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Multicultural Issues in the Workplace

Needs, values, priorities of employees and employers have changed dramatically over the last decade. On all levels of the corporate ladder, men and women are seeking new ways to manage the time they spend working so they can spend more time living. In the boardrooms, executives are seeking ways to attract – and retain – the best employees so they can continue to survive and thrive in a highly competitive global economy.

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As companies are becoming more and more diverse it is becoming more and more important for companies to understand and manage diversity.

The people of different background, races, religion creates diverse workforce. There is an importance of having diverse workforce to provide better performance. There are perspectives of managing the diverse workforce, which require organization leaders and managers of being responsible of attaining better diverse workforce. Diversity means differences, difference of age, sex, race, religion and culture etc. People with different demographic differences working in the organization makes diverse workforce. And it is becoming more important for the organizations to know about these differences and how to manage it.

Diversity is also the common issue in the workforce environment, in some companies employees often get discriminated or misunderstood because of the diverse features. So it is important for the companies to manage the diversity workforce to value best performance. As differences have often been associated with discrimination, bias, unfair treatment and conflicts, managing diversity in workforce is an important task for managers today. Managing diversity in the workplace refers to the ways of managers used in ensuring employees in the organizations who come from different group do not suffer discrimination.

Management can mobilize the differences and similarities in each and every one of the employees for the benefits of both the individuals and organizations. Ensuring fairness and equality in a diverse workplace is more than just doing a good deed, it is imperative in today’s fast moving and sophisticated business world. Diversity is increasing everyday in every organization: in America 1 in 4 Americans belongs to a minority or is foreign-born. Women, who currently make up less than half the work force, are expected to fill 65 percent of the jobs created during this decade. Whether you are a business owner, executive, salesperson or customer- service professional, your success will increasingly depend on your ability to function in a culturally diverse marketplace,” (Profiting in America’s Multicultural Marketplace’ Lexington Books). Why should companies concern themselves with diversity? Many managers answered this question with the statement that discrimination is wrong, both legally and morally. But today managers are voicing a second notion as well. A more diverse workforce, they say, will increase organizational effectiveness.

It will lift morale, bring greater access to new segments of the marketplace, and enhance productivity. In short, they claim, diversity will be good for business. Research stated that the Canadian companies leading the way in the area of diversity management have discovered that by embracing the elements of ethnic and cultural diversity in their workforce they have enhanced their ability to understand and tap new markets, both within Canada and abroad. Managing diversity There is no doubt that the American workforce has changed in dramatic ways.

Twenty years ago the American workforce was predominantly white and male: in the 70’s, non-Hispanic white males represented about 68% of the workforce while in 2006 represented less than 40% of the workforce. (Ivancevich,p54). One of the reasons white males no longer dominate the workforce is that women have entered the workforce in record numbers. It is estimated that at the end of the decade, more than 60% percent of adult American workforce, or almost half of the American work force will be female(Ivancevich. 2007).

Organizations have to follow the many guidelines to get diversity stick: they have to focus on getting the best talent out of the person regardless of different age, sex and other demographic differences; they have to develop career plans for all employees of the organization including the minorities; they have to promote minorities to responsible positions in the workplace; they have to make managers responsible to obtain diversity goals by managing their employees well. Managers also have to communicate well with all the employees and listen to their problems that are of different background or cultures.

Also organizations should build diversity into senior management. Improved understanding of diversity seems to be an obvious need, yet most firms fail to invest time and resources to become “diversity-friendly. ” Even though there is a long way until diversity in the work force will be fully integrated, there are a few success stories about diversity management that could serve as an example. For example United Airlines experienced an increase in Spanish-speaking travelers when it installed a Spanish-speaking telephone reservation line.

Avon Products had significant revenue growth after it hired African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American sales and marketing personnel. Another example that we can use is Pillsbury Company and Kraft General Foods who both recorded access to more of the African American and Hispanic American markets after increasing the number of sales and advertising professionals from these ethnic-racial groups. Lookism Lookism is the ugly prejudice that judges people on their physical beauty instead of their ability.

This happens everywhere: in the office, on the street, in the media and in virtually every aspect of our lives. The media fully perpetuates this myth that beauty is more important than anything else, that skinny women are more beautiful than overweight women, and that beautiful skin, hair and teeth make a person better than the one that is considered plain. If you’re unattractive in face or body, you probably learned early on that you pay a price. In school, you were excluded from the “in” group. When you wanted to date, few people were interested.

On the street, people look not at you but past you. We all know that, after all, looks does matter. And it matters in the workplace too. As we can read in the article “Your appearance, good or bad, can affect size of your paycheck”, a “growing body of research supports what many suspect: in the workplace, an employee’s physical appearance is a powerful symbol that affects job success. Reading more we discover that , “Looking good on the job is an intangible asset that can be important, just as sharp technology skills or the ability to be a team player can give certain workers an edge”.

We have to admit that there are industries that solely judge people by their looks such as the entertainment industry and modeling. In those industries, a person’s looks is his/her commodity because the public want to see attractive gods and goddesses, not average-looking people. As a conclusion I can say that even though people are protesting the fact that lookism is deemed as discrimination, there is a slim chance that the concept of judging people based upon looks will change overnight.

In order for this to change, we all have to change. We, as people, we need to stop judging by the look. We should judge by the qualities that a person has. Organizational Culture An organization’s culture varies as widely as the nature of work itself. Oftentimes a unique different mix of values and norms govern the cultural environment of an organization. In today’s fast changing business environment, the cultural make-up of an organizations plays a critical role in the success of the firm to achieve its strategic objectives.

Culture is not an easily defined concept, but generally it is the values, beliefs, and norms expressed in work practices and behavior. An organization’s culture is not necessarily an articulated list of values found in an appendix in an annual report. Rather, culture is created by the organization itself. Many corporations have recognized that diversity contributes to the bottom line by making it easier to retain good employees, lowering costs by developing skill in-house and developing a reputation that helps attract new employees.

As Swanson states in the article “Diversity: Creating an Environment of inclusiveness”, “It has been suggested that one of the keys to integrating diversity is developing the ability to hold multiple perspectives without judgment. A statement easier written than accomplished! Although this is a challenge, there are several strategies that we can use to develop this skill: staying in the present, working to increase our comfort level with ambiguity, striving to decrease distortion, and choosing actions that support our desired outcomes. ”

We can see that organizations have created specific recruiting programs that target traditional minority universities and trade schools. They have also tied the recruiting programs into a reporting relationship with the diversity council and other leadership initiatives. In tandem with recruiting programs, retention programs have been formed to address existing employees. Almost all organizations have started diversity programs. As a result high quality minority candidates are being recruited by other companies. This has created a highly competitive market for the very best minority employees.

Gender In early societies, women bore children, cared for the home, and helped maintain the family’s economic production. Men hunted, made war, and, in settled societies, assumed primary responsibility for field crop production. Women’s status is a complex issue and a hard-to-define subject. Around the world, women’s status in each society and culture varies in different ways. In some societies, women’s status improved gradually, while in other, it declined or remained unchanged. As it is mentioned in the article “Why Aren’t We There Yet? An Equal Pay Day 2009 Primer on the Wage Gap. , “Unfair pay is not simply the result of women choosing the wrong college major or career. Women attend similar kinds of colleges as men, outperform men academically, and are more likely to earn a professional license or certificate. Yet women earn less than men even within majors. These wage gaps start upon entering the workforce; just one year after college, female graduates working full time earn only about 80 percent as much as male graduates earn. Ten years after graduation, women fall farther behind, earning only 69 percent as much as men earn.

And college educated women still earn less than their male peers when controlling for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors normally associated with pay. ” However, women have made positively progress towards equality and their role in the society has been changed dramatically since the last century. The number of working women with children has more than doubled in the past 50 years. As my own opinion, I can say that even with all the changes that happen around the world regarding women’s place in the workforce, the stereotypical role of housewife is still present.

Even when women break out from this role, they still not had given an equal opportunity. Men tend to hold administrative positions, while women usually have the positions that support the administrator. Religion The business world has gone global, and our diverse workplace could be the key to connecting with potential customers here and abroad. In my opinion, encouraging dialog and sharing of religious and cultural norms in the working place, not only will help decrease misunderstanding and misinformation among the employees, but interaction with clients and vendors from other cultures and religions will become second nature.

Knowing when (or when not to) shake hands, share a meal, or offer a glass of wine can give your company a good advantage in today’s global market. Based on this problem, a paragraph from the article “Religious groups and employers try a new approach to faith at work. ” got my attention: “The idea of addressing religion in the secular business world often causes even seasoned human resources executives to pause and see how it complements their people-management strategies.

At Texas Instruments, worldwide diversity director Terry Howard remembers his reaction when approached by 10 Christian employees about forming a company-sanctioned religious group. “The questions that I raised were: What does this mean to TI? How would recognizing you as a group help TI meet its business objectives and targets? How is it going to make TI serve customers better? How is it going to make TI a good place to work for everyone and be inclusive? ” he says.

They made it quite clear that they saw themselves as being in the position to help us recruit and retain people of faith-based backgrounds. ” In my opinion, having companies that respect employees religious background (allowing employees to take days off based on their religious beliefs), can attract top candidates for the company. In my opinion, each feels honored and respected and it is a win-win for the company and for the employee as well. By showing employees that you respect their beliefs and customs, you will be building a strong relation and in the same time creates employee loyalty.