Cultural Diversity in the Workforce
With the global boundaries becoming more and more irrelevant owing to increasing international migration, the United States is gradually becoming multicultural. Individuals from all over the world have over time appreciated the United States as the land of opportunity.
Hence, many persons ranging from professionals to unskilled individuals are looking for ways to gain an entry into America where their earnings are thought to be better than in other regions around the world.
The search for jobs and better livelihoods has resulted in an increased diversification of the American workforce which in turn calls for institutions to adopt and develop strategies for strengthening the relationship between individuals of varied socio-cultural backgrounds.
In this essay I will analyze the various elements of managerial strategies that can be used to ensure that employees from different origins are comfortable in their roles within the entire organization framework. In addition, I will outline the general implications of equality at the workplace with illustrations drawn from my personal experiences in areas of management.
I will then discuss the critical elements of work place diversity before touching on the role of both organizational and national cultures as far as equality in the work environment is concerned.
Enumeration, being the standard criterion for assessing the appreciation of employee effort within an organization, will also be well highlighted particularly in terms of approaches that can easily be used in any enterprise to ensure that both local and foreign employees are well compensated.
Equal Opportunities and diversity at Work
Equal opportunity is the situation created in a workplace when all forms of discrimination are eliminated. For Equal opportunity to be regarded, all individuals should be given similar working conditions and equal chances of advancement irrespective of their race, gender, religion or physical abilities.
Diversity generally implies the creation of a work environment which accords respect to all the different individual distinction among employees. It is also appreciating the unique contribution that worker with a variety of differences can bring to the work place increasing the productivity of the company.
Diversity, especially in a work setting, does not only include age, gender, racial and cultural differences; It goes ahead to include issues of morality and religion. While I was working as a secretary of the Psychologist of the Grand Commander in the Israeli military, I always ensured that such differences were kept in check in order to guarantee that the service environment was well balanced.
I was among the Individuals who were responsible for maintenance of cordiality within the institution and I therefore regarded these socio-cultural differences as challenges as opposed to problems that need solutions.
Additionally, diversity is a very important resource in an institution since it helps reduce the boredom of having to do the same thing every day. Individuals from varied backgrounds combine efforts to come up with newer ways of making the work environment more interesting and productive.
After working as an accountant in several companies and after being the manager of a private company, I understood that getting workers with more experiences and pairing them with new recruits will result in a positive symbiotic relationship, where the latter learn from the former on acceptable company practice. The seasoned workers will also learn on newer and effective ways to carry out certain functions in order to increase their productivity.
As the manager of my own company, I recruited workers based on their academic and professional achievements, consequently reducing the possibility of recruiting unproductive individuals based on a particular profile.
Additionally, I appreciate the importance of accepting the positive contribution of gender differences as far as productivity in the company is concerned. The traditional approach of assigning certain jobs to men and others to women irrespective of their potential is struck off the company policy.
It is generally well known that in any work setting, there will be individuals from diverse religious backgrounds. This should be seen as a positive thing as the workers in this particular instance are able to learn from each other.
In my position as a senior accountant for Art-In Hi-tech Company situated in Ramat-Gan, Israel, I categorically put measures in place to ensure that the shame that individuals develop based on their religious beliefs was taken down so that they could be comfortable enough to make meaningful contributions to the growth of the company.
Addressing Issues Related to Diversity at the Workplace
Managers should realize that the most important tool for addressing the issues of diversity in the company is to hire qualified individuals. It is morally and sometimes economically irresponsible for companies to hire people on the basis of their minority statues.
This simply keeps alive the myth that no individuals within the particular minority group have the desirable qualification to take up the job. From an entrepreneurial point of view, I can confidently attest to the fact that most of the decisions made when recruiting should stem from the skill and abilities of an individual.
Another helpful pointer I have picked over the years for the maintenance of diversity in the work place is by senior management ensuring that their junior associates do not disrespect one another. It is commendable for individuals to appreciate that we all have different skills and abilities which are necessary in the proper running of the business.
Disrespect based on the social-cultural or educational differences only brings about an unnecessary friction among the workers leading to reduced performance and increased company expenditure on legal suits. Therefore, after a minority is selected for a job, he/she should be regarded as any other employee, with the management maintaining the appreciation for heritage and cultural choices of the various that such employees come with.
Being a privately-owned company manager and entrepreneur, I understand that it is advisable for companies to value the fact that as long as an individual performs his job to the best of his ability, it does not matter what his/her social-cultural or political-educational background is.
My experience has taught me that there are various positive traits that can be adopted to help the senior associates of a company manage their multicultural staffs effectively. The first one I would like to highlight is respect. Managers should maintain respect and cordial relations with all employees and ensure that their morale does not deteriorate as a result of discrimination.
It would be natural for senior management to assume that their foreign employees will be excited over the opportunity to work for the company. However, it has been discovered that such employees tend to get menial jobs and at times they tend to feel overworked.
As an accountant with Meimad Corporation, a computer company located in Tel-Aviv, Israel, I discovered that workers, especially those in casual employment, regard their jobs as being in a precarious position drawing from the constant fear of being laid back.
Some sense of vulnerability dampens their work spirit. In such a situation, the company is faced with double challenges since as an institution’s profitability goes down, low worker morale makes it even harder for the company to pick itself up.
The second trait is honesty. Faced with numerous management challenges, organizations should not assume that restructuring and replacing their native workers with foreign low-earning individuals are the only things that could help the company stay afloat.
The company needs to employ a number of leadership principles to ensure that it is able to sustain itself through harsh financial times occasioned by challenges such as recession. For one thing, when strict measures have to be taken, the management should come out and clearly explain the challenges to the members of staff.
It is understandable that most institutions will shy away from conflict, but with my experience in management, I have learnt that employees will always respect honesty. The third important feature is communication. For my company, I have put in place measures to ensure that the frequency of communication is acceptable. Proper communication helps keep down anxiety levels and can also keep the staff morale stable.
The senior managerial staff should personally take this role because delegation to junior staff gives a negative impression regarding the commitment of the management towards employee well-being. Moreover, management should ensure that the morale of both local and foreign workers becomes the number one company priority.
As a senior accountant for Art-In Hi-tech Company, I utilized all the resources at my disposal to ensure that all members of staff under my supervision were as comfortable as possible in the wake of inter-department disputes. This became a model for other departments to emulate and after a while all the wrangling subsided owing to the fact that all employees were comfortable in their positions and no department’s staff appeared to be favored.
In addition, the institution should desist from taking hard line stances on their foreign members of staff. Personal humility and ethical behavior are some of the key characteristics of effective leaders.
These two traits if put into practice will help deal with the individuals who are caught in the middle of company struggle and post down-sizing/staff-replacement syndrome. If senior managerial staffs have these characteristics, they could easily ensure that the employees remain motivated and committed to the success of the enterprise. Last but not least is fairness.
During times of financial struggle it is imperative that a company’s operational costs are kept at the lowest level possible. This will of course not be a popular action especially from the side of employees who will not be excited at the company’s efforts to constantly scrutinize their expense reports and tracking down the usage of such small things as pens.
The skepticism is heightened even more if foreign employees are constantly kept under the radar of native senior associates. In my company, I have ensured that the leadership team is well included at every stage of implementing the plan to deal with the recession and I always encourage my employees to break out targets in their regions of authority to the highest specificity possible.
The company will as well be forced to increase pressure on all their employees and demand accountability for performance; a move that will definitely not be well received with the staff members. However, as undesirable as these measures are, the employees will find the fairness of the company heads admirable especially if they (the employees) are presented with facts in advance.
From my experience, I have come to the realization that the implementation of the principles outlined above may be challenging depending on the organizational culture of specific companies. In addition, ignoring the plight of the foreign employees could easily jeopardize the company prospects once the recession is over.
In general, it is safe to argue that the employees, who are left behind after a period of job cuts, are the ones responsible for keeping the company afloat in a period of recession. The better such workers are treated in the time the more dedicated they will be to the institution’s stability through the period of hardship.
Organizational/National Culture and Workplace Diversity
Both organizational and national cultures have strong influences in the development of character for the individuals affected. Generally, company cultures are not established by specific standards and are therefore informal, while country cultures tend to be more formal.
Both company and national culture occur together within an organization and at times they may contradict each other. For instance, Memaid Corporation had a culture that did not favor risk-taking. On the contrary, my background culture always encouraged and actually rewarded the same. These cultures need to be well understood by the company executive officers and be positively inculcated to individuals in an organization.
National cultures have a great influence on the shaping of value systems within the citizens. This ends up bringing about shared values and preferences in a way that it is easy to distinguish the individuals of one country from those of another based on their mannerisms and general attitude.
The same also applies in the differentiation of the diverse sub-groups within a particular nation. In the latter sense, the term national culture can be slightly misleading as it can only be referring to a section of individuals within the population of a select country.
Organizational cultures to a great extent arise from or are influenced by national cultures. However, they are also defined by a number of other factors. For instance, the United States as a whole is generally seen to support a culture of individualism.
Yet, an analysis of various entities within the country reveals that there is a wide array of organizational cultures some of which may go in tandem with the national individualism culture. Some of these cultures may also arise from other features of the company. For example, the organizational culture of Microsoft allows individuals to dress to work in clothes that they are most comfortable in.
This culture is a reflection of the personality and preferences of Bill Gates, the founder. In some instances, the cultures of the organizations may have been nurtured over extended periods of time resulting in them acquiring some life of their own irrespective of the preference of the heads.
This is the case with IBM. IBM has a very open organizational culture and various analysts have credited it as one of the most interesting places to work in. The management panel of a particular company or institution needs to factor in the various national cultures of its employees in order to enable the company develop a worldwide outlook.
Organizational culture does not necessarily have a diminishing effect on national culture. From observation it can be seen that there are significant disparities in cultures among individuals working for the same multi-national organization than there are among individual employed by institutions in their native countries.
This simply means that when working for multi-national organizations, Japanese tend to appear more Japanese, Somalis more Somali, Americans more American and so on and so forth. Though the reasons for the trends are not very clear, it almost appears that associates may be involved in some spirited rejection of the organization’s corporate culture.
Based on the exemplification above, it is safe to conclude that the national culture generally surpasses organizational culture in terms of individual influences. This has actually been well presented in most institutions where the company heads recognize the diverse nature of their associates.
A strong corporate culture will, therefore, not overshadow the significance of national culture because when face with a contrast between the two cultural elements, individuals will tend to respond in ways that favor their national culture.
Hence, it is the responsibility of the institution to carry out tests on its organizational culture and compare the findings with findings obtained from an analysis of the national cultures present amongst individuals, and establish ways of resolving conflicts between the two. In essence, it is even desirable for a company to establish a way of merging the two as this would lead to increased productivity.
The Transformation of Companies into Multicultural Enterprises
Any business enterprise regardless of how well developed it is, has to experience occasional periods of change, some of which may end up shaking the entire framework of the institution. This is primarily the reason why companies need to come up with change management strategies especially to accommodate the unavoidable entry of foreigners into the workforce.
Change management strategies are basically an already established procedure that an organization will follow in order to avert the negative effects of change on the company as well as provide the opportunity to embrace the positive changes that may come about as a result of change.
Like with any other laid down company procedures, I put measures in place to ensure that once my company had recruited a substantial number of workers, re-evaluation had to be carried out to identify areas that needed to be tweaked in order to ensure that the strategy implemented was well suited to handle the challenges that may come about.
Adoption of Compensation Strategies to Accommodate All Staffs
All the compensation strategies are influenced by two primary cultural issues. These are the institutional culture of the enterprise and the background culture of the members of staff. A compensation plan that is regarded as extremely effective for American-born workers may not work properly if ends up violating the traditional values of expatriates and other migrant workers.
Corporations which use individual rewards and performance-based payment as both elements of motivation and uniform compensation for their employees from around the world can easily have the strategy backfiring on them. There are two primary elements of compensation that are universally acceptable irrespective of the origins of the beneficiary. These are rewards and the incentive compensation plan.
The effectiveness of using rewards as a motivator depends is a strategy that has been socio-culturally proven to give positive results. In group-oriented communities the individual pay differences does not generally influence the hierarchy of basic human requirements.
The most highly appreciated motivations are based on the attainment of group desires and potential. With my entrepreneurial experience, I have come to realize that trying to use such incentive strategies as awarding expatriates employee of the year awards will most likely end up in creating of embarrassing situations for the target employee.
It is advisable for the developers of these motivational programs to come up with strategies that appreciate the strengths of the group rather than those that recognize the individual.
There are various incentives that can be awarded to employees in order to boost their morale especially when working in overseas nations. These include cash bonuses and monetary compensations related to their performance.
The process of drafting a workable compensation strategy requires the consideration of the various compensation plans alongside the specific role of the employee in his/her assignment. This plan has been well utilized in most American companies in order to ensure that workers from various social-cultural backgrounds are comfortable enough to adequately fulfill their duties and it is a model that I have emulated for my company.
A proper compensation plan is related to the multicultural elements of the workforce. For one, it helps corporations to magnetize enough numbers of well-qualified workers. More often, it is the tangible elements of compensation that attract individuals to a given organization.
If these attributes do not appear to be competitive with the labor market, the institution will not be in a position to have a substantial database of applicants from which to isolate the ones with the greatest qualifications.
As long as the package of benefits appears acceptable, an organizations human resource department will have enough candidates for both local and overseas assignments. This is actually the primary reason why immigration to the United States is at an all-time high as persons seek an environment where they are paid better than they would in their own countries.
Another thing is that indirect monetary compensation helps institutions retain members of the workforce that they hire. Such benefits help give the employees a sense of security which has the added advantage of increasing the workers’ positivity and feelings of satisfaction towards the company.
In addition to this, because most of the benefits are categorically designed to favor employees with longer times of service, indirect monetary compensation tends to have the advantage of encouraging workers to stay with an institution for longer periods.
For instance, retirement benefits increase with the number of years that an individual has been with a company. By providing acceptable service-dependent benefits to both my local and foreign employees I have ensured that they shy away from moving to other companies since such a transfer would essentially cancel all the advantages or privileges that have been garnered through extended lengths of service.
The growth of an institution from a humble enterprise to an international organization is evidence of its great achievements. In this essay I have analyzed the entrepreneurial strategies that companies need to put in place in managing multi-cultural environments. I have also touched various approaches that best suited to help all types of businesses handle their staffs effectively.
These strategies should therefore be maintained even in the wake of paradigm shift facing most companies during the recent financial crisis.
Among the key elements discussed in this essay include the adoption of compensation frameworks that are acceptable to both foreign and local workers, as well as the input of managerial skills in ensuring workplace equality.
In addition, it is important to note that the strategies specified above have worked for numerous companies and should therefore be reinforced by the various other strategies that were beyond the scope of this essay.
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