Importance of Understanding Cultural, Ethnic, and Gender Differences by Managers and Professionals in a Business Setting Abstract Diversity in the workplace is one of the most critical challenges facing organizations today. When ignored or mismanaged, it brings challenges and obstacles that can hinder the organizations ability to succeed. For this reason, workshops, training programs, and college courses have been implemented to offer a copious amount of information on understanding and managing diversity as a success key to be competitive in this complex world of business.
Managing diversity is a continually evolving process targeted at improvement for the success in the organization. The world’s increasing integration requires more interaction among people from diverse cultures, beliefs, gender and backgrounds than ever before. People no longer live and work in a small marketplace and they are now part of a worldwide economy with competition coming from nearly every continent. For this reason, organizations need diversity to become more creative and receptive to change.
Managers are the front line operators because they need to recognize the ways in which the workplace is changing, evolving, and diversifying. Since managing diversity remains an important organizational challenge, managers must learn the managerial skills needed in a multicultural work environment. Managers must be prepared to teach themselves and others within their organizations to value multicultural differences in their employees so that everyone is treated with dignity. Diversity is the presence of people from a wide range of backgrounds and possessing different traits.
Differences in age, race, ethnic origin, culture, physical abilities, religion and sexual orientation are just some possible contributors to diversity (Neil Kokemuller and Demand Media, 2012). The need to understand diversity is also driven by women in the workplace. Today’s workforce has the highest levels of employment participation ever by women. The number of dual income families and single working mothers has increased. Women are no longer considered inferior to men and are seen more as a professional instead of something pretty to look at. Therefore, diversity issues cut across both race and gender.
Also in order to ensure that people work together towards your business objectives in a positive environment, managers need to be aware of the existence and importance of culture and ethnical diversity. It often develops in the organization without the managers being aware of the change. Because employees adjust to a certain way of working and new staff is being taught to adjust to this culture. An example of this practice is the class assignment “Let’s Be lefties for a day”. As majority of society are right-handed we expect the lefties to adjust to our way of living. It is traditional and socially acceptable in most countries for a handshake to be made with the right hand. We understand that a left-handed handshake is used as a recognition device by some secret societies and has “sinister”. For example, in Latin, the word for “left” is sinister, which has come into English meaning “evil. ” The French word for “left” is gauche, which in English means “awkward “or “tactless. ” The English word left comes from the Old English left, meaning “weak” (Kalilich, 2003). It was very hard for me to adjust (well I didn’t) for the few hours that was attempted.
The assignment provided awareness about lefties and the obstacles they go through on a daily basis. Did you know that lefties cannot play the sport polo? And there are many other things that they cannot do or have to adapt to because they are not the majority. Therefore, education in diversity can help you to attain the organization objectives. Cultural change programs might be difficult to initiate and getting key staff on your side are crucial. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for success in the organization to accomplish this.
It mainly depends on the manager’s ability to understand what is best for the organization based on teamwork and the dynamics of the workplace. According to Roosevelt (2001), managing diversity is a comprehensive process for creating a work environment that includes everyone. When creating a successful diverse work environment, an effective manager should focus on personal awareness. Both managers and employees need to be aware of their personal issues. Organizations need to develop, implement, and maintain ongoing training because a one-day session of training will not change people’s behaviors (Roosevelt, 2001).
In conclusion, a diverse workforce is a reflection of a changing world and marketplace. Respecting individual differences will benefit the workplace by creating a competitive edge and increasing work productivity. Diversity management benefits employees by creating a fair and safe environment. Management tools in a diverse workforce should be used to educate everyone about diversity and its issues, including laws and regulations. Most workplaces are made up of diverse cultures, so organizations need to learn how to adapt to be successful.
References Kalilich, Jordon (2003). Being Left-Handed. One Lefty’s General Thoughts, Opinions, And Stuff. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from http://www. theworldofstuff. com/lefty/ Kokemuller, Neil (2012). What Is Diversity and How Does It Impact Work? Retrieved October 31, 2012 from http://smallbusiness. chron. com/diversity-impact-work-15985. html Roosevelt Thomas, R. Jr. (2001). Elements of a successful “diversity” process. The American Institute for Managing Diversity. Retrieved November 2, 2012 from http://www. aimd. org/articles/elements. html
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