Managerial Communication: Cultural Diversity

Introduction

Cultural diversity refers to the various varieties of global human societies. The term can also be used to refer to the various cultures that may exist in a specific region. The general term that is commonly used to refer to societies that have mixed cultures is multiculturalism. Cultural differences between individuals are exhibited in various forms such as dress code, eating habits, traditions, language, beliefs, norms among others. In the 21st century most societies have migrated to other regions and most global societies today are multicultural. The survival of the human race today, therefore, depends greatly on how these cultures interact (Cox 1991, pp31). It has become a matter of importance for societies to recognize and appreciate the presence of different cultures within us. Today, cultural diversity has become a major force driving most economies towards development. It is also an important aspect that affects the intellectual, moral, emotional and spiritual life of the individuals living within us. In major economies such a the United States, society has slowly transformed to be multicultural and the business world today has to adhere and reciprocate to the change in order to be able to satisfy the society.

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Summary

Cultural diversity is a crucial factor within societies, it is important to analyze how it affects the workplace and why the managerial teams need to recognize and appreciate its role in business today. As societies are changing today, the companies are also becoming more and more diverse and this factors the subject of cultural diversity. Most companies today have a workforce that is comprised of individuals from different cultures and it is, therefore, important to invest in managers who are capable of effectively handling such a workforce. The individuals will originate from different backgrounds, races, religions amongst other cultural factors and the management will need to capture a good understanding of their personalities in order to ensure that they are productive for the company. Businesses today are mostly global and without a good understanding of the cultural aspects, the companies and organizations are deemed to be unsuccessful in the future.

Cultural diversity in the workplace is a factor that affects all individuals both on a personal level and also on a professional basis. The workplace today is comprised of individuals from various societies and this has created a workforce that is multicultural. Cultural diversity in the workplace is characterized by the different races, gender, ethnic groups, religious groups, personalities among others that are present in the workplace. The way the workforce interprets diversity will affect other individuals within the workplace. It also affects the manner in which the employees are going to interact with each other in the workplace. It is important for all the individuals in the workplace to understand and be sensitive to all the different cultures that are present within the workplace.

The managers of organizations today need to recognize this fact and address various issues that have arisen with the emergence of a multicultural workforce in most corporations today. The management needs to realize the importance of promoting the recognition of different cultures within the workplace and sensitize all the individuals to respect and appreciate one another. Understanding cultural diversity in the workplace will help the managers understand the benefits that can be realized from having such a workforce today, understand the challenges that may arise with the presence of such a workforce and be able to draw solutions to these challenges to ensure a favorable work environment for all individuals within the workplace. This will eventually help the managers achieve their potential goals within the company since understanding the workplace human resource will help the managers harmonize the workforce to work as teams towards achieving common goals and objectives.

Benefits of managerial understanding of cultural diversity

Company Competitiveness

Understanding cultural diversity within the workplace will assist the managers to realize the benefits that the corporations can reap from recognizing a multicultural workforce. Cultural diversity is extremely important in today’s corporations to ensure that businesses can effectively compete in the future (Cox 1991, pp37). The success of the companies to compete for the market in the future will depend on their level of embracing cultural diversity. Managers who have an understanding of this fact will make efforts to ensure that they have a good basis for building a culturally diverse workforce. The major reason for this is that societies are continually changing and most communities in the near future will not have any single culture. In other words, most global societies are becoming multicultural. The ability of the companies to satisfy these communities will determine whether the companies will be successful or not. Being successful in satisfying the community means that the company will also benefit since the community will be drawn to the services of the community. The human resource departments will especially need to embrace the idea and invest in a pool of multicultural workforce to succeed and compete effectively with other companies. Having a workplace that is diverse in the workforce means that the company has invested in strategic thinking and also having different talents within the company. This adds to the capability of the company to pursue the target markets by adopting various cultural traits.

Investment opportunities

Many companies are investing in the global market. It is important for the managers to invest in marketing skills that are reflective of other cultures in order to acquire the different market opportunities that are arising in the global market. Managers will need to have very good knowledge of the potential cultures where they need to invest in order to be successful. This will help the managers to lay down procedures on how to satisfy the market in such foreign investment. For the organizations to be able to meet all their expectations for the key stakeholders of the company that is the customers, clients employees, shareholders, taxpayers, suppliers and the community, understanding cultural diversity is important starting from the top management level. Understanding the marketplace for the companies will need a good basis of knowledge on how the customers perceive the products from the company. This means the marketing department manager will require to have good strategies for evaluating the market taking into consideration the cultural divergence (Keegan 2001, pp37).

Customer satisfaction

Succeeding in satisfying the customers requires the companies to have a workforce that is reflective of the customer’s needs and cultural diversity is one of those factors. By having a multicultural workforce within the workplace, the managers will have invested in good customer service that will be able to serve the clients of the company in the most acceptable manner. Most clients are within the immediate societies which are today transforming to diversified cultures and with this kind of trend, managers need to realize future clients will be multicultural and their loyalty to the company will depend on the ability of the company to satisfy their needs. Satisfying a multicultural society necessitates the need to invest in a multicultural workforce and managers need to keep updating business premises with the moving trends (Thomas 2004, pp56).

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Good supplier Relations

Apart from customer relations, managers with a good understanding of cultural diversity will be successful in maintaining good relationships with their suppliers. Supply chain management is a crucial factor in ensuring the success of a company. It is with no doubt that a company may be importing its raw materials from other countries. For example, most European countries such as the U.S do not have the most natural resources which may be required in companies for raw materials. For such companies to effectively maintain good relationships with their suppliers then the company managers will need to invest in good cultural knowledge about the suppliers. Good relationships with the suppliers irrespective of the culture will help the company to lay a good basis for negotiations and improve on the competitive advantage of the company (Dowlin, 2007, pp17). In many cases, it will require the ability of the company managers to negotiate for alliances, partnerships and other supply arrangements with the other companies. A manager who has a good understanding of the cultural background of the suppliers will always be successful in acquiring deals and contracts that ensure a competitive advantage for the company.

Diverse skills, talents and abilities in the workforce

Managers with a good understanding of cultural divergence are able to take advantage of the wide pool of skills, talents and abilities that are found in the multicultural workforce. This eventually helps the managers to invest in a very efficient human resource for the company. Individuals from different cultures will usually have different abilities and skills ( Thomas 2004, pp43). A company that invests in culture will benefit from creating a workforce that has different innovative ideas within the company. This serves to help the company have more experience within the market and it can be able to adapt quickly to a variety of problems that arise within the market today. The company becomes very flexible in responding to different fluctuations in the market since it will have invested in individuals who can combine their different ideas into something productive that can satisfy the customer demands.

Companies that encourage cultural diversity are able to build a workforce that is confident in their service. This helps to create a favorable work environment that appreciates all the individuals irrespective of their cultures. This inspires the employees to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. The company can be able to move to higher levels of performance with time and also diversify its products in a manner that will meet the customer demands. The eventual goal of good employee performance will be high profits for the company, high productivity and also good returns on the company investments.

Coping with company Challenges

Understanding cultural diversity will help the managers understand the challenges that may occur in the company as a result of investing in a multicultural workforce. Some of the challenges that may arise from the multicultural workforce include barriers to communication. Managers will be in a position to understand that the different personalities within the workforce have different cultural backgrounds and they will speak different languages. This may be a threat to the communication systems within the company since speaking a language that another individual does not understand will result in a lack of understanding of each other. Another effect would be a misinterpretation or distorting of information between the individuals. Ineffective communication resulting from the cultural workforce if not well managed will result in confusion within the workplace, lack of successful teamwork and low employee morale (Lewis 2005, pp52). In such a situation the managers will require to have a good understanding of such problems in order to solve communication problems that may arise within the company due to differences in language. This could include introducing official languages in the workplace which are understood by everybody. The managers could also encourage the employees to appreciate and learn the language of other employees within the workplace to promote good communication skills. Other challenges include conflicts that may arise since the individuals will have different levels of understanding and expressing themselves. Managers with an understanding of cultural diversity will be able to handle these challenges that arise in the multicultural workplace.

Promoting change

Managers in the workplace are the ones responsible for promoting change within the workplace. The introduction of different cultures in the workforce may be met with a lot of resistance by the other employees. This may create a lot of problems for the new entrants and unless they are able to change their minds they cannot be able to adapt to the new trends of cultural diversity in the market. It is important for the managers to understand that the introduction of different cultures will bring a lot of changes in the way things are done in the workplace and the other individuals may insist on their traditional and routine ways. This will automatically result in a lot of conflict within the workplace. How the managers handle these conflicts will determine the kind of relationships that will exist between the individuals within the workplace (Kotter 1996, pp34). Solutions to such cases should be handled by the managers in a manner in which everyone in the company is involved in the change of routines and code of work within the workplace. This will help all the individuals from the different cultures appreciate the fact that they were involved in bringing the change and will therefore be more willing to adapt to the new changes.

Policy amendment and implementation

The final importance of the managers to understand cultural diversity is to guide them in making necessary amendments and changes within the company policies. Developing a workforce that is culturally diversified needs to have some rules and ethics defined in order to ensure that everyone in the workplace gets the respect they deserve. Other policy changes will include an approach to the customers or clients in the market which has a trend towards cultural divergence. The company needs to plan effectively how to maintain its competitive advantage in the future taking into consideration the changing societies (Dowlin, 2007, pp21). The company managers need to advocate various changes within their laid down policies. Apart from the policy changes, the managers will need to invest in leaders who will promote cultural divergence and implementation of the policies within the company. This will help the company to assume a positive attitude towards every culture within the society and in the workplace. Managers will also be able to make arrangements for training workshops for the employees to educate them on the importance of appreciating other cultures. This helps to create openness within the employees of the companies and organizations.

Current statistics in the U.K

The U.K is one of the destinations where cultural diversity has been on the increase. In the 2001 census, the ethnic population was about 4.6 million that was 7.9% of the total population. The total population consists of the whites, the mixed, Asians, the Black and the Chinese. The ethnic groups include the Asian’s from India, the Pakistani and also the Bangladeshi. These minority groups as they are refereed described themselves as blacks. 15% of the ethnic groups are usually mixed with a majority having a white and black background (Fisher, 2008). Indians consist of the largest group of minorities. Other minority groups consist of 1.4 % of the U.K population as of 2001 (Census, 2001). Taking into consideration of the ever-changing population structures, managers should always keep in mind the trends in such data.

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Impact of good managerial knowledge in cultural diversity

For a company to be reflective of good knowledge in cultural diversity the various departments of the company and also activities should demonstrate an appreciation of the different cultures within the society. The human resource department for example should be very fair in recruiting individuals and should not lock out individuals on the basis of being among the minorities of the society. It should instead enhance the training and development programs for the employees. Other programs should include performance appraisals for the employees and fairness in awarding promotions within the company. The career opportunities promoted within the company should also not be biased. Managers who have a good investment in cultural diversity will also be able to have a workforce that is effective in communication with the absence of conflict and stereotypes against other races. Managers will also value the importance of educational programs that are organized to appreciate other cultures. Problem-solving within the company is also not a big issue since all the employees will be able to understand each other. The managers are also devoted to building an organizational structure that values cultural diversity (Peter 2006, pp45)

Good knowledge and understanding of cultural diversity will help the managers to promote dignity and respect for everyone in the workplace irrespective of their cultural background. The impact of having cultural knowledge for the managers is to help them analyze issues within the companies or organizations in a more understanding manner. Having the knowledge and the appreciation of other cultures helps the managers to promote this spirit amongst other employees who they lead. The knowledge of cultural diversity in the managers, in the long run, benefits the company in ensuring improved business performance (Thomas 2004, pp45). The managers will also have a good knowledge of organizing business projects that are reflective of today’s multicultural society. This will reduce the cost of the company and save a lot of time in gaining the competitive advantage of the company over its rivals. The managers will also have a better understanding of how the cultural societies affect the performance of the business in the current period and also in the future. By enhancing their knowledge of the different cultures the managers can be able to lead other individuals within the workplace in a manner that they will appreciate each other (Albion 2006, pp28). The work teams created by such managers within the organization are very effective since the workforce is able to share knowledge and ideas that are useful to the company. Managerial knowledge of the cultures within the society also helps the managers to effectively deal with any cultural barriers that may face the organization at any level.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the global economy today is increasingly becoming multicultural. The success of the companies and the organizations in the future depends on how they appreciate and recognize the changing trends within the societies. It is only through a good understanding of cultural diversity that the managers within this institution can achieve this success. The policies and plans that are laid in today’s companies need to be reflective of cultural diversity in the future. The attitude that is adopted by the employees regarding cultural diversity will usually originate from the top. This means what the managers adopt and practice in regard to cultural diversity is what is going to prevail in the other employees within the company. With continuous and intensive research on the subject, managers will be in a better position to handle all matters that come along with having a culturally diverse workforce within the workplace (Turner 1998, pp62) The issues related to cultural diversity within the workplace are a long term issue and managers should continually involve themselves in the cultural analyses of the company. They should always hold appraisals for the multicultural workforce and promote cultural divergence in other sectors of the company that may still be limited in the subject.

References

  1. Census,  2001, Office for National Statistics. Population Size 7.9% from a minority ethnic group.
  2. Charles Hampden-Turner, 1997. Riding The Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business. McGraw-Hill
  3. David C Thomas, 2004. Cultural Intelligence: People Skills for Global Business. Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  4. Dr. Peter, 2006. Leadership: Theory and Practice. Sage Publications
  5. Edgar H. Schein, 1999. The Corporate Culture Survival Guide. Jossey-Bass publishers
  6. F Trompenaars and C Hampden Turner, 1998. Riding the waves of culture: Understanding cultural diversity in global business. Prentice-Hall press
  7. James M. Kouzes, 2008. The Leadership Challenge. Jossey-Bass Publishers
  8. John P. Kotter, 1996. Leading Change. Harvard Business School Press
  9. Mark Albion, 2006. True to Yourself: Leading a Values-Based Business. Berrett-Koehler Publishers
  10. MG Fine, 1996. Cultural diversity in the workplace: The state of the field. Journal of Business Communication. Sage Publications
  11. Peter J. Dowlin, 2007. International Human Resource Management: Managing People in a Multinational Context. South-Western College Publishers
  12. Richard D. Lewis, 2005. When Cultures Collide: Leading Across Cultures. Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  13. Rod Fisher, 2008. U.K Cultural minorities, groups and communities. 
  14. TH Cox,1991. Managing cultural diversity: Implications for organizational competitiveness. McGraw- Hill
  15. Warren J. Keegan, 2001. Global Marketing Management. Prentice-Hall press
  16. William Bridges, 2003. Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change. Da Capo Press
  17. Census, 2001, Office for National Statistics. Population Size 7.9% from a minority ethnic group.
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