DIVERSITY AND CULTURAL SENSITIVITYIN THE WORK PLACE By Zacharys Anger Gundu, PhD Dubai Leadership Summit, December, 2011
LEARNING OBJECTIVES • Know the dynamics of Diversity and Culture and its impact on Learning. • Identify skills that help to open communication channels with others. • Develop personal strategies to increase knowledge about other cultures. • Learn to become advocates for diversity in the work place. • Learn how to foster an attitude of inclusion and respect in the work place. • Identify barriers to accepting others and how to overcome them in the work place.
DIVERSITY AND YOU. • Do you believe there is only one right way of doing things (or do you allow for other valid ways?) • Do you have honest relationships with each other? • Do you find working with people from different backgrounds irritating or rewarding?. • Are you open to people from different cultures?.
DIVERSITY AND YOU • How do you handle disrespect from others ? • How does ethnicity, nepotism, sexism manifest around you? • Is there a diversity policy in place in your place of work.? • Are assignments and opportunities for advancement accessible to everyone in your place of work?
THE EARTH AS A DIVERSIFIED VILLAGE • If we were to shrink the earth to a village of 100 people, with its existing human diversity, we will have a picture looking like this: • 57 will be Asians. • 21 Europeans. • 14 from the western hemisphere (North and South). • 8 Africans. • 52 Females. • 48 Males. • 70 Non white. • 30 White.
THE EARTH AS A DIVERSIFIED VILLAGE • 70 Non Christian. • 30 Christian. • 6 people will own 59% of the entire wealth of the earth and mostof them will be in the US. • 80 will be in sub standard housing. • 70 will not be able to read. • 50 will suffer from malnutrition. • 1 will be near death. • I will be near birth.
WHAT DIVERSITY MEANS • Recognition that each of the different people at work is unique in terms of talents, gifts, skills, personality traits, physical abilities, cultural background, appearances, thoughts, feelings, beliefs and points of view. • Its about ‘learning from others who are not the same, about dignity, respect for all , and about creating workplace environments and practices that encourage learning from others and capture the advantage of diverse perspectives’. Cornell University.
PRIMARY CHARACTERISTICS OF DIVERSITY These are characteristics we are born with.
SECONDARY AND TERTIARY CHARACTERISTICS OF DIVERSITY These are characteristics we acquire as members of different cultural formations.
WORK PLACE DIVERSITY AS A CHALLENGE Managing Diversity in the work place is always a nightmare. • The unqualified acceptance of people from different backgrounds in the work place is always a challenge. • The differences we carry to the work place influence our thinking, actions, interactions and choices. • All these can interfere with our ability to support, trust and respect each other in the teams we work.
CHALLENGES OF CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION Diversity bias. • These are assumptions that make it difficult to accept others who are different from us. They include: • The Assumptions of superiority. • I am better. • The Assumptions of correctness. • My way is the correct way. • The Assumptions of universality. • We are all the same: If you are less than me, you must be sub human.
CHALLENGES OF CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION Other barriers to accepting others. • Other barriers to accepting others aside from bias include: • Perceptions. • Feelings based on opinions, dislikes, attitudes, beliefs and values. • Prejudice. • Prejudgment without sufficient knowledge. • Stereotypes. • Generalizations on people without reference to individual differences. • Discrimination . • Denial of fair treatment.
CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION Valuable tips while discussing issues like race, sexual orientation, disabilities, religion. • Many diversity issues are sensitive so while discussing them, its good to be: • Calm and open. • Know the issues and emotions at stake. • Establish rapport. • Respect the other’s views even if you do not agree with them. • Choose your words carefully. • See the difference as a perspective and not a wrong.
THE VALUE OF DIVERSITY TO THE ORGANIZATION • Diversity awareness helps us to appreciate our differences and the potential value they bring to the work place. • It helps us to connect to and leverage the variety of gifts and talents people bring to the work place. • It promotes stronger healthier organizations( diverse ecologies are also stronger). • Promotes creativity and greater variety of solutions to problems. • Promotes greater productivity and competitive advantage.
DIVERSITY TYPES • Gender. • Age. • Race. • Ethnicity. • Culture. • Religion. • Language. • Disability. • Height. • Weight. • Sexual Orientation. • Education. • Education. • Dress. • Skills. • Union/Non Union. • Full time/Part time. • Marital status. • Political Affiliation.
MANAGING DIVERSITY IN THE WORK PLACE How to manage Diversity in the work place. • Whatever happens, people should come first. All, irrespective of differences should be treated with respect. ‘Small things’ like people’s names should be pronounced properly. • Support social networking in the workplace (This can help reduce differences) • Plan and implement systems and practices that foster respect and inclusiveness in the organization.
MANAGING DIVERSITY IN THE WORK PLACE(Cont) Key systems that can advance Diversity goals. • Recruitment and hiring. • Performance management. • Career development. • Coaching and mentoring. • Flexible work arrangements. • Training and learning. • These systems can be deployed to leverage diversity in the organization.
MANAGING DIVERSITY IN THE WORK PLACE (Cont) Strategies for managing Diversity. • Build diversity into recruitment, planning strategy, decisions and partnerships. • Identify where and to what degree local divisions should be encouraged/empowered to take the lead in expressing and managing diversity. • Encourage cross cultural conversation and interaction. • Aim at cross cultural balances in decision making. • Leadership from the top.
COST OF POOR MANAGEMENT OF DIVERSITY IN THE WORK PLACE Poor Management of diversity can be very costly to business. • The cost of managing Diversity poorly includes: • Complaints and legal actions. • Low employee morale. • Inefficiency. • Increased tension and conflict. • High employee turn over. • Lost investments in recruitment and training. • Lost time and money in managing conflicts and misunderstanding. • High rates of absenteeism.
DIVERSITY POLICY Its important for the workplace to have a Diversity Policy. • The organization’s Mission should include a statement on the value of diversity. • Develop diversity goals for each area of the business. • Develop strategies to show how each goal will be met. • Clarify how you can mainstream diversity in the work place.
PERSONAL ACTION IN SUPPORT OF DIVERSITY Knowledge of and relationship with colleagues. • Know your colleagues and subordinates by name. • This fosters a climate of respect. Know how to pronounce their names correctly. • If titles are important, use them. In Malaysia , France and Nigeria, titles are important. • In the USA, first names are preferred and amongst the Japanese, exchange of cards are important.
PERSONAL ACTION IN SUPPORT OF DIVERSITY (Cont) Use of body language. • Be careful about the use of gestures. • Avoid touching. • Eating out requires special knowledge across cultures. • Know that eye contact is interpreted differently across cultures. • Amongst Africans, younger people are expected to avoid eye contact with older people as a sign of respect. • Amongst Europeans, eye contact is necessary when talking to others. It’s a sign that you have nothing to hide.
PERSONAL ACTION IN SUPPORT OF DIVERSITY(Cont) Other tips. • Treat everybody equitably. • Watch for signs of harassment. • Encourage and recognize contributions of different people • Learn and use some of their languages. • Give meaningful and culturally appropriate gifts/rewards. • In other places, formal dress is the norm, in places like Singapore, long sleeve shirts are just fine.
PERSONAL ACTION IN SUPPORT OF DIVERSITY(Cont) Other tips. • In some cultures meals and table manners are very important in business. • The French for example, conduct business over lunch or dinner. • In China, a banquets and bouts of drinking are parts of business deals. • In Africa, there is the concept of ‘African time’ that may account for delays in appointments.
HANDLING RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES • Religious jokes are tolerated in some religions more than others. • Treat religious views with respect. • Be consistent in allowing time off for religious reasons. • Never promote one religion over and above the other in the workplace. • Accept religious views as personal to the individual.
PERSONAL COMMITTMENT What are you going to commit to the promotion of diversity when you return home? • ? • ? • ? • ??
THINK AND ACT DIVERSITY The End and Thanks.