Personal Learning paper (PLP) is an individual assignment and the students are expected to write on any concepts / models

/ theories discussed in the course. Besides explaining the selected theme, it is necessary to link with the personal or professional experience. 2.The PLP should reflect some experience and should be submitted before the end-term examination. 3.Please do not write stories without linking the same with the conceptual framework related to cultural diversity. 4.PLP has no limitation regarding length or word count but should be precise communication. 5.PLP should only be in word doc file.
Resolve cross-cultural misunderstandings
Contents
Identify issues that might cause conflict If difficulties or misunderstandings occur, consider the impact of cultural differences Make an effort to sensitively resolve differences, taking cultural considerations into account Address any difficulties with appropriate people and seek assistance when required Even when we are thoroughly aware of all the barriers to effective cross-cultural communication and make use of available aids and tools to assist us in communicating with people from cultural and linguistic backgrounds different to our own, misunderstandings will occur. Misunderstandings occur in all communication, even between people from the same cultural and linguistic background. We cannot expect to get it right all of the time. What is important is that we know how to respond when a misunderstanding occurs and that we learn from our mistakes. By the end of this topic you will be able to identify cross-cultural misunderstandings and perform the steps involved in resolving such misunderstandings. When you have completed this topic you will be able to:

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identify issues that may cause conflict consider cultural differences if difficulties or misunderstandings occur make an effort to sensitively resolve differences, taking account of cultural considerations address difficulties with appropriate people and seek assistance when required.

Identify issues that might cause conflict
The obvious way we communicate is by using words. However, as we have seen, we also use nonverbal communication: our tone of voice, body language, gestures, posture and facial expressions all impact on communication.

Often people think that the use of gestures and facial expressions will be sufficient to convey an accurate message, without regard for the different rules of non-verbal communication which may apply in the other person’s culture. However, just as verbal communication rules differ across cultures, so too do the rules of non-verbal communication. These rules are specific to each culture and are largely taken for granted. We respond to these rules without being aware of them. Therefore it is important to be aware that our own non-verbal communication might be insulting to others. For example, in some cultures, maintaining constant eye contact while talking is interpreted as disrespectful. This is true for Aboriginal cultures. The first step in developing skills to communicate with people from other cultures is to develop an appreciation of the rules of communication in our own culture. Similarly, an awareness of the most common barriers to effective cross-cultural communication is the first step to overcoming them. It also means that we will not be less likely to judge a person from another culture by our own cultural values. When we are learning a new language, we need to learn the language as well as have an awareness of the culture. It is important of will have to learn new meanings and new ways of behaving.

Activity 1
List forms of behaviour that can present barriers to effective cross-cultural communications.

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List language barriers that can present barriers to effective cross-cultural communications.

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we always excuse ourselves and stoop a bit as we walk past them so we’re not towering so much over them. We also avoid reaching near their head for something. doctor and/or looking at resources for information and possible explanations. It highlights cultural differences in both non-verbal communication and the social codes of conduct. they stopped touching my hair. I would run my fingers through their hair and say ‘How I love your hair!’ or something like that. Identify the misunderstanding. Later on. Share your expertise with your colleagues to prevent the same problem happening again (eg inform your supervisor. relatives. because I have been friends with Fijians at work. . Try to understand the possible reasons/causes of the challenging situation by consultation with the person/s themselves. when they found out. I found out that in their culture. We don’t go around touching people on the head in my Fijian culture. Case study… continued Sala (originally from Fiji): When I came here to Australia years ago. other colleagues). Mary (originally from Ireland): In the Fijian culture touching hair is NOT done. supervisor. They were curious about how my hair feels as it’s very curly. 1. 2. Never for a minute did I think that I was making my friends uncomfortable. people at work would feel my hair. Case study Tina (originally from Malaysia): I have worked with a number of Fijians and sometimes I would touch their curly hair and tell them how nice and soft it feels. I’m guilty of having done this on many occasions. you’re not supposed to touch people on the head—only the chief can do that.Back to top If difficulties or misunderstandings occur. consider the impact of cultural differences Case study This case study looks at resolving a misunderstanding between health care workers. 3. Observe and describe the outcome of your strategies—ie the success or failure of the strategies. Then one day. 5. It made me uncomfortable. 4. Think about how you might deal with the above case study by following the points listed below. co-workers. Develop and implement strategies to try to improve the situation. But not just that…if we walk into a room and there are people sitting on the floor.

occupation. it is very important that if the situation did arise. The consequences of offensive actions will also differ depending on who the actor is. when you buy a train ticket from someone at the ticket booth. you would know how best to respond.Back to top Make an effort to sensitively resolve differences. you will probably still find this section relevant —as you would be a client in other situations. angry upset/sad ashamed frightened isolated intimidated. Justifying. For example. Conflicts can occur not only between a client and staff but also between staff as well as between clients. While a challenging situation may be similar to a cross-cultural misunderstanding. If a person in power is instigating the challenging situation it will be harder for the other person to stand up for themselves. you will find this next section quite relevant. eg. Cross-cultural conflict and challenging interactions may involve a person behaving in any of the following ways towards another person on the basis of their cultural or linguistic background:              name calling use of offensive language degrading comments in reference to a person's ethnicity. It is your right NOT to accept offensive behaviour. etc. etc. when you visit the dentist. especially if the client is frail. . ignoring. If your job does not involve working with clients. Being subjected to any of the above behaviours can make a person feel: No-one has the right to make another person feel that way. recognise and respond to challenging cross-cultural situations in the workplace. Different interactions require different responses The relationship/s between the people involved in the situation help determine the way we should respond to it. or doing nothing about such behaviour gives permission for it to continue. culture. there are a number of key differences to be aware of. there are specific laws concerning appropriate behaviour in the workplace. eg in a health services setting. If you work with clients. as depicted below. Different cultures accord different levels of power to different people because of gender. For example:   The different levels of power held by different staff members and between staff and clients. taking cultural considerations into account Negotiating cross-cultural conflict Now we will look at how you define. Cross-cultural conflict may occur when a person directs inappropriate verbal/non-verbal behaviour towards another. religion or background ridicule based on a person's physical appearance teasing or put downs shouting/abuse/aggressive language excluding/isolating/ignoring. age. While we hope that neither you nor any of your clients ever experience cross-cultural conflict in the context of health care or anywhere else.

If you feel unable to confront the situation directly. promptly discuss the issue with someone you trust such as a colleague. This response is clear. Step 3 If the person apologises. and does not attack the person. If your response is directed to the person. direct. or if you are unsure about whether or not to act upon something you have seen. . Step 2 Tell the instigator promptly. action needs to be taken. supervisor. I find it offensive and upsetting’. Responding to cross-cultural conflict Step 1 Keep your cool—try not to respond emotionally. However. Conflict/offensive behaviour instigated by a staff member towards a client is a serious and somewhat delicate matter. The important thing to remember here is that the person understands you find their actions. not them offensive. yet one that nonetheless needs to be covered. Step 6 will change depending on who is involved in the conflict situation. human resources/employee advisor. Step 4 If they don't apologise. Step 6 The action taken will depend on the parties involved. counsellor. Most workplaces have procedures allowing for the anonymous reporting of incidents/concerns/complaints. we can often change their actions. union representative. While it is hoped that no such interaction ever occurs. it is important to remember not to take the client’s behaviour personally. accept their apology.Now. We will now look at responses for the range of possible parties in the health care setting. Suggested response to cross-cultural tension/conflict involving staff and client This is not a pleasant topic. health care complaints hotline. it is very important that were the situation to arise. use them if you feel unable to respond in any other way. Suggested response to cross-cultural tension/conflict involving two clients and a staff member If a client is behaving offensively towards you. Step 5 If the offensive behaviour happens again. It addresses the action. we would all know how to react. a situation not likely to work in your favour. let’s look at the basic steps involved in addressing cross-cultural conflict. clearly and calmly that you find their actions upsetting. let it go once. The steps outlined below are based on the principle that while we can’t change people’s attitudes. it is equally important that you know you have the right not to accept offensive behaviour on the basis of your background. A good response would be: ‘Please do not say that to me. they are likely to get defensive.

No matter who is involved in the negative interaction.doc 104 KB) Additional resources There are many resources on cross-cultural communication and you might be able to find some in your TAFE library and on the internet. AntiDiscrimination Board. supervisor. or if you are unsure about whether or not to act upon something promptly. Most workplaces have procedures allowing for the anonymous reporting of incidents/concerns/complaints. Now here is an activity about dealing with difficulties. Some people may feel that they cannot ask a person where s/he is from for fear of being offensive or being seen as racist in some way. speak to someone you trust or make an anonymous report. complaints hotline. It is important to be aware of cultural differences and how they affect team dynamics. including who you will address difficulties with and whether assistance is needed. If you feel unable to confront the situation directly. If you are subjected to upsetting or offensive behaviour by a colleague at work. communication and management style. If you do not feel you can confront the situation directly yourself. clearly. Back to top Address any difficulties with appropriate people and seek assistance when required Activity 2 We have looked at managing conflict that arises when there are cross-cultural misunderstandings. union representative. use them if you feel unable to respond in any other way. 1. Below we have listed a few of the resources that you might be able to locate. this is not a nice topic. Multi-cultural workplaces also offer a wealth of new experience and self-growth opportunities. discuss the issue with someone you trust such as a colleague. Remember all people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Click here for Activity 2 (. it is important that some action is taken promptly. or if the offensive behaviour recurs. This can prevent communication.this is an article I wrote on improving cross cultural relationships in the office. team effort and . Nowadays. whether the offensive behaviour is directed at you or you witness it happen to someone else. Make it ok to ask questions. If the behaviour is threatening or aggressive. but not threatening or aggressive. The law states that all people have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to refuse to accept offensive behaviour in the workplace. whether the person apologises or says nothing. people work in global offices with colleagues from different worldviews. religions and attitudes. Here are 7 ways to improve multicultural relationships in your workplace. counsellor. i . or if you witness such a thing happening to someone else. firmly and simply state that the behaviour is upsetting. let it go the first time. human resources/employee advisor.Suggested response to cross-cultural tension/ conflict involving staff Again. tell someone you trust and follow the guidelines of your workplace. but one that nonetheless needs to be discussed. If the behaviour is offensive.

Many people want to travel to exotic places and experience a different culture. faith. Encourage people to add to the display with information and other pictures and use it as a group talking point. 7. If your company employs people from other countries. Festivals and celebration are a great way to learn about other cultures.family. If you can ask questions of one another. Be respectful and open-minded. there might be someone from one of those countries in the office.even friendship from happening. give them some material on what it is like to work in your company and country. Celebrate holidays of other cultures. If you send employees overseas to meetings or conferences. For example. Learn about each other's countries and cultures. 4. Culture does not define a person. Be respectful of the way other people work and interact. But nowadays. 3. Don't jump to conclusions just because someone is from a certain place. children. honouring the past and looking to the future. Apologise if you feel you might have offended someone. and ask them how you can behave more appropriately in the future. then the growth in relationship will enable more effective working together. What can you learn about your own culture that affects the way you work? How can you improve the situation so your team can work more . Cultural differences can sometimes be confusing or misinterpreted. Get to know people as individuals regardless of their culture. Most misunderstanding comes from lack of communication. and we can always learn more. and their culture. Identify what you don't know about your co-workers and their culture. Have a lunchtime meeting where you share some traditional food and discuss what the festival means. they should also know how to work in those cultures. Put a map on the wall and stick pins in it linked to photos of your team members so you can see where people are from. Encourage people to talk about where they are from. 2. We are all a work-in-progress. Speak out again discrimination in the workplace and encourage understanding. 5. Identify gaps in your own knowledge. Create cultural awareness factsheets. and cultural stereotypes can also be responsible for more misunderstanding. what is the customary greeting within each culture? These worksheets will help provide context for interactions and enable easier work relationships. Treat people as individuals. 6. Try to learn from them instead of considering your way to be the best and criticising. People are the same underneath and festivals often reflect what is important to all cultures .

This means that there are obstacles. For our businesses and communities to not only survive. prejudices. More of us DO NOT fit the societal prescription of what is normal and acceptable. our popular culture. both professionally and personally. you are on the margins if you are:      a woman have ANY ethnic background that is non-white are not a heterosexual are not a Christian are not between the ages of 21-50 If you can answer "yes" to any one of these criteria. and stereotypes about YOU as an individual. popular culture. When a group or segment of our population is excluded or oppressed. you live in the margins. African National Congress Why Does Cultural Diversity In The Workplace Matter? Cultural Diversity matters to every single one of us. happy individuals.Andrew Masondo. Our communities are rich with human resources. qualifications. When all segments are respected and utilized.effectively together? "Understand the differences. you may be put in the situation to "second guess" or question one's motives in their interactions and responses to you. To be in a margin means that you are not a part of the mainstream. or ideal for business success. is white. it benefits everyone involved. heterosexual. act on the commonalities" . and male. In regards to cultural diversity in the workplace. A great many of us live on the "margins" of society. all of us are denied. but to thrive. In this nation. . we all must do our best to function as productive. Another fact this criteria illustrates is that more of us live IN the margins than do not. You can not automatically assume that society's view of you is unobstructed or based solely on your individual character. or accomplishments. Christian. each of us needs to be aware and sensitive to ALL the members of the community. While this all may be true. Unfortunately. young.

So what are we to do? We can all strive for change. fairness at work. Managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Equal Employment Opportunities (EEO) means eliminating barriers to ensure that all employees are considered for the employment of their choice and have the chance to perform to their maximum potential. America is the most diverse nation in the world. life experience. This means that we all need to learn to accept what is different from us and respect it. When a white woman snubs an ethnic woman. makes each of us unique. EEO practices include: • A management system which incorporates the differences found in a multicultural workforce in a manner which results in the highest level of productivity for both the organization and the individual. and she is only perpetuating and cementing her place there. she is harming herself as well. For someone who lives on the margins to assimilate into a single idea of acceptance to fit into society is a gross violation of their individual identity and rights. religion. career development and work conditions . The white woman lives in the same margin as the ethnic woman. Ideas our nation once embraced about assimilation are now inappropriate and outdated. pay and other rewards. Our ethnicity. We can all be proactive in our decisions and lifestyles rather than reactive to ignorance and intolerance.. for instance. etc. • • • It concerns all aspects of employment including recruitment. hiring based on merit and promotion based on talent. Cultural diversity in the workplace is becoming more and more desired.

Wilson: “Mercedes. Jennifer Wilson is the Director of Bonita Community Family center. Guzman (Avoiding looking at Mrs. Wilson): I do not know why they feel uncomfortable. sure. Wilson’s (Looking at Mercedes at her eyes): “Mercedes. At the cubicles: Mrs. I have even felt sometimes that this is the only skill that you see in us. Ms. Ms. Besides. some of your coworkers feel uncomfortable. We are not talking about them and they never have talked with us about how they feel. Ms. They think that this is America and that you need to speak English”. we have been hired because we are bilingual and we speak Spanish. She is one of the case managers providing family services to the Bonita Community. Part of her duties is to provide services to Spanish speaking families. Mercedes Guzman has been working for the center for three year. Mrs. Just let me inform the front desk person in case my next appointment shows up”. At Mrs. we feel more comfortable speaking in our native language”. Guzman (Avoiding looking at Mrs. Jennifer has been working for the organization for 15 years and has been involved in the organization’s initiatives to expand services to the Spanish speaking families. the reason why I wanted to talk with you is because I have had complaints about you and the other Spanish speaking coworkers speaking Spanish in the halls and in the break room”. I need to talk with you in my office. Wilson but I do not see why there is a problem with us speaking Spanish.Cultural Diversity in the Workplace CASE STUDY 1: Bonita Community Family Center Background: Bonita Community Family Center (BCFC) is a community-based organization dedicated to provide a variety of services to families living in Bonita City. Wilson’s eyes): “Excuse me Mrs. Wilson’s office: Mrs. . Guzman: “Yes. Wilson: “Well. Please come with me”. The Latino population has increased considerably the last 10 years and the BCFC has been integrating bilingual bicultural personnel into the organization.

 We all have talents to share. I did not know that you were interested in those positions”. To create a workplace environment that is safe. Remember:  We each have a cultural lens.” Ms. and honors each person’s gifts and talents. Wilson: “I do not understand what you mean by this” Ms.Mrs. which shapes the way we make sense of our experience. To respect each person. Ms.” Unraveling the Situation: Desired Outcome: 1. Guzman: “Well. . Guzman: “When there are opportunities to get ahead in the Center we are not considered because you need our Spanish speaking skills in the lower level positions or because you do not see other skills that we have.” Mrs. comfortable. lets talk later.  We all want the best for our organization. Wilson: “Mercedes.” Mrs. Wilson: “Lets talk about these issues later. 2. Guzman: “Ok. I feel that you did not consider me because nobody asked me if I was interested.

The company developed a well-structured diversity policy and . It was appreciated for recruiting and retaining the best talent across the world. sex or physical status. passed by the US government. innovation. in the 1970s and 1980s. the leading IT Company in the world. Fortune was appreciative of IBM for recruiting and retaining the best talent across the world. Watson Jr. In 1964. IBM actively recruited women and minorities in the company. In the same year. Introduction In the year 2004. that letter was used as a foundation of company policy in negotiations to establish IBM subsidiaries in Southern US.CASE STUDY 2: Diversity and Talent Management Practices at IBM The case examines the diversity and talent management practices of the US-based IBM. issued a letter to the management team in which he stressed equal opportunity of employment. (Watson Jr. IBM had developed a talent marketplace to effectively manage its workforce. IBM actively encouraged recruiting people from various social and cultural backgrounds irrespective of their age. Analysts attributed IBM's success to its skilled diverse workforce that included people from almost all the countries in the world. IBM was listed among the top 10 companies on Fortune magazine's list of "America's Most Admired Companies." The ranking was based on eight variables like employee talent. In the late 1950s.). quality of management. use of corporate assets. Thomas J. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) became a legal obligation as per the Civil Rights Act. Experts felt that the talent management initiatives of IBM would help it to gain competitive advantage in the long run as talent is the key differentiator in the IT industry. During the 1970s. The marketplace supported employees to find the most suitable job across different organizational units within the company. IBM figured in the Fortune magazine's list of "America's Most Admired Companies" in the year 2004. It formed a well-structured career development plan for them. social responsibility. long-term investment value. financial soundness. and quality of products/services5. Later. as IBM started operating in other countries outside the US. The history of diversity at IBM dates back to 1953 when the then Chairman and CEO. it actively promoted diversity.

Computing Scale Company7. I want their wives and children to be proud of them. During the 1990s. diversity council and network groups were formed to promote diversity In the early 2000s. they started doing business across the world. the top management of IBM had been giving importance to employee-friendly practices. and the Tabulating Machine Company8. Admired. (Watson Sr. IBM had ‘line champions' . Watson Jr. Later.. formed sports teams among its employees. He said. In each business unit. the Computing-TabulatingRecording Company (CTR) was founded in New York. US. According to analysts. Since its inception. took over control of the company as its President. issued the first equal opportunity policy letter in 1953. CTR was renamed as International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) and Watson Sr. organizations initiated efforts to broaden their marketplace. Thomas J. In 1914. "I want the IBM salesmen to be looked up to. The recruitment specialists and hiring managers were specially trained for this purpose. He valued his employees as he believed that the people were the biggest assets of the company. He tried to inculcate a sense of pride and loyalty in them toward the company. Background Note The history of IBM dates back to the early 1900s. IBM gave importance to not only recruiting and retaining the best talent but also to managing them in such a way that wastage of skills was reduced. a skilled workforce was one of the key differentiators for a successful IT company. At IBM. by merging the International Time Recording Company6.the managers experienced in hiring and . Recruiting People with Disabilities IBM had a well-structured plan in place for recruiting and training people with disabilities. Watson Sr. IBM's focus on talent management enabled the company to utilize its workforce properly and also to assess its future talent needs. In 2004. Watson Sr..). joined CTR as a general manager In 1924. it came under government compliance under the Civil Rights Act of the US in 1964. In 1911."9 To promote teamwork. With the onset of ‘globalization' in the 1980s. Watson Sr. IBM developed Human Capital Management Services software to implement a talent management model within the organization. Work Force Diversity at IBM Diversity at the work place in the US originated from the concept of EEO in the 1940s. They felt that the best practices in talent management could be further used to formulate and implement succession planning and leadership development strategies. who had earlier operated an agency for selling cash registers. This trend made it important for them to focus on diverse cultures across borders in order to offer products and services that suited the specific needs of different markets. In an attempt to sustain themselves amidst the continuously increasing competition.implemented it within the organization. concentrated on developing ‘self-respect' and ‘self-confidence' among IBM's sales force.

they were redeployed on the new job instead of recruitment being done externally. IBM treated diversity as a part of its business strategy. The women networking groups in IBM actively promoted female mentoring. IBM offered a comprehensive work/life balance program based on the following seven principles: • Employees must take responsibility for their own work/life balance needs. Women in the Workforce IBM started recruiting women professionals well before the Equal Pay Act. This helped the women in increasing their productivity while maintaining a proper balance between work and family life.. Besides. In case the company had employees with skills matching the criteria. IBM had a diversity website where prospective candidates with disabilities could submit their resumes directly. It also helped the company expand its market by obtaining business from small and . The company also worked with various educational institutions for campus recruitment of such candidates. Each of IBM's business units had its own resource board that reviewed and approved external job postings on a regular basis. • Teams should be flexible when balancing working and personal needs.. Talent Management To achieve a balance between talent supply and demand. the same responsibilities.to facilitate the recruitment process. • Achieving work/life balance is hard work and ongoing. The internal redeployment process was designed to minimize loss of productivity of skilled employees.working with people with disabilities . assisted women to achieve a better work/life balance. Having employees from different social and cultural strata helped the company understand and serve its customers better. and also conducted programs to encourage girls to seek careers in the IT industry (Refer to Table I for ‘Filling the Pipeline' programs). "Men and women will do the same kind of work for equal pay. • Employees must be treated as individuals." IBM's management made efforts to find out what the specific needs of its women employees and provided women-friendly facilities accordingly. in 1935 stated. and the same opportunities for advancement. • Ongoing performance and contribution are a prerequisite. They will have the same treatment. • Quality of output is more important than the amount of activity. Work/Life Balance As one of its major employee retention strategies. IBM often redeployed its workforce. • Work/life balance should have a positive impact on all employees involved. 1963. A letter issued by Watson Sr.

The American Express Way American Express was well known in American corporate circles for its commitment to diversity. and the company stood ninth in the overall ranking the previous year as well. Black. in the light of a law suit filed by some women employees against the discrimination they faced. In the early 2000s. The company not only made a conscious effort to recruit a diverse workforce. AmEx's commitment to minorities was also saluted by Black Enterprise. Fortune said AmEx's diversity initiatives. The 30 best companies were selected after the editors of the magazine conducted a detailed survey of more than 1.000 publicly traded American companies and 50 global companies with . especially its policies related to women employees and minorities. but it also created a work culture where diversity was valued and promoted. The case concludes with a commentary on the extent to which the diversity initiatives were successful at the company. The magazine included AmEx in its '30 Best Companies for Diversity' list. the American Express Company (AmEx) was featured on Fortune's 3 list of the '100 Best Companies to Work for' in America. This case discusses the diversity initiatives of AmEx. It also talks about the culture and policies at AmEx that ensured that diversity was promoted in all parts of the organization. and 37th in the overall ranking of the list of the best employers in the US. Hispanic.). etc. made the company one of the best places to work for in the US.medium sized enterprises owned by the women and minorities (Asian. a magazine committed to the business and consumer issues of the African-American community. AmEx was ranked ninth among large companies. CASE STUDY 3: Promoting Diversity . It talks about how the company partnered with several profit and non profit organizations to ensure that it had access to a diverse pool of candidates in its recruitment efforts. Introduction In January 2006. the executive diversity task forces were encouraged to develop business relationships with the leading women and minority-owned businesses in the US. in July 2005. AmEx had been one of the regulars on this list in the early 2000s.

but also reliable. In 1882. analysts suggested that for companies to continue growing. William Fargo.significant operations in the US. the concept of money orders was still new and AmEx gained the first mover advantage. it was extremely unreliable and very often documents were lost en route. not only was the service slow. Henry Wells. This was followed by a London office in 1896. corporate boards. In 1891 the company created a new product known as the 'American Express Travelers Cheque' as a substitute to the traditional letters of credit people used when they traveled abroad. the company opened its first overseas office in Paris.were included in the list. Around the same time the company also expanded into Europe with the same product. people were reluctant to send valuable papers and articles by post. In the early 1900s. but many far flung areas did not have any service at all. The Travelers Cheque triggered off AmEx's international expansion in a big way. In the mid 1800s. and John Butterfield recognized that the shortcomings of the US postal system provided a good business opportunity. In 1895. Consequently. AmEx launched a money order business to compete against the money order service of the US Postal Department. In the 1990s. AmEx was also appreciated by other mainstream magazines as well as those catering to minority groups and special interests such as Hispanic Business and Working Mother.. Germany and Belgium. $20. Italy. it provided a service that was not only fast. Not only had a large number of women and minorities entered the workforce. Background AmEx was originally set up in 1850 as an express company that forwarded freight and valuables across the US. for its diversity related policies. The Travelers Cheque was launched in denominations of $10. Besides. By the early 1990s. they would have to take full advantage of all the human resources and intellectual capital available to them.. $50. diversity issues came to the fore in corporate America. Therefore. and the total workforce . AmEx had offices across Europe including Denmark. and $100. the Netherlands. it earned a reputation as the best express company in the country at that time.corporate procurement. senior management. In light of these developments. In Europe. When AmEx was started. Companies which showed a significant representation of African Americans and other ethnic minorities in four key areas . and soon became popular with international travelers. compelling companies to adapt their operations to diverse cultures and societies. the US postal system was not very well developed. but markets had also rapidly expanded beyond national boundaries. immigration into the US was at a .

AmEx had become involved in a few controversies related to discrimination One of the biggest controversies that the company faced was a class action gender discrimination lawsuit in 1999. race. Over the years. the company did not escape criticism. They also said that they faced a sexually hostile environment at AEFA. and homosexuals. AmEx embraced and promoted diversity in the broad sense. promotions and compensation. and showed preferential treatment to white males in terms of assignments. mentoring programs. over the years the concept of diversity widened to include parameters like marital status. However. people with disabilities. .. In 1905 the US Immigration Department appointed AmEx to provide official currency exchange services to these immigrants.. AmEx believed that focusing on diversity was one of the ways to gain competitive advantage in the rapidly expanding global markets. religion. minorities. The narrow definition. Diversity has been defined in various ways by experts. The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 brought in new business opportunities for AmEx. language. Although the complainants were from different locations. and disability. age. senior employees. Diversity at Amex Diversity was an integral part of the culture at AmEx. their complaints were similar. the one pertaining to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the US. her superiors had been trying to get her to resign saying that she was 'too old'. During the late 1990s. defined diversity in terms of gender.high. nationality. Having a diverse workforce allowed AmEx to obtain a better understanding of the varied markets it operated in. and its diversity initiatives covered a large number of groups including women. Shirley Krieger from AEFA's New York office said that although she had worked at the unit for more than 13 years. Diversity Eyewash? Despite AmEx's commendable diversity initiatives and the testimony of several satisfied employees. several female advisors at AEFA complained to the EEOC that the unit's managers discriminated against them on the basis of gender. sexual orientation and tenure with the organization. ethnicity.

cultures. making business prospects and employment available to all. As the developed countries spread their wings across the globe. the cultural impact influences the psychological side of the personality as well. religions and traditions under one umbrella are some of the main obstacles faced by the international businesses. in fact. People coming from multiple backgrounds not only have differences of social setup. The last decade has proffered a number of challenges for the companies who intend to go global with regard to the effective management of cultural diversity. The business culture of a country is not very dissimilar to its social norms. for the companies seeking to squeeze this planet. However.Cultural Multiplicity in the Business International The issue of cultural multiplicity in the international business scenario is continuously on the up rise owing to the factor of rapid globalization. the third world talent finds more employment opportunities in their lap. The role of Internet has indeed played a major role in bring about this global revolution in the international business. Europe and Asia are .S. the social and cultural values and norms in U. the businesses of underdeveloped nations have also made giant strides since they are provided with better and more channels for spreading out. Nevertheless. As for instance. Even the biggest giants of the world are now just a click away. this cultural amalgamation has set a number of problems along with the rosy side of it. and are more complex than they seems to be on the out front. Businesses worldwide are endowed with unfathomable opportunities and access to limitless societies and cultures. Managing the differences of languages.

social gatherings and events where employees from varied ethnicities may get an opportunity to intermingle informally are some of the solutions that can help minimize this problem of multicultural diversity in the business world. Breeding regard and respect for religions. a lot depends on the role of management as to how they view taking their businesses to diverse countries and their insight into its pros and cons. . the problem of general acceptability of other cultures and religions has been an issue ever since. disturbing the business consequently. culture. When these separate and distinctive cultures come closer. The constraint of English language as the sole mode of communication in the western business world is also an imperative issue. Their international business strategies must encompass all the socioeconomical aspects of the native countries and have practical policies for business expansion in each culture. race or ethnicity. standard setting by the senior management. Although learning English has been given a lot of significance in Asia now.completely in contrast with one another and so are the perspectives of people. what might be suitable in a certain culture may not work for another. However. Instead we need to be solution-oriented and device methods and strategies to tackle ethnic multiplicity in the workplace. Various approaches can be adopted to minimize this issue and make people feel ‘one’. firms can hop into the international market and extend their sphere. fair company policies. All these plans of actions need to be much customized. as the prospects of business success are much higher and beneficial around the globe. Every individual exhibits his social and cultural norms in business world. More focus needs to be given to the positive sides of globalization. This calls for interpreters sometimes. It is indeed a fact that human beings feel more at ease with those of their own like and are not too enthusiastic to work in diverse teams. With this constructive and realistic approach. ethnicities and races in training workshops. being defensive and confining our horizons pertaining to these obstacles would be child-like. The international business strategies should be realistic and free of all bias based on religion. increasing the overheads for the firm. yet people are not too comfortable with foreign language as a matter of fact. In this case. there are high chances of a tug of war since groups fail to empathies with each other and this is what mars the productivity and effectiveness of work environment. Team members coming with mottled cultures exhibit varying attitudes in work place and thus the situation for the management becomes all the more exigent. Moreover.

 Commitment from top management towards value diversity is a pre-requisite.  Arrange mentoring program by senior managers to identify promising women and minority employees and play an important role in nurturing their career progress.Guidelines for Diversity Management The following are some important guidelines to manage diversity effectively:  Consider female employee needs. to prevent their turnover. .  Conduct diversity audit to review the effectiveness of an organization's diversity management programs.  Employer should set up a support group to provide a nurturing climate for employees who would otherwise feel isolated or alienated. such as child care and job sharing.  Arrange diversity training programs to bring diversity awareness and educate employees on cultural and sex differences and how to respond to these in the workplace  There should be an apprenticeship program to trained promising prospective employees properly before they are actually hired on a permanent basis.

2002):42-43.%20%20Google%20Books. www. 2. de . "Diversity: A 'new' Tool for Retention". 4. 14. Computerworld 36 (May 6. Melissa Solomon.leadership-tools. Robert T. 3.  Managers need to be sensitive to the needs of working parents.. Leadership-tools.  Ward off change resistance with inclusion. both directly and indirectly  Delegate fairly  Communicate and support intolerance of inappropriate and disrespectful behavior.  Create cross-functional teams  Volunteer for community projects that teach tolerance. Managing cultural differences 6th edition – Philip R.html 9.. There should be a proper communication which includes speeches by senior executives. HR Focus 77 (June). Cultural diversity in the workplace. Interpersonal Skills in organization. REFERENCES 1.scribd.  Foster an attitude of openness in your organization  Learn the professional aspirations of all team members and support their efforts to achieve them. Managing%20cultural%20differences%20.google. The Problems of Cultural Diversity in International Business . Ideas". Harris. the publication of diversity brochure and inclusion of diversity as a topic in new employee orientation.htm 6.  Create opportunities for highly talented employees to be exposed to leaders who may not otherwise interact with them.  Evaluate performance objectively  Consider individual needs when enforcing company policies and guidelines  Don’t make assumptions  Communicate appropriately  Search for common ground  Be aware of formal versus informal work environments. McGraw-Hill. 8.com 10. www.htm 5. Suzanne C.Janasz. inclusion of diversity in corporate vision statements.htm#v=onepag e&q=&f=false 7. Moran. Sarah V. http://www.com . p-146.com/intellectual-rights. 2002.com 11. "Create Diversity in Culture.com. Moran.citemanhr.Instablogs. www.

rather than either attempting to ignore differences or simply allowing differences to cause problems (Adler. This strategy is very popular in parochial type of organizations. 1997). In such type of organizations. rather than by ignoring them. Therefore. Organizations . Rather managers should be taught how to respect the differences at work and how to work with them to maximize the contribution of each employee (Cascio. Minimize differences: This strategy of minimizing cultural differences is commonly adopted by ethnocentric organizations. Adler (1997) has identified the following strategies for managing cultural differences. managers do not recognize cultural differences (diversity) or its impact on the organization. they do not see any impact of cultural diversity on managing an organization. By adopting synergistic approach. These type of organizations recognize the impacts of cultural diversity that leads to both advantages and disadvantages. 1999). In an ethnocentric organization. 2. (iii) Manage cultural differences. Organizations which use the strategy of managing differences train their managers and employees to recognize cultural differences and to use cultural differences to create advantages for the organization. Delhi Business Review Vol. Strategies for managing cultural differences The extent to which managers and employees recognize cultural diversity and its potential advantages and disadvantages defines an organization’s approach (strategy) to manage cultural diversity. 1997). 1998). (ii) that the similarities and differences are of equal importance. managers and employees minimize potential problems by managing the impacts of cultural diversity. prevent the possibility of benefiting from the many cultures present. and to reach a final goal. Here managers do recognize cultural diversity but only as a source of problems. managers believe that “our way is the best way” to organize and manage. In the same manner. Such type of organizations tries either to select a culturally homogenous workforce or to attempt to socialize all employees into the behaviour patterns of the dominant culture. not by attempting to minimize the diversity itself. to work. we need to recognize the differences and learn to use them to our advantage. (iii) that there are many culturally distinct ways to live. July . No. Creative combinations of our way and their way may be the best approach to organizing and managing. For recognizing cultural differences and using them to create advantages for the organizations. Cross-cultural training aims at helping employees live and work comfortably in another culture.December 2001 Ignore differences: By following this strategy. synergistic organizations can make use of cross-cultural training and valuing diversity. 2. They do not think about the advantages of diversity. Managers using synergistic approach believe that “our way and their way of behaving and managing differ. (iv) that there are many different good ways to reach the final goal. They consider the diversity is irrelevant. managers maximize the potential advantages by managing the impacts of diversity. managers and employees believe that “our way is the only way” to manage and organize. Cross-cultural Training Cross-cultural training stresses on training employees about other cultures and sensitizing them to the discrimination and biases diverse employees feel (Farren and Nelson. In this approach managers try to reduce the problems of differences by reducing diversity. They consider others’ ways of doing as inferior ways of managing. by minimizing differences. (i) Ignore cultural differences (ii) Minimize cultural differences. Managing differences: The organizations which adopt the strategy of managing differences are synergistic organizations. Ethnocentric organizations. but neither is superior to the other”.Managing Cultural Diversity The five cultural dimensions highlight the important cultural differences in organizations. To manage effectively in a global or a domestic multicultural environment. The strategy of ignoring differences precludes effective management of cultural diversity and also precludes the possibility of minimizing negative impacts and increasing positive impacts of diversity. Synergistic organizations assume (i) that groups within society differ across cultures and that each maintains its cultural distinctness. The best way depends on the cultures of the people involved (Adler.

2. Identification of desirable and undesirable behaviors must be based upon performance feedback discussions involving diverse workforce. 1995). Provide continuous feedback: Employees should be trained about how to give and receive feedback continuously on clearly identified undesirable behaviors the company want to change and desirable behaviors the company want to encourage. Assess the pulse of the company: If diverse workforce in the organization feels good about their stay and experience and enjoy at work.can use two approaches of training that can play a big role in managing diversity. motivation. With this. Language training: to teach conversational language skills. Further they show the qualities of masculinity where assertiveness.December 2001 Adopting a diversity strategy for a company whose culture and history are different and not suitable for diversity strategy reduces the viability and utility of the strategy. as they tend to be on the low uncertainty avoidance dimension. satisfaction. and reward systems. These must be clearly and objectively established. No. Field experience: to give first hand exposure to another culture (Hodgetts and Luthans. status and formality command high importance. The organizations can use the following cross-cultural training techniques: Environmental briefings: to provide information about history. real-life training to teach employees how to handle situations those arise due to cultural differences. Titles. People from diverse groups can be trained for an entry-level skill. geography. There is no problem relating to business communication while dealing at least with Western countries. Many organizations impart practical. and commitment of people of any organization will increase. To be successful. training and development. acquisition of money and things are features. Indian Context The Indian workforce is comparatively young. As this country had been a British colony for a long time. and used on objective criteria. Sensitivity training: to develop attitudinal flexibility. 2. But it may not be so while dealing with other countries. economy. of another culture. Valuing and Utilizing Diversity The companies can succeed at diversity if the initiative to create and manage the diverse workforce has the full support from the top management (Hayes. The multinationals may not face cultural problems in some respects in India. Indian managers and other countries managers have to take care of these specific characteristics alongwith others. five other steps must be considered which are as follows: Conduct an organizational audit: The organizational audit should include a continuous monitoring of all human resource management decisions around hiring. companies rely on benchmarking/copying to take advantage of the latest strategies. then the well-being. Indians demonstrate a greater willingness to take risks. strength. Orientation in culture: to familiarize the employees with value systems and culture of the host country. effectively communicated. The cultural dimensions those were discussed earlier identified certain features about the Indian workforce. Cultural assimilator: is a programmed learning technique that is designed to expose employees of one culture to some of the attitudes. low levels of stress and low levels of anxiety. people in general can understand and speak English language that is an international language. climate. Being young Indian employees can be trained easily for the purpose. customs. 1999). 52% of the total workforce is under age 34. Establish and communicate clear performance standards: Performance standards must be based on critical competencies necessary for each job. evaluation. the strategy (diversity or otherwise) must be based on the will of the human resources. etc. Indian employees are individualists with high level of autonomy and achievement orientation. schools. Implications for HR Managers . Indian employees tend to show high power distance position. Subordinates follow orders as a matter of course. While managing Indian workforce. Kundu (i) First approach offers training to diverse groups of employees. Avoid copying: Very often. placement. July . Delhi Business Review Vol. compensation. Managers must understand their firm’s culture first and then implement diversity strategies according to that culture. promotion. Copying may backfire. 1994). Subhash C. government. (ii) Second approach is to provide training to managers and other employees who work with diverse employees (Luthans. and culture of the organization. etc.

performance appraisal and rewards. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures.” (Prasad et. and rapid response to change. He talks about creating pluralism through a range of initiatives in a workplace and mentions for instance training and orientation programs. 1991). Results of the research suggest that diversity is neither a great asset (in terms of innovation and creativity) or a liability but definitely is closer to the first one because of it symbolic effect. flexibility. succession planning. or making effort to ensure that minority groups gets room to give input and gain acceptance or perhaps establish support/advisory groups – just to mention a few examples (Cox . placement. al. To remain competitive. 1997:13). In the exploratory research the benefits of the diverse workforce were not fully confirmed. to utilize the potential of diverse workforce. different philosophies: “To some. it is possible to enhance creativity.The focus of the workforce diversity issue has changed from equal employment opportunity to effectively managing workforce diversity as an organizational imperative (Torres and Bruxelles. must link diversity to every business function or strategy i. Managers have to remove the barriers which prevent the organizations from developing and utilizing fully equitable systems that allow workforce to achieve its full potential. Diversity management in practice In functional terms. including laws and regulations. workforce diversity is here going to stay. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues. Those recognize the globalization of labor as a positive trend and facilitate the flow of workforce will benefit most (Johnston. organizations must develop long-term intervention strategies rather than short-term solutions or strategies. selection. Conclusions A diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. managers must learn to value and respect cultural styles and ways of behaving those differ from our styles. As the globalization is increasing. diversity may be little more than proportional representation of various demographic and social groups in the workplace. what is diversity management? There are. development. Managers must be able to tie the issues of managing cultural differences to the needs of the business and be well versed in business issues. To others. recruitment. so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful. Taylor Cox proposes taking an even more active role in embracing diversity. Diversity management benefits associates by creating a fair and safe environment where everyone has access to the same opportunities and challenges. To still others. Managers. goals and results. By valuing and managing diverse workforce. In the laboratory research diverse work teams bring high value to organizations and respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. 1992). To be successful in such type of new environment. it may involve overcoming cultural prejudice and instilling new values about difference in the organization. it may connote changing the very fabric of work practices in keeping with the cultural influences of different social groups. The only advantage of cultural diversity indicated by the companies was better image and bigger opportunity on the marketplace with finding the best personnel for companies. of course. Keeping this in mind our strategy should be aimed at creating change in organizations. Managing workforce diversity should be considered by managers as an opportunity to serve the needs of customers better and to penetrate new markets.e.

and cooperative efforts towards a common goal. on manager level. Adler. a goal that they can all share.1994: 244-247). how is the notion implemented? Again. this is a vast scholarly field. in which I have chosen the accounts of Nancy J. Recognize difference “Team members should become aware of their own stereotypes” (2001: 117) as well as that of the others. Superordinate goals The manager must help the group agree on a broadly defined superordinate goal. who has defined six guidelines for managers describing the implementation of the term (Adler 2001: 116-118): Christian Villum CCG8 / Individual project Page 10 of 18 10 Task-related selection Managers should select team-members for their abilities rather than their ethnicity.” (2001: 117) Mutual respect Negating prejudice is of utmost importance and managers should ensure this through inducing “equal status. Next step is to attempt to understand why the others think. feel. As such.” (2001: 117-118) Feedback Managers should also remember the value of positive feedback. recognize contributions made by each of its members. despite poor diversity management. close contact. “External feedback helps the group see itself as a team. especially in the early stages of a team’s cooperation process. organisational culture and its inherent discrimination a range of findings became clear to me: Pushkala Prasad’s survey showed how women in many US businesses. From juxtaposing the theoretical accounts of diversity management. and act the way they do. professor of international management at McGill University in Montreal. and trust its collective judgement.” (2001: 118) CONCLUSION Diversity management today has the potential to play a significant role in today’s globalized world. and serves the function of teaching the team to value its diversity. had seized the opportunity to gain influence. diversity management was argued to be a proliferation of the individualistic tendency we see in general in the digital network society today – a tendency that arguably reflects the . Equal power Managers should distribute power “according to each member’s ability to contribute to the task. not according to some preconceived gradient of relative cultural superiority. In the arena of diversity management in practice. in order to ensure that the team is homogeneous in ability levels and heterogeneous in attitudes.

. Thus. We have seen effort in the shape of affirmative action that undoubtedly have balanced things a little. Each diversity management initiative should be customized to fit exactly into the actual situation. but perhaps more significantly in terms of culture and influence. more productive and creative outputs – and only through such radical changes is it possible to tamper with those historically biased and discriminative structures that permeate the very fabric of organisational culture today. But times are changing and the transition has begun by far. In this light. And even if proponents do not accept this diversity.that stimulate both proponents and opponents into embracing or accepting the diversity that is increasing in all areas across the globe. and whose remnants still permeates society today – in social. that they need 100% dedication in order to succeed. dominant groups and well as minority groups – would have liked if they were to take charge in a perfect world. managers taking this approach should be able to cope – through out-of-the-box thinking. The idea. and although diversity management is not to be considered new any more. as presented in the discussion is to stimulate rivalry rather than trying to negate it. however. colonialism.period of transition that we world is facing these years. where structure is still drawn in the dominant group's mono-cultural tradition. thereby seizing the energy inherent in any conflict and turning it to be an advantage. reluctance against diversity management is a symbol of how the old world is afraid of loosing its supremacy – both economically. political. So how can diversity management make a difference in the discrimination in organizational culture that we see today? I will argue that diversity management needs to be seen as a much more flexible notion than has been the case so far. economic and cultural areas of society. although perhaps more crudely than most people – employers as well as employees. a history of slavery. Businesses and managers should remember. seeing the diminishing of national borders and ability and opportunity for instant world-wide individual peer-topeer communication etc. imperialism on the part of the West. Only then will diversity management have its full impact. implementing highly tolerant environments . I find it obvious that diversity management at some level is the leadership style that Christian Villum CCG8 / Individual project Page 19 of 22 19 fully realizes the embracing of the new world and the ability to take it to the next step. The individual tendency of diversity management is a natural next step away from the discrimination and inequality rooted in history. frustration with this legislation has lead train spotters to seek new ideas.

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