Diversity Drives Better Business
Since the 60s the idea of single monoculture is on a slow extinction. It has given way to pluralistic society that continues to evolve through cultural integration and influence. These changes are evident in fashions, dietary habit, entertainment, music, literature and sports. Diversity adds spice to life.
Distinguished management experts have asserted that diversity in organization is a good thing because it forces teamwork, because people know that they must cooperate with each-other to get results, and for a cohesive work culture. Designing and maintaining a consistent workforce with diverse features is a tough managerial task. Diversity in organization occurs when the organization hires people who have a broad range of background, when the demographics vary on a large scale with difference in age sex, culture and physical challenges. Cultural ethnicity is one major issue, which needs to be handled with care. When the pool of resource is large and diverse in nature maintaining equality is a hurricane task. The reality of globalization is that the boundaries of nations have shrunk, communication speed has increased and the entire world has become a global village. It is important therefore we respect, accept and celebrate diversity.
Chester Bernard, author of the management classic ‘The functions of the executive’ has described informal organization as any joint personal activity without conscious joint purpose, even though contributing to joint result. Thus the informal relationships established in-group of people during various celebrations like a dance party, a birthday celebration or a wedding anniversary may aid in achievement of the organizational goals. Globalization, migration and communication challenge organizations to develop broad perspectives of management. Organizations have to mix and merge people from different parts of world for various operations. People accept change in cultural diversity if it is a non-issue. Organizations should constantly but subtly coach its people to accept change in and around them.
Progressive companies all over the world recognize the advantages of integrating worker from culturally diverse backgrounds. These companies view diversity as a business plan as in today’s global marketplace companies interact with different clients with cultures and different code of conduct. In the early stages, International business was conducted with an ethnocentric outlook that means the orientation and type of operation was based on the parent company. The modern multinational corporations have geocentric orientation. The total organization is viewed as an independent system operating in many courtiers. The relationships between headquarters and subsidiaries are collaborative. Communication flowing from both directions encourages viewpoints of workers at all levels. Furthermore, managers of different nationals occupy key positions.
In short, the orientation of multi-national corporations is truly international and goes beyond a narrow nationalistic viewpoint. MNCs have recognized the business opportunities in many different countries. It can raise money for its operations throughout the world. Moreover, multinationals firms benefit by being able to establish production facilities in countries where their products can be manufactured more effectively and efficiently. Companies with worldwide operations sometimes have access to natural resources and materials that may be available to domestic firms only. Also a large MNC can recruit management and other professionals from a worldwide labor pool. Companies have recognized the various pros of diversity.
Increase in Creativity: When different people are put together towards a common solution there is no one best answer to any question because the organization can obtain more and more ideas. Different cultures of the employees can offer insightful alternatives to a problem.
Increase in Productivity: When people of variety of culture and variety of backgrounds are made to work together it increases their productivity exponentially. This happens because it kills monotony of work culture, brings freshness in work atmosphere. Different people have different styles of performing work. Every employee motivates the other with his difference of style.
Negotiation skills: Negotiating is a part and parcel of life. Everyone is busy negotiating on some or the other matter. Every culture has it own philosophy on negotiation. Americans hate negotiating, they rarely negotiate; you will find them negotiating except for buying a car or a home. But when Americans have to work with different cultural backgrounds of co-workers they realize the art of negotiation. Negotiation should always be a win-win situation. There should be a common ground for negotiation; it should not leave a feeling of hurt on any party. Germans are called tactful negotiators. So this can be learnt when diverse people come together to work.
New Business Processes: Diverse people have diverse attitudes to business. Companies need to adapt newer business skills and newer processes. The cross-cultural workforce can bring in better and newer work processes.
New language skills: People can learn new languages while working in organization from their co-workers. By learning each other’s language the barriers can be reduced. The companies pay a high sum to language interpreters. By motivating people who love to learn new languages, companies can curtail expenses. By learning new languages people can get insight of other countries. They can improve their communication skills. After all multi linguistics are always preferred by an organization.
But, Prof.Stephen Bainbridge of University of Illinois Law School argues that homogeneity should be maintained at the workplace as it increases productivity and profitability. He further states that people feel at home while working with people like them therefore they work more effectively. He recognizes that people have problem communicating their idea and emotions to people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It is a waste of time and energy to work on diverse workforce he comments.
Prof.Ron Burn a Professor of Sociology and Strategy at the Chicago Graduate School of Business has published several papers on diversity. He is of the opinion that diverse workgroups are more innovative as they not only have more variety in experience but they are also connected to different source of information in their environment.
Kent State University located in the heartland of America allows students, faculties and staff to learn about variety of cultures from around the world. Dr.Sheryl Smith – an Associate Dean of students and Director of Campus Life says that the university environment encourages students to explore and understand and appreciate the difference and similarities among cultures especially with diverse student organizations through events sponsored by these groups. Students, faculties and staff can experience food, music, dance and sports from wide variety of culture. The philosophy is simple: students will have to work some day with people of different culture and they will encounter differences. They should feel at ease and poise when they enter their professions.
Managing cultural diversity is simple. We all need to address the myths, stereotypes and cultural differences that interfere with our daily chores. The age-old gender fact that only male and females exist in organizational workforce has lost ground; today we have gay and transgender individuals making vital contributions to our economy. Nations and workforce are both becoming more diverse. The share of people of different color, cast, creed, religion, tradition, language, diction, practice, and ethnicity is part of organizational workforce.
We are witnessing more women entering the labor force; while taking increasingly the forefront. They are occupying vital roles and are the decision makers in more organizations. It is an open fact that businesses that embrace diversity have a more solid footing in the marketplace than others. Whatever color, black or brown or white. That is it. The word “global village” may appropriately describe the world we live in today. The fiber optics, aerospace and computers link all that exists is a part of our lives. The geographical boundaries are shrinking day by day. Let’s give up obsolescence and move on to improve productivity.