Effective Strategy for Creating Harmonious Working Relationship among Culturally Diverse Employees
There are various factors that contribute to the rising workplace diversity. These include increasing numbers of immigrants, company mergers and joint ventures in different countries, increased engagement of business consultants and temporary employees, international competition and the phenomenon of globalization, which has transformed the world into a global village. Globalization has occurred because of a combination of factors such as improved infrastructure, advancements in technology. Infrastructure and technology have not only provided cheaper means of communication and travel, but have revolutionized the speed at which individuals and businesses communicate with each other. Domestic companies are also spreading their operations to new territories across the globe in search of new markets or outsourcing some aspects of their production process.
Management of employee cultural diversity, through the integration of suitable strategies plays a key role in improving the competitive advantage of the business, especially on the global platform. Globalization calls for specific approaches that promote harmonious working relationships within increasingly culturally diverse workplaces. Hansen (2002) observes that workplace diversity is critical to the existence of businesses and identifying key strategies to ensure harmonious working relationships among culturally diverse employees is integral to the survival of any business. Diversity in this case means the differences between individuals based on their culture, which influences their perceptions, values and beliefs. There is increased pressure on human resource departments to integrate culturally diverse employees, while at the same time maintaining high levels of motivation among the divergent groups.
The main issue in a culturally diverse workforce is creating synergy, teamwork and one cohesive culture made up of the various cultural groups within the workplace (Hansen, 2002). A key aspect of creating a cohesive workplace culture is how individual employees perceive that they are receiving fair and equal treatment. Identifying employee perception of fairness begins by evaluating current employee benefits and assessing specific suggestions that are appealing to a diverse workforce. Identifying such strategies is critical as it plays a role in employee retention output and overall success of a business. Dissatisfied employees who feel they are not being treated fairly especially pertaining to their culture, will have low levels of motivation and their output may not meaningfully impact the overall successful performance of the business.
This paper will look at various options that are available in diversity management in order to identify the most suitable and effective strategy in managing a culturally diverse workforce in a manner the will create cohesiveness and harmony, increase employee satisfaction and maximize their output. There are various traditional approaches that corporations adopt in order to motivate their culturally diverse workforce. These are such as benefit plans insurance and retirement programs.
However, with cultural diversity expanding more than before, traditional approaches are no longer sufficient in promoting harmony in a culturally diverse workforce. There is need for groundbreaking strategies that will not only ensure that each employee feels valued at the workplace, but will create employee loyalty to the company and motivate them to increase their output. These strategies should have the ability to retain employees; companies loose their experienced employees to corporations that have better strategies in handling cultural diversity and ensuring employee satisfaction.
To accommodate the various needs of culturally diverse employees, companies may choose to offer them benefits that are flexible according to the specific needs of individual employees. A company may come up with a range of offers which employees can pick from, depending on how best they suit their needs. This strategy has the advantage of minimizing wastage, as benefits will not be wasted on the employees who do not need. Giving employees benefits that they do not need has no additional value to the company as the benefits will have no motivational effect (Bohlander & Snell, 2007).
Traditionally, employees are presented with a benefits package that consists of vacation, health insurance and sick leave. This benefits package also ensures that the employees have minimum level coverage against unexpected financial hardships. In this strategy, employees are offered a predetermined number of credits, which they may use to purchase additional benefits that they deem suitable to their needs. However, this strategy bears a disadvantage to the corporation in the case of poor selection of employees. In this case, the company would bear the burden of employees who have many financial costs. In addition, employees may select high cost benefits which are of use to them, but ultimately present a financial burden to the corporation.
Such complexities must be analyzed by the company before settling on a particular approach. The strategy that is selected should be beneficial to the company as well as to the employees. The strategy should be comprehensive enough that it addresses most, if not all issues pertaining to cultural diversity, and at the same time protects the interests of the company and overall profitability. The overall diversity management strategy should give the company a competitive edge on the global scale and boost its ability to recruit and retain employees, in addition to attaining the ability to adjust to the evolving and increasingly culturally diverse workforce.
There are many examples of strategies that companies have used in the past, to manage a culturally diverse workforce, which have proved to be redundant, if not ultimately disastrous in terms of maintaining harmonious working relationship with employees and overall company performance. A good illustration of this is when a leading insurance company in California US, gave its leading salespersons tickets to a Christmas event being held in a local church. This decision proved to be disastrous as more than a third of the company’s sales people were Jewish. Such as strategy, though aimed at rewarding hardworking employees, was not culturally sensitive, which lead to boycotts and resignations of employees and within six months, this mistake had cost the company more than one million dollars (Tahmincioglu, 2004).
The scenario demonstrates the importance of careful evaluation before deciding on a specific strategy that creates harmony in a culturally diverse workforce. The selected benefits and approaches should match the needs of the various cultures represented in the workforce as the case scenario illustrates how catastrophic it would be for the company in the event of a mismatch. In a bid to arrive at the most suitable and comprehensive strategy for dealing with cultural diversity at the workforce, the paper will look at selected specific groups that should be targeted to boost their motivation and ensure that they experience fair treatment in their specific workstations. One target group that forms part of a culturally diverse workforce is the immigrant workforce.
Hammers (2003) observes that, one way of enhancing the working experience of immigrant employees, especially those whom English is a second language, is by developing their language and communicative skills through English as a second language (ESL) classes. Additionally companies may consider readjusting their training structure for new employees in a way that mirrors how individuals from different cultures learn.
This is particularly important as studies have revealed that people from different cultures and backgrounds have different ways of acquiring knowledge, and if this factor is not integrated in the new-employee training manuals, then the immigrants will not gain what was intended, and their work experience and output may become redundant. Companies should consider that conventional approaches to employee training may not be suitable for the a workforce that is culturally diverse, and the knowledge and information deemed as crucial for the traditional employee may not be so for immigrant workers.
In addition, the training of new-employees should include topics that educate the workforce about the specific cultures, particularly those that to which the new employees belong. Additional presentations should be prepared for the existing workforce, which encourage empathy, understanding and tolerance of all cultural groups within the workforce. The training should aim at ensuring that all employees have cultural competence and are able to relate with colleagues from other cultures, with a sufficient amount of respect and empathy. Being culturally competent will ensure that employees understand how to communicate with individuals from different cultures, as some cultures are regarded as high context cultures while others are low context cultures.
Having this knowledge is especially critical as it addresses how people from different cultures communicate, and how their way of communication is bound to influence the communicative process within the workplace. Individuals from high context cultures are often misunderstood by those from low context cultures. Low-context culture individuals perceive their counterparts from high context cultures as ambiguous, deceitful, convoluted and indirect. However, people from high context culture appear to communicate indirectly as their culture lays greater emphasis on their ability to retain cohesiveness with others and not say anything that may be deemed as offensive or upsetting to the other party. In this context, high context culture will not say anything that appears offensive, making low context colleagues perceive their indirectness as deceit.
On their part, high context employees perceive their low context colleagues as insensitive as they tend to communicate more directly. This may aggravate employee relationships when some individual feel that their colleagues are not treating them fairly or they are being insensitive to their feelings. Training in cultural competence will ensure that the workforce has the basic idea of how individuals from different cultures perceive situations and their ways of communicating and acquiring meaning from communication. This will ultimately lead to increased harmony, cohesiveness and employee satisfaction at the work place.
The paper will also look at strategies that multinational corporations operating in various parts of the world use to accommodate the culture of the local workforce, and how to integrate it with the wider operation of the whole company. When companies venture into new territories to expand their businesses in the spirit of globalization, they encounter diverse cultures and cultural practices that may not be particularly suited to the overall operational model of the business.
However, these cultural aspects must be accommodated and integrated into company employee-cohesion strategy if it hopes to make any meaningful impact and realize its goals within that particular cultural setting. Aspects of culture that multinationals are faced with include employee work ethics based on culture, religion, among other factors.
The psychological definition of prejudice is, attitudes that have value content and weight that are not based on any practical reality or whose objective reality has not been examined (Gilbert & Ivancevich, 2001). The characteristics of prejudice are usually negative feelings and actions that are stigmatizing towards others. Ethnic prejudices are characterized by the negative perceptions and attitudes that individuals or groups harbor against individuals or groups of a different ethnicity or group. Furthermore, it is important that prejudices not only exist within the attitudes of people but are also institutional such as in laws, literature or school syllabuses. They also exist at the social level such as social discussions.
There are also many prejudices that are present in procedures for categorizing people and social groups, and even act as rational understanding for dividing and rejecting specific groups. Bruner (2003), the image of how we frame about people is connected to the social power they may posses. Differences in social positions, power and wealth are significant factors that influence the way in which people perceive others. Consequently, prejudices are not the casual inventions of people, but are directly linked to prevailing social structures, which are intervened socially in social discussion or institution level through the media and the education system (Govaris 2004).
Robertson, Kulik and Pepper (2003) state that there are a number of approaches that a company can use in establishing a diversity program, and it is not likely for there to be an exclusive way that is guaranteed to be the most successful. They further observe that the likelihood of such a success is dependent on situational dynamics such as the strategies of the organization, environment, the people as well as organizational culture. Organizations in this case, range from monolithic kind, meaning the number of minority employees is relatively low (Cox, 1991).
Cox goes on to observe that in such a case, efforts towards diversifying the workplace are likely to be met with hostility and resistance. The multicultural kinds are organizations where employees from minority groups work in all levels of the enterprise. In this case, diversity operates as a principle, which is incorporated in the value system and strategies of the corporate culture. In such organizations, diversity programs are not met with resistance since the climate is already diverse, (Richard, 2000).
Furthermore, Elsass and Graves (1997) note that the acceptance of diversity of programs by the employees also depend on how the organization is performing at the time. Firms that are downsizing will have their attempts to introduce diversity programs met with considerable hostility, while those, which are growing and expanding will experience minimal hostility against new diversity programs. Richardson (2000) observes that being aware of the situation is crucial in an organization’s bid to implement a diversity program, since situational factors are determinant of how a diversity program will be received by the employees.
Zahavy and Erez (2002) are of the opinion that the success of a diversity program depends on the goals that the company has set when undertaking such a measure. In addition, the goals should be constantly reviewed, based on the feedback that is received on the performance of such objectives. According to Locke and Latham, (1990), the goal setting theory is based on the notion that precise goals that are both tasking and acceptable stimulate performance on a range of duties than goals, which are easy, ambiguous and unreal. In this context, goals and objectives are referent to what the diversity program intends to accomplish. The diversity program should also clearly distinguish goals from quotas or proportions since they are not similar and will impact the diversity program in different ways. Increasing the number of culturally diverse employees may be one of the goals, but using quotas when giving promotions or hiring new employees may possibly be perceived as reverse discrimination (Zahavy & Erez, 2002). Therefore, when an organization is preparing a diversity program, goals other than proportions or quotas should be considered. Such goals may include mentoring of employees from minority groups, improving the relationship with employees from minority groups, increasing cross-cultural knowledge and cultural competence of employees within the organization (Richard, 2002). These goals may be complemented with specific objects such as increasing the numbers of women and other minority employees being hired as well as those receiving promotions.
Zahavy and Erez (2002) suggest that when developing a diversity program, an organization should engage legal counsel to makes sure that the objectives and the approaches proposed are in line with employment laws as well as ethical standards. The goals should not only be specific in nature, but also realistic. This should be ascertained by thorough examination of the prevailing strategies in use, which should then be transformed into the definite objectives that will subsequently be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
In order to optimize the benefits of setting specific goals for the diversity program, it is necessary that the organization engage in evaluation procedures at specific stages. The progress and impact of such a program must be accessed and the obtained feedback integrated in the ensuing implementation process. Feedback in this case is very crucial as it provides insight on how well the goals of the diversity program are being met and factors that need to be changed to streamline the process. Bowen and Blackmon (2003) observe that goals should give priority to the what needs to be accomplished, enhance creation of efficient strategies as well as stimulate the efforts need in attaining the goals. Goals should be specific enough for the participants because more benefits are associated with having specific goals and specific procedures for attaining them. Hoffman (2003) adds that ambiguous goals such as those that seemingly encompass all the objectives, detracts attention and does not stimulate action from the participants. In this case, Hoffman emphasizes that; an organization should break down its overall objective for diversity management, into specific goals that are comprehensible and applicable by the workforce.
According to Howard, Hoffman and Wintenberg (2003) add that framing of a diversity program has a great influence on its overall success. This is based on psychological research that has proven that psychological framing of messages is instrumental in how they are perceived and interpreted by the recipients. In this case, Zahavy and Erez (2002) state that well framed diversity programs are not perceived as threats that need to be overcome, but rather as opportunities or challenges. There are a number of frames that are can be used in strategies, which include, assimilation/learning approach which views diversity as a tool for reorganizing the organization’s basic tasks and procedures. Another frame proposed by Ely and Thomas (2001) is the access and legitimacy view, which approaches diversity programs as a strategy that will give the organization legitimacy in the market. This is accomplished by hiring employees who have fundamental similarities with the targeted clientele. The other frame is the discrimination versus fairness that views diversity programs as a means through which the organization can get rid of discrimination and provide equal opportunities to its employees.
Ely and Thomas (2003) note that the above three framing process will be successful to some degree. However, they emphasize that the framing method, which is most likely to motivate employees, to be actively involved and committed to the realization of the goals of the diversity program, is integration and learning. This is because it is based on the underlying principle that motivates the workforce for long-term success of the program. Management also plays an important role. Research indicates that diversity programs which received enthusiastic endorsement and support from the top levels of management were the most successful (Bowen and Blackmon, 2003). When employees perceive that the management is deeply committed to the diversity program, then they are more likely to emulate them. Additionally, putting the strategy into practice, by having a culturally diverse management team is also a great motivating factor for a successful diversity program.
Adding to the framing of diversity programs strategy, Kravitz and Klineberg (2002) state that when creating affirmative actions aimed at increasing the number of women and other minorities in the workforce, it is important to put into consideration a number of important factors. Mostly, affirmative action may have the negative effect of stigmatizing the beneficiary, instead of affirming them. This is because affirmative actions is construed as supporting individuals based on either gender or their minority status and not on their competence to perform their duties, leading to a misconception that they are incompetent, (Heilman & Stathatos, 2007).
Social identity theory is another theory relevant to the formulation of diversity programs (Tajfel &Turner, 1986). This theory applies to diversity programs and management because when the workforce identifies with the organization, the chances for the success of the diversity program are much higher. The premise of this theory is that individuals desire to perceive themselves in the most positive light, and one way of doing so is being identified with individuals who are like themselves. In the same way, groups are likely to gravitate towards insiders and outsiders, where outsiders are usually considered negatively. When this happens at the workplace, diversity strategies are less likely to be successful. When such in-groupings occur, workmates become prejudiced against each other, stereotypes prevail triggering conflicts (Bowen and Blackmon, 2003).
Lefkowitz (1994) observes that there are various factors that exist within the working environment that will cause the employees to gravitate towards those who are most similar to them. A research conducted by Harrison and Bell, (1998) suggests that individual employees need to be encouraged to know themselves, in order to counteract the tendency of workmates to associate themselves with only those they perceive to be like them. This requires a lot of time, and various strategies. Brickson (2000) in his study, established that having a reward structure within the organization is likely to stimulate employees to collaborate and cooperate but there is need for specific goals that are geared towards enhancing teamwork and forming of mutual relationships by the workforce. Specifically, when the reward being giving makes it a requirement for the employees to cooperate or collaborate with each other, then the institution as well as the teams become precedent as opposed to the individual differences that separate the workforce.
In the same way, Chatman, Polzer and Barsade (1998) add that tasks that are more individually based and rewards for such will only motivate the workers to become more individualistic and will not encourage teamwork and cooperation. This will result to the ineffectiveness of the diversity programs. Enhancing a culture of cooperation within the organization will require management to take a leadership position that emphasizes on common good and basing some performance of tasks on overall group performance and not on individuals and rewarding such group achievements often (Brickson 2003).
Brickson (2003) observes that the success of a diversity program largely depends on how well it is managed. Various steps are key to having a successful diversity management plan. According to Lyness (2006), diversity management includes enhancing the commitment of senior management to the diversity program, as well as making the answerable to issues arising in its implementation and overall success. Lyness is also of the opinion that human resources should not be charged with managing the diversity program but the responsibility should be placed upon line management. Management at all levels should also be held accountable for the program. Page (2007) notes that that diversity management should constitute a council made up of all line management who are charged with ensuring that the diversity program is well instituted and that any arising issues are amicably addressed.
Diversity, within the context of employee management, means all the considerable differences that exist between people, and include the perceptions of differences, which need to be put under consideration in specific circumstances. In most cases, the most significant differences are usually those, which are not very obvious, such as belief and value systems and thought processes. Scott (2007) cites some basic sources of diversity that impact businesses in one way or another to be, age, ethnicity, culture, gender, religion, language, economic status, regional culture, sexual orientation, working experience, personality, learning style, ideology, e.t..c.
Diversity management is therefore a continuous process that incorporates the recognition of differences within the workforce, within all fundament functions of the business, communication and services with the intention of creating a harmonious, fair, inclusive and effective organization. Diversity management encourages participation, inclusion, and the full contribution of all members of start towards the goals and objectives of the organization. Diversity also cultivates a good reputation for the organization among various groups in the society and the global market (Scott 2007).
Diversity and diversity management at the workplace has undergone major revolution in the last 30 years in both UK and major economies on the globe. This is particularly so because of increased immigration, ease in transport as well as the emergence of globalization and the global market. Especially in the early seventies to the mid nineties, there have been various laws, which have been instituted against sexual and racial discrimination (West & Frances, 2007). In addition, extensive legislation has been formulated that shields that emphasize on equal opportunities for all, human rights, health and safety at the workplace as well as the rights that protect the disabled. These laws made it imperative for businesses and institutions to comply in order to mitigate the risks of expensive penalties, legal action, injuries, reduced motivation and damage to the organizations reputation among other factors (Scott, 2007). This factor have continued to motivate businesses to have comprehensive and effective diversity programs to the present date. Managers are held responsible to ensure tolerance and fairness at the workplace, which according to West and Frances (2007), is achieved through staff training, control systems and other compliance policies.
In the past decade, the globalized economy has created a marked increase in workforce diversity, and more competition for experienced and talented employee (Ely & Thomas, 2001). Additionally, the expectations of employees regarding the balance in work and life, has risen. Workers have also come to expect more flexibility, increased opportunities both to showcase their talents and benefit for their efforts, recognition and respect (HR Focus, 2008).. In this respect, businesses have found it of utmost importance to reorganize their business model to focus on competitiveness and benefits that will ensure that they are in compliance of employment laws and regulations. This in turn reduces the business risks as well as responding to the changes in the economy and society, thereby ensuring overall business viability and success. Hostager and De Meuse (2003) observe that managers are charged with the responsibility of enhancing workforce diversity and its advantages to create social cohesiveness and inclusiveness, which are significant elements that determine the effectiveness and success of the organization.
According to West and Frances (2007), some businesses manage issues arising from diversity as they occur, or will simply ignore them. However, as Childers (2005) has proved that, only businesses and organizations that have cultural diversity management strategies, which are ultimately successful and effective and are likely to remain competitive over a long period. Grimes (2008) adds that, the key to coming up with a good strategy for managing cultural diversity is understanding, what factors that motivate and satisfy the employees regardless of their backgrounds. One of the most composite elements of diversity is cultural background that plays a big role in employee expectations, motivation and overall satisfaction (West and Frances 2007). Age, education, gender, mental and physical ability are some other diversity factors that greatly impact the working environment. Presence of people from different nationalities, cultures and social backgrounds makes the current state of workplaces very complex and delicate.
Gilbert and Ivancevich (2000) state that human beings are more alike than they are different, and perceived differences are rooted in upbringing, and acquired viewpoints about the world and the manner in which things are done. Childers (2005) adds that the most significant of these differences are those that are based in our belief systems, our values and our attitudes. In this case, the management of diversity should be connected to the both the performance of the organization as well as that of the individual. This is based on the notion that performance is largely dependent on the quality of ones thinking, which is based on the quality of information that an individual has (Bowen and Blackmon, 2003) Without the right kind of information, especially that, which concerns others, misperceptions and miscommunication will be inevitable. Having the knowledge about differences, and how they are likely to impact relationships, actions and decisions within the composite diverse working environment enables managers and the business at large to enhance performance at the individual and team levels (HR Focus, 2008).
Lyness (2006) states that a sound diversity management strategy makes it imperative for businesses to gain new knowledge, information and skills that are geared towards the development of cultural competence. Managing people who are from diverse cultural backgrounds calls for a combined knowledge and skills, which can be acquired, and that will lead to the acquisition of cultural knowledge and competence. According to Brickson (2003), cultural competence is awareness, practices, knowledge, skills and procedures that are required in for the appropriated and efficient functioning within situations and circumstances that are generally culturally diverse and interaction of individuals coming from diverse cultures. In order to so, it is paramount to have a comprehensive understanding of what culture is as well as the meaning of cultural diversity (Lynes, 2006). It is also of great importance, when seeking to become culturally competent, to have frameworks and concepts that are comprehensive enough to facilitate the ability to manage and analyze culture and cultural diversity in ways that are practical and applicable.
According to HR Focus, (2008) groups desire to work harmoniously and with cooperation without disagreements and conflicts. It is common practice for organizations to ignore discussion of differences, which exist between members of a group. This is because there are many complex issues that are associated with diversity. Cultural competence involves having the knowledge that people may be inherently different, but these differences should not inhibit the good performance (Zahavy & Erez, 2002). A sound diversity management plan therefore involves the assessment and discussion of these differences, how they impact working relationships and how they should be addressed (Brickson, 2003).
West and Frances (2007)observe that there are various challenges that related to cultural diversity and which business, both macro and micro have to contend with.
Among them are:
i.Complying with regulations on safety, equal opportunities and anti discrimination
ii.Responding to a increased diversity in the labor market
iii.Competing for the talent available in the labor force
iv.Managing innovation and knowledge in the workplace
v.Sustainable relationships with the community
vi.Serving a market that is culturally diverse, both locally and internationally
vii.Meeting the needs and expectations of the workforce
viii.Meeting all ethical standards and social responsibility
ix.Remaining competitive in culturally diverse global market
Each of the above elements bears great significance of the performance and viability of a business. According to Watson (2002) the top 100 companies in diversity management, based on equal pay and opportunities, motivation and of employees and had a 10.7% increase on returns on investment. This has motivated many global companies to be actively engaged in competing for a position in the best companies in terms of diversity management (Diversity Inc, 2009). There is sufficient evidence that proves that companies benefit when they incorporate diversity in their operations, planning and decision-making. Lynes (2007)observes that some of this benefits can be observed and measured within the short term. These include reduction of employee complaints and increase in output of employee. However, as (Zahavy & Erez, 2002). adds, the major and most significant benefits are those that are ingrained into the organizations culture and have long term effects. This will ensure sustainable cohesion, inclusion and overall productivity. Undertaking a management approach, that enhances on compliance, organization and market growth factors into everyday business operations will present immense benefits, reduce costs and increase profitability, (Rosenfeld, Landis & Dalsky, 2003) add that it is imperative that, while undertaking diversity program implementation, business and organizations specific issues should be considered, as well as specific aims and objectives. In order to do so, the case for action should be analyzed in detail.
Sacco and Schmitt (2003).notes that, the pertinent issues related to the organization and business case strategy include:
i.Development of the organization
ii.Management of knowledge and skills
v.Development of products and services
Rosenfeld, Landis and Dalsky, (2003) further observes that the business case for cultural diversity management is based on the proven fact that businesses gain competitive advantage whey they have sound diversity management strategies and polices. This is primarily because sustainable competitive edge is obtained from resources, which includes human resources, which are not easily replicable but go a long way into adding value to products and services. This facilitates the growth and development of the organization in a number of ways, which Sacco and Schmitt (2003) cites as:
enhanced team and management functions
better long term strategies and planning, which factor in demographic trends
Better response and flexibility to changing markets
Better mechanisms for resolving employee conflicts and improved decision making
Improved chances of attracting better talent and employee retention
In terms of talent attraction and retention, Richard (2000) notes that organizations that have sound strategies in diversity management, and that address the issues of minority employees greatly cut down on employee turnover, which saves them money, retains skills and boosts the reputation of the organization within the global market. Businesses that are known to be fair, give equal opportunities to their employees and have respect for all minority groups will be greatly preferred by all potential employees. Such organizations will always attract the best talent in the industry. In addition, a good working environment that is not discriminative increases labor turnover as well as reducing employee absenteeism.
Richard (2000) adds that a sound diversity management program reduces employee groupings in terms of insiders and outsiders, stimulates motivation, creates flexibility and enhances the productivity of employees. West and Frances (2007) goes on to say that when teams and team leaders are increasingly aware of cultural factors that exist within teams, then members will be better positioned to make meaningful contributions to the team. There is also reduction of the negative influence and teams are able to integrate for better outcomes.
Specifically pertaining to global businesses, Wintenberg (2003) notes that linguistic diversity within the workforce will enable the organization to communicate easily with an international market. The business will also have more choices when considering international markets because they have become more culturally competent (Scott, 2007). Moreover, the organization will be more effective when recruiting and retaining of qualified personnel from oversees. Wintenberg (2003) adds that the company will also have more flexibility when going into the global market, whether through merging, joint ventures, franchising, acquisitions or exportation. Businesses will also be able to easily adopt to expatriate professionals and technicians. Ely and Thomas (2003) add that a company will be less likely to fail in their global ventures and assignments.
According to Sacco and Schmitt (2003), sustainable competitive edge is gained from the knowledge and skills among the employees, which other competitors cannot be able to duplicate or obtain from the labor market. In this sense, knowledge is considered diverse and businesses should s t rive to create a knowledge based culture within its operation (Sinclair 2000) notes that the management of knowledge within an enterprise involves recognizing, formulating, ongoing expansion and improvement and sharing of the knowledge, insights and experiences of the organizations members. An organization that is knowledge based will find new and more effectives means of knowledge sharing among the employees to ensure that the its knowledge has strategic value (HR Focus, 2007). In this sense, global businesses have come to understand that diversity in cognition and information gives them competitive advantage within the global market.
According to Kravitz and Klineberg (2002) training, professional development and learning enhance to the above processes. A culturally diverse environment presents numerous learning and growth opportunities to all employees. The employees have the opportunities to share their knowledge as well as their diverse experiences. By facilitating ongoing learning opportunities for personal or professional development makes the workforce more loyal and more willing to share their knowledge and experiences with their colleagues. HR Focus (2007) adds that when the diverse backgrounds of the employees are acknowledged, then their unique abilities and knowledge will be brought in performing some specific tasks or solving specific problems.
Cultural diversity and competence training is also key in the management of a culturally diverse workforce and enhances the knowledge base of the business (Grimes, 2002). Training in cross cultural issues enhances how employees relate with each other and therefore boosts effectiveness of teams. Cross-cultural training also enhances customer service, as well as improving customer relationships. Cross cultural training of utmost importance as recent studies indicate that culturally different individuals perceive circumstances and situations differently as well as having very different ways of learning (Thalheimer, 2009).
Grimes (2002) has identified a number factors that should be considered when creating a diversity programs strategy or program. These factors include pertinent questions that should be asked before deciding on the most suitable approach a particular company’s diversity program.
These questions are:
i.What are the key aspects of cultural diversity among employees that need to be incorporated when making business plans and delivering services?
ii.What are the factors related to the cultural diversity of the workforce influence planning, assigning duties and delivery of products and services.
iii.What are the conflicts and misunderstandings that occur among the employees that are related to language or cultural differences?
iv.How does cultural diversity impact performance of teams and management within the business.
v.Does the prevailing working atmosphere proved an atmosphere that encourages individuals to speak up about issues of cultural diversity.
vi.What are the key skills that team leaders and managers should posses to manage and work with cultural diversity
vii.What is the current diversity management scenario within the company?
Kravitz and Klineberg (2002) points out that, for an enterprise to develop a business case geared toward management of diversity, some crucial factors that impact business operations should be identified. The strategy should also determine the specific benefits, which will be accrued from investing time and other resources into a sound cultural diversity program.
Communicating across cultures
Cultural differences affect how individuals communicate across cultures (Hostager & De Meuse, 2003). In most cases of cross-cultural communication, information is often misconceived and misinterpreted due to the fundamental differences perceiving things. Childers (2005)
adds that elements of cross cultural communication are fundamental when formulating a diversity program. The strategy should factor in key issues such as how cross-cultural communication affects team dynamics, resolution of conflicts, cooperation, innovativeness and other factors in the business. In order to be fully cultural competent, it is important for the workforce to have effective skills that will enable them to communicate across cultures effectively. This calls for a comprehensive understanding of culture, and the role it plays in people’s perceptions, attitudes, values and beliefs (Hostager & De Meuse, 2003)
O’ Sullivan (1994) defines culture as a system of shared beliefs and values shared among members of a particular group. Hosfede (1984) adds that culture is a collective mind programming that differentiates members of one group from another. Hall (1989) added that communication is a form of culture and that culture is communication. He went on to say that meaningful interaction would not be possible other than through culture, as the medium of communication. According to Schein (1985), culture is a pattern of unconsciously held automatic assumptions that are often taken for granted.
Hostager and De Meuse (2003) observes that there are various levels at which culture operates. This include National, regional, occupational, organizational and team levels of culture. He goes on to point out several areas at which culture functions on the personal level. These include upbringing, ideology and personality. West and Frances (2007) points out that, to understand and compare cultures, there is need to generalize, but at the same time clarify the difference between stereotyping and generalizing. Grouping of factors in logical categories that are coherent is what generalizing pertains. Brickson (2003) notes that it is not possible to isolate all factors that are at play within interactions of culturally diverse individuals or groups. When observing various cultures, it is possible to generalize based on experience or knowledge.
Some generalizations include:
i.Western cultures are individualistic
ii.Asian cultures value politeness and discretions.
Stereotyping, on the hand, is taking such generalizations and applying them to groups of people, without considering the inherent individual differences. This means that everyone within such a group has been stereotyped. Cornes, (1998) notes that when thinking about workforce diversity, generalizations may occur at the initial stages, but there should be openness and modification of these perceptions and generalizations as we gain more knowledge and information regarding the cultures we are dealing with. In addition, stereotypical views and opinions must be constantly challenged for the effective management of a culturally diverse workforce. It is of great importance for diversity management strategies to understand the demographic factors of the team or workforce to be attuned to trends and changes in population and its cultural composition Wintenberg (2003)
According to HR Focus (2008), there are four basic factors that underlie cross cultural communication. Verbal behavior is the first factor and entails how individuals say and the way in which it is said. Here, tone, volume, rate and accents are involved. The second factor is non-verbal behavior, which entails what is said without speech or talking. Non-verbal communicative behavior consists of body language, e.g. body movements and eye contact. …. adds that there is also object language that involves ornamentation, dress codes, and the environment within which the communication is being carried out such as the design of an office and the décor. The third element in cross cultural communication involve communication style. This is the preferred way of self expression and includes assumptions held regarding how to interact and communicate with others, and how we choose to convey what we wish to communicate. The fourth factor is what we believe to be right. This is largely influenced by prejudices, values and attitudes. Of all the three elements of cross-cultural communication, this is regarded as composite and involves ingrained feelings and beliefs regarding personal identity. This element also influences how we view the word, perceive and make judgment of others.
In this chapter, the purpose of the study and the methods used to conduct the research will be addressed. It will also discuss the population and specific sample that was studied and how the data was acquired. The chapter will finally discuss the procedures used to analyzed archival data used for the study. A fundamental question that has guided past researches in cultural diversity at the workplace is whether it enables corporations to perform better and realize more growth and profitability. The studies had have established that indeed, the role of culturally diversity at the workplace is important and does enable companies to become more competitive, both domestically and at the international platform. This is primarily so, especially for multinationals, because it gives them an international and inclusive appearance, making its activities and products more desirable and acceptable to an international market.
It has also been established that cultural diversity in a company is of great value because it demonstrates that the company’s employment policies is in line with international standards and offers equal opportunities to all regardless of cultural, racial or religious background. Such policies give the clientele confidence in the company, and with prevailing awareness by consumers regarding ethical standards of companies where they procure their goods or services, the company stands to benefit from cultural diversity in its workforce.
Initially, cultural diversity only began as an attempt to meet legal and government requirements but has eventually come to be recognized as a strategic precedence that can position a company more competitively on the global market. Companies are increasingly dedicating a lot of time and resources in training on diversity, creating benefits program for a culturally diverse workforce, and other such plans, all geared towards increasing and fortify cultural diversity within the workforce (Konrad, 2003). Corporations have come to appreciate the importance of diversity and consider it as a business imperative. Demographic shifts within the labor market, both domestically and internationally, particularly the rapid increase of minority labor over the last decade has affected companies and businesses in various ways. Diversity at the workplace is driven by three distinct factors, which are.
i.Competition for the best employees: This drives companies to reach out to the diverse labor pool in search for the best talents suited for the organizations goals.
ii.Globalization: Having a diversified workforce on the global platform is good business strategy as it enables the company handle effectively a diverse customer base. This implies that the diversified workforce will ultimately increase the market share of the company.
iii.Increased innovation and creativity: This implies that the diversified workforce have more innovative and creative resources that are availed by the diversified demographics. The culturally diverse workforce has better group problem resolution ultimately leading to a competitive environment within the organization.
With this in mind, the current research aims at exploring, evaluating and ultimately coming up with a suitably comprehensive strategy that will enable companies maintain optimum levels of employee harmony, cohesion and motivation. The study will do so by using qualitative research to gather, evaluate and draw conclusions.
The research design used for this study will be in the form of:
i.Extensive literature review
This study aimed at identifying key strategies that will enhance harmonious working relationships among culturally diverse employees. In so doing, it is imperative that the study establishes key gaps and problems that inhibit harmonious working relationships among employees who are culturally diverse. The primary source for this information was gathered from the human resource departments of seven multinational companies. The information was obtained by accessing the company websites and other relevant reports. Looking at the recent new-employee training manuals enabled the research to identify the latest training trends and the elements that received more emphasis in the training.
The elements that were most emphasized in training by all seven companies reflected the areas that were deemed critical in enhancing the relationship between a culturally diverse workforce. They were also useful in recognizing possible problems that the companies had identified in employee relationships and had undertaken corrective measures to be covered in the training. Such strategies that were identified in six out of the seven companies that were evaluated included, ESL training for the immigrant workforce, and in four out of the seven companies, there was ESL training for new-employees in oversees companies, who were hired from the local labor force. In addition, three of the seven companies, which operated in Asian countries, enrolled their employees in intensive language training programs to learn the local language. This was particular for companies in Japan, India and China.
Extensive literature review
Numerous studies have been conducted that address the question of diversity at the workplace and specifically cultural diversity at the workplace in the context of globalization. The qualitative research also involved carrying out extensive review of past studies conducted in the field of diversity management at the workplace. Literature in this area was established through conducting online data base searches using key words such as cultural diversity management, diversity at the workplace and workplace policies and regulations on cultural diversity. This search yielded over 2000 hits from the various databases, which were further refined based on their relevance to the research topic and their date of publication. More recent articles were preferred as they reflected the most recent research and strategies in cultural diversity and diversity management at the workplace.
The aims of the extensive and systematic literature survey were to:
identify all relevant published evidence on diversity management
Select the most relevant studies and reports to be included in the study
Assess the quality and authenticity of each research or report.
Synthesis the results and findings from the individual researches and reports in a way the would answer the research questions of the current study
Interpret the results of the articles used and come up with a balanced and cohesive analysis while putting into consideration possible flaws in the past studies and reports
Draw out a comprehensive approach that would be effective in promoting harmony among culturally diverse employees.
Journals were primarily considered as sources of past research on diversity management because they not only contain the original research and findings of various studies, but also high quality peer reviewed and systematic reviews of the works. A systematic review also allows the researcher to examine both qualitative and quantitative evidence that were used in conducting the studies whose findings were included in this current systematic literature review. In a addition, integrating the systematic literature review process for a study enables the researcher to establish the feasibility, meaningfulness and appropriateness of past studies on the topic. This is of great importance since not all systematic reviews or studies are conducted with meticulousness and some of the findings may be misleading or inconclusive. Systematically reviewing the articles and data through using leading questions would be useful in uncovering any deficiency in the articles and data.
In conducting the literature survey a specific methodology is used, which is aimed at minimizing bias while appraising the data and reports of the articles and other publications. The approach also ensures that the selected data is relevant to the current research, and that it is suitably appropriate and meaningful. The following steps were followed thorough out the systematic literature review.
i.A well defined research question. This entails a comprehensive statement of the objectives of the study, issue of interest, relevant population of interest and the settings where the population exists. The statement of objectives for the study also includes the kind of studies or evidence that will be instrumental in answering the research questions in addition to the appropriate results and outcomes. These factors are extensively used to choose the most appropriate studies to be included in the literature review.
ii.Literature search: Searching of both published and unpublished researches and literature is meticulously carried out for the needed studies, which are related to the research topic and research questions. To ensure that the literature assessment is as unbiased as possible, the search is careful to include all studies therefore using multiple databases that include studies carried out in other countries. Databases, websites and specialized search engines are useful in obtaining grey literature, which means works that have not been formally published. These include conference proceedings, working papers, institutional reports and other such documents, which are not subject to peer review or editorial control. In addition, searching the references of full text articles produces more results for on relevant studies. Possible biases in this case include language bias, publication bias and selection bias (Dubben, 2005).
iii.Assessment of literature: After identification of potential literature that may be used in the current study, it is important to make an assessment if the following manner.
Eligibility against the criteria for inclusion. Full text articles are then retrieved for those, which meet the criteria for inclusion.
Subsequent to the selection stage for full text papers, the rest of the works are assessed to establish their framework for critical appraisal and methodological quality. Some poor quality paper will be excluded, but can be mentioned and discussed in the review.
Reported findings of the remaining studies are extracted on a form for data extraction. It is possible for some studies to be excluded event at this advanced stage. A listing of the included studies is generated at this point.
iv.Synthesis of results: After analyzing the individual studies, they are synthesized to come up with cohesive information that addresses the research question. The method of synthesizing the findings is dependent on the type of data that the evidence has yielded. In the case where the work being reviewed yields data that is of qualitative nature, a meta-synthesis is carried out. Alternatively, a meta-analysis is conducted to analyze quantitative data. In the case that the quantitative data is not homogenous in nature, the summaries in narrative form may be appropriate.
v.Contextualizing the findings: In order to put the results of collective studies selected for the study in context, then a discussion of the findings is necessary. Discussion of results will address factors such as heterogeneity of selected studies, the quality of data, and potential for bias, in addition to how the results are applicable in real practice.
Broad research question
The broad research question that guided the study is:
What is the most effective approach to cultural diversity at the workplace whilst maintaining employee harmony and cohesion?
Other research questions
What specific actions can a business or organization undertake in order to manage cultural diversity at the workplace more effectively?
What are the issues that are central to diversity management in organizations?
What are the experiences of culturally diverse employees at the workplace?
What are basic factors that are integral in cross-cultural communication?
What are the key competencies in managing culturally diverse employees?
How can an organization manage its cultural diversity training guide?
Questionnaires and Surveys
Structured questionnaires and surveys were used to obtain primary data for this study. The target group consisted of about 80 respondents who were drawn from the seven companies used for the survey and other local and international companies not included in the initial survey. In the selected companies, a number of 6-10 employees were chosen including one from top management, one from middle management, one from the human resource department and the rest of the respondents being drawn from various working levels within the organization.
Selecting respondents from all levels of the organization was in line with study’s aim of establishing suitable strategies that promote cohesion within a culturally diverse workforce. Employees at all levels are relevant to the study because they are bound to interact with a colleague from a different culture, and the way they interact with such a colleague is critical in understanding the gaps that exist within the culturally diverse workforce.
The human resource department personnel were instrumental as respondents because they were central to the whole dynamics of employee relationships and the department was responsible for identifying missing links with culturally diverse colleagues, and had in the past or presently been involved in trying to identify strategies that would creating a strong working force. Top-level management respondents were selected because they were involved, at the very top, with ensuring that the company is competitively positioned in the market, and one way of doing so was to ensure that the right strategies in employee management were in place. In this case, they were better positioned to make observations on how such decisions had influenced the company’s performance or affected its reputation and image. They are therefore more knowledgeable on the effectiveness of past policies and strategies and possible new ones that would seal loopholes that emerge in relationships between culturally diverse employees..
Mostly open-ended questions were used in the questionnaire and were structured in such a way that would ensure the major research question was answered. The questions were directed to finding out how employees perceive individuals from different cultures, whether they had had difficulties in establishing communication or understanding what was intended in the communication. They also aimed at establishing the level of satisfaction of employees, given the prevailing employee benefits and policies that address cultural diversity. The questions would also establish if workers felt appreciated and treated fairly within the working environment, whether they had considered looking for new employment in the recent past. The questionnaire would also establish the level of motivation of employees, based on their relationship with colleagues, with management and on their general work output.
The questionnaires have been specifically designed in a way that will help unearth key weaknesses and strengths in the strategies used in dealing with cultural diversity at the workforce. Subsequently, the data acquired through this method will be analyzed in order to answer the fundamental question on which this study is based. Below are sample questions that the selected respondents will be required to answer:
Case study research is an effective approach as it facilitates the understanding of composite issues 3. Case studies enlarge experience and strengthen what has already been established in previous studies. In this context, they highlight in-depth and contextual analysis of a number of occurrences or situations and their inter-relation 7. Case study method in this research will be used to examine the existing situation in organization and how current approaches to managing cultural diversity at the workplace. This will in turn provide the foundation for the application of the strategies and ideas that will be generated from assessing the real-life situation of a culturally diverse working environment and the experiences of the individuals who do their work is such an environment.
Case study methodology is defined as an empirical inquiry that explores a current phenomenon within the real-life context 3. This is particularly effective in the case the phenomenon being investigated and the context cannot be clearly separated. Those who are opposed to case study research methodology observe that the examination of a limited number of cases is not sufficient to provide generality and reliability of the results while others feel that findings may become biases because of overexposure to a particular case. Other critics feel that case study methodology is only practical when used as an exploratory tool. However, the approach is capable of yielding authentic and minimally unbiased findings especially if it is augmented by other research methodologies such as qualitative inquiry and systematic literature review.
Conducting a case study
The first step when conducting a case having definite research questions that will aid in addressing the broader research question for the study 5. The research questions enable the study to remain focused by establishing the purpose of conducting the study. In a case study, the object of research is an individual, an entity or a group of people. Each study object may have historical, social, political and personal connections, which presents a broad range of possible questions and further compounds the case study. Case study methodology investigates the object of study comprehensively, by engaging various data collection methods to come up with evidence that will lead to the comprehension of the case and answer the guiding research questions 6.
Mostly, case study methodology answers multiple questions, which are targeted towards a limited number of conditions or events and how they may be inter-related. It is more effective to generate research questions for the case study after conducting an intensive literature review 6. In this case, the researcher is able to assess the studies, which have been previously conducted, therefore ensuring that the questions are refined and answer to the broader research question. Establishing the questions before embarking on the case study will direct the researcher to the appropriate places where evidence may be found. Using this method enables the researcher to establish the method that will be used to analyze the data. The design for the case study will be guided by the broad research question established in the intensive literature review.
The guidelines that will be used in conducting this study are
What is the current practice in cultural diversity management in the companies selected for the case study?
What is the approach is used when training in cultural diversity
To what extent is the workforce culturally diverse
What are the experiences of employees working in a culturally diverse environment?
The second step involves selecting the cases to be used and the methods of data collection and data analysis that will be used 5. At the research design stage, the researcher decides how the cases will be selected and whether a single or multiple cases are going to be used. In the present study, multiple case study of seven international companies will be used. Each case study will be treated as individual and single cases. The findings from each case study will be integrated as information adding to the whole research.
In order to ensure the validity of study, the case studies were carefully selected by examining many available choices. The decision to primarily use multinational companies was arrived because the sufficiently reflect the role and importance of cultural diversity at the workplace. In addition, they offer the best-case scenario in which to investigate the experiences of individuals working in a culturally diverse environment, as they are more likely to have a higher number of multi-cultural individuals than domestic companies.
In selecting the case studies, the researcher considered cases that have some unique aspect in their practice of diversity at the workplace, cases that may be considered as typical and those, which are representative of various geographical regions and integrated various sizes for the research. This was facilitated by referring to the purpose of the study in order to stay focus on cases, which would satisfy the main purpose of the study and provide answers the research questions.
Selected companies for the case study
A significant strength that the case study approach bears is the ability to use multiple sources and various techniques in the process of data collection 5. The researcher predetermined the type of evidence that would be gathered and the type of techniques that would be used to analyze the collected data in a way that comprehensively answers the main, as well as other research questions. In this case, the data will be analyzed using qualitative method. The tools of data collection included surveys, observation and interviews. Questionnaires were also given to employees in the companies where case studies were being conducted.
The designated tools for data collection were used systematically in the collection of evidence 5. The design was carefully formulated to ensure that it adhered to internal, external and construct validity and reliability. Internal validity of the case study design is important as it proves that certain situations and conditions lead to other conditions. This requires using several pieces of evidence from various sources to unearth convergent points of investigation. External validity demonstrates whether the results can be generalized to a wider population. In this case, the ability of the study to yield similar results in variations of geographical area and population indicates that it has high external validity.
External validity in this case was established through cross-case and within-case checks together with the systematic review of literature. Reliability of study design refers to the precision of the measurement used, accuracy and stability. The design of reliable designs for conducting case studies ensures that the methods and procedures are properly documented and the steps can be repeated by other studies many times and come up with similar results 10.
Step 3. Preparation for Collecting the Data
Next is the preparation for data collection, the actual data collection and subsequent evaluation and analysis of the data. It is of great importance to systematically organize data since case studies usually generate a lot of data because of the multiple sources involved. There is potential for the researcher to become overwhelmed by the data generated, and systematic organization will alleviate this possibility 16. Prior preparation in the management of data is of great importance. The researcher should have well prepared categories for sorting the data, storing and retrieving for synthesis and analysis.
The case study research methodology enabled the researcher to make observations and identify underlying factors that are related to the phenomenon under observation 16. The raw data was examined through engaging various interpretations to establish possible connections and linkages between the object of research and with reference to the research questions of the present study. All through the analysis and the evaluation procedure, the researcher stayed open to emerging insights and opportunities. This is especially important because case study methodology and the multiple techniques used for data collection and evaluation, present the researcher with various opportunities for data triangulation to strengthen the overall results and conclusions from the study.
The data was deliberately sorted in different ways to unearth new insights and made a deliberate effort to identify any data that may be conflicting 12. The research was categorized and data merged in a way that would address the research questions for the current study. Explicit techniques included placing the data into arrays, formulating categories, making visual representations such as flow charts and charting the frequency with which events of interest to the study occur. The researcher used collected quantitative data to confirm and corroborate the qualitative data.
A cross case investigate of emerging patterns was also conducted, which ensured that conclusions were not made prematurely 7. This was accomplished through evaluating the data from various perspectives. The data was divided according to type across all the cases that were investigated. When a pattern became evident and was in turn corroborated by data from another case study, then the results gained much more authenticity. In the case of conflicting information and data, further investigation of the detected differences was done to establish the origin of the conflict.
This chapter discusses the findings of the case study and provides a review of the research question. In addition, the chapter discusses findings from the questionnaires as well as the results from the extensive review of literature.
Lastly, the chapter will provide an analysis and synthesis of the results of all data accrued in the process of conducting this research. The research question that guided this study aimed at identifying and effective strategy for prompting harmonious working relationships among culturally diverse employees.
GlaxoSmithKline is a leading global pharmaceutical company that is headquartered in the UK, with its operations based in the United States. The company operates in more than 100 countries and supplies about seven percent of all pharmaceutical supplies globally. In 2002, Glaxo welcome and SmithKline merged to form the present GlaxoSmithKline. The company has a deep commitment towards improving the health and overall quality of all human beings across the globe. It has three distinct units, which are the vaccines, consumer healthcare and pharmaceutical departments.
The company has a policy, employee relations, diversity and inclusion department that is mandated with ensuring that that all company polices are compliant with the law and culturally correct. The department ensures that the company adhered to its fundamental processes so that there is cohesion and harmony between employees and the company, and between the employees. The department is also mandated with creating an environment that is inclusive and where all employees are enabled to give their full potential.
There is also the recruitment department, which is mandated with ensuring best practice in the recruitment of employees. The department is small, with a team of three which primarily deals with the recruitment of graduate employees to work in sales and marketing, finance, IT, pharmaceutical department, chemists, engineers, biologists e.t.c. The department has plays a great role in ensuring that the company attracts and retains individuals with great talent, in addition to providing the environment where they will be able to realize their greatest potential. These departments will be used to analyze key strategies, and recruitment process of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) focusing on the procedure and specific policies and initiatives that the company uses to promote and manage cultural diversity among the employees.
GSK’s mission on diversity and inclusion endeavors to capture the divergent perspectives, styles, experiences and knowledge of that resides within the global community. The basic principle that informs the GSK’s strategy for diversity and inclusion is having a company, with an inherent culture of inclusiveness, which is as attractive as possible to potential employees, who once they join, would be reluctant to leave. The culture of inclusiveness endeavors to ensure that employees remain in the company for a long time and their experiences within the organization enable them to realize their best potential.
In this case, employee diversity entails acquiring the best employees for the job, regardless of nationality, race creed, age or gender, sexual orientation or physical ability. Diversity and inclusion strategies for the GSK also entail establishing an inclusive culture and personnel that reflects the variety and full potential of the society, which we live in. The long-term mission of GSK involves targeted growth, both in UK and overseas, expansion, and improvement of the quality life through empowering individuals to do more, feel better and live longer.
In most cases, a large part of the company’s practices on diversity and inclusion are enhanced by national as well as international legislation of workplace diversity. This applies for GSK, whose various human resource departments are mandated with the interpretation and subsequent translation of diversity legislation into cultural diversity policies and practices that are specific and comprehensive in nature.
Diversity practices and polices for GSK are formulated to reflect the themes and priorities of the society in which the multinational company is operating. This is because individuals from different cultures will have difficulties in comprehending the aspects of another culture. For example, employees in a UK based branch will have difficulties in understanding the caste system of Indians co-workers. Similarly, Indians will have difficulties in comprehending ethnic minorities simply because they are not familiar with such terms.
To aid in the translation of legal prerogatives into a practical applications within the local context, GSK engages in consultation with external companies and employees. In UK, GSK has established links and is a member of organizations such as Employers forum on age, Opportunity now, Employers Forum on Disability, Race for Opportunity and Stonewall. These organizations play an invaluable role in the diversity management at GSK as they provide priceless guidance and advice on their specific areas.
In addition, as much as most policies and strategies may entail the top-down approach, the role of employees is significant as they too, facilitate the course of action through UK information and consultation forum architecture which covers all business. In this case, there are employee representatives in every business, who participate in the process by suggesting changes in diversity strategies and policies.
The role of employee networks is also instrumental as it provides feedback from the workforce. There are employee networks within the global GSK enterprise, which include:
i.Early career networks
ii.Primetime partners network
iii.Asian employees network
iv.Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender network
v.Religious networks, which cover the countless religions
All the employee networks within GSK business are driven by the employees themselves. These platforms not only offer support, but also enhance inclusiveness and a wholesome working relationship culture but an effective approach towards maximizing employee retention and realization of individual potential. People have the inherent desire to belong, have a voice and feel valued. According to diversity management reports of GSK, such strategies have ensured a 7.3% rise in employee retention since 2007. Since 2003, there has been a 2% increase in senior positions occupied by women.
Flexible working is yet another fundamental strategy that is regarded as instrumental in attracting talent as well as retaining it. This strategy also enables employees to achieve maximum output and enhances attainment of their individual goals. Flexibility is a fundamental tradition that GSK has engaged in for a long time, but in modern times, the organization is seeking new ways on how to use the flexibility strategy in employment practices to enable employees realizes the greatest potential. The working flexibility approach is geared towards enhancing the productivity of workers instead of focusing on how long an employee is present at their workstation. This move will see that employees work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but this will be on the terms of the employees.
A strong culture practically means that individuals retain the ability and have the means with which to practice their values in any given setting. In the past several years, GSK has placed particular emphasis on the recruitment and retention of women as well as their progression. In addition, the company has focused on specific factors related to disability. Focus on disability as a fundamental factor in diversity management is primarily driven by the fact that GSK is an organization based on provision of healthcare.
In order to have a comprehensive policy on employees with disabilities, GSK has entered into consultation with the Employers forum on disability (EFD) to ensure that strategies formulated for this particular group was sufficiently comprehensive and addressed individual needs of people with disabilities. Consulting with EFD has enabled GSK to revise some outdated policies that were too complacent for contemporary times and the needs and rights of the disabled. Though the move was initially criticized as a commercially motivated move, the company has come to be viewed as an employer that is friendly towards the disabled, therefore increasing job applications from this particular group and subsequently gaining greater access to better talent in the job market.
Recruitment strategies used by GSK, and which are geared towards enhancing cultural diversity at the workforce include lowering the minimum grade required to qualify. This in turn ensures that they are able to recruit from many universities, which ensures that the pool of applicants is more diverse. Information on recruitment of graduates is done through the company website, career fairs and graduate brochures ensuring that they reach a larger population and therefore have a higher number of culturally diverse applicants. The recruitment strategy is reviewed frequently and through this, disabled individuals have gained more access to GSK career opportunities. Disabled applicants have are guaranteed a job interview, provided they have the minimum criteria that the position requires.
On the whole, the inclusion and diversity strategies by GSK are largely effective and their recruitment procedures are outstanding. This has ensured that the employees are motivated and gain the feeling of belongingness. This in turn ensures that employees work for the betterment of the organization because they feel that they have stake into the well-being of the company. A unique element observed in the diversity and inclusion strategies of GSK is the attempt to link diversity for the purpose of talent attraction and retention with fundamental ethical and moral standards. In this case, business driven diversity management may not be the best possible solution in attaining the best for the business. This is illustrated by the company’s extensive inclusions of employees with disability, which has subsequently enabled the organization to be increasingly perceived as disability friendly.
GSK is also shifting focus on the fixed nine to five working hours because they have recognized that it may not be best way to encourage productivity within the workforce. This is drawn from the notion that if employees are given the opportunity to adapt and align themselves on work patterns most suited for them, and then they are motivated to worker harder at the time when they are most productive. GSK views employee effectiveness as not driven by the number of hours that the workers put in their office but how their employees are able to achieve a balance of high productivity with flexible working hours.
The following is a summary of key strategies that GSK engages in the promotion of cultural diversity and management:
Recruitment: The company policy towards recruitment of a culturally diverse workforce is based on their commitment to create “a culture, where individual differences are understood, respected and valued” (,,,,,,,,,,). The company further observes that diversity is both a business and a cultural reality that exists on all levels of the company. The company believes that the contributions and talents of their diversified workforce should be put to good use and appreciated. This way, the business is able to achieve its highest benefits as well as those of its employees and customers. Hard work is rewarded with excellent pay, benefits, and bonuses. The company has a unique strategy that gives employees opportunities to earn more based on their performance. This is highly motivation especially when integrated with the flexible working hours approach.
Employee Diversity: This is enhanced through initiatives such as employee networks, mentoring opportunities where employees can learn more about the job and culture, from an employee who is more experienced. Flexible working options that enable employees have a well balanced approach on work and life, hiring female and minority employees which ensures that equal opportunities for all members of the society, there company also develops ability through its talent review program high potential employees are motivated to have a well defined career path that suits their needs and talents. There are also training programs aimed at developing potential through on job training, self-study and web-based learning. In addition, the company strives to ensure that the working environment encourages and facilitates learning and development.
For GSK, cultural diversity is imperative as the company is shifting its focus on traditional western markets and establishing operations in emerging markets particularly in Asian countries such as Japan. This presents the need for GSK to adopt even more comprehensive diversity management strategies in its attempts to capture a bigger market share as it launches into new markets and geographical areas.
The company’s code of conduct and the employee guide to ethical conduct clarifies key aspects that address the issue of cultural diversity and the behavior that is expected from all employees regarding the issue. The following are excerpts pull randomly from GSK’s employee guide to ethical conduct, that addresses the expected behaviour and responsibility of employees in promoting cohesion and harmony in a culturally diverse working environment. The principles stated therein are effective because they give the employee an active and direct role in promoting
Equal and inclusive treatment of gsk employees [pol-gsk-204]
GSK recognises the value of striving for a balanced work force and is committed to the principles of equal opportunity, equality of treatment, and creating a dynamic climate where diversity is valued as a source of enrichment and opportunity.
All phases of the employment relationship including recruitment, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, benefits, transfers, layoffs, and leaves of absence—will be carried out by all managers without regard to race, colour, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin, disability, or (in the US) status as a disabled veteran or veteran of war. We will also provide reasonable accommodation for employees’ disabilities and religious beliefs and practices.
Every GSK employee has the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and in
which issues of harassment will be resolved without fear of reprisal. Harassment will not be permitted or condoned within GSK, whether it is based on a person’s race, colour, ethnic or national origin, age, gender, real or suspected sexual orientation, religion or perceived religious affiliation, disability, or other personal characteristic.
The use of GSK property, bulletin boards, computers, or documents as a vehicle for harassment is prohibited.
All employees are expected to take personal responsibility for upholding company standards by treating with dignity and respect all job applicants, fellow employees, customers, contract and temporary personnel, and any other individuals associated with GSK.
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