. Herbig and Genestre , pp. The observation by Montagliani and Giacalone appear to be apt, that a mismanaged diversity may create psychological stress and ultimately a failure and an ineffective labour force.

Higgs notes that the practice of viewing cultural diversity as a difficulty and not as a source of competitive advantage and development needs to be changed.

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The creation of a common culture is important where differences in culture residing in an organisation are not felt, rather with emphasis on developing a common cultural identity to achieve organisational goals. Person , p. This view Seymen, , p. This dimension passes the responsibility of managing diversity to the human resource departments and its modern management techniques Seymen, , p.

This study was informed by this dimension. It places emphasis on the need for providing the multicultural workforce, in-service training programme and motivational pre-departure preparation programme as argued by Peppas Raadschelders argues that research is grounded on some underlying philosophical assumptions on what constitutes an authentic research. These philosophical assumptions also affect the choice of method that would gain the necessary knowledge in a bid to address the specific research topic.

Therefore, the philosophy of a research is linked to the sources and development of knowledge in understanding the phenomena of the world. In order to critically grasp the interrelationship of the core components of the topic, a position of an interpretive approach with constructionist concerns was taken in this study. The nature of the topic requires embracing the subjective meaning and interpretations behind cultural diversity in an institutional context.

Therefore, the appropriate research approach to the desired outcome was the qualitative one. It was of an exploratory nature and used the grounded theory approach. The grounded theory approach enabled the researcher to make informed decisions on the link between cultural diversity and development in Africa.

A random sampling of seven countries from a population of 55 African Union countries was made. A purposive sampling of seven diverse senior managers from various huge companies was picked from these seven African countries. The choice of sampling was informed by demographic variations in terms of ethnic diversity. The main determinant of a sample size in qualitative research relates to the amount of data gathered.

It is not essentially about the number of participants that one would like to have in the study. Therefore, the researcher did not decide the number of participants before-hand for including in the study, but only stopped the data collection process at a point when the analysis indicated that saturation had been reached.

Primary data were collected through questionnaires administered online. While considering the sampling method, there was a need to recognise the perceived or lived experiences of diversity management identified with the organizations in this regard. The secondary source of data was obtained through surfing the internet, books and other academic reports to acquire relevant information and included the integrated World Values Survey WVS dataset covering to and primary data from questionnaires administered online. The SAQ is a stand-alone questionnaire often used in conjunction with other data collection modalities determined by the researcher such as phone calls.

The SAQs are being used extensively for Web surveys. The web-based questionnaire was developed using Blaise IS 4. The data collected from the web-based this questionnaire was saved in a database automatically. The duration of the study was six months beginning from July to December In any research design, time is of essence.

This, however, varies depending on whether the research is cross-sectional or longitudinal in nature Creswell, In cross-section research, either the entire population or a subset thereof is selected, and from these individuals, data are collected to help answer research questions of interest. It is cross-sectional because the information about Y and X collected represents what is going on at only one point in time.

This particular study was a cross-sectional research taking place at a single point in time. On the other hand, a longitudinal study would take place over time. Questionnaires were used in this study. They are usually paper-based or delivered online and consisting of a set of questions which participants are expected to complete.

Questionnaires can be an invaluable tool when usability data is needed from large numbers of dissimilar users. They can be both cost-effective and easier to analyse than other methods. However, it must be understood that they suit some research questions better than others. Questionnaires are reasonably effective at obtaining data about what issues are of increased importance.

They require more effort and time in design and piloting. Tables 1 and 2 below shows demographic data of participants. Table 1. These participants were drawn from big corporations but cannot be named here for purposes of anonymity in line with research ethical considerations. These participants were drawn from big corporations but cannot be named here for purposes of anonymity and confidentiality in line with research ethical considerations.

Findings suggest that while diversity management within organisations pivots around managing employment equity, true diversity pivots around the tenet of nurturing a culture of inclusiveness, acceptance and respect. Hays-Thomas in Stockdale and Crosby support the same idea. Participants were solicited for their personal views on diversity management issues rather than in view of their respective companies, but most of their views were translated into institutional practices owing to their influence as diversity leaders.

For the management of cultural diversity to have positive outcomes, people involved have to participate extensively in making the situation work. It was the individual factor apparently missing from the theories on cultural diversity. It would not be management alone that would make the effects of cultural diversity better. The individuals too should be involved, implying that cultural diversity outcomes are greatly dependent on individuals. People tend to have different approaches to situations and different behaviours in as much as they may share the same culture. In support of this, participants engaged recruitment practices that leverage streamlined processes and workforce transformation.

Participants argued that where nobody held targets for equity against companies, results will not be easy to achieve. These sentiments are corroborated by Shen et al. However, findings in this study contradict observations by Hayles and Russell that a diverse workforce increases the ability for market competition. Responses instead indicate that workforce diversity only supports more diverse markets and not problem-solving efficiency as such.

Theories on cultural diversity concur that creativity is high within heterogeneous groups and that communication works better in homogeneous groups Booysen, ; Hofstede, ; Kamoche et al. But these assertions can be challenged. Figure 1 below shows a comparison by country on diversity management. Figure 1. Comparison by country on diversity management. It is clear from the Figure 1 that lack of employee management and language barriers were not diversity management issues in Botswana while for Ghana and Mozambique it was only lack of employee management.

In Burkina Faso, Chad, Ghana, Kenya and Libya lack of respect, recognition and acceptance of differences was significantly high. Figure 2 below shows a summary of major findings. Overall, results indicate that most African companies do not yet place value in the cultural diversity for their development. Such diversity is still viewed by many as counterproductive but some few institutions are beginning to appreciate it. There is no similar study that has been undertaken.

These two companies are located in Botswana and Kenya. These two companies had a global attitude towards cultural diversity believing that they needed to accommodate cultural diversity to gain a competitive advantage while creating an open and flexible atmosphere. This finding concurs with the dimension that gives the responsibility of managing diversity to the human resource departments and its modern management techniques Seymen, , p. All companies in the study believed that diversity brings an influx of different point of views but failed to underscore how this provides the prospect for development.

They focused more on conflict management emanating from diverging views. Results indicate that best practices appear in Botswana, Ghana and Kenya, although much better practices could have been shown. Mozambique presents a clearly unique status recording fairly low in almost all categories as revealed by these findings. Diversity training initiatives were more elaborate only in Botswana.

Tips for managing cultural diversity in the workplace

Successful institutions accentuate on the importance of communication and appreciate the diverse individual views. This motivates individuals to manage diversity. Most of the institutions still lack the holistic view because they fail to articulate diversity at the strategic level and in all dimensions of the organisation.

Also, most companies do not have integrated cultural diversity tacked into the organisational policy and procedures to represent diversity. Therefore, findings are summarised below in relation to research objectives set out above for development. The findings are thus summarized above in relation to research objectives set out above for development.

To bridge the gap between theory and practice, companies must monitor and evaluate performance management in Africa. There are some challenges that cultural diversity may bring to African institutions although the benefits are much higher than the problems if managed well, providing socio-economic value. This may benefit all from their different experiences and ways of seeing things. A holistic approach to cultural diversity integrated at all levels and dimensions of institutions could be created making organisations more heterogeneous. Cultural diversity is consequently about the development of additional opportunities for people in the closer vicinity.

Diversity in Organizations | Boundless Management

For that reason, Jacobs argues that diversity is a component of successful institutions; without it, the institutional systems would not be that adequate to thrive. Talen considers that institutional diversity is basically interconnected to institutional strength and social equity. Institutional strength is linked to economic health and sustainability. The implication also relates to social equity where access to the geography of opportunity and a mix of population groups are ideally measured as the foundation of a more inventive, stable and tolerant Talen, The study sought to investigate contemporary issues militating against diversity in Africa in order to contribute knowledge to diversity management in organisations.

Findings indicate that diversity is critical and should not be left to management only but to include employees as it directly affects the performance of companies and impacts all people within. If diversity is managed well, benefits accrue not only to the organisations but for development to the rest of Africa. Cultural diversity must be infused in organisational strategic plans and not to be relegated to some individuals alone.

Those managers that believe in diversity tend to highlight more on the advantages while the ones that do not, tend to stress on the challenges. Cultural blindness is an existing state for some managers in organisations. For policy, teaching and society, African institutions need to integrate diversity at their managerial levels and in their strategic plans in as much as they are trying to do with gender equality at the moment.