Culture and Diversity: Journal Article

Cultural diversity is determined by the quality of how diverse or different cultures are as opposed to global monoculture. Cultural diversity has been triggered by cultural evolution. Cultural evolution helps people understand that human change and social changes are transmitted by beliefs, skills, knowledge, customs, languages, and attitudes. An example of cultural evolution is when a population acquires characteristics from another culture, like a better skill, a new technique, or even a better solution. Therefore, cultural diversity extends to workplaces, and the organizations must be able to manage these differences to ensure that cross-cultural interactions result in positive impacts instead of negative ones.

It is also important to note that sometimes local cultures violate ethical norms by not respecting other ‘foreign’ cultures, which works against the communities. Every person is responsible for ensuring that all humans are treated the right way despite their cultural backgrounds. IHRMs should be very strategic in their functions and responsibilities and be careful when making staffing choices. IHRMs should also focus on providing employees training on the most effective way to manage cross-cultural communication. Also, cultural sensitivity and understanding the factors that may contribute to cultural noise are important in ensuring cultural diversity does not pose so many challenges that would not be manageable.

Entry 1

Working as a universal banker, and specifically, a multitask employee, has helped me appreciate the diversity in people. I am able to interact and understand people from belief systems and cultures that are different from my own. As an NBK (National Bank of Kuwait Employee) member, I have received intensive training courses on the most appropriate ways to interact with customers from different backgrounds and cultures with an aim of ensuring that I offer the best customer service. Being a Kuwaiti employee at the bank helps when connecting with clients from various Kuwaiti backgrounds. During the trainings, we are taught on government regulations, instalment policy which helps us to convince customers mostly those who are from Middle Eastern/ Indian/American/Canadian origins and also be able to guide them during loan applications since it is required that they be registered with the taxes system of their countries. Therefore, it is required that all employees must have details about the tax policies of different countries.

Such training has helped me further enforce my communication skills and cultural tolerance. Since 80% of the NBK employees are Kuwaiti’s, Kuwait’s banks are able to maintain a great customer base of the customer connections. This ensures that the employees are able to integrate withing the community on a long-term basis. When doing sales (majorly) and non-sales operations, I have met all kinds of people from many cultures, religions, education levels, and traditions. I am also up to date with whatever is happening in the country.  When communicating with customers I analyze their personality from their appearance and check on their bank statement to see their financial level and interests including food, travel, hobbies to know their personality and start a relevant topic that they may be interested in to break the ice as well as to be able to promote the suitable bank products to meet the customers’ desires.

When discussing approaches in addressing diversity, I felt that the difference-oriented approach helps differentiate groups of people and social categories. With the knowledge of these differences, I am able to feel more comfortable when working with them and feel safe with their differences (Schein, 2017). Therefore, this has allowed me to interact with a wide range of social groups and feel confident even when serving customers at the bank. There was one time when a Jordanian customer visited to take a loan for a surgery he will conduct. I took the contract to his house at night to get it signed so that the next morning the loan is received in his bank immediately for the surgery with no delays. The customer was very happy and thanked me through the call center. The message was forwarded to my manager and my area manager and it helped improve reputation in the bank grow and I was rewarded with 2 days (paid) off. I was very happy and called the customer to thank him for his feedback and rewarded him with a two years free Credit card that contained insurance to cater for his travels in case he got sick.

However, the intersectionality approach explores and focuses on the disadvantageous positions that the disadvantaged demographic categories occupy. It is a surprise that the approach is used by scholars when discussing diversity; however, I believe that these groups of people should be not be categorized in this discriminatory way as they are also identical to others in their cultural groups in terms of abilities and preferences.

I am able to work best when working with people of diverse abilities. I appreciate a company that considers diversity and creates an organizational culture that accommodates the differences in people. That way, I am able to succeed because the clients I interact with can knowingly or unknowingly instill in me values and knowledge that help in general life and career-wise. I have had the privilege of being the Account manager for a Syrian customer who regularly visits me in the office to transfer money for the USA stock shares and BITCOIN which he was profiting from. From the regular transfers I conduct for him I learnt more about the Bitcoin and stock market which ai started engaging in. I started also visiting him in his office in Kuwait’s city to gain insight from his experience in the area.

Also, I like being around people who can initiate helpful conversations and talking to them with the aim of understanding them makes me feel fulfilled. Interacting with different kinds of people at work has helped build my character, which has improved the quality of my life. Therefore, the introduction of digitalization in the company would create social connections for me as it would help me serve the customers better by using the collected data for data-driven customer insights, thus enhancing the customer experiences. Despite digitalization being a good tool that helps in improving the company’s services, I still believe in face-to-face interactions, which fosters quality interactions, and digitalization should only supplement this social life.

I think that now I have a high level of cultural tolerance. This is because I rarely stereotype people based on information I have heard or read. I also do not judge people based on other people’s perceptions of their cultures or the differences between immigrants’ cultural norms and mine. Age, gender, race, physical abilities, and people’s backgrounds are no longer factors that I use to gauge people’s abilities, and therefore, I would not discriminate against people based on them. I have learned to understand why people behave in a certain way and adjust myself to deal with them at that level. An example of my cultural tolerance is during my interactions with the frequent Chinese customers. Usually due to language barrier they fear to communicate through phone with call centers. They visit regarding credit cards, loan applications, deposits for companies, TELEX transfer to their country, updating their personal information for their account. They have some fears and ask multiple questions and focus on the small details, taking their time to think as they are worried regarding delays or facing issues. Knowing their culture have allowed me to respect and understand their fears and try to accommodate their needs. It has also enhanced the communication with the customers and this has made them comfortable even during the transactions. To do so I have an application to translate from Arabic to Chinese.

However, lack of skills at a job or poor attitude when my colleagues are handling customers often irritates me. I believe that at workplaces, people should be competent, which reflects in the way they work. A positive attitude also helps people appreciate and embrace different kinds of people. Cultural inclusiveness and tolerance are important in bringing people together. Having people from different religions, speaking different languages, following different customs, and believing in different values help promote harmony and cohesion in societies.

Entry 2

I am typical of Kuwait’s cultural characteristics because I am well engaged with Kuwait’s culture. I am born and raised in Kuwait. In Kuwaiti, we have such great values and social trends which are deeply influenced by Islam. Being bilingual is essential at the bank to ensure the ability of the employee to communicate well in both Arabic and English with customers. Cultural diversity is experienced in Kuwait as some people are Bedouin and some are from the city. Also in the Islam sector, people are affiliated with- Sunni or Shiaa. Kuwaiti’s are known for their generosity, hospitality, good sense of humor.  I also believe in embracing other cultures that seem to improve my life. I am a confident, friendly and distinguished employee in the bank. I have the ability to connect with customers from various backgrounds. I enjoy sales and love what I do so I take the extra mile always.

I have experienced cultural diversity at work In different circumstances. One time, an American dentist visited me and wanted to apply for a credit card where I helped him with all the details and documentation necessary, linking his account with the FATCKA – taxes program of the U.S.A. He was searching for specific airways to redeem his miles which I helped him with. When he visited me in the office I ordered for him coffee from Pick- a local start-up as a symbol of hospitality which we highly value in Kuwait. He liked the coffee. Afterwards, I visited him in the clinic to do a check-up. In a different circumstance, a VIP customer in the British conciliate in Kuwait wanted to apply for a loan to buy a house in London. She signed the first contract in Kuwait and the second contract was sent to NBK London branch through FEDEX company. A few months later, I was travelling to London with my wife so I contacted her and helped me get the visa smoothly.

I am comfortable being with my classmates, but it is also my desire to meet new friends from different countries. Meeting people from different countries with different cultures would allow me to open multiple doors for myself. My experience with new cultures is that I have been able to broaden my communication and have a deeper understanding of how other countries live. Also, understanding the reasons for the way other cultures behave has helped me view these cultures from their cultural point of view and not from the stereotypes and perceptions adopted from other people. Meeting different people has helped me avoid individualism and collectivism. For example, there was a time I had to make a decision that affected both my family members and my classmates. Although it was tough, I made sure that I had the interests of both parties at heart. By doing this, I avoided a situation whereby I would be neglecting my classmates. The main point of contrast with my culture was the different ways of thinking and values that each culture presented. Every individual created a mirror image of their cultures’ thoughts, attitudes, values, and behaviors (Berndt, 2020).

Debates were there in my group as we tried to develop a good argument within the short time frame. Due to diversity in culture, people had different opinions and reasons for supporting their opinions. The diversity created a situation whereby people listened to counter and not to understand other people’s ways of thinking. The countering caused a lot of conflicts which almost impeded a good discussion. However, the team members were able to agree and focus on understanding each other. Presenting the briefing exercise was challenging as different people had opinions of what should or should not be done. I was also not confident of what I was presenting as I expected disagreements along the way. However, the most important thing was to come up with a common ground for things to work out as planned.

Entry 3

Reflecting on the national culture quiz helped me transform the real-life experiences into genuine learning, which helped me understand individual values and goals in the larger society. The reflection challenged me to connect the Turkish and Canadian responses and understand that their cultural differences fueled the misunderstanding. I also developed higher thinking to develop the most appropriate problem-solving solution for the issue that the two experienced. Reading and reflecting on the quiz helped me understand that cultural competencies and tolerance are critical when people from two cultures interact (Mayfield, 2020). With cultural competencies, the Turkish client would be able to acknowledge and understand that they had cultural differences and accept the Canadian business culture. Also, the Canadian consultant would be able to understand the client’s behavior and accept that the behavior was informed by the different backgrounds.

Going through the quiz added to the insights of day two since I understood that being open-minded is very important when doing business with people from other cultures. I understood that being open-minded allows a smooth exchange of cultures and helps people learn from each other and understand why people behave in certain ways. Cultural variables also affect communication between two people. I also understood that it is important to use cultural exchange experiences to create our perceptions of events. Open-mindedness also helps one to focus on the beliefs that make people different. Finally, open-mindedness helps in understanding how values and norms influence people’s interactions.

My impression of the organizational culture analysis frameworks is that they are important in helping people understand what influences decision-making and feelings. They also help analyze the impacts of organizational culture and understand that the employees’ behaviors also reflect a companies’ cultures. The onboarding process, leadership, incentive programs, attitudes, and team interactions determine the organizational culture analysis criteria (Schein & Schein, 2017). However, of the five criteria, I believe that the most important is team interactions. Team interactions magnify any cultural differences and help study the challenges of cross-cultural interactions in workplaces. At my workplace, team interactions have made people more fulfilled and do a better job at whichever position they are in. The fulfillment is due to reduced errors when working, increasing productivity, and improved customer service. In my company, we have a great office interaction, and this has made the entire team more efficient even during high-stress periods such as end-of-year report production.

My choices are highly influenced by my previous work experience. Various factors influence the roles I play in new jobs or when interacting with others. The different roles I have previously played inform my decisions of the most important roles to focus on in the future; this is dependent on how well or poorly I played the roles. I am able to understand my preferences which determine my successes in different job positions. My previous roles also help me understand my ambitions and abilities. Therefore, I am more reserved when it comes to picking a new role, and I would rather focus on the work that I have proven to succeed in and which boosts my self-esteem.

There are some insights that I gained from interacting with the articles. I understood that there are many variables involved in cross-cultural business environments that determine the quality of workplace interactions. I also understood that cultural dimensions are important in understanding the different ways to motivate people of different cultural contexts. Cultural dimensions are also considered in international business as they are important factors in ensuring business success. It is also important to understand knowledge of how different features of a business are viewed by different cultures and what managers can do to understand and be successful in the international business market. Motivation is important in ensuring that people have effective cross-cultural communication necessary for any company with a diverse workforce. Understanding cross-cultural communication helps people understand how employees from different cultures speak, communicate, and perceive their environment.

Entry 4

Changes and diversity in organizations help drive innovative business results. Organizations often have challenges when implementing policies and programs that accommodate diversity. Also, other challenges come with a diverse workforce. Most challenges experienced with diversity are usually a result of differing personalities. People with different personalities can barely communicate effectively. Employees of various negative personalities such as unfavorable attitudes hinder effective communication. Research has shown that proper communication at workplaces is affected by characteristics such as agreeableness, extroversion, assertiveness and conscientiousness (Christiansen & Chandan, 2017). These characteristics tend to increase the chances that people will effectively communicate with others. Also, those people with high self esteem rarely remain silent, and they are always contributing and being part of solutions that need employees’ contributions.

Again, an organization without its established culture often experiences these challenges in a greater magnitude (Christiansen & Chandan, 2017). Without an organizational culture, too many opinions arise, and it becomes difficult to agree on the best opinions. It creates an unnecessary competition whereby some employees feel like they are being discriminated when the management does not consider their opinion. Also, a lack of agreement on issues creates hostility among employees, and often, there is the retention of poor talent, and this negatively influences the productivity of a company.

These challenges of cultural diversity have been minimized by COVID 19 because most companies are working remotely. Companies have reduced their staff and have resulted in offering digital solutions. It is difficult for a culture to negatively impact companies when employees are not physically meeting in offices. Most companies have adjusted their operations, and most organizational leaders have considered countering some culture changes while retaining others. The adoption of digital tools has changed the misleading impressions of the necessity for physical presence at workplaces. Companies have started using modern technologies such as screen sharing, video conferencing, smartphones, digital whiteboards for communication. However, face-to-face communications still matter because of the need to build trust and rapport. Being with a person helps build relationships as it is easier to read the non-verbal cues.

Working as a group helped reinforce skills that were important for the group members collectively and also for the individuals. We were able to break down complex tasks into small, simple parts, plan and manage our time properly, and understand the articles better through discussions and explanations from group members. I was able to gain communication skills that are important in the professional world. We had positive experiences that contributed to understanding the articles. Also, working in groups required us to develop collaborative skills. We delegated duties, pooled individual knowledge and skills, shared diverse perspectives, and held each other accountable. We were also able to develop new approaches that helped us resolve our differences, establish a shared identity among ourselves and develop our voices while respecting the voices of our peers. The Kahoot quizzes were so fun, and this motivated and activated our learning. The quizzes also tested our knowledge through brainstorming, reiterated important course concepts, and helped retain information. The quizzes enabled us to create further discussion and enhance student-to-student interactions.

Entry 5

While working as a banker, I have appreciated that one cannot evade engaging with people from different cultures. Cultural diversity has inspired creativity and driven innovation for most organizations. When working and learning from people of different cultures, it becomes easy to familiarize with a new country. The familiarity helps gain local market knowledge and insights that ensure competitiveness and business success. Cultural sensitivity, which is important in cultural diversity, ensures that a person thinks of others and treats them right (Schein & Schein, 2017). Drawing from cultural diversity allows an organization to maximize the different skills and offer an adaptable range of products and services. The reason is that a diverse team is usually more productive, performs better, and offers greater opportunities for employees’ personal and professional growth.

Cultural diversity has some challenges which affect the productivity of an organization. Some employees from some cultures are so conservative and may be less likely to change by embrace other people’s opinions, or let their voices be heard. Integration across multicultural teams also poses challenges due to prejudice or the existence of negative cultural stereotypes. Sometimes, professional communication can be misinterpreted, making cross-cultural communication challenging (Schein & Schein, 2017). I have seen that when people come to Kuwait, they take time to be familiar with Kuwait’s culture. They get difficulties navigating the visa requirements and integrating into the new workplaces. They are also required to be conversant with Kuwait’s government regulations, instalment policy. Also, due to cultural differences, most people have difficulties understanding professional etiquette.

Entry 6 (Conclusion)

Action Plan of how I could improve my ability to lead and/or cope with multicultural teams and diversity in your workplace.

PERSONAL ACTION PLAN

Current Skills Leading Imposing Conditions Questioning Creating New Cultural Variables
Skills to work on Mastering leading with patience while maintaining reduced tension during leading. Considering other people’s opinions Listening more to understand and not to answer Fostering teamwork
My Goals Doing more analysis on the information that I have.

Finding what to adjust when developing the organizational culture while prioritizing the key information.

Listening more to other people.

Reacting more to people’s opinions with an aim of finding new strategies.

Only give my opinion when it is necessary.

Discourage aggressive behaviors at workplace.

Take time to make decisions.

Try not to always assume the leadership role.

Be a proactive leader but then take into account other people’s opinions

My Resources Apply the concepts I learnt in class Practice cultural tolerance during social activities, mostly during team work and debates in class Practice the sport that I love, read books that improve my cultural tolerance by equipping myself with the skills that enable me exercise self control.

Find opportunities that enable the practicing of negotiation skills, mostly during internships

Be more involved with team activities and increase events that enhance team work.
Action Plan Do it twice in a week Do it daily for one month Needs a change in personality which will take approximately six months Find the weakest team members and encourage them of the need to be more aggressive during team activities and be cooperative with them. This would take approximately six months.

 

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