Business and Management
Submitted By thunderangel
Can companies gain competetive advantage from multicultural differences in their workforce ?
As the business world gets ever more connected, it is more critical than ever for global organizations to recruit, develop, and retain multicultural leaders who can navigate the myriad opportunities and challenges their companies face. Multicultural workforce can offer cultural competence or cultural intelligence; this can allow them to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. For example, they may have more than one ethnicity or spent time working abroad, where they likely would have experienced adjusting to a different culture. This can make them more culturally sensitive than a manager who hasn't worked with people from other cultures or regions.
Managing diversity is about recognizing the unique contribution each employee can make to the organization. It is about creating an environment in which everyone feels valued, welcomed, and able to make an important contribution toward the attainment of corporate objectives. Additionally, companies facing challenges in competing global marketplace for market share can use diversity as "competitive advantage" in a multicultural environment with a diverse pool of talented and experienced individuals who can bring innovation and creativity to the organization. Diversity is not only associated to limited attributes that can be observed but also to those invisible characteristics such as differences in educational background, creativity, understanding, learning style, and problem-solving ability. So, organizational performances and processes can be influenced by an individual or a group representing different categories of diversity within a workplace. (van Knippenberg and Schippers, 2007). Diversity is defined as "any dimension that can be used to differentiate groups and people from one another". Hence, diversity affects the organizations effectiveness and performance in terms of competitive. This presumes that performance has a relation with organization's ability to achieve goals with respect to its mission or vision). In other words, performance is deemed as an outcome which is a result of some purposeful activity to achieve competitive advantage as mentioned in mission or vision statements of an organization. As the organization strives to achieve its goals or objectives, conflict may arise within the diverse groups to cope up the challenges of differences among them which keep them from achieving organizational performance. Since, Human Resource Department (HRD) deals primarily with performance of individuals, groups and organization at large to achieve competitive advantage, so diverse workforce demands the attention of HRD scholars and practitioners on the issues that arise in organization. It can be observed in modern trends for companies to use diverse workforce for completing special tasks which help achieve competitive advantage and there is always potential for the occurrence of conflict among such diverse groups which can derail the organization from achieving effectiveness. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of HRD to address such conflicts in advance and use the knowledge of how to build the high performing and productive teams of diverse workforce who can to the overall competitive advantage of organization.
Thankfully there are many laws to protect the rights of many minorities who are usually discriminated against in the workplace. Interestingly, since companies “have to” hire applicants without discriminating, they found that it is actually beneficial to have diversity in the work environment. There are many advantages to having diversity in age, gender, ethnicity, graduation or personality in the workforce.
Age diversity is healthier and more interesting in the workplace. It becomes a learning experience for both young and old age groups. Many young employees learn from the older groups that have been a part of the company longer. Likewise, many older employees learn about the new, fresh ideas from the younger workers. Both age groups tend to balance each other out. While the younger employees tend to be fun and agile, they usually do not have the discipline or the stamina as the older workers, so it is good to have the older workers in the company to help keep the younger guys on point. Young workers are easier to train; therefore, they retain the company’s goals and standards easily. The age groups are different, so they also have different experiences and insights which make it better for the work environment. There may be times when tempers and attitudes can get out of control, so it is important that good managers work closely with the groups to makes sure there is fairness. Even though there may be conflict between the age groups, it needs to be understood that they are both needed in the company and both contribute to the company in their own ways.
In the old days, men were the dominators in the business world. They usually had leadership titles and high paying jobs. On the other hand, the women were expected to be homemakers. There were few women in the workforce, however, their jobs were usually subordinates, in lower level positions, and the pay was minimal. Today, the women are taking over the workforce. There are many companies showing higher levels of gender diversity. Men and women do not share the same approach or ideas, which is beneficial to the company. The differences create a balance with fresh and varied ideas. This is valuable because there is no one way to solve a problem or run a business. There are situations when a woman’s view is more needed than a man’s view, and vice versa. Overall, it is important to look at the individual’s qualities rather than their gender or stereotype.