Analyse the issue of IKEA happened in Saudi Arabia when they erased all women from their catalogue.
Comparison between the culture of Sweden and Saudi Arabia: The Swedish people are known to be dedicated, hardworking and are known to use the limited resources to the fullest (Almaghlooth, 2013). They are open-minded and promote women empowerment. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that is governed along Islamic lines. Restrictions regarding women empowerment in this country are one of the pitfalls of this country. The country is also known for its harsh punishments.
Hofstede Model - Dimension of Masculinity versus Femininity
A Dutch anthropologist and psychologist Geert Hofstede studied cultural interactions between various groups (Hofstede, 2011). Among his other works the cultural dimension theory is a notable one, it is applauded for providing a systematic framework that analyse the difference between cultures and nations. This theory places the measuring value under six heads, among them, one is the Masculinity aspect. Various surveys were conducted through IBM to gather data for the purpose of scoring the system from 1 to 60 in the scale. The concept of masculinity versus femininity helps in understanding the distributed emotional roles in between both the genders. This dimension of the culture and nation theory analyses materialism, power, ambition and assertiveness and the typical femininity aspects which are based o human relationships (Treven, 2011). Societies with greater masculinity rates tend to discriminate more whereas societies with lower masculinity rates place much importance on the building relationship than discriminating between genders (Hofstede, 2010).
Comparing Saudi Arabia and Sweden (Hofstede Dimension - Masculinity versus Femininity):
Saudi Arabia is holding a higher position in the Masculinity Index (MAS), indicating the limited women rights due to a cultural paradigm. It also provides an extensive possibility of gender segregation. A society with high masculinity rate indicates a male-dominant power structure and society where males control the women's. The score acquired by Saudi Arabia in the dimension of masculinity is 60. The primary aim of the people living in the masculine country is to live to work; here the managers should be assertive and decisive. They emphasise on the concept of performance, competition and equity. Any dispute or conflict is sorted out by the way of fighting (Obeidat et al. 2012).
On the other hand, Sweden is holding the lowest position in the Masculinity Index (MAS) with a masculinity rate of five, indicating that it is a feminine society. The maintenance of work-life balance is a very important aspect of a feminist country. The management system and decision-making are also other aspects of concern for many, but all these aspects are handled perfectly in Sweden. Whenever conflicts arise in Sweden then the process of negotiation and compromise solves them. In this country, the issue is discussed until the disputing parties reach a definite solution. Here, flexible working hours, free time are favoured. Swiss culture is based on the principle of ‘lagom' that consist of something that is not too less not too much and not even too noticeable. They believe that everything should be balanced and in moderation. The principle ensures that everybody has enough, and none of them is left neglected. The Jante Law enforces the concept of lagom that is a Scandinavian concept of a fictional law, propagating the ideology that individuals must not boast themselves above other individuals.
Analysis of the issue that occurred due to the airbrushing of all the women from the catalog of IKEA based on the Hofstede’s Dimension score regarding Masculinity and Femininity: IKEA is a Swedish multinational company; it primarily deals with the Scandinavian style furnishings along with other household goods (Eskander & Abdul Aal, 2010). The cultural gap between that of Sweden and Saudi Arabia was observed by IKEA, and it could be observed from the act of IKEA of removing women images from the catalog that was published in Saudi Arabia especially. This removal of the women image was severely criticised as it is against the values of IKEA. The equality minister of Sweden commented that as IKEA is a private company, so it could independently take its decisions but the act of removing women image from the catalog is against the right to equality and is discriminatory hence, it might hamper Sweden's image in the global sphere (White, 2012). The image-airbrushing task of IKEA was severely criticised as women rights are heftily promoted by Sweden. The act of IKEA has been observed by many as a conflict between financial concerns and moral values (Eskander & Abdul Aal, 2010).
In this context the score of Masculinity in Sweden and Saudi Arabia could be referred, Sweden scores 5 in Masculinity and Saudi Arabia Scores 60, hence, it could be easily observed that as Saudi Arabia is a male dominant country hence women empowerment is observed as a risk. The male dominance is the primary reason for the removal of women from the catalog as they think it to be wrong. Moreover, this is not the very first time that the women's rights have been subordinated to a Western institution to gain business interest. The main reason behind the removal of the woman image from the catalog is the male dominated culture that is predominant in Saudi Arabia (Quinn, 2012). The activist of the women rights in Saudi Arabia also objects the removal of the women images from the catalogs that were specially published for Saudi Arabia as if this kind of images would be published then the women of Saudi Arabia would acquire knowledge of the outside world which could promote self-determination among their women's (Marcus, 2013). On the other hand, it would contradict women's role and portraying women in any medium in a printed form could import ideas about the real world that exists outside Saudi Arabia and would oppose the Wahabi culture. Due to such influences, the male dominated grip could be loosened over the society. The catalog hence was observed as an agent, which could inculcate the modern ideologies among the women of Saudi Arabia. The religion misappropriation is often observed as a bar from accessing women's equality (Hofstede et al 2015).
Conclusion: Hence, it could easily be concluded that Saudi Arabia is a male dominated country with discriminatory practices in respect of women whereas Sweden is a feminist country. The main issue of concern is that the corporations place their financial interest in a more predominant position than their moral values, in other way supporting the discrimination process that is practiced by the male dominated countries. The culture of IKEA is Swedish culture, and it must ensure gender equality in their work ethics without giving prime importance to financial status.
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