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Chapter 4

ETHNICITY
AND
CULTURE DIVERSITY
1. ETHNICITY
• The term ethnicity, or in more functional term, ethnic group, consist of
individuals and families who are members of international, national,
religious, cultural, and racial groups that do not belong to the dominant
group in a society.

• They can be differentiated from both the dominant group and other
ethnic groups by some combination of their values, expectations,
geographic location, language, attitudes, customs, lifestyles, religion, and
celebrations. In addition, ethnicity and sense of peoplehood are
recognized by themselves and by others.

• In Oman the common ethnic group consist of Arab, Baloch, Caucasian,


South Asian (Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankan) and African
2. CULTURE
• The Cambridge English Dictionary states that culture is
"the way of life, especially the general customs and
beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular
time”.

• Culture may also be defined as the sum of total of the


learned behavior of a group of people that are generally
considered to be the tradition of that people and are
transmitted from generation to generation.
• In more detailed manner Culture may be defined as,
“undefined practices prevailing (existing) in the society”.
Otherwise it is a life style of the people living in particular
areas.

• It includes many aspects of the human life like ideas,


customs, food habits, dressing style, marriage ceremony,
family system, social responsibilities, nature of profession,
type of construction (Buildings Architecture), religious
belief, celebrations etc.
3. CORPORATE/ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE

• Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors

that determine how a company’s employees and

management interact and handle outside business

transactions.

• A corporate's culture will be reflected in its dress code,

business hours, office setup, employee benefits,

turnover, hiring decisions, and treatment of clients,

client satisfaction and every other aspect of operations.


Dress Code
An office dress might be casual or formal in design.
Employees may be encouraged to follow the dress
code that might create among them the feeling of
equality and comfort. For example, in Oman the
office dress code for locals is white dishdasha with
muzzar (a type of turban).
Business Hours:
Business hours are the hours during the day in
which business commonly conducted. Business hours
are set keeping in view the common formal standards
like workers may communicate each other more
easily, as per customers’ conveniences and find a
convenient balance between work life and home life.
Office Setup:
The design and location of the offices may relate to the
employee's seniority with more senior employees having larger
offices or cubicles which are located the furthest from the door.

Positive and Caring Management Attitudes to Employees:


Management used to project a caring and personable attitude by
sending cards and gifts to employees on key dates in their lives
such as birthdays, marriages, births and deaths of family
members.
Positive and Caring Management
Attitudes to Clients/Customers:
The caring and personable attitude of
management may be projected to the
customers through a high level of service,
personal recognition of key customers and
corporate involvement in community and
charitable organizations.
CULTURAL DIVERSITY
Cultural Diversity' refers to “a range of different societies
or peoples with different origins, nationalities, races,
religions, gender, age, educational background, belief and
traditions living and interacting together”.

Cultural diversity to any country is considered its strength


and an asset. An organization or corporation that value
diversity on its workplace opens the wealth of possibility,
encourage creativity and foster innovation.
Islam and the Quran are clearly appreciative of diversity and
dissimilarity -in creation, culture, and beliefs- within human
world.

‘O mankind, indeed we have created you from male and


female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may
know each other. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of
Allah is he who is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is
knowing and acquainted’. (Sura Al Hujuraat, verse 13)
4. IMPORTANCE OF CULTURAL
DIVERSITY AT WORK PLACE
• Diversity is especially crucial in today’s global marketplace,
as companies interact with different cultures and clients.
• Organizations/corporations keeping in view the need and
importance of diversity at workplace are giving emphasis
on investing and including it in execution of their
management function.
• Organizations valuing and recognizing diversity reported
with multiple benefits:
1. Helps to Promote Human Values
• Organization with workplace diversity fosters

the mutual respect among employees,

demonstrate on tolerance & collaboration and

appreciate the different culture.

• Diversity at workplace brings gain in terms of

strong employees’ performance.


2. Helps to Create and Retain a Pool of Talent
• Organizations that invests in diversity generally results
in the creation and retention of a bigger pool of talent.

• The diverse group comprises of different skills,


qualifications, experiences, knowledge, languages and
age is really useful to exchange and learn each other’s
positives and competencies.

• Moreover, such a pool of talent helps the organization


to progress in very tough competitive environment.
3. Increased Creativity and
Problem Solving
• Organizations which are valuing diversity at workplace
in fact valuing different mind and intelligence.
• Employees with different skills, educational
background and experiences may bring their own way
of thinking and open the wealth of possibilities to
different problem solving issues and decision making,
may introduce different style and approaches of
creativity and may help to foster innovation.
4. Helps to Recruit, Retain and
Improve the Employees Performance
• A diverse organization is in a position to recruit and retain efficient
staff at competitive remuneration.

• Access to a larger talent pool is one of the biggest advantages of


having an employment recruitment policy that values diversity.

• Many studies related to organizational behavior conclude that


promoting cultural diversity reduces absenteeism rates, lower
employee turnover, reduce the costs associated with hiring new
employees and reduce legal responsibility in discrimination
lawsuits.
5. Helps to Increases Market Share and
Create a Satisfied Diverse Customer Base

An Organization with a diverse range of


employees is well placed to understand the
needs of a wide range of customers, and can
interact with a broad client base.
6.Improves productivity and
profitability
• Finally, cultural diversity brings different talents
working together towards a common goal by
using different sets of skills and experiences.

• Such an active persuasion of diversity brings


tangible benefits in the form of increasing
productivity and profitability.
DIFFICULTIES IN DEALING WITH
DIVERSITY AT WORK PLACE
Workplace diversity exists when companies hire
employees from various backgrounds and experiences.
Many companies see workplace diversity as an
investment toward building a better business. Although
workplace diversity provides many benefits, it also poses
many challenges to employees and managers. To reap
the benefits of workplace diversity, employees and
managers must understand the challenges and know
how to effectively deal with them.
1. Majority against the Minority
• An organizational workforce may be divided into majority or
minority groups based on their ideology, religion, race,
nationality and other factors.
• The group in majority would be holding key position,
controlling resources and information, while the group in
minority may be left with no power. This may affect the
overall performance of the company.
• Example: It is like majority of Omani employees working
along with few expat employees holding top positions &
decision making process in the public sector.
2. Stereotyping & Prejudice
• Stereotype may be “any commonly accepted public belief
about a certain social group or a type of individual”.

• Example: Men can only handle the pressure at work place.


Women are as not smart as men at work place.

Prejudice: Prejudice is based on an idea or opinion and not


based on facts or logic or actual experience.

Example: Believing that all youngsters are careless & do not


take responsibility and not giving any work to Ahmed who is
20 years old.
3. Ethnocentrism
• Ethnocentrism is a tendency of viewing members of one’s own
groups the center of universe and others less favorably.

• Ethnocentrism is a basic attitude expressing the belief that


one's own ethnic group or one's own culture is superior to
other ethnic groups or cultures, and that one's cultural
standards can be applied in a universal manner.

• Example: A business owner might shout at his foreign


employees and call them stupid because of their different
races, cultures or values that are different from the boss.
4. Tokenism
• Tokenism is the practice or policy of making no more than
a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to
minorities equal to those of majority.

• Any legislation, admission policy, hiring practice etc. that


demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws or
public pressures.

• Example: A Private company employing an Oman youth in


small numbers just to soften Government pressure. It is
hiring only for records.
5.Discrimination & Favoritism
• Discrimination: It refers to unfair or unequal treatment of an
individual (or group) based on certain characteristics,
including gender, age, ethnicity, race, religion, region and
language.

• Example: An example of gender discrimination is when an


employer pays a woman less than a man for the same work.

• Favoritism: is the practice of giving unfair preferential


treatment to one person or group at the expense of another.
Favoritism has a negative effect on workplace morale.
• Nepotism: the practice among those with
power or influence of favoring relatives or
friends, especially by giving them jobs.

• Cronyism: the appointment of friends and


associates to position of authority, without
proper regard to their qualification.
• HOW TO DEAL WITH DIVERSITY?
• Diversity in work place is important as heterogeneous groups deliver better
solutions and critical analysis, so the structure of the company should promote
diversity by:-
• 1.Recognition: Recognize that people have differences and celebrate the
differences among your employees and encourage them to let their individualities
show. Treat people fairly and respect the differences that make them who they
are.
• 2. Focus on Yourself: Diversity is an issue that you must manage in the work place
and it start with managing your own attitude and behavior.
• 3. Employee Assessments: Implement a scientific & objective oriented way for all
assessments and performance reviews of employees. Reduce personal bias,
subjectivity and prejudice in all evaluations.
• 4. Encourage Interactions: Encourage employees to work with others of different
backgrounds and generations. Interactions encourages your employees to learn
more about talents and goals – their own and those of their fellow workers.
• 6. CULTURE SHOCK:
• A feeling of uncertainty, confusion or anxiety that people
experience when visiting, doing business in or living in a
society that is different from their own society. Culture
shock can arise from a person’s unfamiliarity with local
customs, language and acceptable behavior since norms
can vary significantly across cultures.
• Culture shock is the personal disorientation a person may
feel when experiencing an unfamiliar way of life due to
immigration or a visit to a new country.
• Home sickness, withdrawal & boredom, excessive sleep,
mood swings, anger & irritability and hostility towards host
nationals are few symptoms of culture shock.
• HOW TO DEAL WITH CULTURE SHOCK?
• 1. Admit that these impacts exist. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you feel uncomfortable,
tense or confused.
• 2. Learn the rules of living in your host country. Try to understand how and why the local people act
the way they do.
• 3. Get involved in some aspect of the new culture. Whether you study art or music, or learn a new
sport or martial art, being an interested student will make a world of difference.
• 4. Take a time to learn the language. It always helps to understand as much as possible of what
people are saying. They will appreciate your effort to communicate with them in their language,
even if it is just a few simple phrases, and it will make your daily life much easier.
• 5. Take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise and take the time to sleep.
• 6. Take out some time to travel and explore the new country’s sights.
• 7. Make friends and develop relationships. Getting to know local people will help you overcome
cultural differences and understand the country. It will also show you how to be more sensitive to
culture norms and expectations.
• 8. Maintain contact with friends and family back home. Writing home about your experiences and
problems can help you sort through them.
• 9. Do something that reminds you of home. Listening to your favorite music or practicing a familiar
hobby can boost your spirits when you are feeling homesick.
• 10. Avoid idealizing life back home. Try to make the most of your stay and consciously adopt an
open mind.