Challenges of cultural diversity in HRM

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<p>Human Resources/challenges of cultural diversity in HRMKnowing Culture Cultural identity - Cultural identity is relational: a persons identity, of which culture is a part, is established in relation to and in exchange with other people. - Different components of a persons identity will be emphasized depending on the framework of interaction with others, e.g. the local, regional, national, or global levels. Dynamism of cultures - No culture is static, but changes over time. -----------------------------------------------------------------------Realities of cultural diversity Global level - More than 225 official languages spoken around the world point to at least as many different cultural groups. Multicultural societies - With the increasing intermixture of members of different cultural groups within (national) societies, the exposure to different cultures is no longer limited to a few people who travel abroad, but has become a fact of everyday life at all levels of society. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------Impacts of globalization Increased awareness of cultural differences - Globalization is not a new phenomenon, but more readily available information about other cultures through the media, communication technology, travel increases the sensitivity to cultural differences. Homogenization of (popular) culture - Certain cultural traits, in particular mass or popular culture, show a tendency of converging worldwide. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Reactions to globalization Active participation - Persons with the means educational, financial, logistical to actively engage in global cultural exchange tend to perceive culture as a process and develop an increased receptivity towards other cultures. - Cultural diversity is perceived as an enrichment, not a threat. Retreat into narrowly defined cultural identity ---------------------------------------------------------------A Culture of dialogue In order to actively participate in culturally diverse societies, every individual should be supported in efforts to develop an attitude that is receptive to intercultural exchange, consisting of several components: Knowledge - Accurate information about the values, norms, historical experiences and cultural reality underlying the words and actions of others serves to increase mutual understanding. Respect - While tolerance means not to interfere with others ways of living or thinking, respect actually attaches a positive value to what one is or does, thus going beyond mere tolerance.</p> <p>- This respect, of course, can be extended only if a persons actions and ways of thinking do not limit the rights and freedoms of other persons. Search for unity in diversity - As every person or social group reflects a multiplicity of traditions and cultures, all individuals differ in some respects, but in other regards have much in common. - The search for what one has in common with members of other cultures, religions, and ethnic, social or political groups should always be part of intercultural exchange. - The lack of appropriate means of exchange or self-expression can lead to an alienation from the process of globalization and a retreat into a narrow sense of cultural identity. - Often, this process is accompanied by a tendency to reinterpret and idealize ones cultural heritage, ignoring the cultural realities of past and present. - Such a narrowly defined cultural identity can be the basis for a translation of various root causes of conflict into cultural terms: difference is used as an excuse for intolerance. -----------------------------------------------------------------Approaches to cultural diversity Cultural relativism - Implies that all cultures are closed systems: no cultural standard set by one culture can be applied to other cultures. - Shows tolerance towards other cultures, but denies cultural dynamics based on intercultural exchange. Cultural absolutism - Assumes that there is a hierarchy of cultures: minority cultures are expected to subordinate to the dominant culture. - If these show resistance, strong barriers are erected between the dominant and minority cultures that tend to be re-enforced by both sides. Cultural pluralism - Accepts the diversity of cultural identities and expressions while at the same time recognizing commonalities among cultures. - Builds on the conviction that every individual has the capacity and should be given the means to decide for herself/himself which cultural values to base their lives on. ------------------------------------------------------------------------Facilitating cultural pluralism Creating the basis for informed choices - When discussing cultural characteristics, it is important to differentiate between idealized images of cultures and their actual expressions in real life, both with regard to ones own and to other cultures. - An exploration and discussion of the values and norms, traditions and social conditions actually at work in influencing worldviews in different societies today help to identify real as opposed to perceived cultural differences. Providing the means for participation - Cultural pluralism is possible only if members of different cultural groups within a local community, a nation state, or on the global level have equal chances to reflect their preferences in political, social and economic decision-making. - To meaningfully do so, every person has to be able to satisfy her or his basic needs food, shelter etc. This is where the promotion of cultural pluralism links to human development, with both a necessary condition to attain the other. - Every person should be able to gain access to all relevant information needed for effective participation in society. -----------------------------------------------------------------------Awareness of the dynamism of cultures</p> <p>- Keeping in mind that neither ones own nor the culture of others are static lays the basis for an open exchange that includes changing the perception of ones own cultural values and norms. Readiness to transform - The recognition of differences alone does not yet lead to mutual understanding, but has to be accompanied by a genuine receptivity to other viewpoints. - Ultimately, one should be prepared to transform ones own world views by integrating other perspectives into ones ways of thinking. ================================================= ======================= Developing the multi-cultural organisation: managing diversity or respecting differences? Today's business and service organisations face a three-fold challenge. With management and employees of a variety of national and cultural backgrounds, they must: 1 enable this heterogeneous workforce to work together harmoniously toward their common goals; 2 maximise the contribution of each member of what is in fact a large team; 3 ensure fair treatment for all, irrespective of background. Meeting this challenge demands systematic efforts on the part of these organisations, as many of them have come to realise. Whether the multi-cultural character of the company arises from its internationally mobile workforce and its local operations in various countries, or from the mixed backgrounds of a workforce in a single location, the organisation must address this diversity if it is to be successful. DEFENSIVE OR DEVELOPMENTAL? Every organisation has a strategic choice to make in how it will face this issue, between a fundamentally defensive approach, and one that is developmental in nature and effect. An organisation which adopts the defensive approach treats cultural differences as hazards - a series of weak links between people in which there is great potential for misunderstanding, conflict, mistrust and even resentment. It assumes at the start that certain people are inherently culturally insensitive to others. Handling 'cultural diversity' therefore means avoiding giving offence to groups or individuals, preventing harassment, and managing grievances. It may have an implicit political objective as well, to reduce the alleged dominance of one 'culture' or another. The developmental approach, on the other hand, first of all sees cultural differences for what they are - potentially different values, assumptions, expectations, and behaviour which people bring to business as a result of their differing backgrounds. As expressed by one prominent writer in the field, culture is "the way in which a group of people solves problems" (Trompenaars). Moreover, the developmental approach recognises that these collective tendencies reveal themselves as individual differences. Members of a team are not there to represent a 'culture' or particular ethnic group - they represent themselves. ACKNOWLEDGING THE DIFFERENCE In this way, handling cultural differences means recognising 1 that these differences can have a significant impact on how people of different national or ethnic backgrounds approach the day-to-day issues of business and professional life, and 2 that people want those differences, where they exist, to be acknowledged. The developmental approach begins with the more positive assumption that while people may sometimes be unaware of these differences, they are not automatically insensitive to them. The outcome of the developmental approach is a recognition of these different perspectives as alternative ways of handling particular situations. Cultural differences are no longer hazards - they are opportunities to strengthen the organisation through shared learning, better communication, and new perspectives. How can one tell whether an organisation has adopted the defensive or the developmental approach? After all, any organisation can use terms such as 'diversity,' 'culture,' 'differences,' or even 'inclusiveness' to its general goals in this area, whatever the reality. For a start, the defensive approach often arises as a reaction to grievances or conflicts. The</p> <p>organisation may define it through policies, procedures, and public relations statements, and make it visible through initiatives and 'programmes.' 'Training' is preoccupied with reducing insensitivity, often by trying to induce certain subjects to admit how insensitive they are. To the extent that such efforts are presented positively (or in the words of one company's website, "leverage[d] for competitive advantage"), it is as a question of equal employment opportunity. ########################################## ======================================== Workplace Diversity The dimensions of workplace diversity include, but are not limited to: age, ethnicity, ancestry, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, educational background, geographic location, income, marital status, military experience, religious beliefs, parental status, and work experience. The Challenges of Workplace Diversity The future success of any organizations relies on the ability to manage a diverse body of talent that can bring innovative ideas, perspectives and views to their work. The challenge and problems faced of workplace diversity can be turned into a strategic organizational asset if an organization is able to capitalize on this melting pot of diverse talents. With the mixture of talents of diverse cultural backgrounds, genders, ages and lifestyles, an organization can respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively, especially in the global arena , which must be one of the important organisational goals to be attained. More importantly, if the organizational environment does not support diversity broadly, one risks losing talent to competitors. This is especially true for multinational companies , who have operations on a global scale and employ people of different countries, ethical and cultural backgrounds. Thus, a HR manager needs to be mindful and may employ a 'Think Global, Act Local' approach in most circumstances. With a population / the nation's strive towards high technology and knowledgebased economy; foreign talents are lured to share their expertise in these areas. Thus, many local HR managers have to undergo cultural-based Human Resource Management training to further their abilities to motivate a group of professional that are highly qualified but culturally diverse. Furthermore, the professional must assure the local professionals that these foreign talents are not a threat to their career advancement . In many ways, the effectiveness of workplace diversity management is dependent on the skilful balancing act of the HR manager. One of the main reasons for ineffective workplace diversity management is the predisposition to pigeonhole employees, placing them in a different silo based on their diversity profile . In the real world, diversity cannot be easily categorized and those organizations that respond to human complexity by leveraging the talents of a broad workforce will be the most effective in growing their businesses and their customer base. The Management of Workplace Diversity In order to effectively manage workplace diversity, a HR Manager needs to change from an ethnocentric view ("our way is the best way") to a culturally relative perspective ("let's take the best of a variety of ways"). This shift in philosophy has to be ingrained in the managerial framework of the HR Manager in his/her planning, organizing, leading and controlling of organizational resources. There are several best practices that a HR manager can adopt in ensuring effective management of workplace diversity in order to attain organizational goals. They are: Planning a Mentoring Program - One of the best ways to handle workplace diversity issues is through initiating a Diversity Mentoring Program. This could entail involving different departmental managers in a mentoring program to coach and provide feedback to employees who are different from them. In order for the program to run successfully, it is wise to provide practical training for these managers or seek help from consultants and experts in this field. Usually, such a</p> <p>program will encourage organization's members to air their opinions and learn how to resolve conflicts due to their diversity. More importantly, the purpose of a Diversity Mentoring Program seeks to encourage members to move beyond their own cultural frame of reference to recognize and take full advantage of the productivity potential inherent in a diverse population. Organizing Talents Strategically - Many companies are now realizing the advantages of a diverse workplace. As more and more companies are going global in their market expansions either physically or virtually (for example, E-commerce-related companies), there is a necessity to employ diverse talents to understand the various niches of the market. For example, when China was opening up its markets and exporting their products globally in the late 1980s, the Chinese companies (su...</p>