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The Business Forum
DIVERSITY: A HALLMARK OF THE GLOBAL ARENA
of the most obvious consequences of entering into the global arena
is cultural diversity, an issue with which the United States has
only recently been confronted. Business professionals must be
prepared to understand that traditions and customs may be different
than expected when the business moves into unfamiliar climes. There
are a number of issues that need to be identified and discussed when
conducting business abroad. Most of these can be related to
are both costs and concerns relating to the management of
diversity. These concerns include, but are not limited, to such
items as internal and external communications, intra-organizational
and inter-organizational conflict, and employee turnover.
the United States, the business community is just now beginning to
comprehend the cultural differences that exist within the country,
let alone, globally. Americans are still trying to manage for
acculturation. This term refers to methods by which cultural
differences between a dominant culture and minority or subcultures
are resolved and managed.
Southeast Asia, as a region, seems to have, long since, successfully
dealt with the issues of diversity. Nations like Singapore and
Malaysia have populations composed of dozens of ethnic groups.
Chinese and Malays mingle easily with Indians and Africans.
Religions meet together in ways that western nations have yet to
understand. Both the benefits and the challenges stemming from a
multicultural workforce can be viewed as something with which
American businesses must consider; something already clearly
understood by most companies headquartered outside the United
of the larger hotel chains headquartered in Sydney and managing many
properties throughout the Asia Pacific region can provide a
case-in-point for dealing with cultural diversity. The Park Royal
is the chain’s prime property in Kuala Lumpur, the former capital of
Malaysia. The managers and staff of the Park Royal take their jobs
very seriously and revel in their cultural diversity: The general
manager is an Australian, appointed by headquarters; the food and
beverage manager hails from New Zealand. The manager in charge of
overall customer service in Chinese, the room manager is a local
citizen of Malaysia. One of the senior marketing staff is from a
Middle Eastern country, while the senior chef is German. The under
chefs are Swiss. The housekeeping staff are mostly from Pakistan
and Bangladesh, while the concierge is from Madras, in India.
hotel enjoys a global clientele and caters to people from all
cultures. The dining rooms and restaurants regularly feature foods
representative of a particular ethnicity. The Asia-Pacific Hotel
Group has solved the problems associated with cultural diversity:
the make the most of it.
are really no easy answers to the challenges of managing a
culturally diverse workforce. There are, however, a goodly number
of common characteristics of employee values, managerial philosophy,
and organizational behavior that are present within companies having
effective diversity management programs. But, these same
characteristics are also present where diversity comes naturally.
These characteristics are listed below:
Managers and employees must understand that a
diverse workforce will embody different perspectives and
approaches to work and must truly value variety of opinion and
leadership of the organization must recognize both the learning
opportunities and the challenges that the expression of
different perspectives presents for an organization.
organizational culture must create an expectation of high
standards of performance from everyone.
organizational culture must stimulate personal development.
organizational culture must encourage openness, even in places
where the local culture is not as o pen as management would
organizational culture must make all workers feel valued.
organizational culture must have a well articulated and widely
understood mission and accompanying vision.
organization must have a relatively egalitarian, nonbureaucratic
Henry H. Goldman
a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and is the Managing Director of the Goldman Nelson Group. Henry got
his Masters Degree at the University of Iowa and did his Doctoral
Studies at the University of Southern California. He is a
Certified Professional Consultant to Management (CPCM); and has
published numerous articles in trade journals and was Associate
Editor of Taking Stock: A Survey on the Practice and Future of
Change Management (Berlin, Germany). He is a member of the
American Society for Training and Development (ASTD); Association of
Professional Consultants (APC) and the Institute of Management
Consultants (IMC). Henry has consulted and/or offered training in
South Africa, Tanzania, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau,
Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Barbados, Georgia, Kosovo,
Tajikistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of
course North America. He has also taught at Baker University:
Lee’s Summit, MO, 2008, Adjunct Professor of International Business;
National Graduate School: Falmouth, MA, 2004-2008, Adjunct Professor
of Quality Management; California State University: Fullerton,
2005-2006, Lecturer on Taxation; University of California: Berkeley,
2002, Adjunct Professor of Management; University of Macau (China),
Adjunct Professor of Management, 2001-2003.
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