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The research is aimed at analyzing diversity in the place of work through a case study conducted by Linkage Company. It points out that multinationals have various ways of managing diversity. However, it still maintains that a corporate culture is critical in the management of diversity in every organization. The research accordingly maintains that multinationals should create unique corporate culture to handle the issue of diversity. This argument is based on the results of the case study and other studies evaluated in the literature review. In order to be supportive of this argument, the research introduces diversity and its management, carries out a literature review, evaluates the case study and come up with its conclusion. The research does an evaluation of the methodology of the case study and its outcomes, and then links them to its findings. Upon creating this link, the research comes to the conclusion that corporate culture is a fundamental aspect in diversity management.
Diversity: A Case Study Research
Management of diversity in the workplace is a challenge that many organizations are faced with. Some of the companies do not know how the problem should be handled, while others try using different methods, which often fail to work as expected. According to Mor-Barak (2011), diversity in the place of work is not a transient issue, instead a matter that will stick with multinationals. He points out that homogenous societies do not exist anymore since they have changed to become heterogeneous. Based on background like this, it is ideal that the matter is understood and addressed with the urgency that it needs. Different have various definitions of diversity based on the aspects that they include in those definitions. Some people only put into consideration the aspect of cultural differences while others include age and gender in defining diversity.
This research paper shall define diversity from cultural disparities and perspectives of age and gender.
The research paper accordingly defines diversity as the differences exhibited by employees because of their cultural backgrounds, age and gender. With regards to this, the research paper acknowledges the fact that employees from various cultures portray different kinds of behavior with their peers from different cultural backgrounds. In the same way, employees from a similar age group are quite different from their counterparts from another age group just as it also occurs with gender. Suffice to say that employees show disparities among them because of their different cultural inclinations, age and gender (Lawler & Hundley, 2008).
The increased attention on diversity in the place of work especially among multinational corporations challenges the companies to manage their labor force with the attention that is required by the global workforce. Nonetheless, in the process of diversity management, multinationals have to pay more attention to the traditions and history of their host countries as well as manage that disparity across the various geographical regions. For better understanding and management of diversity, this research paper shall conduct an evaluation of a case study by Linkage Company. The case study entails the influence of national culture on organizational culture of a consumer goods company that operates in more than sixty countries across the globe with its headquarters in Europe. The research will conduct an evaluation on the way in which the company manages diversity among its workers and what the employees think about it.
The latest studies show that it is not possible for a company to ignore the issue of diversity among its workforce and expect to acquire the benefits that it brings forth. They also point out that it is not possible for an organization to enhance its performance unless it handles issues pertaining to diversity among its workers (Weber & Donahue, 2001). Most of these studies argue that employees from diverse backgrounds react and see things from a different point of view, thus, handling diversity among them in a way that can benefit them is imperative.
Researches that investigate the way in which workers react to organizational cues so as to cooperate with their co-workers point out that, employees embrace collectivism instead of individualism. These studies suggest that as companies carryout their businesses, it is important that they develop a common culture among their workers. It can also be said that these studies indicate that organizations should come up with unique corporate cultures to enable them overcome diversity. In such a study, Chatman and Spataro (2005) established that an officer from a financial service company cooperated with his co-workers when the company emphasized on collectivism instead of individualism. In this piece, Chatman and Spataro were conducting an investigation on the way in which demographic disparities impact the reactions of employees towards their organizational cues. Other studies indicate that there is a possibility of improving group performance among employees through widening their skills base and views regarding diversity. Many researches that have been conducted on diversity at the workplace recommend the institution of diversity training programs. Such training programs are aimed at enlightening the workers on the importance of diversity in their places of work. Jayne and Dipboye (2004) argue that quite a number of organizations have so far invested resources on diversity training programs. On the other hand, those organizations that have not been practicing this with their employees pursuing personal interests have not been able to improve on group performance.
Other studies conducted recently on diversity point out that diversity is slowly building into a common feature among companies that operate locally and globally. Those companies that operate locally are faced with challenges in the local market that results from different cultures that are founds in the affected countries (Waldron & Kassing, 2011). Diversity is a common global aspect that is faced by every multinational company. As a result of this, current studies show that diversity is becoming a concern to all organizations regardless of whether they operate locally or across the globe. This gives the suggestion that managers should come up with means and ways of addressing diversity as a main problem in business.
Previous studies indicate that the response of employees to contextual and corporate issues at the place of work is based on the situational factors and the personality of the employee that depends on their cultural inclinations. According to Chatman & Spataro (2005), employees who showed cooperation in their organizations responded to situational beliefs. Others who did not do the same failed to respond to situational norms. This aspect is an illustration on the importance of corporate culture at the workplace. A corporate culture is focused on both situational factors and personal matters that impact diversity.
Other studies address the issue of diversity from the perspective of gender. Such researches are seeking to make sure that companies recruit both male and female workers without any discrimination. In the past, studies have indicated that organizations have exercised discrimination against females for various reasons. This has not been taken lightly by women and impacted the current diversity in the workplace. Some studies point out that diversity must involve gender in its definition in order to be inclusive. They raise the argument that looking at diversity from the viewpoint of culture only limits its scope, hence, some of these studies favor favoritism among women through affirmative action. Some companies have been very keen on this matter and recruiting females without discrimination while others recruit a high number of female employees compared to males. Such moves are considered by researchers as steps towards dealing with past injustices in diversity. Despite all that has been said and done, this move can go a long way in diversifying the workforce in companies that have integrated it.
Those who conducted the study obtained their data from a multinational corporation that specializes in consumer products. The company hat its headquarters in Europe with more than 7, 500 employees in the sixty countries where it operates. Upon the collection of the data, the researchers categorized the responses from the employees in 354 different work groups. From the groups that they formed, the data was analyzed. Those conducting the study measured the perceptions of the employees towards diversity management in their company by using four items discussed herein. The first item asked the workers to give their response to diversity management in their organization by giving an indication on whether their organization appreciates and accepts individualism or not. The second items asked employees to give their responses by indicating whether their company shows discrimination in diversity management or not. The third items was aimed at seeking the response of employees to diversity management in their company by indicating whether the organization has an environment that experiences communication barriers linked to cultural differences or not. The last items that the employees were asked was to give response to diversity management through indicating whether their organization gives equal opportunities to everyone. The researchers also assigned countries values on collectivism and power distance with regards to Hofstede’s study. They applied a technique called hierarchical linear modeling that allowed them to analyze the relationship between data at different levels. They analyzed the relationship of data simultaneously among departments, countries and individuals.
In the first case, the researchers made comparison on the involvement of culture within departments for the first item. It was established that departments with low perception on diversity management performed poorly unlike those that had high perception on diversity management. Those who conducted the study identified department as either high or low based on the responses that they gave in relation to the item. They regarded departments that were in disagreement with the item as having very low involvement in culture, while other departments that were in agreement were regarded as having high involvement. The results indicated that departments that registered high perception on diversity management led the other departments that exhibited low perception on diversity management by almost 51 points. These results were supportive of the relationship between perception on diversity management and cultural involvement. They showed that employees from the culture that had high involvement held the belief that their organization was effectively managing diversity in the workplace. On the other hand, employees who were from the cultures that exhibited low involvement felt that their organization failed in the effective management of diversity in the workplace. The researchers also analyzed the data to establish the impact of national culture on diversity management. The researchers sought to find out if national culture would help in moderating diversity management with involvement cultures. However, the results were not supportive of their hypotheses. The researchers determined that national culture did not have any impact on the perceptions of employees regarding diversity management.
According to studies, organizations can have various methods of managing workplace diversity. They reveal that every organization can adopt its unique way of handling diversity. On the contrary, many studies on diversity suggest that companies benefit whenever they embrace collectivism unlike individualism. Embracing collectivism refers to taking care of the cultures of every employee in the company. It also means taking into account the aspects of gender and ages of workers. With regards to this finding, it is not possible for a company to get the benefits that come with diversity unless it embraces corporate culture. A corporate culture brings together employees in a company. Besides, it also helps them in defining they way in which they are required to address diversity among themselves. Therefore, it can result into cohesion at the workplace thereby, improving the performance of an organization.
Based on this study, it is clear that the definitions of employees on diversity may be slightly different. Some employees as well as their companies argue that legal constraints are responsible for diversity. These workers and organizations attribute diversity to legal hindrances that protect employees with regards to their ages, gender and race. Despite the linking of legal constraints to diversity by these employees and their companies, they seemingly underrate the fact that legal constraints compel companies to exercise equality in their employment practices among all people regardless of their sexes, racial inclination and age. Such equality strategies in some way compromise on diversity based on age, gender and race. Because of this, legal constraints may either support or discourage diversity. On the other hand, affirmative actions are aimed at trying to correct past injustices in employment, thereby promoting diversity in some way (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004). Some studies indicate that diversity programs come in various forms and may include some of the following factors. One of them is the effort of recruiting the underrepresented groups. Secondly, it may also include efforts a8imed at promoting external relationships with underrepresented groups in the company. In doing this, diversity programs in some way try to alter the current composition of employees at their places of work through recruitment, development and retention of the underrepresented groups.
A corporate culture is an instrumental aspect that controls diversity among workers. It helps them in promoting their shared expectations and values regarding diversity. It defines diversity in a holistic manner that helps employees to look at one another from a better point of view. Besides, corporate cultures define the shared goals and vision among employees working in the same company. It removes any form of diversity that may jeopardize the efforts of the employees towards enhancing unity among them. In a culture of diversity, it gives the definition of a common culture for employees working in a company; thereby helping in the management of diversity in the workplace. Findings indicate that a corporate culture for a multinational may be different in various countries. This is because cultures are usually not similar in all countries. Therefore, it would be advisable to develop a corporate culture that is responsive to the communities that are living in the host country. The case study indicated that corporate culture plays a critical role in diversity management. It showed its significance it all the countries that the organization has its operations. It would therefore be wise for multinational companies to emphasize more on their corporate culture instead of national culture.
The changes that have occurred in business in the recent times compel companies to cut down redundancies and internal coordination through persuading employees to collaborate at their workplaces. These organizations recognize the importance of collaboration between employees in their work. Essentially, many organizations have realized the potential that is brought about by diversity. Besides, they have also been able to realize that diversity can at times be challenging and requires proper attention. Chatman and Spataro (2005) argue that the way in which workers exchange information and knowledge amongst themselves enhances their effectiveness in contributing to the performances of their companies. This occurs because the exchange of such information helps in providing distinct competencies that are important for the success of the group.
Certain studies on diversity show that despite the fact that embracing diversity in the workplace has some benefits, positive results from such an act is not guaranteed. Some of these researches make the conclusion that there is no relationship between organizational performance and demographic diversity. There are also some studies indicating that diversity could help in improving performance among groups by giving them broader skill bases and wider ranges of viewpoints. However, these researches point out that cultural diversity can hamper cohesion among groups unless it is dealt with effectively by the management. These studies show the importance of dealing with diversity in the place of work. The rationale behind this kind of argument is that personal backgrounds of workers could impact negative influence on groups (Waldron & Kassing, 2011). Thus, it is important that companies should develop corporate cultures for diversity management.
In order to handle the issue of diversity in the place of work, it is important to first note that diversity is inevitable in every company especially those that operate globally. It would also be of importance to understand that diversity is an important factor in any organization regardless of whether it is run locally or regionally. Thus, for the organization to manage diversity in the place of work effectively, it should do a few things. One of them is initiating mechanisms that would serve as initiatives for employee integration. In a case like this, the company should not highlight the conflicts that it has experienced with regards to diversity in the past. Researchers have portrayed this strategy to have negative impacts on the organizations that have embraced the strategy (Dwyer, Richard & Chadwick, 2003). A company on the other hand, should embrace a process of learning and integration among its workers as a way of motivating them. According to studies, this strategy can positively impact employees since it helps them in embracing diversity management programs quite easily after understanding the rationale behind them.
Secondly, organizations with an interest in diversity management should make sure that their senior managements are committed to this practice. They should find their accountability on this matter. This should occur because senior management teams are tasked with impacting change in their respective companies. If they are not committed and accountable, it would not be possible for companies to manage diversity in the workplace (Hofstede, 1987). Another thing that should also be done is that companies need to articulate the benefits of diversity in their performances. In such a case, they should understand they way in which they are supposed to benefit from embracing diversity. It would be of no benefit for the organizations to embrace without understanding how it would benefit them since they would not be able to fully address it. Nevertheless, beginning with understanding the importance of diversity in the workplace would assist organizations in developing unbiased corporate culture. Such corporate cultures would not be in any way discriminative, thereby promoting performance among the workers (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004).
It would also be appropriate if companies emphasized on the diversity values of all their workers. This means that organizations with interest in promoting and benefiting from diversity should not be focused on one demographic group. For instance, these companies should not be focused on women only. They should also focus their attention on all the demographic groups because emphasizing on just one group would polarize the employees. In fact, it is important for companies to understand the contemporary meaning of diversity that connects it to differences in employees’ traits. In doing so, organizations would value diversity management that brings together the employees (Jayne & Dipboye, 2004).
Companies should also emphasize on solidarity among the departments and teams. This would help in eliminating the tendency of departments and teams in isolating themselves from one another. Emphasizing on solidarity among departments and teams would facilitate integration, and communication among the workers. This would further enhance performance of the company. It is also important that if companies want to deal with diversity challenges, they should conduct an evaluation of the effectiveness of their programs for diversity management. In this case, organizations should identify the various methods that they should use to periodically monitor the progress of their diversity programs (Gerhart & Fang, 2005). For instance, organizations should carryout annual surveys among their employees. These surveys should be aimed at establishing the opinions of employees on diversity management.
Advantages of Diversity
Waldron and Kassing (2011) argue that diversity in the place of work has significant contributions to the organizational improvement in various areas. It enhances access to the process of decision making and balance of power in companies while also reinforcing job satisfaction, organizational commitment and competencies of employees. Besides, initiatives in diversity helps the senior managers to be sensitive to diversity concerns and issues thereby increasing career opportunities among women and other groups that have been discriminated. Diversity also enhances the interpersonal relationships between employees. In such a case, some companies use their corporate website in addressing issues of diversity to its potential employees. They do so by publishing their initiatives and policies regarding this issue.
Diversity in the workplace generally deals with problems that are faced by some social groups in their companies. It addresses these matters at a personal level through the development of a corporate culture that takes care of each culture in the organization. This helps the workers in working towards benefiting from their disparities as opposed to raising conflicts.
Disadvantages of Diversity
Despite the argument that diversity is of importance to organizations that exercise it, it also has certain disadvantages. Many people consider diversity as a hindrance to fairness. The presence of diversity programs may not address the concerns of the employees with regards to fairness. For instance, employees may challenge certain recruitment practices used in addressing diversity and argue that they are not fair. Studies that assess the use of diversity efforts in recruitment indicate that a significant percentage of employees question the diversity mechanisms of their organizations (Waldron & Kassing, 2011). Besides, employees may categorize each other unfairly based on the diversity mechanisms applied during their recruitment. When employees pursue this avenue, they may be discriminative.
Diversity practices suggest that the initiation of diversity initiatives is a critical stage in handling diversity at workplace. They point out that this step helps in passing on of information about the objectives of the company for the development and management of diversity issues. In order to manage diversity in the workplace, the management team should take certain steps. One of these is developing a diversity scorecard that outlines the way in which the diversity program should be rolled out. The pother step is that it should draw the bottom line that links diversity with corporate performance. The company should also undertake the integration of diversity program with the business strategic plans of the company. It should also undertake periodic measurement of its diversity programs. This paper will outline tow methods of implementing diversity programs in a company.
The first method begins by defining the intended change. This occurs when the management team of a company launches its strategy for implementing change. This stage requires the management team to investigate the issue of diversity and determine its relevant issues. The management puts into consideration, the community that surrounds the company when defining diversity. If the company is a multinational, the management looks at the cultural background of employees that is likely to employ in the countries that it is going to be operating in. The management should then make a decision on whether its organization policies should be represented in the host countries. The second step in this method is the discovery of the needs if employees. In order to find out the employees’ needs, the management should assess their needs. At this stage, the management is also required to set its priorities and plans both short and long term.
The third stage should involve discussion. The management team should hold discussions about the program with all the stakeholders who are affected in one way or another by the strategy. The last stage entails the development of the change program. The management team should come up with an overall framework that creates goals, actions and vision. However, the team should consider various factors before implementing the diversity program. Besides, the management is also required to make sure that its initiatives cut across the system, linking to its explicit vision and mission, and then communicating them to the workers.
The second method can be done in three stages. The first one involves the communication of the strategy to concerned stakeholders. This is the most important in this method. It requires the management to communicate the values of diversity to all the company employees and make sure that they understand the information passed. Besides, the management should also make sure that employees have the best understanding of the programs and policies of the organization (Hofstede, 1987). Diversity training is the second stage in this method. It entails the organizing of training programs by the management team. At this stage, the employees should be trained on the necessary steps towards the promotion of diversity. The last stage involves accommodating employees from various backgrounds, which can be achieved by flexible work arrangements.
The research has found out that diversity is an inevitable factor in business since societies have developed into heterogeneous communities. It has also established that organizations should appropriately manage diversity for their own benefit. Going by these findings, the study gives the following recommendations:
1. Companies should develop corporate culture as a means of diversity management at the workplace.
2. Organizations that have not experienced the benefits of diversity should begin initiating diversity programs in their operations.
The researchers in the case study established that employees perceived departments with strong culture of involvement as effective in diversity management at the place of work. This view was independent of the countries of origin of the employees. Going by the results highlighted above, the study comes to following conclusions:
First, it would be of importance to consider involvement culture in managing workplace diversity. The study established that having a corporate culture that promoted the participation of employees helped in workplace diversity management. Such a corporate culture went a long way in helping employees to create a sense of responsibility and ownership in the organization, thereby managing diversity effectively.
Second, a corporate culture helps in enhancing the benefits of workplace diversity. The research pointed out that corporate culture directly impacts the performance of organizations. A corporate culture enables workers to develop a common working ground that they are able to relate with, thereby empowering them to work hard.
Third, a corporate culture that is in existence as an organizational culture is more important compared to national culture. The study shows that a national culture does not manage diversity in the place of work as compared to organizational culture. The findings of the study are in coherence with the research outcomes of Gerhart and Fang’s 2005 study that suggests that corporate culture plays a critical role in shaping the perceptions of employees on workplace diversity. Thus, this research concludes that corporate culture is important in the management of workplace diversity.
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