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Posted on August 29th, 2012, by

It is a widely known fact that business roles and methods are the projection of culture. Around 50 or 60 years ago, when international cooperation was not so profound as nowadays, the problems of cultural differences relating to business processes did not attract much attention. However, currently, in the world which is being speedily globalized, the  importance of multicultural cooperation and  building a diversified team has become obvious.

This essay is dedicated to analysis of issued related with multicultural workforce and the effects which such diversity might have on teamwork, communications and management methods. The aim of the essay is to discuss possible problems, to elaborate recommendations and solutions addressing these problems and analyze the results of the research.

 

1. Company description

Worldwide Telecommunications Inc. is a full service voice and data communications company; Worldwide Telecommunications Inc. provides long-distance service and equipment such as cellular phones, calling cards, computers, wireless services, satellite TV, pagers,  email, voicemail,  web services and many others (Cox, 1991, p. 43).

Since the company offers kinds of services that are in demand globally, the perspectives of its development clearly indicate at the necessity to deal with employees from different countries and to create a corporate culture that may successfully accept any worker, despite his or her race, nationality, views and beliefs, etc. Also, the company needs to elaborate recommendations for managers and the system of hiring and training personnel that will allow to cooperate with employees from different countries and will give all workers the space for development and successful self-realization. We should also take into account the fact that the majority of people working at Worldwide Telecommunications Inc.

 

2. Workforce diversity increases

The dynamics of labor force worldwide is showing that the constituents of workforce are likely to change; to be more exact, the diversity of labor force is significantly increasing and this tendency is progressing with the course of time. This statement is illustrated by Figure 1 (Elashmawi & Harris, 2001, p. 145):

 

Figure 1. Workforce analysis

 

The US department of labor has estimated that by 2050, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 50% and minority groups will make up nearly half of the population; the population of older Americans is expected to more than double; one-quarter of all Americans will be of Hispanic origin. More women and people with disabilities will be on the job.(Tayeb, 1996, p. 98) One can witness the growing cultural diversity. It is important to define what cultural diversity is.

Cultural diversity tends to be broadly defined in its current use in organizations to include a variety of races, genders, ages, ethnicities, classes, sexual preferences, physical abilities and religions (Fine, 1980, p. 499)

The above-mentioned figures mean, in respect to management issues, that it will be more difficult to unite employees into one team, and it will be more difficult for members of the company to find common language with each other.

 

3. Possible problems related to multiculturalism

The problem of working with multicultural workforce is not so simple as it may seem from the first glance. Two employees that are occupying similar positions and have the same duties, may have quite different views and opinions concerning working and other situations. For example, child labor is considered a benefit for the family and for the child in Pakistan, and is classified as non-allowed phenomenon in the US. Such differences, which are invisible at first glance, may seriously influence the communications and teamwork of the personnel.

In 2007, the Level Playing Field Institute published the main results of the  large-scale survey where it appeared that US employers spent $64 billion as a result of losing and hiring new managers and professionals who quit only because of workplace unfairness the reasons were different, ranging from racial and sexual discrimination to public humiliation, but the main reason was only one, lack of diversified approach to the employees.

Financial situation and reputation as well as stability of development of all companies nowadays depends on the existence of inclusive approach, on the efficiency of creating diversified environments where each worker finds own niche.

Supporting evidence can be found in a number of recent studies demonstrating the benefits of having a diverse employee base on everything from driving productivity to being more appealing to customers(Conejo, 2001).

We can see that multicultural working environment should be distinguished from homogeneous one, and it should be addressed in a different way to reach significant results, or at least to avoid failure. The aim of this essay is to find out whether multiculturalism is for worse or for better for the company.

 

4. Importance of addressing diversification

Cross-cultural teamwork and collaboration are essential for an organization’s success. If people are to function productively, they must learn to see their differences as assets, rather than as liabilities. The labels we apply are far less important than what they represent.(Fine, 1980, p. 501)

Questions related to organizing multicultural workforce and establishing communications between people of different cultures, origins and ethnic background have arisen comparatively not long ago. The companies that have already faced such difficulties have elaborated several obvious practices, the main of them being

ü  language training for employees

ü  cultural training introducing to the minority the culture of the majority and vise versa

ü  cultural events such as accepting holidays of different religions, office decoration in multicultural style etc.

Indeed, such measures are necessary (especially language training), but these solutions do not help the company to create a team; they only allow not to create a communication gap. So, there should be some other methods of addressing the issue rather than obvious.

 

5. Organizational approaches to diversity

There are two main approaches to treat multicultural people within the organization. One of them is to help new employees integrate into the existing way of things and explaining the rules, morale and vision of the company to them. This approach is tending to generalize workers and make them equally efficient despite of their origin, race or nationality. On one hand, such approach is logical and reasonable, and allows to create a team of people with likely views and motivation.

But on the other hand, such approach eliminates the best sides of different cultures and the originality of every worker. Thus, by making everyone equal, the company may gain in stability of work and maybe receive some increase in work productivity, but it will never discover the talents of the employees which means there is no space for growth using such method.

Another approach is aimed at creating not one corporate standard but at extending this standard so that every employee could find own niche as well as receive best conditions for self-expressing and career growth. Such approach is more risky and more complicated, but it can benefit the company many times more than the previous one. In fact, to build a real team in a multicultural global company, a unique corporate culture needs to be created.

 

6. Corporate culture and diversity

Human capital is the most important resource, and in order to organize it in the best way different strategies may be applied. The practice of just-in-time management is widely spread regarding supply and resource management. But the same technique may be applied to hiring employees. The main benefit that the company may gain it is when the right employee is placed at the right place, and it happens in the right time.

It is evident that corporate culture has a significant effect on the employee’s morale and productivity. In order to create a multinational team, firstly, the culture of trust needs to be created, when each worker realizes the company is interested in developing the personality and wants to benefit to development of the employee. Such approach is more common for Japanese management style, and may be successfully integrated into large corporations’ culture.

Secondly, the organization needs to have own set of clear and understandable principles, values and goals. Cultivation of such principles greatly increases work productivity and encourages people to have personal interest for the company’s development.

A vital element of global culture is the availability of information and letting employees take the responsibility. When the employee feels the responsibility for the results of work and has access to financial results of the company, it inspires the worker not simply to perform duties but think more globally.

Moreover, for multicultural team it is important to analyze peculiarities and features of each ethnic, age or other group and form working environments so that people could complement each other. It could be also useful to analyze psychological matrices of the workers, because in case of different backgrounds and cultures it is more difficult for people to reach understanding.

However, it’s necessary to warn the managers against grouping workers according to their ethical or age groups. Though such groups experience less communication problems and are easily turned into a team, the similarity of views, interests and outlooks does not let them have different points of view and invent new solutions.

 

7. Recommendations for analyzing the  workforce

First of all the diversity and cultural groups existing within the organization need to be identified. It is necessary to take into account that there might also be ethnic subgroups as well as groups, and that there might be different factors for grouping personnel. Statistical and sociological methods should be used to analyze the structure of the workforce.

Second step is to identify the cultural backgrounds of the groups, their special features, interests, weaknesses and strengths. Using this information, the manager may regroup employees so that they can fulfill their duties best of all. Issued to be analyzed first of all are the approach to work, the attitude to time and the ways of sharing information.

For example, American working style can be expressed by the words live for working: work scrupulously, perform one kind of work at a time, stay goal-oriented. On the contrary, French working style can be described as work for living: work quickly, perform many kinds of work altogether, stay relation-oriented. Therefore, for the tasks where unexpected situations may occur and many questions need to be solved in limited time, French-style workers will be fitting perfectly, with one or two American-style people which organize them. For other situations various combinations of both attitudes to work may give the best solution. Taking into consideration, that there are more than two groups in real life communities, we can come to the conclusion that the manager receives plenty of variants for optimizing the whole team productivity of the company.

The criteria for analyzing whether the chosen strategy for working with multicultural environment is successful has been elaborated (Elashmawi & Harris, 2001, p. 168). The strategy should:

ü  stay successful over s period of time

ü  produce quantitative and qualitative results

ü  be innovative

ü  demonstrate positive outcomes such as clients’ opinion or work productivity

ü  be replicable for other organizations or parts of current organization

 

Conclusion

In the globalization era, small companies operating in small markets segments step by step disappear and give place to large global corporations dealing with multiple products and services which are acting worldwide. One of such companies is Worldwide Telecommunications, Inc. In order to adjust to the changing environment conditions and to continue operating, the company needs to take into account the multicultural nature of the workforce and diversify management strategies correspondingly. This is the key condition for successful development and growth of Worldwide Telecommunications, Inc.

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