Source: E-mail dt. 7 June 2012
Cross Cultural Management at Workplace
Dr.R.Karuppasamy M.Com., MBA., M.Phil., Ph.D., PLME (IIM-Ahmedabad),
Director, Management Studies, SNS College of Technology, Coimbatore.
C. Arul venkadesh B.Sc., MBA, PGDPM&IRLL, (PhD)
Faculty – Department of Management Sciences, CIET College, Coimbatore.
"Cross Cultural" became incorporated into official policies in several nations in the 1970s for reasons that varied from country to country. In Canada, it was adopted in 1971 in the aftermath of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, a government body set up in response to the grievances of Canada's French-speaking minority (concentrated in the Province of Quebec). The report of the Commission advocated that the Canadian government recognize Canada as a bilingual and bicultural society and adopt policies to preserve this character. Biculturalism was attacked from many directions. Progressive Conservative leader John Diefenbaker saw Cross Cultural as an attack on his vision of unhyphenated Canadianism. It did not satisfy the growing number of young francophones who gravitated towards Quebec nationalism. While many Canadians of British descent disliked the new policies of biculturalism and official bilingualism, the strongest opposition to biculturalism came from Canadians of neither English nor French descent, the so-called "Third Force" Canadians. Biculturalism did not accord with local realities in the western provinces, where the French population was tiny compared to other groups such as the Ukrainian Canadians, the group that was arguably most important in overturning the policy of biculturalism. To accommodate these groups, the formula was changed from "bilingualism and biculturalism" to "bilingualism and Cross Cultural." The Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau passed the Official Cross Cultural Act in 1971. Symbolically, this legislation affirmed that Canada was a multicultural nation. This policy has been supported by every subsequent government and was added to Canada's 1982 constitution. The other country to have most fully adopted Canada's view of Cross Cultural is Australia where many of these policies related to Cross Cultural are pursued, for example the formation of the Special Broadcasting Service. In the United States Cross Cultural is not an official policy at the federal level. At the state level, it is sometimes associated with English-Spanish bilingualism. However, the government, in recent years, moved to support many Cross Cultural policies. In some ways, the United States has gone even further than Canada and Australia with such policies. For instance, California drivers can take their exams in a number of languages and gerrymandered districts to guarantee minority representation in government. Cultural diversity includes the range of ways in which people experience a unique group identity, which includes gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and age. An organization’s culture tends to determine the extent to which it is culturally diverse. While diversity in the workplace brings about many benefits to an organization, it can also lead to many challenges. It is the responsibility of managers within organizations to use diversity as an influential resource in order to enhance organizational effectiveness.
Keywords: Cross cultural, Organization culture, Bicultualism, official policies, multicultural.
In a political context the term has come to mean the advocacy of extending equitable status to distinct ethnic and religious groups without promoting any specific ethnic, religious, and/or cultural community values as central. Cross Cultural as "cultural mosaic" is often contrasted with the concepts assimilationism and social integration and has been described as a "salad bowl" rather than a "melting pot."
“Cross Cultural or cultural pluralism is a policy, ideal, or reality that emphasizes the unique characteristics of different cultures in the world, especially as they relate to one another in immigrant receiving nations.” ~ First used in 1957 to describe Switzerland, but first came into common currency in Canada in the late 1960s. It quickly spread to other English-speaking countries.
The doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country. It is the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, for practical reasons and/or for the sake of diversity and applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level. As more and more companies have started recruiting people irrespective of their race, religion, gender and nationality, they are bound to face some of the common problems associated with Multicultural Workforce. The concept of “Multicultural Workforce” is gaining currency in the US, as a large number of US business conglomerates is recruiting people of different nations for operating their worldwide business smoothly. In reality, multicultural workforce is associated with a number of advantages that have overshadowed some of its trivial disadvantages like cultural difference, personality conflict and communication problem. Cross Cultural has a number of different meanings. At one level the term means the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, For e.g. schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations. In this sense Cross Cultural approximates to respect for diversity. The term may also describe people who have more than one culture in them (people who grew up with more than one cultural identity, also sometimes called bicultural).
Cross Cultural is a term often used to describe societies with a proliferation of different cultures. Around the world wealthy countries have large numbers of immigrants with their own cultures and languages. This multicultural reality has caused problems in some nations, but also has led to cultural exchanges that have benefited both groups. For instance the introduction of the cuisine of the Indian subcontinent to the United Kingdom has revolutionized British eating.
The term "multicultural" can also be used to refer to localities in cities where people of different cultures co-exist. The actions of planners and those engaged in formulating public housing policy can result in some areas remaining monoculture, often due to pressure groups active in the local political arena. Workplace diversity refers to the variety of differences between people in an organization. That sounds simple, but diversity encompasses race, gender, ethnic group, age, personality, cognitive style, tenure, organizational function, education, background and more. Diversity not only involves how people perceive themselves, but how they perceive others. Those perceptions affect their interactions. For a wide assortment of employees to function effectively as an organization, human resource professionals need to deal effectively with issues such as communication, adaptability and change.
Diversity will increase significantly in the coming years. Successful organizations recognize the need for immediate action and are ready and willing to spend resources on managing diversity in the workplace now. The "business case for diversity" theorizes that, in a global marketplace, a company that employs a diverse workforce (both men and women, people of many generations, people from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds etc.) is better able to understand the demographics of the marketplace it serves and is thus better equipped to thrive in that marketplace than a company that has a more limited range of employee demographics.
Cross cultural in India
Multicultural concerns have long informed India’s history and traditions, constitution and political arrangements. Much of the writings on Indian history, culture and politics are marked by some kind of multicultural concern. The central question addressed in this paper is how a vast multi-ethnic country – in terms of religion, language, community, caste and tribe – has survived as a state in conditions of underdevelopment, mass poverty, illiteracy and extreme regional disparities. Placed in relation to the failures of many less diverse and plural post-colonial and “socialist” states, India’s record of relative political unity and stability seems remarkable indeed. It is argued that at the heart of the resolution of many ethnic conflicts in India lies a set of multicultural state policies. The Indian Constitution as the source of these policies can be said to be a basic multicultural document, in the sense of providing for political and institutional measures for the recognition and accommodation of the country’s diversity.
The culture of India has been shaped by its long history, unique geography and diverse demography. India's languages, religions, dance, music, architecture and customs differ from place to place within the country, but nevertheless possess a commonality. The culture of India is an amalgamation of these diverse sub-cultures spread all over the Indian subcontinent and traditions that are several millennia old.
The term Cross Cultural is not much used in India, except in the recent times by the left-liberals and the communists. The term diversity (within the Indian culture) is the term which is used by the Indians more often.
Religiously, the Orthodox Hindus form the majority, followed by the Muslims. The actual statistics are: Hindu (80.5%), Muslim (13.4%, including both Shia and Sunni), Christian (2.3%), Sikh (2.1%), Buddhist, Bahá'í, Ahmadi, Jain, Jew and Parsi populations. Linguistically, the two main language families in India are Indo-Aryan (a branch of Indo-European) and Dravidian. India officially follows a three-language policy. Hindi is the federal official language, English has the federal status of associate/subsidiary official language and each state has its own state official language (in the Hindi sprachraum, this reduces to bilingualism). The Republic of India's state boundaries are largely drawn based on linguistic groups; this decision led to the preservation and continuation of local ethno-linguistic sub-cultures, except for the Hindi sprachraum which is itself divided into many states. Thus, most states differ from one another in language, culture, cuisine, clothing, literary style, architecture, music and festivities. See Culture of India for more information.
Cross-Cultural Management: India and China
India and China are two eastern giants, both with more than five thousand year-old civilizations and rich cultural heritage. Nevertheless, historical interaction between the two peoples had remained restricted, largely due to the geographic separation of them caused by the mighty Himalayas; few exceptions had of course been there, viz. travels of some scholars like Fa Xian and Xuan Zang to India from China and of Buddhist monks, particularly Bodhisatvas, from India to China happening over a period of more than two thousand years. Important to note is that during such limited exchanges, cultural differences did not stand in the way of interaction between two peoples, as motives of each side, say spiritual search and knowledge-seeking, were stronger. An active phase in India-China social contacts had to wait till the ushering in of modern era.
In the present stage, the ongoing globalization process has brought nations closer and borderless economies have emerged. China’s rise and India’s parallel ascent, thanks to the reform policies initiated by each, have created conditions under which both nations have come under compulsions to enrich their trade and business contacts in mutual interests.
On cross-cultural communications between India and China, a pre-requisite for both sides lies in their understanding of economic, social and political conditions of each other. Taking the case of Chinese first, it is imperative for them to know that India is multi-ethnic and multilingual with a democracy characterized by multi-party political system and independent judiciary and representing pluralistic interests. They should not in the main miss India’s unity in diversity. The economic reforms in India, which began in early nineties, have been transforming the Indian regime into that encouraging market liberalization and foreign investment. Real GDP growth of the country averaged 8.6% in last few years; Indian companies have been successful globally in sectors like IT. In a nutshell, the Chinese should recognize that India too is a rising power, both in regional and global sense. In fact, Beijing seems to accept the same and considers that its relations with New Delhi have now acquired a global character.
Infosys and Diversity
Infosys Technologies Ltd. (NASDAQ: INFY) was started in 1981 by seven people with US$ 250. Today, they are a global leader in the "next generation" of IT and consulting with revenues of US$ 5.7 billion (LTM Dec-10). Infosys defines, designs and delivers technology-enabled business solutions that help Global 2000 companies win in a Flat World. Infosys also provides a complete range of services by leveraging our domain and business expertise and strategic alliances with leading technology providers, offerings span business and technology consulting, application services, systems integration, product engineering, custom software development, maintenance, re-engineering, independent testing and validation services, IT infrastructure services and business process outsourcing. Infosys pioneered the Global Delivery Model (GDM), which emerged as a disruptive force in the industry leading to the rise of offshore outsourcing.
The GDM is based on the principle of taking work to the location where the best talent is available, where it makes the best economic sense, with the least amount of acceptable risk. Infosys has a global footprint with 65 offices and 59 development centers in India, China, Australia, the Czech Republic, Poland, the UK, Canada and Japan. Infosys and its subsidiaries have 127,779 employees as on December 31, 2010. Infosys takes pride in building strategic long-term client relationships. Over 97% of our revenues come from existing customers (FY 10).
A global company must reflect the diversity of the world it serves. Infosys' employees represent the widest possible variety of nationalities, cultures, genders and gender identities, employment histories, and levels of physical ability. We recruit employees from global talent pools and provide paths for professional growth to all members of the society. Within such a diverse company, people bring to the workplace contrasting opinions and worldviews. As these people interact, they develop new ideas, methods and perspectives. Infosys recognizes and promotes this power of diversity to drive innovation. Infosys actively fosters inclusivity across business units and company offices.
Infosys was the first Indian IT company to establish an office for diversity and inclusivity. Today, we have employees from 83 countries. Women constitute more than 32% of our workforce. Infosys Women Inclusivity Network (IWIN) promotes a gender-sensitive work environment. IWIN recognizes the unique aspirations and needs of women. It provides avenues for vocational, personal and psychological counsel to enable professional and personal development. Our new Family Matters Network provides support to employees on parenting matters. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) has honored Infosys for excellence in inclusivity and Infosys BPO for diversity hiring.
Challenges of Diversity in Workplace
Taking full advantage of the benefits of diversity in the workplace is not without its challenges. Some of those challenges are:
Communication - Perceptual, cultural and language barriers need to be overcome for diversity programs to succeed. Ineffective communication of key objectives results in confusion, lack of teamwork and low morale.
Resistance to change - There are always employees who will refuse to accept the fact that the social and cultural makeup of their workplace is changing. The “we’ve always done it this way” mentality silences new ideas and inhibits progress.
Implementation of diversity in the workplace policies - This can be the overriding challenge to all diversity advocates. Armed with the results of employee assessments and research data, they must build and implement a customized strategy to maximize the effects of diversity in the workplace for their particular organization.
Successful Management of Diversity in the Workplace - Diversity training alone is not sufficient for your organization’s diversity management plan. A strategy must be created and implemented to create a culture of diversity that permeates every department and function of the organization.
Culture - Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experience, beliefs, values, attitudes, meanings, hierarchies, religion, notions of time, roles, spatial relations, concepts of the universe, and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual and group striving.
-Culture is communication, communication is culture.
-Culture is the systems of knowledge shared by a relatively large group of people.
Sub Culture - A social group within a national culture that has distinctive patterns of behaviour and beliefs, A subdivision of a national culture or an enclave within it with a distinct integrated network of behaviour, beliefs, and attitudes
Cross Cultural - The doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country. It is the acceptance or promotion of multiple ethnic cultures, for practical reasons and/or for the sake of diversity and applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level.
Example- schools, businesses, neighborhoods, cities or nations.
Recommended steps that have been proven successful in world class organizations are:
Assessment of diversity in the workplace - Top companies make assessing and evaluating their diversity process an integral part of their management system. A customizable employee satisfaction survey can accomplish this assessment for your company efficiently and conveniently. It can help your management team determine which challenges and obstacles to diversity are present in your workplace and which policies need to be added or eliminated. Reassessment can then determine the success of you diversity in the workplace plan implementation. Development of diversity in the workplace plan - Choosing a survey provider that provides Comprehensive reporting is a key decision. That report will be the beginning structure of your diversity in the workplace plan. The plan must be comprehensive, attainable and measurable. An organization must decide what changes need to be made and a timeline for that change to be attained.
Implementation of diversity in the workplace plan - The personal commitment of executive and Managerial teams is a must. Leaders and managers within organizations must incorporate diversity Policies into every aspect of the organization’s function and purpose. Attitudes toward diversity Originate at the top and filter downward. Management cooperation and participation is required to Create a culture conducive to the success of your organization’s plan.
Ward off change resistance with inclusion. - Involve every employee possible in formulating and executing diversity initiatives in your workplace. Foster an attitude of openness in your organization. - Encourage employees to express their ideas and opinions and attribute a sense of equal value to all. Promote diversity in leadership positions. - This practice provides visibility and realizes the benefits of diversity in the workplace. Utilize diversity training. - Use it as a tool to shape your diversity policy.
Launching a customizable employee satisfaction survey that provides comprehensive reporting. Use the results to build and implement successful multicultural climate in the workplace policies. As the economy becomes increasingly global, our workforce becomes increasingly diverse. Organizational success and competitiveness will depend on the ability to manage diversity in the Workplace effectively. Evaluating your organization’s diversity policies and plan for the future, starting today because “HAPPY EMPLOYEES ARE NOT PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYYES FOREVER”.
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