These days, with strengthen globalization development in the world, people have many opportunities to expand their career path and upgrade advanced working skills. The fact that multicultural diversity in the workplace
Multicultural diversity in the workplace has grown as a trend over the passage of time with the increase of globalization in the world. “Cultural diversity is when differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, and sexual orientation are represented within a community” (Amadeo, 2013). Although the media and contemporary literature embark upon the benefits of multicultural diversity in the workplace, citing enhancements to employees’ competence and creativity, this recognition does not reflect, in actual practice, as strongly as in theory (Al-Jenaibi, 2011, p. 49). Multicultural diversity can affect the workplace in numerous ways and this essay will explain pros and cons of that. Positive effects can include building a sound knowledge base with in-house talent, which can make for smoother integration of the organization into foreign cultures and increasing skillset in workforce. Negative effects can include miscommunication, creation of barriers, and dysfunctional adaptation behaviors.
There are significant advantages that multicultural diversity can bring to organizations. Firstly, it is an increase in skillset and understanding of customer base. With employees from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences comes a greater understanding of customer’s points of views. The more diverse the workforce is the more likely it is that they’ll be able to empathise with individual client’s needs. The more diverse the workforce, the greater the set of skills and competencies the organization will have at its disposal. It’s never a bad thing to increase brand’s ability to cope with an ever changing market or increase innovation and creativity. A greater diversity within the workforce increases the company’s ability to succeed no matter what the future may hold.
Secondly, it increased innovation and creativity. Greater diversity offers different ways of thinking. A broad mix of prior experience and expertise in certain processes encourages employees to discuss and learn from each other. If employees are comfortable speaking with their colleagues and expressing their opinion then collaboration and teamwork thrive. It’s also been shown that more diverse brands have higher levels of morale, which in turn leads to greater productivity and employee satisfaction. As with productivity, different backgrounds, experiences and skills lead to greater innovation and creativity. With a broad range of backgrounds comes an increased level of creative talents and ideas.
Thirdly, it improved employee on-boarding and retention. New employees can be on-boarded and integrated more easily when there are employees they can relate to. Employees who feel comfortable, valued and able to integrate within a business are less likely to seek employment elsewhere. This in turn reduces costly recruitment processes and helps to build expertise and experience within the employee base. Besides, brands that embrace diversity benefit from a larger talent pool than those looking at select groups of potential applicants. This in turn leads to faster and often more cost effective recruitment process.
On the other hand, there are a number of negative effects of multicultural diversity in working environment. The most significant disadvantage of this phenomenon is weak communication effect. Based on Mazur (2010), the differences between the group may leading to the decrease in the level of communication, level of satisfaction and cooperation, while increasing emotional conflicts ( as cite in Mateescu V.M., PhD., 2017). According to Marschan et al.,1997; Feely and Harzing, 2003, the biggest concern of internal crisis communication is language (as cited in Ravazzani, S. 2016). It may be challenge for people to interact with each others, even though they communicate in the common language like English. Lauring and Selmer, 2010; Louhiala- Salminen and Kankaaranta, 2012 pointed out that “Adopting an official corporate language for internal communication does not instantly create a shared language culture or solve communication problems” (as cited in Ravazzani, S. 2016).
The second cons of multicultural is the organizational commitment. Park, J. E.(2016) indicated that employee with the similar distance culture are more likely to long term associate with the organization than others. In terms of personnel, multicultural organizations maybe are not sustainable, mainly because different cultural staffs are more likely to leave the organization than those come from same cultural. From Park, J. E. ‘s (2016) research, the challenging for staff with dissimilar cultures are their cultural perceptions and expectations from working. Compare to individuals experiencing similar cultural values, the opposite one may not easy to identify themselves with company. (Park, J. E., 2016).
Last but not least, “The opposing position states that cultural diversity negatively influences the performance of the group.” (Mateescu V. M., PhD., 2017). From Mazur’s (2010) ‘s viewpoint, “the inefficient performance in organization came from the consumption of energy, time and resources for problem solving, confusion and frustration resulting from a high degree of uncertainty and complexity, difficulty in obtaining an agreement in the decision making process, low level of identification with the group and organizational integration” ( as cite in Mateescu V. M., PhD., 2017). The results of Martin, G. C.’s (2014) research show that “culturally diverse employee suffer various differences such as opinions, thoughts, beliefs, norms, customs, values, trends, and traditions”. This may leading to the number of dissent between the company. “Whatever the cause, the interpersonal conflict results in lost productivity and development of negative emotions among employees, which can be detrimental to the organization” (Martin, G. C, 2014).
The benefits that cultural diversity brings in workplace are often mentioned, including the enhancement of innovation and creativity gained from the differences between cultures and the ‘out of box’ thinking; improved efficiency in decision making and problem solving due to the diversity of perspectives, experiences and cultural backgrounds of the members in a group; the ability to adapt well to change (Cox and Blake, 1991; Kearney et al., 2009; Mazur, 2010) and minimize the impact of the thinking group (Barinaga, 2007). Besides, the differences between cultures also helps to response better to customer’s demands (Gotsis & Korte, 2015: 2-3) and develops loyalty and sense of mutual learning among employees. (GESDIMEP Project, http://explotacion.mtin.gob.es/oberaxe/documentacion_descargaFichero?bibliotecaDatoId= 4051: 7).
On the other hand, cultural diversity could bring demerits for the performance of a group, which based on theories of social identity and self-categorization (Mateescu, 2017; Barinaga, 2007; Mazur, 2010). Collaboration of groups depend mostly on communication level, satisfaction that are negatively resulted from the diversity of the groups. Besides, level of heterogeneity have proportional effect with conflicts, it is shown that in groups in which heterogeneity is medium there are more common than in very different one where conflicts and identifying are appeared as consequence of regular reaction and interactions with out-group members (Mateescu, 2017; Mazur, 2010).
Furthermore, another negative effect of cultural diversity could be over consumption of energy, time and resources for solving issues, confusion, which results from high level of uncertainty and complexity, difficulty in obtaining an agreement in the decision making process, low level of identification with the group and organizational integration leading to low performance (Mateescu, 2017; Mazur, 2010).
In conclusion, the impacts of cultural diversity in the workplace can be both favorable and unfavorable. Some negative effects include dysfunctional conflicts, lost productivity, and difficulty to achieve harmony in group settings. Positive effects include a strong knowledge base created by a variety of cultural experiences, an in-house resource of cultural trainers and informers, and a greater tendency to expand the business in foreign cultures. For the most part, the effects of cultural diversity in the workplace depend upon how well they are being managed by the organizational leaders. With proper strategic planning, top management can enhance the positive effects and reduce the negative effects of cultural diversity in the workplace.
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