It is no revelation that diversity within the workplace has become a popular norm in modern day. Often when you go to look into a company’s values, they are likely to advocate and promote their diverse and multicultural work cultures. When the words multiculturalism and diversity themselves are brought up, people’s minds may tend to automatically focus on the issues of racism and gender inequality, first and foremost. While these issues are highly prevalent in the workplace, diversity and multiculturalism go beyond this- encompassing the issues of; ageism, ableism and LGBT, religious/political and linguistic discrimination. In this article, I will be focusing on exploring the potential benefits and challenges and critical perspectives of diversity and multiculturalism in the workplace.
- Higher awareness and broadened perspectives
One of the top five valued characteristics of employees according to the “big five” personality test and other theories is;“openness to experience/open-mindedness.” This trait is directly linked to the acceptance and even embracement of differences, whether it is in other people, rituals, beliefs, lifestyles and so on. In order to succeed when working in a diverse and multicultural environment, embracing differences is crucial and necessary. Furthermore, many people have misconceptions and prejudice towards others due to lack of education, knowledge (or otherwise they have been provided with misleading information), and exposure. Being exposed and having to interact with others who are vastly different to us will broadened our perspectives and increase our social and cultural awareness. In the long term this will allow us to be more open to new experiences and information in the future.
- Heightened areas of expertise/ potential opportunities arising
Many companies globally outsource functions in order to tap into top talent. Each country has their own competitive advantages and core competencies, for instance; India is well-known for the strongest IT workforce. Furthermore, employees contracted from overseas may be able to provide beneficial insights to the organization, such as Chinese employees informing an American company of a market opportunity/gap in the China market.
Along with the benefits, there are still numerous challenges with a diverse workforce. These include but are not limited to:
- Miscommunications and misunderstandings between employees
- Lower productivity and efficiency due to lack of flow and cohesion
- Frustrations arising, leading to further discrimination
- Workplace bullying and harassment
- Cliques forming/exclusion
- Lack of sense of “unity” in workplace culture
- Potential toxic workplace culture
- Is it ethical to promote ethnic employees to promote your workplace as “diverse and multicultural”?
There are instances where you look into a company that promotes and strives for a diverse workforce you will find on their websites and brochures that more than half of the people pictured are people of color. This may not accurately represent the percentages within the company itself. So I argue, is it ethical for companies to essentially, cherry-pick, the employees who simply “look different” culturally and advertise them to promote how diverse they are as a company, even if the representation is not accurate?
I hope you enjoyed my article,