America’s human population today is one of the most diverse in the planet, as it perpetually opens its doors for newcomers from Europe, the South Americas, Asia and Africa who want to become a part of the American culture. The result is a colorful combination of people, each retaining a portion of their original way of life and at the same time, sharing their cultures to the new land that is now their home.
An organization’s cultural diversity refers to the full mix of cultures and subcultures to which members of the workforce belong. Subcultures with which employees may identify include those within each generation that tends to share a subculture that is distinct from the subcultures of other generations. In addition, subcultures based in religion, marital and family status, sexual orientation and other unifying experiences typically are included in the meaning of cultural diversity.
The general attitude promoted nowadays is acceptance and being able to utilize the diverseness into positive use. The workforce diversity is gradually accepted and even considered as a potential source of worker creativity and innovativeness. The principle of basing employment decisions on job-relevant competencies rather than irrelevant factors, such as a person’s race or sex, is easy to grasp. I think that it is more difficult to assess whether illegal discrimination actually affected a particular employment decision, unless the action was extreme and the evidence is clear. Although the United States has numerous laws and regulations designed to prevent discrimination based on personal attributes, many other countries do not have those.
However, this present status of cultural diversity is a far-fetched idea in the past decades. Indeed, the road to a healthy and thriving cultural diversity is a long and winding one. As a process, cultural diversity first encounters resistance, then tolerance, understanding, respect, and finally participation. These are the behaviours manifested by the existing, usually more dominant population, experiencing the changes in their community demography due to the arrival of the new inhabitants.
What would have to be done in the organization to ensure that the diversity and equal opportunities become become fully embedded.
Through time, societies tend to be more tolerant of the changes occurring in its demography. What seems to be despicable before, like sharing of transportation between whites and blacks, soon became tolerable and even natural. People get used to change especially in this ever mobile and global age. The root of intolerance in the earlier days was the unfair labeling and typecasting solely by one’s belonging to a particular group such as gender, religion, ethnicity and income and age brackets. Racism and discrimination is due to the prevailing attitude that certain groups are inferior and do not deserve the same quality of life and equal rights.
On faith, the Employment Equality Regulations 2003 ensures that no one is discriminated upon based on his religion. He is also not to be discriminated on just because he/she associates with a particular kind of association. Employees need to accommodate the others who come from other religious beliefs. Thus, the onus to be reasonable is on both the employer and the employee, which is reasonable enough for both parties. Meanwhile, in terms of gender, there is an increasing number of women who are employed in the professional positions in the US between 1960-1990 and this augurs well for the women professionals. More and more women are employed now than ever before, excelling in their chosen professions. Those with disabilities find that employers are becoming more and more considerate of their plight such that 50% of disabled people are now in work as opposed to 78& of non-disabled people. In fact, with the continuing trend, it is seen that by 2020, approximately 50% of the population in the UK will be over 50 and 33% of the population is more than likely to have some disability. The Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) provides a good check to organizations since it protects the disabled people in their work and employment. In addition, those belonging to a different race such as thr Muslims will be given enough provisions required by their religion. This includes ample space for praying, allowing them time for prayer and being flexible during the holy month of Ramadan. These also extend to those of different sexual orientation who are now given more leeway in some of their activities and gatherings. This is a good way of ensuring that management gets the creative juices moving since most of the artistic inputs come from those who have different sexual orientations.
When there are so many variables in a diverse culture–demographic variables such as age, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location and ethnographic variables such as nationality, race, ethnicity, language, and religion, the manager needs to prepare his employees so that they will be able to interact with each other and work together in teams. There needs to be respect between each other so that management can generate high performance teams. Considering these different diversities, there may result in feelings of discomfort unless there is communication of parties concerned. The manager can always facilitate understanding by assuming the role of inquiry guide rather than information authority and encouraging employees to discuss their discomfort and explain its origin. Indeed, the remarkable success of culturally-diversed organizations is not the result of luck. It is the predictable outcome of intense concentration on values and strategies, on cultivating what the German writer Goethe called “the genius, power and magic” in ourselves. These culturally-diversed teams are composed of people who are realists and who believe that in the final analysis, they will make it. They focus on achievement, not only as “flat numbers on a page, an invisible piece of the bottom line,” as one member of a high performing team says, “but as an indicator that I am getting better, making progress toward being the best I can be”. These people claim that they do not have the luxury of mediocrity or pessimism or apathy.
The cultural diversity in most thriving communities today can no longer be ignored. The movement of the times generally calls for multiculturalism rather than persuasive assimilation. The fast-paced globalization has been the cause of the population dynamism and may serve as an asset for a particular institution or state. Companies now recognize that there is a wealth of ideas behind the diverse faces of their workforce. States have formulated policies that give equal opportunities to all their citizens regardless of race or color. However, this relatively mature way of looking at cultural differences has undergone several steps constituting the stages of adapting to cultural diversity. These are the initial stage of resistance followed by tolerance, then understanding, respect and finally, participation.