The embracing of cultural diversity in a company can be the source of many benefits.In a business context, diversity is approached as a strategy for improving and increasing consumer confidence,employee relations, innovation and retention, customer relations, reduced litigation and advantages when entering new markets.The decision to develop a strategy for cultural awareness and acceptance should be driven by corporate values (one of which is respect for the individual), legal requirements and the business case. Company’s thinking on cultural diversity should not develop in a vacuum. It is a long-held view that by valuing diversity,new perspectives are uncovered,different knowledge and experiences are tapped and innovative ideas,suggestions and methods are generated.In a global and diverse marketplace, a company whose makeup mirrors the makeup of the marketplace it serves is better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company whose makeup is homogenous.
Establishing that cultural diversity makes good business sense is essential in obtaining the support of employees. Ironically, it also reduces the need for a large budget to put diversity training programs in place. Once employees understand the rationale for the program ,they will begin viewing it as an investment in good commercial practice,and can contribute resources in time and incidentals.There is a need for professional development and the following points may be considered:
1)Employees and management can be trained to understand the cultural bias of each team member and their impact on mutual perceptions.
2)Why certain behaviours and communication styles fail in some cultures.
3) Identifying approaches to address cultural gaps that could lead to misunderstandings.
4)Handling issues about team decision-making, giving or receiving feedback and conflict resolution.
The courses must cater to individual managers or members of an established multicultural team and should be designed to heighten the awareness of each person’s own cultural biases and increase their sensitivity to other cultures. It can be a powerful team-building exercise for multicultural teams to transcend cultural differences and become a high-performing team.Each program must be able to link directly to the organisation’s stated core values.It is better to pilot each program before rolling out, as small steps and success builds momentum.
The compensation and incentive program must protect the interest of the organisation and employees. They should be able to maintain their standard of living, hence the compensation must meet the cost of living and also offer some protection against exchange rate fluctuations(in case of expatriate employees).Identify the high achievers within the team, both senior management and employees and roll out an incentive plan.Incentives could be in the form of cash reward,team outing,company sponsored trips and recognition etc.It will motivate others as well to perform to the best of their abilities. Promoting healthy competition also acts as a motivator.Proper training,monitoring,mentoring and feedback may assist in stabilizing the workforce.
Q:How far should a person accommodate the culture of another?
Ans:Everyone in business today needs to better understand other cultures, as well as other age groups, gender groups, and lifestyle groups. We also need to be acutely aware of possible offenses against others, especially people we work with. There are many issues that can create misunderstandings, including racial, cultural, sexual, physical, mental, and verbal issues. To be totally effective and avoid unintentional offense we need to understand the effects of perception, cultural background, discrimination, and prejudice.
Diversity makes us more aware of the ways we can offend others; helps us recognize our blind spots; provide ways to avoid verbal, social, and written mistakes; learn how to talk about our differences and similarities; and give new ways to deal with and relate to people.
Ques:When is compromise appropriate?
Ans:In today’s age of globalization, modern organizations face a skills quandary. On one hand, their workforce is ageing and skilled workers are in increasingly short supply, while the demands of clients driven by globalisation and advanced technology are becoming more complex. So any organisation that fails to maximise opportunities for all employees will fall into a talent gap and miss business opportunities.Hence, a compromise is appropriate for the continued success of the business
Ques:What happens when it becomes very costly to accommodate the culture of another?
Ans:Its better to prepare a budget and calculate the expenses(approx)beforehand,however if it still becomes costly to accomodate the culture of another it is better to quit rather than incur huge expenditure with low profit margin, demotivating and demoralising the employees.
Ques:Who has the final decision when there is an impasse?
Ans: The company’s top management has the final decision in an impasse.In case of aggrevated situation the political leadership of both the countries,the human rights commission can also intervene.
Ques: Who should accommodate more, the “host” or the “guest”?
Ans: Host should be more forthcoming as he is in a favourable environment,his company,staff,country are present to support him.On the other hand, the guest is in an alien land away from his family,familiar surroundings and hence he may suffer a culture shock,feel threatened and lost.He needs emotional and phycological support.Proper employee orientation can alleviate the negative impact of culture shock.The host must take the initiative to make the guest feel comfortable and at home. Ideally, both the host and the guest should accomodate equally for the success of the business