Strategies for Managing Workplace Cultural Diversity in International Organizations

Abstract

Cultural diversity in the workplace can be associated with both positive and negative outcomes depending on the management strategy. Cultural diversity is identified as the presence of representatives of different cultures in one community. On the one hand, the matter is positively correlated with creativity, innovation, and the ability to serve a wider variety of customers. On the other hand, cross-cultural teams may have problems with communication and achieving harmony, which may lead to lost productivity and dysfunctional conflicts. The efficiency of methods can be evaluated based on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and Hall’s theory of communication.

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The literature review identified three criteria for the assessment of diversity management strategies. First, commitment to cultural diversity is to be embedded in the corporate culture, and the values should be flexible not to contradict any of the cultural values. Second, company leaders, including CEO, are to be role models and demonstrate their adherence to diversity principles. Third, international companies are to adapt their policies and standards according to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions depending on the country of operations. The paper analyzes three international organizations, including Amazon, Google, and Toyota, using the three criteria. The results reveal considerable inconsistency between theory and practice, which leads to adverse outcomes.

Introduction

Cultural diversity in the workplace is a widely discussed matter around the globe due to globalization. The topic is of increased importance to international organizations since, by nature, they are forced to deal with employees with varying cultural backgrounds. On the one hand, the favorable effects of cultural diversity include the emergence of an extensive knowledge base formed by different cultural experiences, the presence of in-house cultural trainers and informers, and the tendency to expand to foreign countries (Martin, 2014). On the other hand, cultural diversity may be associated with lost productivity, struggle to achieve harmony, and dysfunctional conflicts (Martin, 2014). The effects of the matter are highly dependable on a utilized strategy of managing workplace cultural diversity.

While workplace diversity has become an expectation in the modern world, it has not always been the case in the United States. The first step to workplace diversity was made in 1948 when President Truman signed an order to desegregate the armed services (“The evolution of diversity,” 2016). In the 1960s, the cascade of laws was approved that prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin (“The evolution of diversity,” 2016).

In 1987, William Brock commissioned a study of economic and demographic trends, which concluded that legal and illegal immigrants would become a more significant part of the US workforce, and therefore companies are to apply efficient diversity practices to remain competitive (“The evolution of diversity,” 2016). Since then, a wide variety of scientific and business research has emerged that studied the issue.

Even though the topic is widely discussed in all kinds of literature, it is unclear what methods are currently used by international organizations to manage cultural diversity. The present paper aims at summarizing the current research about the subject and identify the gap between theory and practice. In order to achieve the purpose, cultural diversity strategies of three multi-national organizations are evaluated and findings are summarized. Since international companies are affected by the choice of diversity management strategy the most, there is expected to be an insignificant inconsistency with recent research.

Cultural Diversity

The concept of culture is becoming increasingly important in the context of globalization. The idea of culture has been studied by various disciplines, including sociology, political science, economics, and marketing. According to Bakir, Blodgett, Vitell, and Rose (2014), culture is defined as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human group from another” (p. 226). Culture usually includes race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, and values. Even though the concept is hard to define, it is intuitively understandable by the majority of individuals.

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Cultural diversity can be identified as the presence of representatives of different cultures in one community. The importance of knowledge about how it should be managed is hard to overstate. Due to the increased number of legal and illegal immigrants, most of the companies in the US are forced to manage a multi-national workforce (Hopkins and Scott, 2016). Corporate leaders are in a constant search for efficient strategies for addressing the difficulties associated with managing cross-cultural teams. The most common problem is the contradictions of values among representatives of different cultures (Hopkins and Scott, 2016).

The avoidance of the problem is not a viable method since companies’ strive towards homogeneity is hard to achieve and unlawful in the majority of cases. Hopkins and Scott (2016) insist that in order to stay competitive, companies are to embrace efficient strategies for managing cultural diversity. Fortunately, there is a considerable body of research available to support leaders in this endeavor.

Literature Review

Importance and Implications of Workplace Cultural Diversity

Before understanding what strategies are the best to address workplace cultural diversity, it is vital to appreciate the benefits and drawbacks of cross-cultural teams. Lambert (2016) states that there are evident correlations between workplace diversity and firm performance. In particular, culturally diverse companies are more likely to be innovative when creativity is encouraged by the managers. However, if managed poorly, cross-cultural teams tend to underperform in problem-solving (Lambert, 2016). In order to take the best from cultural diversity, managers are encouraged to adopt three principles that should guide their policies.

These principles are fairness and lack of discrimination, access and legitimacy, and integration and learning (Lambert, 2016). In other words, managers are to provide every opportunity for their employees regardless of their cultural background while not hurting the feelings of others. Workplace cultural diversity can be associated with increased innovation only when there are policies that support innovation on every level of the organization and every employee is given a chance to become a change agent.

Cultural diversity, however, has a more significant impact than just the promotion of innovation and possible issues with problem-solving. According to Ellemers and Rink (2016), cross-cultural teams are able to “cater for a larger variety of clients, offer a broader range of products, and has the potential to build more community credibility” (p. 49).

However, the drawbacks of diversity are also considerable, especially when there is a clear cultural majority. In this case, the representatives of minorities are more likely to feel excluded from the organizational process, which is connected with higher turnover rates (Ellemers & Rink, 2016). Managers may prefer to provide greater value to the opinions of cultural minorities; however, such a trend may cause dissatisfaction of cultural majorities. Moreover, cultural diversity is linked to communication problems among individual employees due to the differences in values, preferences, and language (Ellemers & Rink, 2016). The authors conclude that managers are to choose efficient strategies to enjoy the identified benefits and avoid possible negative implications.

Theoretical Framework

While evaluating management strategies of cultural diversity, it is vital to identify the conceptual framework. Bakir et al. (2014) discuss Hofstede’s theory of cultural dimensions to determine the validity and reliability of five cultural aspects in modern circumstances. In addition to four original dimensions, which are individualism/collectivism (I/C), masculinity/femininity (M/F), uncertainty avoidance (UA), and power distance (PD), Bakir et al. (2014) evaluate Confucian Dynamism (CD). I/C dimension is described as a preference for a loose social framework in a society, where people prefer to care for themselves and their immediate family.

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M/F relates to how strict are sex roles in a culture, and if women and men have similar moral and legal rights. UA refers to what extent society members feel uncomfortable in ambiguous situations and the lack of rules and regulations. CD describes how much does a culture value thrift, persistence, ordering relationships, and having a sense of shame. The researchers conduct a survey of 70 graduate students and analyze their answers to measure the validity and reliability of every dimension. They concluded that even though the validity and reliability differed among dimensions, Hofstede’s theory remains relevant.

While Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are helpful for understanding how managers should approach cultural diversity in the workplace, the framework lacks universality. Therefore, it would be beneficial to evaluate strategies for managing cultural diversity from the viewpoint of several theoretical stances. Wood and Wilberger (2015) recommend adding Hall’s concept of high and low context cultures to improve managerial outcomes. Representatives of high context cultures value how, by whom, and when something has been said more than what has been said, while low context cultures depend on explicit, verbally expressed communication (Wood & Wilberger, 2015).

For instance, in Japan and Saudi Arabia people are less likely to relate to something if it has been said by a person with no titles, while in Switzerland the message is more likely to be heard regardless of who has said it. The authors conclude that having the best technology, strategies, and human resources may not be enough to create a successful cross-cultural team. Managers are to appreciate cultural differences and differentiate their approach according to the needs of every employee.

Strategies for Managing Workplace Diversity

Since different cultures have varying value systems, it is crucial for managers to understand and use this fact to improve organizational outcomes. Hopkins and Scott (2016) promote value-based leadership (VBL) as a comprehensive method for managing cross-cultural teams. The authors view VBL as “leaders’ ability to successfully reconcile the different values systems that culturally diverse workers bring to the workplace and align them with the value system of the organizations in which these workers are employed” (p. 363). The authors promote that managers are to adhere to the principles of authentic leadership (being true to oneself), ethical leadership (making sure that all the employees’ actions are ethical), or transformational leadership (influencing moral values of the employees) (Hopkins & Scott, 2016).

In addition, organizational values should be clearly defined, avoid criticizing the values of certain cultures, and be actively supported by the managers (Hopkins & Scott, 2016). The authors also state that the performance of culturally diverse teams increases over time if VBL principles are utilized. However, the authors conclude that many issues of the strategy remain unsolved, and the matter requires additional research.

Even though VBL seems a viable strategy for managing cultural diversity in the workplace, it is beneficial to take a broader view of the matter. Guillaume, Dawson, Otaye?Ebede, Woods, and West (2017) provide a holistic overview of the factors that moderate the effects of workplace diversity. The authors identified seven variables that influence the effectiveness of cross-cultural teams, including strategy, leadership, human resource (HR) practices, organizational culture, unit design, climate, and individual differences. The strategy needs to clarify diversity-related goals, while leadership is to advocate for diversity, promote positive outgroup relations, stimulate information elaboration, and engender team reflexivity.

HR managers are recommended to build relational coordination, informational processing, and decision-making capabilities through training, appraisals, rewards, and promotions. Organizational culture is to allow all employees to identify themselves regardless of their background, and unit design should include clear role objectives as well as a legitimate, stable, and veridical status hierarchy. Additionally, individual differences are to be appreciated, while diverse mindsets are to be shared. The article draws explicit parallels between the strategies and their implications.

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The implementation of workplace diversity practices is highly dependent upon the CEO’s actions and beliefs. While CEOs make decisions, set corporate agendas, and allocate resources required for the implementation of various projects, they often play an insignificant role in implementing the designed strategies. According to Ng and Sears (2018), CEO’s pro-diversity beliefs and moral values are positively correlated with their pro-diversity behaviors.

Such behaviors make HR managers perceive that their CEOs are committed to diversity, which makes them more adherent to pro-diversity practices (Ng & Sears, 2018). In other words, even though CEOs do not directly implement the designed strategies, they can influence the matter by explicitly showing their commitment to workplace diversity. The devotion to the practice will motivate the HR managers and positively affect the CEO’s image. Therefore, CEOs are to demonstrate and communicate their beliefs to HR managers and other employees for a diversity management strategy to be effective.

Sharma (2016) overviews four approaches to managing workplace diversity, including performance appraisal, sociocultural, affirmative action, and capabilities approaches. Cultural, racial, and sexual minorities often complain about the unfairness of performance appraisals. Therefore, Sharma (2016) suggests that while assessing employees’ performance, organizations are to consider different criteria, provide multiple raters, and systematically review the appraisal to avoid bias.

The socio-cultural approach suggests that managers are to recognize employees’ religion, societal attitudes, and paternalistic leadership. The affirmative action model considers managers’ attitudes in decentralized units and goals and timetables model. Finally, the capabilities approach supports the idea that organizations sometimes need to reframe their structure to use the inner capabilities of their employees. While the article aims at providing holistic information about the matter, the findings can hardly be used by managers. The only practical suggestion concerns the organization of performance assessments among employees.

Godiwalla and Bronson (2016) discuss the importance of diversity management in improving the performance of supply chains in international organizations. The authors utilize Hofstede’s model to provide specific recommendations for multi-cultural firms. Unlike Bakir et al. (2014), Godiwalla and Bronson (2016) mention six cultural dimensions with the inclusion of short or long term time-orientation (TO). The authors generated six useful tips, including that are listed below (Godiwalla & Bronson, 2016):

  • For high PD cultures, managers should use methods that conform to the norms, practices, policies, and rules, and meet the moral obligations of leaders.
  • For individualistic cultures, the power should be decentralized, while in collectivistic cultures, less decision-making freedom is to be given to the local authorities.
  • For high UA cultures, the policies should ensure job security and provide specific guidelines for every job role, while low UA cultures call for more freedom and opportunities.
  • For high masculinity cultures, payment, career opportunities, and skill improvement are to be the dominant motivators for the employees.
  • For long-term TO cultures, strong interpersonal relations are to be emphasized.
  • For CD-oriented cultures, the focus is to be put on “the continuity of stable order that will come about with regard and respect to elders, experienced superiors, or persons in higher authority” (Godiwalla & Bronson, 2016, p. 374).

Summary

Globalization has made leaders realize that managing cultural diversity is a crucial task for organizations of every kind. The effects of workplace cultural diversity can be both positive and negative depending on adopted strategies. On the one hand, cultural diversity is associated with increased creativity and innovation (Lambert, 2016). Additionally, Ellemers and Rink (2016) point out that cross-cultural teams can serve a wider variety of clients since they can understand the needs of different cultures. On the other hand, inappropriate strategies for managing cultural diversity may lead to adverse outcomes.

Lambert (2016) mentions that innovation is not guaranteed in organizations where it is not valued at all levels. Moreover, Ellemers and Rink (2016) state that cross-cultural teams may have communications problems and high turnover rates when managed poorly. In brief, the choice of administrative methods is vital to ensure the efficiency of culturally diverse organizations.

The choice of strategies is to be based on a theoretical framework to ensure its performance. The reviewed literature proposed using Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and Hall’s high and low context cultures. Even though these theoretical underpinnings are dated more than half a century ago, they are still valid and reliable (Bakir et al., 2014; Wood & Wilberger, 2015). Hall’s model of cultural communication describes how much the context of a conversation is valued. Hofstede’s initial concept included four cultural dimensions, I/C, M/F, UA, and PD; however, later CD and TO were added to the theory (Bakir et al., 2014; Wood & Wilberger, 2015, Godiwalla & Bronson, 2016). According to the theory, managers of multi-cultural companies are to compare the six dimensions and adjust administrative policies accordingly. An example of a comparison of three cultures is demonstrated in Figure 1 below.

Hofstede's Dimensions.
Figure 1. Hofstede’s Dimensions (“Compare countries,” n.d.).

A theory should be effectively translated into practices to guarantee positive outcomes. The reviewed literature emphasizes the importance of the CEO’s commitment to diversity, promoted VBL, and fair appraisal of personnel (Hopkins & Scott, 2016; Ng and Sears, 2018; Sharma, 2016). Strategy, leadership, human resource practices, organizational culture, unit design, climate, and individual differences were identified as the primary factors that affect diversity management (Guillaume et al., 2017). Additionally, Godiwalla & Bronson (2016) elaborated six specific recommendations for international organizations to improve their supply chain management. In short, there is an abundance of evidence that theory can be used to develop efficient strategies for managing cultural diversity in the workplace.

International Organizations

Characteristics

International organizations are also called multinational companies or enterprises by various researchers. They are usually defined as companies that engage in foreign direct investments and own or control some kind of activity in different countries (Mayrhofer & Prange, 2015). While the companies may differ in their purpose, mission, and scope of activities, they share some common characteristics. First, international organizations usually have autonomous parts in different countries that can make decisions concerning new products and management strategies based on the preferences of locals (Mayrhofer & Prange, 2015).

Second, large international companies are strong enough to influence the world economy (Mayrhofer & Prange, 2015). Third, these companies enjoy a high rate of publicity due to increased interest from investors worldwide (Mayrhofer & Prange, 2015). In short, while having numerous possibilities, large multinational enterprises have a high rate of responsibility before the international community.

Multinational organizations deal with cultural diversity due to performing operations in various cultural settings depending on the country. Moreover, within every country, such companies are also forced to manage diversity due to the globalization of the workforce. However, since international companies have considerable revenues, they have access to the latest knowledge and the most talented leaders to approach any situation efficiently. Therefore, international organizations are often used as examples in scientific, academic, and business literature discussing the issues of cultural diversity.

Choosing Organizations

For the present paper, three companies were identified to assess strategies for managing workplace cultural diversity, including Google, Amazon, and Toyota. These companies were selected since all of them are big international companies that are expected to utilize the most efficient practices. All three companies are widely discussed in the press as well as in scientific, academic, and business literature.

Therefore, there is much information available about these companies. Moreover, the three organizations represent different markets, and the conclusions drawn from the analysis of these enterprises will make the more findings generalizable. The companies were also considered for personal reasons since they are of increased interest to the author. In brief, the combination of objective and subjective factors supported the selection of the three companies.

Profiles of International Organizations

Google

Google is a US-based international technology company that provides services in online searching, advertising, and cloud computing. It also produces software and hardware for millions of customers. The company’s CEO is Sundar Pichai, annual revenues are estimated to be $148.3B, and the estimated number of employees worldwide is around 100,000 (“Google’s competitors,” n.d.). The company has 17 headquarters established in all parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia (“Google’s competitors,” n.d.).

Since the company operates around the globe, and its employees are scattered in almost all countries, Google is to maintain an adequate corporate culture to avoid all the adverse effects of workplace diversity. The company values its employees and puts an emphasis on team achievements and pride in individual accomplishments (“Google, Inc,” n.d.). Google’s corporate culture revolves around the idea that work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun (“Google, Inc,” n.d.). The company encourages innovation and recommends its employees to spend 20% of their time doing and researching what they believe is vital for the community (Google, Inc,” n.d.). Google is a unique employer that can be hardly compared to any other company.

To emphasize it’s constant strive for innovation, the company promotes research in all possible areas. For instance, in 2012, started Project Aristotle to figure out the ideal characteristics of a team to be successful (Duhigg, 2016). The project resulted in two simple truths: team members have to speak in roughly the same proportions, and they have to have good social sensitivity (Duhigg, 2016). In other words, people are to feel psychologically secure to contribute the most to the team’s endeavor. The company tries to implement the findings and improve the performance of employees.

Amazon

Amazon.com Inc. is also a US-based company that operates in e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence. The company’s CEO is Jeffrey Bezos, its estimated revenues are $232.887, and the number of employees is more than 650,000 (“Amazon.com Inc,” n.d.). The company has offices in 20 countries around the world and puts diversity and inclusion as its primary concern (“Amazon.com Inc,” n.d.). According to Meyer (2017a), the balance between innovation and security; however, can be characterized by three distinguishing features: boldness, customer-centricity, and peculiarity. Boldness implies encouragement of risk-taking and innovation among its employees.

Customer-centricity means the promotion of practices that allow a more in-depth understanding of customers’ needs and demands. Peculiarity refers to challenging conventional ways of doing anything since Amazon positions itself as a pioneer in all the spheres. The company’s mission is to be the earth’s most customer-centric company, and it realizes that cultural diversity is one of the keys to the matter (“Diversity and inclusion,” n.d.). The company prioritizes pay equality as the primary strategy to promote diversity.

Toyota

Toyota is a Japan-based automobile manufacturing enterprise that is considered one of the world leaders in the market. The company’s CEO is Akio Toyoda, its estimated revenues are $272 billion, and it employs more than 260,000 people worldwide (“Toyota Motor Corp,” n.d.). The company has a presence in 28 countries and sells its vehicles in 170 countries (“Toyota Motor Corp,” n.d.). The company uses four principles of the corporate culture, including teamwork, continuous improvement through learning, quality, and secrecy (Meyer, 2017b).

Teamwork is promoted by encouraging employees to visit teambuilding programs, continuous improvement is achieved by learning from the experiences of individual employees, and quality is gained by strict control (Meyer, 2017b). The importance of secrecy, however, is slowly decreasing since all the problems encountered in the workplace no longer need to go through the analysis in Japanese headquarters and can be addressed locally (Meyer, 2017b). In short, Toyota is a rapidly developing enterprise that promotes innovation in every sphere.

Critical Analysis and Recommendations

Defining Criteria

The identified criteria for the evaluation of workplace cultural diversity strategies are drawn from the literature review. The findings of the literature review can be summarized into three criteria. First, commitment to cultural diversity is to be embedded in the corporate culture, and the values should be flexible not to contradict any of the cultural values. For example, corporate principles should not insist on informal communication for all employees since, according to Hoff’s theory of high and low context cultures, it may make people uncomfortable (Wood & Wilberger, 2015). Second, company leaders, including CEO, are to be role models and demonstrate their adherence to diversity principles (Ng & Sears, 2018; Guillaume et al., 2017).

In other words, managers should not be a part of any affairs that may be viewed as discrimination against cultural minorities. Third, international companies are to adapt their principles and standards according to Hofstede’s cultural dimensions depending on the country of operations (Godiwalla & Bronson, 2016). For instance, in Asian countries, which are believed to be more collectivistic, teams are to be evaluated, while in the US, the emphasis is to be put on appraising individual success. The companies are expected to have a high rate of adherence to these standards since the companies are rather successful in the international arena.

Amazon

Assessment

Amazon has a clearly defined commitment to cultural, racial, and gender diversity embedded in the company culture. Indeed, Amazon’s official website is full of articles that discuss their achievement in the sphere of promoting cultural diversity. For instance, the company has ten affinity groups, which are designed to look for talents and protect the rights of cultural minorities, such as [email protected], [email protected], and Black Employee Network (“Diversity and inclusion,” n.d.).

Additionally, the We Power Tech Program collaborates with over 70 organizations around the world to provide cultural minorities with access to the latest technology (“Diversity and inclusion,” n.d.). However, the testimonials of employees show that some of the practices may interfere with some cultural values. In particular, Amazon employees are encouraged to send feedback about their co-workers (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015).

While this measure may be appropriate in collectivistic cultures, it contradicts the values of individualistic countries (Wood & Wilberger, 2015). This practice may be the reason for high turnover rates in Amazon reported by Kantor and Streitfeld (2015). In short, even though the company is committed to cultural diversity, there are some practices that contradict the values of some cultures.

Amazon’s performance is inconsistent with the second criteria since the company’s leaders fail to adhere to diversity standards. The conclusion was drawn from the article by Del Ray (2018) in Vox, which claimed that employees are outraged by the company’s opposition to adding more diversity to the board of directors. According to Del Ray (2018), the company was asked to use the Rooney Rule, which required that the initial list of candidates for high managerial positions should include more women and cultural minorities. The proposal was accepted after a massive public scandal demonstrating that upper management and CEO do not adhere to diversity standards set by the company’s culture. The matter may be disastrous according to Ng and Sears (2018) since HR managers are less likely to support the strive for cultural diversity standards mimicking the behavior of management.

According to the third criteria, the company is also a laggard since it does not provide an adequate level of autonomy to its regional headquarter to modify strategies according to the local culture. A vivid example of the matter is Amazon’s recent attempt to enter the Chinese market. According to Lee (2018), the project resulted in a failure since it failed to provide autonomy to the local headquarters and tried to use the US model for entering the region. It resulted in a complete failure, and now Amazon opened a store at Alibaba and sold products using a foreign platform (Lee, 2018). The story can lead to the conclusion that the company’s diversity management strategy does not adhere to Hofstede’s theory.

Recommendations

The company is recommended to review its strategies to manage cultural diversity according to the three identified criteria. First, the company is to dismiss its practice of employees sending feedback about each other’s performance since it contradicts the cultural values of individualists. Second, the CEO of the company is recommended to have diverse cultures on the board of directors. Third, the company is to provide autonomy to the local administration in order to form practices coherent with the cultural values of different countries. In short, Amazon is underperforming in all three criteria which are associated with a high turnover rate under the conditions of globalization.

Toyota

Assessment

Toyota Motors is one of the world leaders in diversity and inclusion programs. According to DiversityInc, the company takes 18th place in the world for diversity (“Top reasons,” 2019). Commitment to cultural diversity is embedded in the corporate culture, which does not contradict any of the cultural values. Toyota’s corporate culture seems to encourage innovation since its primary principle is constant improvement (Meyer, 2017b). A push for change in countries with a high UA index may be inappropriate and lead to dissatisfaction among employees (Wood & Wilberger, 2015).

However, constant improvement does not always mean innovation since people improve their performance through learning. Additionally, Toyota’s employees’ reviews demonstrate that the company is quite flexible and can offer precisely what an employee might want (“Toyota employee reviews,” n.d.). The company provides stable payments to cultures with high UA, and the possibility to innovate with cultures with low UA (“Toyota employee reviews,” n.d.). Additionally, it promotes teamwork for collectivistic cultures and appraises workers, which is vital for individualistic cultures. In brief, Toyota adheres to all the principles of the first criteria identified in the present paper.

The company’s local leaders and CEO explicitly support cultural diversity and act as role models for their employees. Top management in all the headquarters around the globe consists of representatives of different cultures, gender, race, and nationality (“Top reasons,” 2019). Additionally, the review of the press revealed no scandals connected with consistencies of leaders’ actions and the company’s views on cultural diversity. The analysis of employees’ reviews also did not disclose any cases of such problems. In summary, Toyota’s leaders are adherent to their cultural diversity management strategy worldwide.

Toyota adapts to the local environment and modifies its views and practices depending on the culture of the country. For instance, in 2013, the company decided to dismiss the idea of secrecy and centralized power and provide more autonomy to the local headquarters (Meyer, 2017b). Before that, all the internal problems had to be reported to the office in Japan (Meyer, 2017b). While centralized power may appropriate for collectivistic cultures, individualistic regions, like North America, are more likely to struggle with the matter (Wood & Wilberger, 2015). Additionally, it allows more informal conversations and dress codes in countries with low context cultures (“Toyota employee reviews,” n.d.). However, the analysis of employee reviews demonstrated that some names and abbreviations the workers must use are in Japanese, which may be inappropriate in western countries. Therefore, the company’s performance is a little off-perfect according to the third criteria.

Recommendations

Since Toyota complies with all the identified criteria almost perfectly, the recommendations are scarce. First, the company may benefit from revising its terminology to improve the performance and satisfaction of local employees. Second, Toyota might want to invest in research concerning cultural diversity management. Employees’ reviews about their work experience in the company differ considerably. This leads to an understanding that Toyota does not properly adapt to local circumstances. However, the reasons for the matter are not identified, and Toyota might want to explore the matter.

Google

Assessment

Diversity in Google is a sensitive topic since it puts great effort into elaborating effective practices and sometimes fails. The company adheres to all the three criteria identified in the present paper almost perfectly. The only considerable drawback may be the commitment to informal communication, which is promoted at all levels (“Google, Inc,” n.d.). The matter may negatively affect the representatives of high context culture (Wood & Wilberger, 2015). At the same time, the company’s adaptation to the local environment is outstanding since the information about the company changes depending on the location a user is accessing it to emphasize the values of a country’s culture.

Therefore, Google might be considered a diversity champion; however, it is not the case.

The company is repeatedly involved in diversity scandals due to the peculiarity of the business. In 2014, when Google revealed the numbers concerning the diversity situation in the company (Wakabayashi, 2018). To no one’s surprise, the numbers said that the company was primarily dominated by white and Asian males, which provoked disapproval of the public (Wakabayashi, 2018). Google gave a start to a campaign that aggressively promoted diversity, and in 2018, it was sued for firing several HR managers that refused to prioritize cultural minorities with lower qualifications (Wakabayashi, 2018). In other words, Google’s administration is at a loss, since that cannot seem to find a legitimate answer to the problem. Google provides the best quality products in software engineering, and it is common knowledge that the IT sphere is dominated by white and Asian men.

However, unlike Toyota, Google invests millions of dollars into research about best practices to manage diversity. Project Aristotle, mentioned earlier in the present paper, is one of the examples. Google Diversity’s official website describes many programs that promote cultural diversity, including Black Googlers Network, Google American Indian Network, and Hispanic Googlers Network (“Google Diversity,” n.d.). Therefore, even though it is rated low due to low diversity in the workplace, it utilizes the best strategies to manage cultural diversity and can be considered a leader among the three companies under review in the present paper.

Recommendations

The only identified drawback of the company is the push for informal communication on all levels. Hence, the only suggestion would be to stay away from aggressive pushes to informality in the workplace. Additionally, the company is recommended to continue its research in the sphere and continue to support cultural diversity. Large enterprises, like Google, have enough resources to allocate to studying such complex matters.

Discussion

The results of the evaluation of the three companies are inconsistent with initial expectations. It was believed that since large international companies have access to all the recent research and enough resources to implement the findings into practice, they would use effective methods for managing cultural diversity in the workplace. However, the assessment of Amazon Inc. revealed the inefficiency of the methods utilized by the company. In particular, Amazon invested in demonstrating that they have a corporate culture that supported cultural diversity; however, the close analysis showed that there is a considerable gap between policies and practice since even top management was engaged in diversity scandals.

Toyota’s strategies seem to be the closest to an ideal method of managing workplace cultural diversity. At the same time, Google, while using almost all recommendations observed in the literature review, is considered a low diversity company. Therefore, it must be stated that employing the best diversity strategies does not always mean that the workplace will consist of various cultures. The only thing efficient management strategies can help with is making the best of human resources a company has.

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and Hoff’s theory of communication can be used to evaluate cultural diversity strategies. The validity and reliability of the two theoretical frameworks are confirmed by numerous studies. The two concepts seem to complement each other and, if combined, provide a deeper understudying of differences between cultures. Theory helps to identify applicable principles for assessing cultural diversity strategies. The three criteria utilized in the present paper have proven to be relevant and can be used in further research.

The present study contributes to the body of research by evaluating the gap between the research and practices using the cases of international companies. However, the paper has considerable limitations to its findings. First, the data about acquired companies are scarce and non-systematic. The primary problem is that all international companies enjoy a high level of secrecy due to confidentiality policies making information acquisition troublesome. Second, the paper lacks identified systematic methods that were used to analyze the data. As the data was inconsistent, it was impossible to apply traditional qualitative or quantitative methods. Finally, the study is limited to only three international organizations, which prevents the results from being generalizable. In short, the present paper lacks validity and reliability control methods.

Further research is needed to address the weaknesses and limitations of the present paper and confirm the findings. The recommendations for further analysis include identifying high validity qualitative methods to validate the results. However, it should be kept in mind that due to a high level of secrecy, data be challenging to acquire. Therefore, it is vital to collaborate with corporations to be permitted to survey the employees. Moreover, further research is to assess other types of organizations to improve the generalizability of findings.

Conclusion

The utilization of efficient cultural diversity strategies is vital since the modern workforce includes people of varying cultural backgrounds. This matter of increased importance to international organizations since by nature, they are forced to deal with people from different countries. The outcomes of cultural diversity may differ considerably depending on the managing methods. The evaluation of the three international companies based on Hofstede’s and Hall’s concepts revealed a considerable gap between theory and practice. In particular, Amazon underperforms according to all the three criteria identified in the present paper.

Additionally, the study uncovers that the employment of efficient cultural diversity strategies does not always lead to improved cultural diversity in the workplace. Moreover, Google’s case confirms that aggressive pushes towards diversity may lead to legal implications and employee dissatisfaction. In conclusion, the findings are inconsistent with the initial supposition that the gap between theory and practice concerning cultural diversity management is insignificant.

References

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