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Cultural Diversity Management in the Workplace Essay


Introduction

There is a great diversity in the field of culture. Culture covers aspects like race, gender, language, values and beliefs and is developed from a combination of individual uniqueness and organizational or environment characteristics. Different people and communities have different cultural values and beliefs in regard to daily life.

It is usually a hard task to understand and accept different cultures and people find themselves perceiving their own cultures as the best compared to the other cultures and in most cases tend to treat communities with different cultures negatively.

People find themselves discriminating others on the grounds of religion, ethnicity, language, physical location, nationality, sexual relations, and educational background among others. Cultural diversity has become a key issue of management especially in the hospitality industry and has been associated with a lot of challenges.

For this reason, there is a need to develop strategies that help in the management of the cultural diversity especially in the workplaces so as to avoid negative performance but rather to make the cultural diversity an opportunity/ cultural competency (Wetherell 2008).

This piece of paper gives a comprehensive discussion in regard to the aspect of management of cultural diversity within the work place in the service sector with much emphasis being given to how the hospitality industry carries out its activities and practices in an effort to manage cultural diversity in the field.

Hospitality industry and cultural diversity

Hospitality entails the relationship between individuals in a given setting for instance the reception accorded to visitors by the host. Hospitality industry is a very broad element that includes various fields in the service industry for example tourism, communication, transportation, event planning and organization, restaurants and lodging and theme parks among other fields and others are still emerging.

Hospitality industry is one of the economy’s sectors that have recognized the role and significance of cultural diversity in the work force especially in enhancing growth and competitiveness in organizations. This move has been fueled by the fact that hospitality industry entails work industries that deal with foreign individuals for example restaurants and hotels making it to be considered as a global industry.

Most of the employees/staff as well as the clients in the hospitality sector come from different nations and they therefore have some cultural differences. This has made it necessary for leaders and managers to accept this issue and take it as an opportunity no matter the cost that may be involved (Cornelius 2002).

According to Brotherton (2003), a diverse workforce in terms of cultural difference has been an essential element in the hospitality industry. The industry has put a lot of efforts to manage cultural diversity since it relies on it to a great extent.

However, there have been contentious issues associated with cultural diversity for instance the maintenance of fairness among employees, ways of ensuring that every member contributes to the best limit and more so to ensure that the diverse workforce work together to achieve common goals of an organization. Hospitality industry has grown global with the expansion of international hospitality being in the rise.

This has led to growth of immigrant labor and minority employees have ventured into the industry’s workforce. This necessitates that the hospitality industry take strategic actions to deal with the changing trend to ensure that the challenge does not affect the industry negatively.

Being a service industry that mostly deals with foreign relations, hospitality industry is mostly touched by the aspect of cultural diversity as compared to other sectors of the economy and hence the growing concern (Dowling and Welch 2008).

A practical example of cultural diversity challenge that is faced in the hospitality industry is communication barrier. As stated earlier the hospitality industry has grown global and various organizations are establishing branches in different parts of the world.

Last year, MNC Ltd which is a tourism industry had an idea of establishing a branch in another country as the investment returns made from the previous financial year were interesting and it was thought that an expansion would be a great idea that would ensure that the growth moves to greater heights.

To establish the branch, some management personnel from the headquarters had to survey the region and have some initial opening plans. The major challenge the management body faced is language barrier due to the difference in nationality between them and the people in the nation they intended to establish the branch.

This shows the extent to which cultural diversity; communication barrier in particular, is a challenge that should be dealt with. Some of the ways through which the industry deal with these issues is establishment and implementation of training programs that teach on various languages.

Cultural diversity is an aspect that affects every individual in an organization including the CEOs and the management. Most of the challenges have however been tackled in the hospitality industry as discussed later in this essay.

Managing cultural diversity in the work place

Schneider and Barsoux (2003) assert that work place diversity involves how people perceive themselves and how they view others. Cultural diversity affects people in various ways both personally as well as professionally. This is because people tend to affiliate themselves to groupings based on cultural commonality and hence a problem faced by a single person tend to be felt by all.

Management of cultural diversity in the work place entails setting up policies and strategies that deal with issues of cultural diversity in a healthy manner to ensure that no party is affected negatively but rather the positive attributes are taken in and the negative ones dealt with in an affective manner.

Cultural diversity management is a hectic and long term process that entails taking a lot of considerations for instance looking at an organization’s current culture and values, taking the positive ones and making necessary adjustments to those attributes that may in one way or the other limit cultural diversity in the present time as well as in the future (Anca and Vazquez 2007).

Management of cultural diversity also involves recruitment of employees based on the desired qualifications and experience and the contribution they can make in an organization irrespective of cultural backgrounds rather than basing the selection and recruitment process on cultural homogeneity.

To understand the management of cultural diversity in the hospitality industry, the following areas are discussed, the reasons for managing cultural diversity in the work place, the benefits of managing cultural diversity in the work place, the challenges faced in managing workplace cultural diversity and the recommendations in managing workplace cultural diversity (Warner and Joynt, 2002).

Reasons for managing cultural diversity in the work place

Management of cultural diversity in the workplace has been considered to be a major aspect in any organization especially those in the service industry, if success is to be achieved.

It is a process that involves the recognition, acceptance, respect and capitalization on the diversity of people in the society in regard to aspects such as ethnicity, age, personality, tenure, gender, education background, race, cognitive style and religion among others.

It entails seeking a deeper understanding on the different values, personalities and beliefs that could affect people’s interaction with each other. It advocates concepts such as multicultural competency which is a discipline that tries to counter the cultural differences issues by teaching on the spirit of appreciating other cultures irrespective of the differences that prevail (Holden 2002).

Different management styles are adopted in organizations in the hospitality industry to ensure that the cultural differences that prevail among the working force as well as the society at large are turned into opportunities to improve an organization’s competitive advantage making it to secure a better position in the competitive market place.

With the advent of technology and globalization, the world is growing smaller as days go by and people from various regions in the world come together and interact with one another. The aspects that bring people together include education, marriage as well as job opportunities like in different fields in the hospitality industry (Go and Pine 1995).

Workplaces have therefore had to have a mixed composition in terms of the cultural differences thus necessitating an extra effort to be taken so as to understand diverse individuals and hence ease interaction and cooperation aimed at encouraging good performance which will in turn ensure that profitability and productivity are kept to the highest level possible (Kirton and Greene 2000).

Benefits of managing cultural diversity in the work place

Although cultural diversity has for a long period of time been considered to be a hindrance to success in organizations, it is associated with a lot of benefits which would improve the performance of an organization. However, it requires proper management in order to identify the cultural differences, embrace them and capitalize on them (Leitner, 2008).

Some of the benefits of cultural diversity in the work place that the hospitality industry has been able to enjoy include increased adaptability. This can be seen in dealing with problems in the workplace where different ideas and opinions are raised and hence an appropriate solution is reached at.

Employees with different cultural backgrounds have got varying experiences that could find appropriate application in different situations making problem solving an easy task. Another benefit is that of broad service range. This is made possible by the availability of a diverse pool of skills and talents which allows an organization to provide services to clientele on a global basis.

This plays a great role in the expansion of an organization especially those in the service industry and hospitality industry in particular such as tourism since the different kinds of clients are served adequately allowing for satisfaction. Aspects like language barrier should be dealt with properly.

Cultural diversity within the workforce also allows for effective execution of processes, in that, an organization that advocate for diversity promotes hard work where each individual is inspired to put adequate efforts and perform well. The combined efforts lead to increased productivity and profitability.

In general, cultural diversity in the hospitality industry has been associated with benefits like innovation, effective knowledge transfer, enhanced organizational image brought about by involvement of the minority (as employees and clients) and also increase competitiveness.

Challenges in managing workplace cultural diversity

Although cultural diversity has now been regarded as a benefit in organizations in the hospitality industry, it is also associated with some challenges which necessitate proper management to ensure that they do not affect the performance of a given organization negatively. Some of the challenges faced in the management of cultural diversity in the workplace include communication.

Cultural diversity is linked with language barrier which should be dealt with to allow for effective communication since lack of proper communication may cause problems for instance where the key goals and objectives of an organization are not well understood.

This in turn affects proper interaction which affects teamwork and morale among the employees. Hospitality industry has been able to reduce this issue through implementation of training programs on various languages to bridge the language barrier (Reynolds and Valentine 2004).

Discrimination is also a challenge linked with cultural diversity where people in the workforce tend to affiliate with those with whom they share some cultural commonality making success a challenge as it requires cooperation. People in the hospitality industry are urged to appreciate one another and avoid any form of discrimination.

Resistance to change is another challenge associated with cultural diversity in the workplace. Some employees may not be willing to change their ways of doing things even with changes in the society as they tend to lean on their cultural backgrounds so much that they are not ready to accept changes no matter how positive they may seem to be.

The changes could be in regard to how they treat their bosses or leaders, embracing technology among other basic organizational issues. This hinders growth and progress in an organization and should be dealt with appropriately. This has been dealt with through emphasizing on the benefits of change (Andall 2003).

Another key challenge associated with cultural diversity within the workplace in the hospitality industry is the need to manage the diversity. This is because it requires extra efforts rather than just training for instance the establishment and implementation of a strategy that allows for creation of a culture of diversity acceptable to all the parties involved.

This allows smooth functioning of the organization through understanding of one another. Implementation of diversity in the workplace policies is also a challenge that has been faced by organizations in different parts of the world especially those in the service industry. It requires that an effective customized strategy be put in place to take full advantage of the effects of diversity in the workplace (Deresky 2002).

The five dimensions module of culture

The issue of cultural diversity has been disturbing to an extent that various modules and theories have been put forth to help in the understanding of the issue in an effort to solve problems associated with cultural diversity especially in the workplace.

The five dimension module is an example. It is a module by Geert Hofstede giving an insight on cultural differences. The five dimensions are; power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism Vs collectivism, masculinity Vs femininity and time orientation.

Power distance entails the distribution of power in a given organization in terms of equality or inequality. Power distribution depends on both leaders and the followers since it requires that certain aspects are accepted for them to take effect.

A low power distance culture advocates for autonomy while a high power distance culture advocates for bureaucracy. Uncertainty avoidance entails peoples’ reaction to situations surrounded by uncertainty, which is based on how culture programs the people to act in various situations.

A high uncertainty culture enhance coping to different situations as opposed to a low level uncertainty culture. Individualism versus collectivism refers to the degree to which people base their actions, whether on personal interest or group interest.

Masculinity Vs femininity on the other hand entails the distribution of roles based on gender. Most societies/ cultures value men than women in workplaces. A masculine culture focuses on position while a feminine culture focuses on quality of life and human relations.

Time orientation dimension entails how societies perceive long-term commitments and traditional attributes. Long-term commitments and traditions hamper organizational change while short-term commitments and traditions facilitate change in an institution (ITIM international, 2009).

This module helps in the understanding of the factors that influence individuals’ behavior in the workplace and the society at large.

Recommendations in managing workplace cultural diversity

Management of cultural diversity within the workforce is not an easy task. It requires that appropriate management strategies and tools are established and implemented for instance effective training and monitoring of programs that allow for incorporation of the different cultural values and beliefs to attain a positive result.

There should be adoption of strategies such as research which will allow gathering of adequate information necessary for handling cultural diversity issues and creation of awareness among the employees on the various aspects linked with cultural diversity for instance prejudices and language.

The human resource and management body in any given organization should effectively deal with issues like communication and adaptability to ensure that there is a smooth running of all the activities and practices (Marx 1999).

Some of the possible solutions in dealing with cultural diversity in the hospitality industry include involvement of all employees in the process of formulating and implementing diversity initiatives or policies in the workplace. This will create a sense of attachment where every individual will feel well represented with what is going on in the organization (Constantine and Derald 2005).

Openness should also be encouraged among all the people involved in an organization such that people are free to express their opinions and ideas which will in turn create a sense of equal opportunity and value to all individuals (Lewis 1999).

To ensure that cultural diversity remains beneficial to an organization, diversity training should be emphasized since it helps in determining the diversity policy to be utilized in a given organization. Diversity should also be promoted when it comes to leadership where the cultural diverse individuals should be given leadership positions.

This will act as a way of bringing out the advantages of diversity in the workplace as the efforts of all the people involved will be seen through their leadership activities and what they are able to achieve.

Monitoring of the activities and practices in an organization is also advisable to ensure that progress is measured and the results attained are used as a tool to implement necessary changes to ensure that diversity remains to be a positive attribute in an organization under all circumstances.

There should also be increased awareness of cultural diversity, adoption of an effective employees relationship management program and establishment of means of overcoming stereotypes and allow for justice and fairness among other strategies (Jeannet 2000).

Conclusion

It is evident that the issue if cultural diversity in the work place is a key issue that has raised a lot of concern among individuals and organizations involved. It is a concept that has been associated with both positive and negative contribution in any given organization and the task is left for organizations and various stakeholders to appreciate it.

Cultural diversity can however be totally beneficial to an organization if only the cultural differences are managed effectively. This can be achieved through taking it as an advantage where the different talents and skilled possessed by the people from different cultural backgrounds could be taken to strengthen a particular organization.

The negative aspects of the cultural differences should also be dealt with in an appropriate manner to ensure that it does not affect any party negatively, an aspect that could affect performance of the individuals, the organization and the overall industry negatively.

Cultural diversity have been appreciated and taken as a strong point in a majority of organizations in the hospitality industry especially in the United States of America. However various challenges are still there for instance overcoming communication barriers, stereotypes as well as discriminative behaviors among employees and better strategies and measures should therefore be adapted.

Reference List

Anca, D.C., & Vazquez, A., 2007, Managing Diversity in the Global Organization. New York: Palgrave: Macmillan

Andall, J., 2003, Gender and Ethnicity in Contemporary Europe. Oxford: Berg

Brotherton, B., 2003, International Hospitality Industry. 5th Ed, Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann

Constantine, G. M., & Derald, S.W., 2005, Strategies for building multicultural competence in mental health and educational settings. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Cornelius, N., 2002, Building Workplace Equality. Ethics, Diversity and Inclusion. London: Thomson

Deresky, H., 2002, International Management. Managing across Borders and Cultures. London: Prentice Hall

Dowling, P.J., & Welch, D.E., 2008, International Human Resources Management: Managing People in a Multinational Context. 5th ed. London: Thomas Learning.

Go, F.M., & Pine, R., 1995, Globalization Strategy in the Hotel Industry, London: Routledge

Healey, F., 2008, Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Class: The Sociology of Group Conflict and Change. New York: Sage Publications.

Holbeche, L., 1999, Aligning Human Resources and Business Strategy, Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann

Holden, N. J., 2002, Cross-Cultural Management. A Knowledge Management Perspective, London: Prentice Hall

ITIM international. (2009). “Geert Hofstede Cultural dimensions”. Retrieved from Geert Hofstede personal website; Available at; <>

Jeannet, J.P., 2000, Managing with a Global Mindset, London: Prentice Hall

Kirton, G., & Greene, A., 2000, The Dynamics of Managing Diversity, Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann

Leitner, K., 2008. Cultural diversity: Making staff differences work. NZ Business, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 16-17

Lewis, R. D., 1999, When Cultures Collide – Managing Successfully Across Cultures. London, UK: Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Marx, E., 1999, Breaking Through Culture Shock. London, UK: Nicholas Brealey Publishing

Reynolds, S., & Valentine, D., 2004), Guide to Cross-Cultural Communication. 2nd ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Schneider; S.C., & Barsoux, J., 2003, Managing Across Cultures, London: Prentice Hall

Warner, M., & Joynt, P., 2002, Managing across Cultures: Issues and Perspectives, 2nd Ed, London: Thomson Learning

Wetherell, M., 2008, Identity, Ethnicity, Diversity and Community Cohesion. New York: Sage Publications

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