Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues in the Global Workplace
If there is one thing that we as human beings should be able to accept are our differences. Everybody brings something different to the table and we should accept that instead of offering ridicule. We may have some things in common but when it comes to our differences, the diversity and gap between them may make it very difficult to come up with a consensus, unless, of course after a deliberate effort to address the differences. This has become an issue in areas of work that contains employees with different cultures, which may be advantageous in its own way but at the same time very disadvantageous in different ways. Hence, this paper focuses on how diversity and cross-cultural issues affect the workplace and how the differences can be addressed.
In order for one to enjoy success in any business institute or any other organization, communication must be the top most factor to be considered. “The quality of communication is a key concern in cross cultural team”. (Team Building Home, 2009) This way an understanding is brewed among the people. With the increase in diversity and cultural issues communication might be an issue. People have different ways of communicating with each other and in order for them to understand each other then they must be willing to learn from the other. This is also seen in areas of interaction between the young people and the old. The young generation love communicating with each other through ‘slang’ which may prove to be a problem when addressing the adults. Due to this factor misunderstanding is likely to occur since the initial message was misinterpreted.
Since we all come from different cultures sometimes the communication barrier in an office may be due to lack of understanding of the same language. English is the language commonly used in a working environment but sometimes some people who have not mastered the language well may have some difficulties communicating with the rest. At times the rest might have trouble understanding what he/she might have to say because the conveying of the message to them is difficult thus misinterpretation and the objective goal is missed.
Most organizations opt to group their employees into teams hoping that this way they will be able to work better through the sharing of ideas. Working as a team will require a lot of effort from every member so as to succeed. Some people in the team may not be comfortable with sharing their ideas with the rest and may tend to try to work alone. Those contributing ideas to the team may all have a different point of view on how to go about the issue at hand. Since a lot of people are not able to accept the ways of others, hence a lot of argument is likely to take place and less work is done.
While a lot of companies find cross-cultural issues in the work place a problem, there are a few that find it healthy and do nothing to discourage it. Since we find it hard to accept the ways of other people we tend to compete against them to prove to them and to ourselves that we are better. “Social responsibility goals of organizations is the only one area that benefits from the management of diversity”(Cox & Blake, 1991). The competition might work out sometimes since everyone is trying to outdo the other in a positive way but the pressure that comes with competition may prove to be too much to others. With this instead of doing any good to the company it might make it a whole lot worse. Hence, encouraging competition in a company is very healthy but using diversities as a catalyst is very risky.
Working in a place where you spend a lot of time arguing other than working can be very frustrating. Some people may try to be dominant and control things even though they are on the same level as the rest. This will make some people feel uncomfortable or even tend to hate him/her. Uncomfortable conditions in a work place do not produce any good results rather a lot of time is wasted and there is usually no development made. Instead we should all embrace the roles that we play and do our best to make them succeed, which we rarely do because of the pride we harbor as human beings.
In every workplace they are expected to have people of different cultures since no company can possibly hire people with the same cultural values only as it would be absurd(Imbun, 2000). Everyone is expected to behave differently and their behaviors reflect their cultural backgrounds. When it comes to the issue of morality everyone has their different values and limits. What one may consider to be perfectly moral may be pretty much insulting to another colleague. An example of this would be, if your employer is Muslim, one may find nothing wrong with wearing short clothes but in his eyes you may seem very indecent since they believe that women should be covered from head to toe and this may cloud hid judgment of you.
Some individuals actually put their cultural values first before anything. A case like this would be in a situation where an employer may opt to give a promotion to another person regardless of the fact that they don’t deserve it just because he/she believes that because you are young you cannot get the promotion before an older person. Some employees may even think that they deserve to have authority just because they are much older than the rest of the employees. This may seriously strain the relationship between the workers.
Despite the fact that we are still evolving some cultures still have gender related issues. They think that women should not compete with men and when a woman tries to compete for a particular position she might be seen as aggressive and disrespectful. These types of cultural issues just bring about feelings of hatred in the work place which is very risky. As performance from even the employees will just deteriorate because she is not happy with the place where she is working.
Cross-cultural issues may have great influence on people when it comes to the topic of trust. It is the nature of human beings not to be automatically trusting because trust is earned and not just handed to someone. Therefore, in a work place employees do not naturally trust each other unless the have the same point of view in a lot of things. Trust is very important to the employees because they learn to depend on each other thus initiating team-work. “From the standpoint of organizational research, group interactions between ethno-cultural is an important dimension of organizational culture and human relations”(Remennick, 2004).When there is a trust foundation in the workplace the company is bound to grow as the employees are growing as well in their own ways.
In general, cultures are rooted deeply in people and we do not expect them to abandon them since they give one a sense of belonging and it is also their background. Instead people should learn to accept others the way they are and be open minded, this way they can also learn. One should also learn to relate in others in a way that he/she will be easy to work with.
Cox, T., Stacy, B. (1991). Managing cultural diversity: Implications for organizational competitiveness. 5. Web.
Imbun, B, Y. (2000). Attitudes and perceptions in a multicultural environment: The workers at Porgera Mine. Web.
Remennick, L. (2004). Work relations between immigrants and old-timers in Israeli organization: Social interactions and inter-group attitudes, 45. Web.
Team Building Home. (2009). Issues in cross cultural teams. Web.