Today, after decades of expanding opportunity to all citizens brought by the most influential phenomenon in human history called globalization, modern organizations are applying the lessons learned, to the task of meeting the new and growing needs of business, as well as of the larger society (Goleman, 2001).
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Globalization is not necessarily a catalyst of homogenization or customization but is a dynamic impetus, which conceives diversity and miscellany within the multicultural world. The difference is the only thing that is constantly on the move in that the minorities are becoming the majority. Multicultural and intergenerational economics is permeating every mainstream zone of the society, and no capitalist can manage to discount the drift (Aaker and Joachimsthaler, 1999). The Asian, African-American and Hispanic, old and young, or male and female populations have a shared purchasing power exceeding a trillion dollars and minority populations are in no time growing to be the majority segment in the mass markets of these organizations (Harris and Moran, 1979).
A company that incorporates cultural diversity into their work culture is a multicultural company. A multicultural organization is marked by the full structural integration of women and people of color. Women and minorities are proportionally represented at all levels of an organization and in all work groups. A multicultural organization is also marked by full informal integration. That is, people of color and women are not excluded from social activities or from mentoring and other developmental processes. A multicultural organization is also marked by an absence of discrimination, low levels of intergroup conflict, and high levels of organizational identification for all gender and ethnic groups (Cox, 1991).
The challenges of globalization and laws shaping the business sector drawing in corporate social responsibility and good corporate citizenship have shifted as political and social climates have changed in New York, the United States, and around the world.
People are already protected against discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, disability and gender reassignment. Since December 2003, it has been unlawful to discriminate against workers because of their sexual orientation, whether they are bisexual, lesbian, gay or heterosexual. Religious organizations are exempted from these new rules. Separate regulations to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief have also been introduced. The regulations should be a real boost for people who used to feel sidelined or bullied because of some political or demographic factors. In practice, workers could challenge their bosses if they feel they have been denied a job or promotion because of their sexual orientation. They could also seek redress for unwelcome and hurtful comments about their sexuality. This can also include comments made about a family member (Burk, 2000).
Perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of a multicultural organization, though, is the form of acculturation used. There are three processes through which disparities between the dominant culture and minority cultures can be treated. The first of these, assimilation, is a unilateral process by which minority culture members adopt the norms and values of the dominant group in the organization (Cox, 1991). The second, cultural separatism, is a situation where there is little adaptation on either side. Finally, pluralism is a process by which both minority and majority culture members adopt some norms of the other group. Perhaps, the pluralistic form of acculturation is the defining feature of a multicultural organization. It is only through pluralism that members of any organization can come to understand and truly value cultural and gender diversity (Cox, 1991).
Arguments for increased creativity and enhanced problem solving through diversity both rest on the contention that a diversity of employees will translate into a diversity of viewpoints. That is, men and women from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds will bring ideas to the organization that would not be available from a homogeneous workforce of white males. Communication theorists found that innovative companies employed more women and people of color than less innovative companies. Innovative companies also worked to establish heterogeneous work teams in order to create a marketplace of ideas, recognizing that a multiplicity of points of view needs to be brought to bear on a problem (Blake, 1991).
To get to its true aptitude, a company must construct a business that treasures individual differences. Their focal point is on generating an all-encompassing workplace where they attach importance to and preserve employees and bring their best service to customers and communities (Cox, 1991). Diversity at any company must be a "company rule" Bringing into line with their consumer base, connecting with their external and internal, and drawing and keeping capable individuals are essential to their success (Sawyer, 1979).
Therefore, as a “company rule,” the company is obligated to being an wide-ranging business where every employee is regarded impartially, distinguished for their uniqueness, promoted based on accomplishment and heartened to reach their full capability (Cox, 1991). The company upholds appreciating, valuing, and acknowledging disproportion among all people. Every individual at a multinational company has a continuing duty to elevate diversity (Sawyer, 1979).
Managing these culturally diverse groups poses communicative challenges, however. The advantages of diversity take time and effort. Specifically, when first formed, diverse groups are inferior to homogeneous groups in both performance and in managing the process of group interaction. However, over time, the diverse groups developed communicative strategies for managing diversity and eventually generated a wider range of alternatives and perspectives on a problem than homogeneous groups. Thus, in order to reap the benefits of diversity, group members should be made aware of their cultural differences and should share core organizational values. The need for heterogeneity, to promote, problem-solving and innovation, must be balanced with the need for organizational coherence and unity of action (Roberts, et al., 1998).
With this reassuring culture, concerned managers and employees view diversity as a challenge and an opportunity rather than as a problem that must be dealt with (Sawyer, 1979). There is the end of ensuring an educated workforce, eliminating discrimination, a bias-free human resources system, and work options that ease the conflict between job and family.
In actual fact, the challenges of managing and working in culturally diverse organizations are only beginning to be realized. There are four main challenges that organizations face as the workplace becomes diverse. The first of these is instituting diversity management programs in ways that avoid negative consequences that have been associated with these programs. The second is circumventing or resolving discrimination. The other two challenges are associated with gender diversity: the challenges of dealing with sexual harassment and organizational romance in the workplace (Blake, 1991).
Affirmative action programs can affect how an individual benefiting from the program views his or her competence, and this self-view of competence can in turn impact work behavior and communication. Second, affirmative actions lead others in the workplace to stigmatize as incompetent individuals can benefit from these programs. Third, individuals who feel they have been unfairly bypassed by affirmative action programs perceive injustice in hiring and promotion procedures (Blake, 1991).
In the corporate setting, it is likely job discrimination that is zeroed in on. It is an unfavorable action brought against a person because of a characteristic unrelated to job performance. Job discrimination is a major aspect of unfairness. Being fair to people means equity, reciprocity, and impartiality. Fairness revolves around the issue of giving people equal rewards for accomplishing equal amounts of work. The goal of human resource legislation is to make decisions about people based on their qualifications and performance; not on the basis of demographic factors such as sex, race, or age. A fair working environment is where performance is the only factor that counts (equity). Employer-employee expectations must be understood and met (reciprocity). Prejudice and bias must be eliminated (impartiality) (Blake, 1991).
Organizational change, technological innovations, and commitment to diversity are some of the factors influencing the management functions of a multinational business (Sawyer, 1979). There is such an immense significance of and accompanying suite of responsibilities for being a multinational corporation composed of culturally diverse employees. Multinational corporations become obliged to handle diversity well in hopes of creating cost advantages over matters of integrating workers with known individual differences (Sawyer, 1979). They also aim to develop a reputation as prospective employers for women and ethnic minorities. After all, those with the best reputations for managing diversity win the competition for the best personnel.
The multinational companies now understand that as the labor pool shrinks and changes composition, this edge will become increasingly important (Sawyer, 1979). For them, the insight and cultural sensitivity that members with roots in other countries bring to the marketing effort improves that effort in important ways. The same rationale applies to marketing in subpopulations within their domestic operations. Such multinational companies simply believe that diversity of perspectives and less emphasis on conformity to norms of the past, which characterize the modern approach to management of diversity, should improve their level of creativity (Blake, 1991).
Lung-Tan Lu and Yuan-Ho Lee (2005), in their book The Effects of Culture on the Management Style and Performance of International Joint Ventures in China: The Perspective of Foreign Parent Firms, International Journal of Management, cited some multinational organizations that developed some sort of a corporate diversity council, which embraces a slice of individuals from across the company. The objective of the assembly is to adapt the principle of what they think the company endorses into strategies that guarantee that the ideal grows to be realized (Sawyer, 1979). The council's strategic plan holds up their supplier diversity priorities, customer rapport, and employee commitment.
Heterogeneity in decision-making and problem-solving groups hence potentially produces better choices through a wider range of perspectives and more critical analysis of issues (Blake, 1991). This way, the multinational corporation's system becomes less determinant, less standardized, and therefore more fluid. This increased fluidity creates greater flexibility to react to environmental changes the multinational company is constantly in front of and will always be if their merger history is any indication (Sawyer, 1979).
Certainly, the management of diversity involves both attitude and action (Blake, 1991). Managers and employees must view diversity as a challenge and an opportunity rather than as a problem that must be dealt with, and must become knowledgeable about the needs and contributions of diverse organizational members. Specific action must also be taken to ensure an educated workforce, the elimination of discrimination, a bias-free human resources system, and work options that ease the conflict between job and family. Managing different national and ethnic cultures requires an adjustment of the organizational culture (Haner, 1973).
In terms of leadership, top management must have a true commitment to diversity, and such must go beyond sloganism and rather include the commitment of human, financial, and technical resources. Employees must receive both awareness and skill-building training. Research should be conducted to identify problem areas in the organizational culture and build appropriate educational. Finally, the culture of the organization must be audited to reveal ways in which diverse members could be hampered by current organizational values (Ireland and Hitt, 1999).
There are a number of opportunities that the any organizations can realize as they move toward the multicultural model. First, as organizations become more diverse, the cost of a poor job in integrating workers will increase. Companies who handle diversity well will create cost advantages over those that do not. Second, Companies develop reputations as prospective employers for women and ethnic minorities. Those with the best reputations for managing diversity will win the competition for the best personnel. As the labor pool shrinks and changes composition, this edge will become increasingly important. Third, for multicultural organizations, the insight and cultural sensitivity that members with roots in other countries bring to the marketing effort should improve that effort in important ways. The same rationale applies to marketing in subpopulations within domestic operations.
Fourth, diversity of perspectives and less emphasis on conformity to norms of the past, which characterize the modern approach to management of diversity, should improve the level of creativity. Fifth, heterogeneity in decision-making and problem-solving groups potentially produces better choices through a wide range of perspectives and more critical analysis of issues. And sixth, an implication of the multicultural model for managing diversity is that the system will become less determinant, less standardized, and therefore more fluid. The increased fluidity should create greater flexibility to react to environmental changes (Cox, 1991).
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