Personal Culture and Stereotyping in the Corporate Setting
The frameworks of culture are essential in understanding the functions of societies and communities. As we have learned during this class, the structure of culture can be identified by its ideologies, practices, institutions, rules, and values. It becomes significant and almost immeasurable, at least in the sense of its influence on other components of life within a select society. Because elements of a cultural framework operate in the background of an individual’s behaviors, values, and other factors of identity, the depth to which they alter decision-making cannot be concretely measured. Despite this, the relationship between cultural frameworks and aspects of society, such as constitutional rules, social standards, and leadership, is quite clear. Within the modern, especially the corporate world, cultural frameworks can manifest as a personal culture. This form of identity can be defined by elements such as unique traits, personality, and skills that exist or are shaped by a person’s familial, ethnic, or racial setting. As many settings, such as universities, companies, organizations, and collectives, become more diverse in terms of personal culture, the topic of cultural frameworks and leadership becomes more prevalent.
We have learned that personal culture is not the only influential factor within the organizational politics of groups, firms, or other collectives. National culture is another prominent element defined as common beliefs, values, and practices that emerge from the heritage of a country. Corporate values, which can be found within companies and in any large-scale organization such as an educational facility, rely on the institutions to define their ideologies, visions, and values. In my first discovery of these many influences of culture, it became difficult to see how they could co-exist and function, especially when certain institutions may contradict values that are more inherent to certain individuals. However, the harmonious existence of these different cultures and elements is possible and likely to be observed and maintained by a leader that understands them. As such, effective leadership that prioritizes multiculturalism can be identified through the ways in which they can interpret the varied and sometimes even colliding cultures. Often, personal culture can be ignored in order to better comply with corporate and national values, but this is not a final solution. As such, efficient leadership provides that individuals with varied personal cultures are able to co-exist and function together in a setting driven by unified ambitions.
I personally have not ever managed a cultural team so diverse that contradicting values became an issue, and it is a situation that is likely in large-scale collectives. Due to this issue, I began to reflect and consider ways in which such conflicts can be met or even completely avoided with prior intervention. I personally believe that the core of disputes due to personal cultures can arise from a leadership that is culturally uniform. Initially, it is essential that leadership is diverse, with leaders coming from varied backgrounds and inherently possessing diverse interests. Though it is impossible for there to be enough leaders to represent all the personal cultures that exist in a corporation, and much less the world, a completely homogeneous leadership pool is totally ineffective. This may be due to the fact that leaders would never be challenged in their personal culture and would not consider observing the values and interests of others. Additionally, leaders should be informed concerning cultural, ethnic, and racial identity models, as each possesses its own qualities and issues.
In my personal experience, I have not met overt racism or stereotyping in my daily life or within a company structure. However, the issue of stereotyping is one that is inherent in the corporate world, from the hiring process to the allocation of organizational resources and promotions. Racial, gender, and unconscious bias often work to create perceptions of individuals upon a first meeting, with us often becoming more inclined to have positive emotions with people that share our ideals, backgrounds, or even looks. While unconscious bias exists as a defensive mechanism that is natural and our draw to individuals like us is not inherently negative, it becomes a problem within a setting in which those with positions of power share identical backgrounds, ethnic qualities, and personal cultures.
Stereotyping makes room for racism and systemic disqualifications of individuals who do not meet certain requirements regarding personal culture. The main proponent of the issue arises in the fact that leaders can make wrongful assumptions due to stereotyping and assign individual qualities that have nothing to do with their appearance, speech, cultural background, or even behavior. This is often seen when individuals that are dressed more professionally are deemed more work-ready than those in casual dress, while there is no rational reason to believe so (Zelevansky, 2019). It is impossible to completely remove unconscious bias from one’s own perception of others, but the current core issue that arises from stereotyping occurs due to the obstacles posed by leaders that are unable to see outside their personal culture.
Zelevansky, N. (2019). The big business of unconscious bias. The New York Times. Web.