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Cross Cultural Management and Diversity Management

  • 16 Pages
  • Published On: 12-12-2023

Contemporary work environment is increasingly becoming complex by the day. A modern workplace characterised by diverse workforces, employees from different background, increasingly market-driven, flexible, and involvement. Bangwal and Tiwari (2019) held that employees need to feel valued, comfortable, inspiring, flexible, and supportive just to mention a few. Although several factors are attributable to these changes, shift in power from employer to workers in the employment marketplace has been considered the major factors. Going by the argument posted by van Rossenberg et al. (2018), currently, the employers battle to retain talent, increasing competition in business market, and heightening consumer demands are some of the elements forcing employers to ensure employer satisfactions and turnover towards productive. According to Markey and Townsend (2013), connectivity and transparency for workers have had an unprecedented effects. With increase in connectivity, workers can easily change jobs away from unconducive workplace and no longer beholden to a company. Similarly, if a company is a bad place to work, workers can broadcast their experiences instantly to the world through social media platforms. Before the social media such platforms as LinkedIn and Glassdoor gained popularity, companies could attract and retain talent workforces even with poor and ineffective management system, toxic culture, and limited career and personal growth at individual level (Fusi, and Feeney, 2018; Upchurch, and Grassman, 2016). Combination of these factors have resulted in bring together and assembling a team from a different background not just to meet regulatory requirements but also to diversify the company’s strategy, decisions, and creativity as well as attracting more talents and increasing turnover. However, this not to say that organisations have power to determine who to employee and retain, while, in similar note, workers having a power to choose where and who to work for are still protected by human and Equality right. In this essay, the discussion on challenges faced in managing diversify in the workforce is done. It looks at religion or beliefs diversity in the workplace as protected under the UK Equality Act (2010).

Overview of religion or beliefs discrimination under the Equality Act

UK Equality Act (2010) protects any employee from discrimination or unfair treatment based on personal attributes that include age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, or races. Under the act, a person has a right to apply and be considered for a position in an organisation and no be discriminated, victimised, or harassed based on personal background. Fundamentally, the Act requires employers to treat all employees with same decency across the board while also considering individual right (Gov.UK, 2015). On the discrimination against religion or belief, the Act outlines that a person should not be treated differently or rather mistreated based on their beliefs held or religion orientation that include Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, or Islam. It further holds that one should not be discriminated because of being non-belief, holding other religious beliefs, associating with someone who has or religion or belief, or perceived to holding a particular belief. On purview of philosophical beliefs, the Act holds requires the beliefs to be more than an opinion but rather genuinely held. For example, holding such beliefs that climate change is a manmade phenomenon and feels that one has a duty to live a life modelled to reducing the impact of their lifestyle to the environment. For this, under the Act, one should not be discriminated against for living a sustainable lifestyle and adopting a daily norm driven by conservation of environment resources for future sustainability.

However, the Act further stipulates that philosophical beliefs held should not infringe of the fundamental right or be discriminatory to others. For instances, is a Jews ethnic groups are the cause of global economic crisis and then directly or indirectly display the belief, this would not be categorised or protected under the Act. As pointed by Jones et al. (2017), discrimination comes in different forms. First, one can be discriminate against if s/he is treated differently others in similar situation and environment (Dhanani et al., 2018; Stypinska and Turek, 2017). The treatment such as being denied career development opportunities, skills and knowledge advancement, and promotion because of holding different beliefs whether religious or philosophical (Stypinska and Turek, 2017). However, as pointed by Sherwood, (2015) personal belief should not infringe on the rights of other workers or people.

Challenges managing diversity in philosophical beliefs

Similarly, the consumer market place has also seen dynamic changes, and for an organisation survival, they have to adjust towards meeting consumer needs and demands (Kumar et al., 2018; Bowen, 2016). As such, they have to content with employees philosophical beliefs with those of the consumers. For instance, a company having a consumer base that fundamental beliefs that climate change is nothing but a falls manifestation by a political wings hence consumers demands of products and consumption behaviour have little regards on the conservation and sustainability of both resources and environment. Naturally, a company as a business entity will supply products based on consumer demands and needs (Saleem et al., 2015). This includes modelling its organisation structure and culture to meet consumer needs in order to increase satisfaction and retention rate. However, under the Act, the organisations are required to have a working environment that is inclusive to employees with beliefs in which developing and restructuring towards such culture ultimately violates (Bauman, and Skitka, 2012). Moreover, in the recruitment process, organisations have structures meant to best-fit individual and organisation objectives and shared values. For instance, if the company recruits an employee who believes in climate change and need for sustainability at individual or organisation level, it may mean the two will have diverging values, objectives, and goals.

For a company not to employ or even involve an employee in products strategy in the same manner as others in the same capacity is considered discrimination. In management perspective, strategy development that include employees to include in a product development team need to be grounded on performance of the team towards ultimately meeting to highest degree the need and demands of the consumers (Dibrell et al., 2014; Paillé et al., 2014). However, in this case, accommodating an individual with diverging beliefs and values as a team member can be problematic towards attaining team goals. On the other hand, failing to include goes against inclusivity.

It is worth noting that, under the Act, indirect discrimination occurs when an organisation’s structures and policy works against an employee, leading to putting them at unfair disadvantage with the others based on beliefs or religion (Wintemute, 2014). Going with the scenario of climate change believer vs non-believers, if the organisation decide to retain the employee but change its team structure to block them from working on such products that will directly conflict with consumers’ beliefs will informs indirect discrimination. Similarly, allocating the employee specifically to tasks and projects that have no direct impact to development and marketing of the product goes against their right. As pointed by Saeed et al. (2019) and Bowen (2016), management task involves incorporating the talents and skills of each employees while harnessing individual values to develop a team with shared values and goals driven by meeting satisfactorily and high quality the needs of consumers. Similarly, in the same measures, a manager has a responsibility and duty to ensure innovative and creative during planning and entire development process by sources wider information that include diverging views and perspectives.

For this, a manager has to weigh several factors that include satisfaction levels of both the employee and consumers while considering the impact of having contrary opinions on the ultimate team performance and outcome. According to Verniers and Vala (2018), this requires having objective justification by showing that such beliefs will have significant negative impact on the business operations. Nevertheless, in such case, still there is a challenge of weighing between accommodating divergent views and upholding objective justification of exclusion. As pointed by Khaitan (2015) and Kumra et al. (2012), the Act permits an employer to prevent on from exercise fully their beliefs if such beliefs will have effect on the rights, health, and safety of the others.

However, such limitations have to be justified that there were no feasible alternatives. For instance, is excluding an employee as a member of a team in defence of a practice the only option? Did the management explore other alternatives? Does importance of meeting the consumer demands without including input of the employee outweighs discriminatory effects? Notably, discrimination against a team member may have significant negative effect on an organisation that includes employee retention, team cohesion, conducive working environment, attracting talent, and promoting inclusivity as well as its expansion to new markets (Stevanović, 2019; Weller et al., 2013). If the employee broadcast and share the discriminatory practices that s/he is going through can have negative effect in the market whether the existing of potential consumers. In either case, the management may fail to achieve its fundamental functions of planning, strategizing, implementing, and controlling the process, and importantly failing to protect the rights of employees.

In most cases, individual beliefs are rooted on cultural and traditional way of life from their upbringing. According to Benefiel et al. (2014) and Miller & Ewest (2015), beliefs are informed by cultural practices, values, traditions, and social norms, and can manifest through daily practices and activities such as what and how one dressings, food, marriage, behaviour, and interpersonal interaction. Diversity rooted on the cultural upbringings induces different and divergent views and thinking, as well as challenging status quo in the sense of ‘the way we do things’ and such leading to greater collective creativity and outcomes (Ghumman et al., 2013). However, reports show that societies are increasingly drift into intolerance based on group beliefs. These intolerance such as degrading stereotypical comments and intolerance to one beliefs (Tompkins, and Barkis, 2021; DeCelles, and Aquino, 2020). Conspiracy theories are increasingly taking root in some societies and extending workplace. Management may be faced by a major challenge in determining the views based on the theories constitute opinions or genuine beliefs. Some conspiracy theories categorising their views as opinions rather than beliefs is harassment (Tompkins, and Barkis, 2021). As pointed by Ryan and Gardner (2021) harassment constitutes humiliating, offending, or degrading an employee. For an organisation may decide to implement an eco-friendly environment based on adopting of processes and practices that contribute to green living such as mandating every employee to ride a bicycle, be vegan, or living sustainably. For an employee who does not believes in climate change this may constitute harassment.

Under the Act, management can take actions aimed at promoting individuals who have been disadvantage historically, have different needs, and recorded low participation rate. This positive action requires understanding employee’s beliefs and importantly historical disadvantages faced (Hoel, and McBride, 2017). However, as pointed by Bozani et al. (2019), for such actions to be successful while ensuring other team members and workforce done feel discriminate, an organisation has to ensure every team member is aware and understands grounds and need for giving advantage to minority in recruitment, promotion, and career development practices. Without deep understanding of the historical discrimination, it makes it difficult to develop adequate framework supported by other workforces (McPherson, 2015). For instance, in working environment and to that extension community that has historically believed in the white supremacy while giving other communities Jews, Blacks, Asian, and Arabs unfair disadvantage will be very difficult to understand why people of such communities lack appropriate skills and knowledge to hold a particular job position. Until recently in such societies as in American and South African societies, majority of the Whites were perceived superior to other community lead unequal distribution of wealth, gaining education, jobs position, and health (Köllen et al., 2018; Lloyd, and Mertens, 2018). For management to implement inclusivity, they have to give individual from these communities a platform that treats them favourably. However, without proper awareness across the workforce on the need for favouritism based on historical discriminatory beliefs towards a certain community, resistance may occur without others feeling unfair working environment. Therefore, in developing a positive working culture, management need to balance ways traditionally held beliefs against current situation modelled current challenges.

Foreman and Arthur-Kelly (2017) perceived collaboration and communication as an effective approach towards enabling a positive action and positive working environment. However, effectiveness of the approach lies in honest and open communication. Sekerka et al. (2014) argued that changing a person’s beliefs requires having an honest communication and discussion among involved parties without potential consequences. For management, implementing a structure that brings together employees with different beliefs requires a social interactions platforms, continued learning opportunities, and accommodating the beliefs held be others (Ng, and Sears, 2020; Sharot, and Garrett, 2016). Arguably, this will enable assessing inherent implicit and unconscious biases towards other groups. However, in implementing such mechanisms, it is difficult to answer the question of to what extent can an organisation and other team members accommodate an individual holding extreme beliefs without infringe on the rights of either side.

However, arguably, in the rise of ‘cancel culture’ where people of different opinions and belief are easily reprimanded, employees with such beliefs may refuse to openly engage others and speak out in fear that they will be targeted. As such, not speaking up does not mean they do not beliefs that in climate change but fear makes them be silent. In such scenario, full accommodation and commitment will be attained.

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In fostering diversity, a major roadmap is establishing clear values and ideals the organisation ought to adapt. The values can be such as having the voices and ideas of all across the board be taken into account equally. Discussing and communicating the policies such as ‘embracing social change’, ‘going green’, and inclusivity then allowing employees to speaking openly about values and beliefs held by other individuals. From management perspective, embracing ‘going green’ involves going beyond outlining in the company’ mission and marketing materials but bring in all the employees whether they believe in climate change or out. This will involve demonstrations of actions so that employees from at individual to collectively as a team level feel responsible for the values. Accommodation of other beliefs is a major step towards this. For instance, implementation of approach that takes into account the views and values of both believers and not believers while addressing consumer need. However, in a scenario where employees do not believe in effect of historical injustice as the cause of education and wealth distribution, management have to take a radical approach educating the workforce. In both cases, management need to structure approach towards ensuring each employee re-evaluate their stands and attitudes towards the other beliefs and importantly views of the positive core values. However, implementation of positive culture acceptable to all is not an easy tasks. Developing shared values, for instance, among employees believing in climate change and those who do not while at the same time meeting needs of consumer-base of non-believers in climate change, may mean taking either abandoning their consumers by remodelling and entry into a different market or choosing consumers’ needs over employee beliefs. For the second approach, having employee with different beliefs from that of an organisation will ultimately lead to clash in prioritise, objectives, mission, and goals.


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