Diversity in the Workplace: Issues, Strategies, and Perspectives
The U.S. society is made up of a wide variety of cultural subgroups, which is also reflected in the workplace. Managers in organizations commonly encounter conflicts due to differences in communication styles, the failure to establish rapport among coworkers and between managers and subordinates, the unpreparedness of people to accept and understand cultural differences, and the lack of awareness of cultural differences in values and attitudes. Cultural awareness in the workplace represents a key element in the improvement of relationships, organizational procedures, and productivity. Diversity training provides all members of corporations with insights on issues of diversity, and prepares trainees to face the challenges of a multicultural world. Being aware of the particular characteristics (tendencies) of a given group is not the only task managers have to complete. The real challenge comes when they need to face the individuals from diverse cultural groups. Culture learning is a constant process which successful managers need to adopt. This helps them to be aware of the main factors that are cause of conflicts between managers and employees, as well as, among the groups that constitute the diverse workforce. Cultural conflict is rooted in the differences among individuals from different cultural groups. These differences involve discrepancies that vary in terms of language and communication style, values, attitudes towards authority, and time, among others. This paper addresses these issues within the context of diversity and assimilation, barriers to cultural diversity (stereotypes and prejudice), cross-cultural conflict (language, values and attitudes), and the creation of a diverse workforce.
Keywords: Cross-cultural Conflict, Diversity Training, Stereotypes, Diversity Management
Dr. Sandra Lopez-Rocha
University of Maryland Baltimore County