Managing Ethnicity at Work Research Paper

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


Man’s desire for knowledge and success has over the years expanded beyond the restrictions of localities and regional boundaries. As such, business mergers and other agreements have been made between business entities in search of a larger market base, resources and human capital. The occurrences of such interactions have over the years brought the human race closer to each other than ever before despite their varied differences in cultures, goals and objectives.

Consequently, corporations and business organizations have been forced to restructure their modes of operation in order to accommodate and utilize the benefits that can be accrued from having a diverse workforce. This paper shall in detail address the issue of ethnicity and how best it can be managed within the work environment.


One of the things that make human life intriguing and captivating is the diversity and variation exhibited by various people as a result of their differing cultures (ethnic background), personalities and physical appearances. Through the years, different groups of people have come up with cultures which help them develop spiritually, morally and mentally. As such these cultures have become building blocks in their lives and work places.

It therefore stands without doubt that developing an organizational culture is pivotal to the success of any business endeavor. Consequently, the questions that are left wanting are: How does organizational culture influence employee’s response to organizational change? And, what effective approaches do organizations use to promote work-life balance? This paper shall focus on cultural diversity in work places.

A detailed discussion shall be presented on how this ethnicity may affect an organization either positively or negatively. Solutions and recommendations shall also be made as to how best this diversity can be balanced. The importance of nurturing an organizational culture shall also be highlighted.

Brief summary on ethnic diversity

Globalization has led to a status quo where organizations are constantly being forced to interact and in some instances merger with each other so as to fully utilize scarce resources so as to ensure their profitability and hence future continuity.

To best achieve their goals, organizations at times find themselves forging alliances with individuals from different nations around the globe in order to tap into the best talents for the various jobs. Hankin (2008) asserts that cultural diversity is about respecting and acknowledging differences among people in relation to their age, sex, ethnicity, abilities and beliefs. If employees do not oversee such differences and work as a unit, then the working environment and the output would end up in turmoil.

Personal experience of ethnic diversity at work

A particularly significant experience was in my capacity as a project coordinator with Apple, Inc. I was charged with working with the program managers in executing and implementing initiatives involving the organizations clientele.

These tasks enabled me to play an active role in shaping the company’s strategy and develop impressive skills in personnel management and public relations; traits that will be of uttermost importance in my future aspirations. During this period, I came to realize and appreciate the importance of having an organization culture, working with people from different cultural and ethnical backgrounds and finally, the importance of a strong and charismatic leader.

During my first few months I was really determined to prove my worth to the managers and my supervisor. As such, I viewed most of my colleagues as potential threats to my career development strategies.

As a result, I used to do all my tasks alone and never asked for any assistance from anyone no matter how difficult things got. In addition, I kept all my ideas to myself fearing that my workmates would steal them and get credited for them. It was not long before I realized that I had isolated myself and most people did not want to work with me.

The company has a highly diversified workforce and I automatically assumed that they were all discriminating against me probably on educational, cultural or social grounds.

It was very frustrating. My intervention dawned on me at a seminar organized by the HR department on the importance of teamwork, developing and adapting to new work environments. Among the core elements covered in that seminar were, the importance of sharing a vision, effective communication, teamwork and the importance of groupthink (corporate culture).

I realized that interacting with my colleagues irrespective of their abilities and/or differences, was a better and faster way of fast tracking my carrier. This was because there were situations which could have had better results if I had consulted the right person. In addition, it became clear to me that there are actually other people with better ideas than mine and it is only through teamwork and sharing that they can be able to trust in me and believe that I will do my part in ensuring that we get the job done.

Challenges facing cultural diversity at work places

Discrimination is the core factor hindering cultural diversity in work places. This comes in different cloaks such as sex, age social class and ethnicity. Many companies have over the years been known to reject job applications from women, aged people and worse of all individuals with accents despite their qualification levels for the particular job (Collins, 2002).

These differences should be seen as opportunities rather than a threat. For example, an accent indicates multilingual capabilities which may come in handy while marketing in the global scene, women are known for their persuasive nature and older individuals are rich in experience which they can pass down to the younger and less experienced employees.

Benefits of cultural diversity in work places

Despite the challenges there are benefits that can be accrued from cultural diversity. For starters, it presents employees with adequate avenues through which they can learn key aspects of different cultures from each other (Reisinger, 2009).

The knowledge acquired from this can then be applied while dealing with both international and local clients. In addition to this, it eases the marketing process when it comes to launching new products, discussing merges with foreign clients and other aspects of international business. Trompenaars contends that diversity offers great understanding to how different people perceive thing leading to a better understanding of the human race (2009).

How does organizational culture influence employees’ response to organizational change?

The importance of developing an organizational culture cannot be understated. As earlier mentioned, nurturing a culture creates a sense of belonging as well as unity within the organization’s workforce. Meyer and Stanley (2003) define an organization as an institute, group or an association which has a specific purpose and goals. In order for a group to deem itself as an organization, there must be observable elements of cooperation and coordination within the members of the group in accordance to a pre-prescribed format.

As such, key to the establishment of any organization is the presence of some common and quantifiable goals which are to be pursued collectively. These traits and goals amount to the culture of the organization. Kirkman and Shapiro (2001) describes organization culture as a blend of shared assumptions, values and behaviors that a group develops as it tries to cope or adapt to the various trends, challenges and different think modes within the working environment.

This being said, a strong organization culture influences the level of commitment that the employees have to the organization, their ability to work together towards the set goals, their vigilance and their morale (Stock & McFadden, 2007). Having a set culture may come in handy especially during a time of change.

Considering the fact that not all people have a positive perception towards change, a well defined culture goes a long way in smoothening the transition and implementation of change. This is because the employees feel obligated and committed to the success of the firm and may therefore compromise for the well being of the organization.

On the other hand, a weak culture may lead to conflicts and eventually failure especially in times of change because the employees often look out for their own interests instead of those of the organization (Philip & McKeown, 2004). This is basically due to the fact that the employees do not have any common values or attributes that identify them with the goals and objectives of the organization.

In certain circumstances, the preserving of the corporate culture of the organization can make the difference in the organization. This is especially so when the culture has been responsible for the successful execution of tasks in the organization over a long period of time (Lau & Ngo, 2004). This being the case, it is obvious that the success of an organization can be jeopardized by any move that threatens to weaken the corporate culture of the organization.

Morgan (2006), states that corporate cultures develop “as an ethos created and sustained by social processes so as to bury out differences”. This means that the culture is a means by which the various disparate members of the organization can forge some form of alliance and thus work towards. Macintosh and Doherty (2010) assert that a strong culture may be further reinforced in an organization by a strong charismatic figure.

Key to making a difference in the organization is the ability of the sole figure to ensure that everyone involved buys into the ideas and concepts (culture) that they are trying to advance.

Skerlavaj, Stemberger and Skrinjar (2007) articulate that actions that produce a feeling of charisma towards a leader figure will invariably lead to an increase in the likelihood of the followers to ape the actions of the leader. However, it should be noted that making the people follow a “model individual” may only be effective for a short term basis. The Education of key people in the organization about the assets and issues associated with the work environment may be a more effective and long term measure (Cummings 2004).

What effective approaches do organizations use to promote work-life balance?

Fereday and Oster (2010) assert that the current economy favors the collective goals and those values that reflect the needs of groups rather than personal groups. As such, it is always important to ensure that teamwork prevails in the work setting. Ambition and determination are some of the traits that are inherent in a person who set out to make a difference in the organization (Hobman et. al 2003).

Whereas these traits are desirable and necessary for this task, they may have detrimental effects if they are exhibited in an exaggerated form. If an individual is overly ambitious, he may be tempted to act in ways that are beneficial to him/her at the expense of other members of the organization. This may alienate him/her to the other members of the organization who may then proceed to sabotage his activities thus negatively impacting the organization.

Managing ethnical diversity

Developing an ethics program

In order to fully harness the full benefits that come with cultural diversity at work places, it is important that the managers and supervisors set rules safeguarding against discrimination during employment, promotions and layoffs.

In addition to this, training sessions by professionals should be included in the work places so that workers can learn how to cope and work together towards a common goal despite their differences. On the same note, the management may decide to use a third party when it comes to conflict resolution. According to Adamopoulos, a third party provides the individuals involved with a sense of fairness as well as a chance to air their thought fully (1999).

Communicating the organization’s vision to all employees

A vision can be loosely defined as the detailed mental image of things to come. Possessing a vision is paramount for any organization since it gives a sense of purpose and meaning to the organization members. As such, it is imperative that in any setting there be a leader who comes up with a future plan and then steer his followers towards its achievement. Visions are often formulated by an individual or a group of people towards a specific purpose.

As such, the visions may be highly personalized and may not necessarily conform to the desires of the majority. It is important to communicate such visions to workers and convince them as to the need to embark on the proposals since it is the followers who will determine the success of the vision (Cummings, 2004). This will act as a source of motivation and morale in their day to day activities.

Communication of a vision is a key step in establishing unity in a highly diverse work environment. Effectively communicating an organization’s vision determines the level of cooperation and commitment that the employees give to the organization.

In addition, communicating a vision to the followers gives them a glimpse of what to expect from their leaders and they judge them by the principles that govern their actions (Lau & Ngo, 2004). Personal character traits such as self confidence, honesty and trust can only be seen through their actions and ability to communicate with others.

According to Collins (2002) sharing a vision of the future reassures the followers of better days ahead. In addition to this, it provides meaning and a sense of belong to the followers and other stakeholders as they deem themselves as part of something greater. A shared vision inspires and motivates them to aim higher and employ extra effort so as to actualize the vision and make a significant difference in their own capacities.

This in turn acts as a unifying factor and creates a sense of community between them. In addition to this, communication of visions provides the followers with a theme of change or transformation. This is important especially in cases where a seamless transition is desirable. At the same time, the visions also help followers to understand what is expected of them and this helps them make reform and become more innovative.

Sharing the visions also assist in developing and shaping the culture of the organization. In addition, if the proposed culture is accepted by all the members, it becomes part of the normal proceedings and ultimately becomes a part of the organization. This improves interactivity between members and they develop common values and beliefs as they all set target towards a common goal.

Skerlavaj et al (2007), further asserts that sharing of a vision with the followers equips them with referenced framework on how to actualize the same. For a vision to become reality there needs to be rules and regulations which act as guidelines to all members. Communicating these to the followers smoothen the implementation process making it easier to achieve the set goals and objectives because every member receives clear directives on how to go about actualizing a particular vision.


Developing an organizational culture has in the recent past become a vital aspect in determining the success of any given corporation. Ethnicity has been documented as one of the challenges that may hinder the success of such a pivotal factor.

Therefore, as the world is slowly turning into a global community, it is important that humans brace themselves for the changes that come with this transition. One of the ways through which this can be done is through equipping ourselves with ample knowledge on how to interact and cope with each other not only for our own benefit but also for further development of the generations to come. This can only be done if we set our differences aside and work as a unit all the while learning from each other.

In addition, we should remember that the success of all our endeavors rely mainly on our ability to interact and adapt to the changes that we face in this ever so dynamic world. This paper has in detail reviewed various literatures dwelling on ethnic diversity in our work places, the importance of developing an organizational culture and finally measures that could be employed to tackle the challenges that may be faced by an organization facing such issues.


Adamopoulos, J & Kashima, Y (1999). Social psychology and cultural context. NY: SAGE.

Collins, J. (2002). The Challenges and Opportunities of Cultural Diversity. Web.

Cummings, J, N. (2004). Work Groups, Structural Diversity, and Knowledge Sharing in a Global Organization. Management Science. 50(3), 352-364.

Fereday, J & Oster, C. (2010). Managing a work–life balance: the experiences of midwives working in a group practice setting. Midwifery. 26(3), 311-318.

Hankin, H. (2005). The new workforce: Five sweeping trends that will shape your company’s future. USA: AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn.

Hobman, E & Bordia, P. (2003). Consequences of Feeling Dissimilar from Others in a Work Team: Consequences of Feeling Dissimilar from Others in a Work Team. Journal of Business and Psychology. 17(3), 301-325.

Kirkman, B, L & Shapiro, D, L. (2001). The Impact of Cultural Values on Job Satisfaction and Organizational Commitment in Self-Managing Work Teams: The Mediating Role of Employee Resistance. The Academy of Management Journal. 44(3), 557-569.

Lau, C & Ngo, H. (2004). The HR system, organizational culture, and product innovation. International Business Review. 13(6), 685-703.

Macintosh, E & Doherty, A. (2010). The influence of organizational culture on job satisfaction and intention to leave. Sport Management Review. 13(2), 106-117.

Meyer, J & Stanley, D, J. (2002). Affective, Continuance, and Normative Commitment to the Organization: A Meta-analysis of Antecedents, Correlates, and Consequences. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 61(1), 20-52.

Philip, G & McKeown, I. (2004). Business Transformation and Organizational Culture: The Role of Competency, IS and TQM. European Management Journal. 22(6), 624-636.

Reisinger, Y. (2009). International Tourism: Cultures and Behavior. USA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Skerlavaj, M et al. (2007). Organizational learning culture—the missing link between business process change and organizational performance. International Journal of Production Economics. 106(2), 346-367.

Stock, G & McFadden, K, L. (2007). Organizational culture, critical success factors, and the reduction of hospital errors. International Journal of Production Economics. 106(2), 368-392.

Trompenaars, A & Hampden Turner, C. (1998). Riding the waves of culture: understanding cultural diversity in global business. NY: McGraw Hill.

Read more