As a modern day phenomenon, globaliation has radiated and permeated every nook and cranny of the business world today; opening the doors for movement, relationships and businesses transactions that transcend racial and geographical boarders. In this highly competitive business state, organisation try to do all in their power to remain competitive in their respective industry through internationalization, outsourcing and most importantly annexing the best available workforce irrespective of race, gender or location, the result of which is a diversified workforce and the use of diversified teams (Rose 2013) Grace, (2014) attests to this by opining that globalization and the resultant reliance on teams by organisations has led increase in the use of culturally diverse teams in organizations across the globe.
Although many scholars such as Mullins (2013) argue that the ability to manage diverse teams is one of the key factors that make the success of a leader, there is no “one side fits it all” single approach that works for all diverse teams. Consequently, each leader or manager has to develop and constantly adapt styles that suit the diverse characteristic of members of their teams. They have to use their skills to understand and manage disagreements in diverse teams so as to avoid any form of cultural clash that might lower overall organisational performance. Another challenge faced by leaders is conflict or resolution (which is inevitable in a diversified team) as a result of which managers must also develop rules and conflict resolution procedures to address these situations as they arise (Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Government 2014). The entire process of managing a team to work effectively in the midst of diversity cannot happen overnight. As a matter of fact, it requires different stages of integration that needs to be carefully managed by the manager.
Importance of Diversity in a Workplace
Various opinions and perspectives– employees with different background and experiences will bring together a variety of perspectives, therefore, in the case were an organisation is discussing a topic or issue theres always room for alternative solutions and approaches. Diversity also makes an organisation more attractive ()
Example of Diversity Management in an Organisation
A typical example of an organisation and leader that has successfully managed diversity and is currently reaping its positive fruits is Brian Moynihan the CEO of Bank of America. With a work force that spreads across over 40 countries (Bank of America, 2014) across the world, Bank of America recruits employees from different cultures and orientations. As the CEO of bank of America, Brian ensures that the commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive environment begins from the top management thus setting example as leaders. Through this, Bank of America has come to discover that when employees feel valued and internal diversity and inclusion scores are strong, employees will put in their best and serve the company better (Groysberg and Connolly, 2013). Brian’s approach of employee inclusion in the midst of diversity also led the company to create an employee network where employees are encouraged to celebrate their diversity, do extremely well in their jobs and attain their full potential (Bank of America, 2014). According to the Bank of America website, the ‘diversification of its workforce is a reflection of the community it serves’ hence the implementation of work place practices and initiatives that promote inclusion. And they have indicated that diversity and inclusion has been one of their key success factors. In addition to this, the multiple skills that come with a diverse team could also be used by leaders to gain competitive advantage (Mullins 2013) if these skills are well annexed to the advantage of the organisation.
The Video below shows Debbie’s Story, SVP of Talent Development and Chief Diversity Officer at AT&T, and Steve Bucherati, Chief Diversity Officer at the Coca-Cola company, discusses what diversity means for their companies and why having a diverse workforce is ultimately better for the bottom line.
In conclusion, several researches have consistently corroborated the fact that diverse teams produce better results in so far as they are well managed (Geffen 2011). Therefore a successful leader in today’s business world must have the ability to unite people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, disciplines, orientations, races, religions and even generations so as to be able to annex the best they all have to offer, for the overall benefit of the organisation (Ibarra and Hansen, 2011). It is also important for leaders to be well informed about the differences that exist in diverse teams so as to work towards eliminating conflict and creating a pleasant working environment. Although this is a difficult task, leaders or managers can still achieve this by being more flexible in their management styles.
Ochieng, E. G. and Price, A. D. (2010) ‘managing cross-cultural communication in multicultural construction project teams: The case of Kenya and UK’. International Journal of Project Management 28 (5), 449-460
Financial Times (2014) Definition of diverse teams [online] available from <http://lexicon.ft.com/term?term=diverse-teams> [14 August 2014]
Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Government (2014) Creating inclusive and harmonious workplaces [online] available from < http://www.mom.gov.sg/Documents/employmentpractices/WDM/Managers_Guide.pdf> [14 August 2014]
Geffen, V. (2011) Diversity management: making the difference [online] available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKiTEog37NY> [16 August 2014]
Ibarra, H, & Hansen, M (2011), ‘Are You a Collaborative Leader?’ Harvard Business Review [online], 89, 7/8, pp. 68-74
Groysberg and Katherine Connolly (2013), Great Leaders Who Make the Mix Work, [online] available from http://hbr.org/2013/09/great-leaders-who-make-the-mix-work/ar/1 [17 August 2014]
Bank of America (2014), promoting a diverse workforce starts at the top, [online] available from http://about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/global-impact/diversity-and-inclusion.html#fbid=v86ZJy2D5Fa
Omolehin Grace (2014), Leadership and Management, [online] available from http://omolehingrace.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/managing-diverse-teams/ [17 August 2014]