Managing and Maintaining Culture Diversity in the Workplace

“If God painted the world without differences in color, his palette would be empty. The painting would be blank.”-Areej K.

What is a world without any differences? Differences and variation is like a painter’s palette with several shades of different colors; some which he squeezed out directly from a tube, and others which he had to mix to make something new and unique. This is diversity!

Cultural diversity is also a form of diversity. It is a result of different people belonging from different countries, religion, race, caste or creed and, therefore, originating from a background of an entirely different culture.

Diversity In The Workplace

With an increase in globalization came an increase in cultural diversity in the workplace. The most successful businesses are now run by exploiting the advantages of the global marketplace. Working with the Chinese for product material and manufacturing, outsourcing call center tasks to India, and then assembling the final product at your home country is a laid out example of conventional supply chain of some of today’s large organizations.

As a result, diversity is far and wide. Not only is it prevailing in large companies, across nations, it also prevails today within even a small workplace. Approximately thirty percent of the U.S. population is composed of Non-White Americans. This is a considerable large amount and the statistics seem to be increasing by the year.

Evidently, you can see a mix of different languages, colors, and ethnicities when you go to work. Clearly, being the superior or manager of the workplace, you need to know how to deal with the diversity and ensure a tolerant and stable environment, guaranteeing high performing employees without differences or disputes.

Differences in Culture That May Exist (as per Geert Hofstede Analysis)

People vary in the way they dress, communicate, or behave in different situation according to their cultures. Examples of a few of these differences include the following:
  • Indians consider it impolite to touch or pat someone on the head.
  • Gifts are not opened in the presence of the giver in India. While American’s consider it rude not to open the gift right away.
  • Pointing to the feet for Indians is rude because feet are dirty. Pointing at all is rude for Japanese people.
  • People from Asian cultures are reluctant to give superiors bad news. While some people in other cultures may consider it necessary to be conveyed immediately.
  • Western cultures are more individualistic and the people prefer to be left alone. Most Asian cultures are collectivist and necessitate social interactions, gift giving, friendliness etc.
  • Evasive refusals are acceptable for Indians. “No” has harsh implications for Indian and Japanese
  • Decision making process for Chinese is slow. They ask for some time. Western cultures may interpret this as a “no.”
  • The gesture of a “V” for victory sign is considered offensive by the British.
  • For more detailed information on Geert Hofstede’s cultural comparison, view the Hofstede centre site.

How to Deal with the Cultural Diversity

1)      Acknowledgment: The first step to handling cultural diversity in the workplace is for you to acknowledge the fact that it exists in the workplace and then allow your employees to acknowledge that fact as well. This can be done through meetings and discussions about the particular subject.
Highlight examples of the variety that exists in the hierarchy and the importance and contributions of all of them as a team. Communicate with them the concept of diversity and differences among cultures that need to be acknowledged.
2)      Acceptance: The second step is to ensure that the workers have not only acknowledged the differences, but also accepted them as well. You can do this by taking regular assessments and reviews by the employees. Ask them to fill out surveys about possible encounters with any form of racial or ethnic discrimination in the workplace. Also, observe each individual’s attitude at the workplace and how they well they work with others.
3)      Amiability: Lastly, you need to make sure that your employees are working together and label themselves as a “unit” of a “team”. You need to encourage amiability while discouraging animosity. Initiate interaction among by encouraging them to work with others from different background. Organizing events, parties, or casual get-togethers would also be a good idea to promoting amiability and understanding among employees.

In conclusion, you must encourage fairness in the workplace and ensure that it takes place. When in doubt, do investigate the situation, and be willing to treat cultural diversity intolerance with strict discipline.

Author Bio: Madeleine Allan is a developer and a writer. She assists students in choosing the right career path. She also provides essay help to students facing problems with their coding assignment. Find her on Facebook.