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Question:

Discuss about the Workplace Diversity.
 
 

Answer:

Diversity is a barrier to effective teamwork

In this era if globalization, organizations have expanded across the regions. Today, the large organizations have the people from various cultures and diverse backgrounds. The large organizations like Google and Coca-Cola cannot expect diversity to be a challenge for them. There was a time when diversity was considered as a barrier to effective teamwork. However, with globalization, growth of Information Technology, workplace diversity has emerged as a powerful area of focus for large and multinational organizations. In fact, there are times when the inputs from diverse employees can add to team productivity (Birnbaum & Lach, 2014). For example, Amazon has an outstanding team, which comes from different areas and scenarios, but they are united through diversity.  With different unique individuals holding different knowledge being both tacit and explicit, the department and the running day to day of the business is made smoother and faster.  Knowledge has become one of the most important resources within today’s challenging business environment. The objective of this essay is to discuss if diversity is a barrier to effective teamwork or not. The initial research suggests the strong leadership and organizational culture can help organizations to overcome the diversity barriers.

It is imperative to figure out how organizations are shaped in terms of geographical, phenomenological, cultural, pathophysiological, and epidemical aspects. The leaders have to identify the population to focus intervention efforts toward workplace diversity. Thus, leaders should search for the good tools for workplace diversity assessment by focusing on employees’ learning readiness to reduce disparity and prepare for cultural diversity depending on different population groups. Before approaching organizations and employees, leaders must be ready to assess them to prevent from having lack of understanding between the workforce from different cultural background (Newitz, 2015).

There are ways in place that leaders can take to overcome the diversity challenge and ensure that diversity is not a barrier for effective team work. For example, Whole Foods Market believes that the key to their success is creating an environment of excellence and happiness. When hiring new employees, they are searching for team members who will continue to maintain that kind of environment. The employee ratings based on 869 employee surveys were well above 90% for every area: challenges, atmosphere, rewards, pride, communication, and management. Whole Foods Market provides several perks and programs to support and enhance their employees. They are always looking for team members who want to make a difference in the lives of others, which is a primary example of building communities, one of the twelve principles of servant leadership. Servant leaders have a robust sense of community and they work hard to promote it in an organization (Reidenbach & Robin, 2013).

When contemporary organizations take an interest and investment in their employees, then that attitude is infused within the employees and spreads within the work environment. A feeling of a 'family' atmosphere grows among the associates and they learn to work, play and pray as a family would and stand beside each other to always make sure each person is taken care of including the success of the organization. Therefore, it can be said that a lot depends on organizational culture and leadership approach if leaders want to overcome the diversity barriers or not. To ensure that diversity is not a challenge for effective teamwork, it is important that organizations should have effective leadership. It is suggested that organizations should practice authentic leadership. By definition, authentic leadership is an approach to leadership that emphasizes building the leader's legitimacy through honest relationships with followers, which value their input and are built on an ethical foundation (Parry & Jackson, 2011). The key questions that organization would have to answer while implementing the authentic leadership style would be:

  • Can one care for another if not authentic about their own ambitions?
  • Can one be taught to bypass their own ambitions to become a better leader such as a servant leader?
 

There are leaders that have fooled many by their fruits as to their selfish life but are able to serve. The problem with not being authentic is one’s inputs will not last for long. Furthermore, there are various ways, supported by Information Technology, for diversity management. There are organizations like Cisco that offers teleconferencing solutions for corporate. Team members can schedule regular meeting with each other to know the updates and upcoming tasks of the projects. Though, it is very effective but still body language and eye contacts are missing which are important pillars of any communication (Knutsen & Brock, 2014). Video conferencing is also effective but it requires proper infrastructure and logistics to organize.

Another leadership style that could help organizations to overcome the diversity barriers would be servant leadership. A few of the companies that have found success through servant leadership are Chick-fil-a, Starbucks and Whole Foods.  For example Whole Foods encourages self responsibility-which means the company takes responsibility for not only their successes but for their failures as well, self-directed teams where the teams meet regularly to discuss issues, solve problems and appreciate others’ opinions. They also have empowering work environments where they create a work environment where its team members can flourish (wholefoodmarket.com). Therefore, it is recommended that large and multinational organizations must focus on servant leadership. First, firms that move away from the traditional model from managing their firms have seen great jumps in profits. Some of these nontraditional publicly traded companies are Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods Market. In addition, are those companies that are listed under Firms of Endearment (FOE) companies. These FOEs companies believe that profit and purpose are linked, as it should. Overall, the FOE’s companies treat both internal and external stakeholders well. Note, according to industry today firm that adopts some form of servant leader will see an increase of ten to twenty percent each year in profit/net. This concept of servant leadership is more than treating all stakeholders well but problem-solving as well. In addition, Bill Flint, (The Journey to Competitive Advantage through Servant Leadership) believed that servant leaders are passionate in delivering improved results by adopting fuelling Greenleaf’s writings and not limited to. 

The multinational organizations that want to overcome the cultural barriers must focus on servant leadership style. The questions that organizations and leaders should answer is that, ‘How can servant leadership possibly be profitable for a business and how it can ensure effective team work without any diversity challenges?’  It would seem counter intuitive that by focusing on making employees happy instead of focusing on profit, minimizing cost, and maximizing employee efficiency, a company will be more competitive.  However, by focusing on the employees, the leadership of a company or organization can increase their profitability by minimizing the cost of employee turnover.  Unhappy employees who leave, resulting in constant turnover, can financially cripple an organization.  Estimates are that to replace a single employee can cost between 100% to 300% of the employee’s base salary, as well as slowing down the efficiency of the area they are placed in, as others have to train the newly hired employee, losing time they would spend on their own duties (Moody, 2000).  In an article on the Ritz-Carlton leadership website, the company reveals that they believe that by putting employees first and using servant leadership, their profitability has increased.  The article also tells the company’s managers that if they focus solely on formal authority – authority because of a title – as opposed to moral authority, they will never reach 100% leadership effectiveness.  By behaving morally and ethically with their employees, the employees are more vested in making sure the leadership succeeds (Boehm & Kunze, 2015).

As a conclusion it can be said that diversity could be a challenge or barrier for effective teamwork. However, the challenge of diversity is not something that cannot be overcome. It all depends on organizational culture. If the organization has an open culture where the leaders welcome the people from various backgrounds then diversity should not be considered as a challenge to effective teamwork. It is important that organizations should have strong policies in place about diversity management. It is also important that these policies and strategies should be communicated to different stakeholders of organizations. The leaders should also take inputs from various employees before implementing the policies of strategy development (Dion, 2012). The Information Technology is a powerful tool for organizations to have an environment in place where the challenges of workplace diversity could be minimized. In the end, it can be said that it all depends on the will power of leaders in the organization. Therefore, the multinational organizations must have strong leaders at top who are visionary and who welcomes the cultural differences between people.

 

References

Birnbaum, R. and Lach, L., 2014. Teaching About What Ethical Social Work Practice Means: Responsibility Starts With Schools of Social Work.L’encadrement juridique de la pratique professionnelle, p.37.

Boehm, S.A. and Kunze, F., 2015. Age diversity and age climate in the workplace. In Aging workers and the employee-employer relationship (pp. 33-55). Springer International Publishing.

Dion, M., 2012. Are ethical theories relevant for ethical leadership? Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 33(1), pp.4-24.

Knutsen, W., & Brock, K. (2014). Introductory essay: From a closed system to an open system: A parallel critical review of the intellectual trajectories of publicness and nonprofitness. Voluntas: International Journal Of Voluntary & Nonprofit Organizations, 25(5), 1113-1131

Newitz, A. (2015). Google Attempts to Fight Patent Trolls with a Pretty Dubious Strategy. Retrieved from: https://gizmodo.com/google-attempts-to-fight-patent-trolls-by-buying-pat-1700413270

Reidenbach, R.E. and Robin, D.P., 2013. Some Initial Steps Toward Improving the Measurement of Ethical Evaluations of Marketing Activities. InCitation Classics from the Journal of Business Ethics (pp. 315-328). Springer Netherlands.

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