Diversity | A challenge for most Businesses

Professor C. James Trotman argues that multiculturalism is valuable because it uses several disciplines to highlight neglected aspects of our social history, particularly the histories of women and minorities and promotes respect for the dignity of the lives and voices of the forgotten.  By closing gaps, by raising consciousness about the past, multiculturalism tries to restore a sense of wholeness in a post-modern era that fragments human life and thought.
Basically for most of us, multiculturalism is seen as a fairer system that allows people to truly express who they are within a society, that is more tolerant and that adapts better to social issues. We could argue that culture is not one definable thing based on one race or religion, but rather the result of multiple factors that change as the world changes.
Countries like England, France and the United States have seen a huge change in their way of life in the past 50 years, mainly impacted by multiculturalism.

But on a business point of view, how could we assess the impact of multiculturalism in today society? How current business leaders see multiculturalism as a positive tactic which encourages diversity to better serve a heterogeneous customer base or simply increase market share or year to year profit?

In a business area, Diversity theorizes that, in a global marketplace, a company that employs a diverse workforce (both men and women, people of many generations, people from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds...) is better able to understand the demographics of the market it serves and is thus better equipped to thrive than a company which is less open to diversity.

An additional corollary suggests that a company that supports the diversity of its workforce can also improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. If a workforce is diverse, but the employer takes little or no advantage of that breadth of that experience, then it cannot monetize whatever benefits background diversity might offer.

But there are a lot of challenges to manage a diverse work population. Managing diversity is more than simply acknowledging differences in people.

A major challenge is miscommunication within an organization. When native and non-native speakers are exposed to the same messages, they may interpret the information differently.

Cultural bias is another huge challenge. Cultural bias includes both prejudice and discrimination.  Prejudice refers to negative attitudes toward an organization member based on his/her culture group identity, and discrimination refers to observable adverse behaviour for the same reason.
Finally, assimilation has had serious negative consequences for individuals in organizations and the organizations themselves. Those who assimilate are denied the ability to express their genuine selves in the workplace; they are forced to repress significant parts of their lives within a social context that frames a large part of their daily encounters with other people. People who spend significant amounts of energy coping with an alien environment have less energy left to do their jobs.

Assimilation does not just create a situation in which people who are different are likely to fail; it also decreases the productivity of organizations.

The key to managing a diverse workforce is increasing individual awareness of and sensitivity to differences of race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, physical ability, and age.
There are several ways to go to create a diverse organization that performs extremely well: self-monitoring, empathy, and strategic decision-making |

·         Self-monitoring refers to a communicator's awareness of how his or her behaviour affects another person, and his or her willingness to modify this behaviour based on knowledge of its impact
·         Empathy enables the receiver to go beyond the literal meaning of a message and consider the communicator's feelings, values, assumptions, and needs
·         Strategic decision-making implies that the communication sources and channels used to reach organization members, as well as the substance of the messages conveyed, are mindfully selected.
Patrice de Boeck is director for Business_Network Consulting | A consultancy focused on providing fresh and innovative approach to investment and development in Central Africa, through the provision of services covering Finance, Marketing, Strategy and Sports Sponsorship.


Business consultancy said...

Wow, great article, I really appreciate your thought process and having it explained properly, thank you! I really like this post.