Case Study On Managing Cultural Diversity Management Essay

Is diversity good for business. The awareness of benefits from managing diversity is becoming more and more explicit during daily human resource management work. The diversity management is an important strategy of the human resource management which to promote the perception, acknowledgement and implementation of diversity in organization and institutions. It may lead to a common interest between employers and employees.

The conflict associated with diversity management is inevitable according to its principal. On the other hand such collide would be regarded as a generator of new methods, viewpoints, interests, creativity and way of solving issues as well. Whether diversity is a potential performance barrier or a value-added action is determined by institutions policies.

In the first part of this essay, what is diversity management, why it is essential and what would benefit from by organizations will be discussed. In the last part of the essay will analysis cultural change model and present approaches to diversity from practical case before conclusion.

The human resource plans and policies are designed by the management to achieve some goal (Alexander & Lewer, 1998), such as attracting, retaining and effectively making use of labor resources in all kinds of organizations, from profitable companies to education facilities, from government departments to supermarkets. As a strategy of human resource management, diversity management is a daily increasing perspective of tackling with impacts from employees with different background.

Diversity is defined into two dimensions from people’s social and cultural identities. It refers to the ways people differ from each other. The primary dimensions described as people’s fundamental characters, such as age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, race and so on. The secondary dimensions refer to person’s self definition via educational background, income, marital status, religious beliefs etc. Both of the dimensions may hold the same status of daily cultural impact on a multicultural organization. Cultural diversity is a specific area in diversity, which focus on people’s characters labeled culturally, including gender, age, ethnicity, race, and also lifestyle, immigrant status and language facility. Cultural diversity management is aimed at taking advantage of staff’s different cultural background to increase their motivation and creativity, further to bring a successful close to strategy.

Increasing diversity management can be a double-edging sword. Although the awareness of cultural diversity in workforce is becoming day by day better recognized by organizations, it is often effectively limited due to the passively abidance of legal compliance and human rights protection. Based on theory and research, inappropriate implementations can create barrier to high performance. Firstly, diversity can increase misunderstanding and conflict among employees from different cultural background. Compared with more homogeneous group, the former group may experience lower levels of social attraction and competitiveness. Secondly, too much diverse leads to harassment and discrimination behaviors. As different managers hold different opinions of managing cultural diversity, different approaches can be implemented. One of the simplest methods is avoiding diversity. However the reality is for most multinational organizations, it is not feasible. How to take advantage of cultural diversity without suffering enormous disbenefit is the main issue faced by employers.

Another side of the diversity sword is that well managed diversity can catalyze the performance of organizations at different aspect, which means a value-added activity. First of all, well implemented approaches create an image of fairness and respect for all people which is an ideal working environment for staff. These terms are listed in formal statements of policy in every organization in the world, but unless the company has effective and ongoing strategies, those clauses are just another meaningless and hopeful fairy tale without princess. What’s more, employees from different cultural background diversify solutions of problems, decision making, skills and allocation of resources (Gardner & Plamer, 1992), which can provide a larger pool of ideas and experiences. The organization can draw from that pool to meet Business strategy and the customers’ needs more effectively. And also provide individual talents, creativity and experiences (e.g. languages, cultural understanding) from diverse culture. This may allows a company to provide a global service to customers and also improve their marketing strategies. In addition, opinions from diverse cultural background enhance critical analysis in decision-making groups. In a series of research studies, Charlene Nemeth found that groups subjected to minority views were better at critically analyzing decision issues and alternatives than those that were not.

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The essay will analysis diversity using cultural change model (Taylor Cox & Jr, 2001) in the next part.

Model for Cultural Change

Figure attached reveals a model for organizational implementations to tackle the impacts of diversity (Taylor Cox. Jr , 2001). Every element from this model should be considered as an effective organizational change. Following the flow of the arrows suggests, every element is influenced by the diversity and continually interacts with each other in the process of self learning.

Leadership

Leadership is a behavior that establishes an objective for improvement which provides a sense of urgency and importance for the vision. The orientation of change is also called vision. Meanwhile it also generates motivation of others, and brings an ideal environment for achievement of the vision. At the same time, a leader should be involved in vision, establish the adequate organization design and integrate the diversity management with the company’s business strategy. It is absolutely the most essential element for change.

As its vital role of a diversity change effort, leadership is on the top of the list while implementing diversity. Leaders are those who have influence with other members within the organization, such as CEOs, heads of unites of organizations or divisions, HR staff members with diversity assignments and head of labor unions. In order to achieve fully effectiveness of the implementations, the change should satisfy these conditions: (1) leadership starts at the executive; (2) it takes generations of administration to make the effort work, and (3) leadership should present directly without delegate.

First of all, to be fully effective, leadership on diversity must start at the top. A change of presidents would produce a noticeable slow-down in progress toward the goals that were laid out for diversity excellence. Although other members of the leadership team below the CEO level, including the head of the HR function and several engineering managers, continue to work on the diversity change effort, the effort lost momentum that was never recovered. Secondly, it takes many leaders to achieve the final goal. In Alcoa, for example, a remarkable progress of cultural diversity owe to leaders at different levels of management chain. In 1999, the executive vice president George Bergeron included an assessment of progress on the diversity goals of the company as part of the incentive compensation formula for all managers reporting to him. Partly as a result of this action, the business units under his authority were all active in working the change model and achieved remarkable progress in the first year of work (Taylor Cox, 2001). Eventually, unless there is someone taking the responsibility of making change, the effort made to diversity would doom to failure.

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Research & Measurement

Research is a method of collecting data by which people solve problems about environmental element or phenomenon (Taylor Cox Jr, 2001). In the context of organizational effort on diversity, such problems are specified as: (1) gender distribution which regarded as a question about element and (2) whether an employee’s job performance is influenced by age is categorized as the relationship between elements. Measurement indicates approaches to record the effectiveness of diversity change.

This part of model explains several questions of using data, including how to create criteria to implementation with data, how to use data to improve awareness of diversity, how to evaluate the environment for diversity and how to critic progress has been made. Take Alcoa as an example, there was a significant meeting of managing department in both business unit and resource unit, which regarded as a watershed event in leader commitment. Data presented on diversity of this meeting based on surveys and interviews at around five different locations of the organization. Some quotations were wrote down during the interviews with employees from every grade of job, and written on board and showed around the meeting room. Then the leaders walked around and read the messages, some of which approved to run counter to company’s elemental values and policies. This is just a simple experience of using internal data, which became a motivate activity for forming support of the diversity effort at Alcoa.

As is shown above, research and measurement are fundamental to the diversity management process, while using data to act on improvements means using data to increase commitment, enhance training, diagnosing the climate for diversity and measure progress (Taylor Cox Jr, 2001).

Education

Education refers to trainings and practices of any change effort. As a core feature of way to diversity, approaches of learning must diversified to fulfill its original purpose. Employees showed great conscious of diversity during the training period, many of which would not last long after training procedure. In order to deliver a remarkable education on diversity and collect better return from investment on diversity training, an educating design should based on certain ingredients: content, format and logistics, participants, and facilitation.

Firstly, the content of training on diversity should be critical hence multidimensional. Each dimension is specified into different substance, for instance, to specify the required subtopics, to indicate the relationship among topics and to illustrate the type of the content. Secondly, the format and logistics of a diversity education are determined by time and approaches of the training. The effectiveness of training is not only influenced by the length of training period, but also affected by the way of using time. For example, instead of a one-day-six-hour exhausting boredom, a two hour well sequenced training program of three days is more effective and efficient. Thirdly, in the participant perspective, how large the trainee group, how many fields and levels of the employee, and the preparation for the participants should be considered before education. For example, a two-hour diversity education practice with an objective of simply understanding the business reasons of investing in diversity improvement was held by a division of General Motors. Based on a clear and narrow objective, and presented by a one-way communication, the training process was highly effective with the large group. Lastly, facilitation is the finial main element affecting education, including way to open and close the training, to handle with sensitive topic, and to create internal expertise.

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Alignment of management system

Management system is the intermedium of managing, such as organizational policy, implement, regulation, or process. This covers main human resource practice, like recruitment, promotion, development, and even work conditions, or the physical design of working environment. These systems must interlink with one another as an organization is a social system. Before implementing alignment assignment, three components: time, space and people should be considered.

To start with, time factor is the time which is scheduled for the work performance. It contains length of working period, use of overtime, time-off policies (holiday, leave and vacation), and retirement policies. What is fundamental and simple that, if a company has flexible time-off policies, it would be better to attract, retain, and motivate diverse employees. Muslim could decide whether or not work at their prayer time in a multinational company, and Chinese workers might enjoy their reunion with their families at Spring Festival. What’s more, space factors have to do with the physical working surroundings, including the neatness of working place, the barriers between different individual employees and so on. Eventually the people factor could be expended as recruitment, promotion, bonus, performance measurement, and career trajectories development and succession planning. People factors are designed to retain human resource and achieve the employment outcomes.

As described in this chapter, there are large amount of issues in these three areas must be considered under the change for diversity. Nevertheless, any of them should not be tackled independently.

Follow-up

This factor contains adjusting the learning loop and establishing accountability for the results, so that the action processes become more and more accurate, hence the management system becomes more and more effective on diversity.

In order to maintain effective and reasonable follow-up while changing towards diversity, a series of specific activities should be contained in the follow-up procedure, including make use of plan reviews, keep record, provide motivation for good behavior ,and control knowledge retention and transfer. In reality, Alcoa has a motivate reward plan provides bonus besides the base salary. Like many companys, the bonus reward on job performance is yearly issued. For higher-level managers, the bonus from holding stock might generate a fortune of hundreds of thousands of dollars for a CEO. Even middle-level managers would have tens of thousands of dollars according to their performance under the whole organizational strategy. It is a very practical but extremely effective incentive.

When efforts towards diversity failed, it would be always traced back to poor following. When the following is poor, the whole orientation would collapse.

Conclusion

Based on Taylor’s cultural change model, which indicates a process of changing effort meeting the impacts from managing cultural diversity in a company, the way towards harmonious diverse workplace is brambly. Efforts should be made in each corner of the organization, from line worker to executive of division, from sales people to technical team and marketing staff, from London branch to Delhi branch.

Diversity is based on certain intentions: labor force is the most valuable resource, every employee should be treated with respect and equality, and equal opportunities for people of all groups. In order to achieve diversity in organization or even country, it takes not only moral obligation to accomplish their orientation, but also generations of unremitting endeavor, hence the demand of building diversity organization is more than a requirement of maximizing business performance.

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