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Global Diversity and Cultural Differences

Cultural diversity, as well as cultural prejudice is part of life and a fact that we have to accept. Professionals have realized only since recently that they cannot ignore the pressing issues subject to serving culturally diverse populations. Cultural values, beliefs and assumptions influence mental health of workers and employees in their provision of services. These cultural experiences, traditions, beliefs and assumptions shape the way we view the world. As such, professionals should be aware of such factors and strive to view them separately from their jobs. It is a sound, ethical practice to work effectively by appreciating and understanding a client’s cultural beliefs, assumptions and traditions. In the modern era, it is an ethical responsibility for professionals to provide services that show respect for a client’s cultural worldview’s, values and traditions. Duran, Firehammer and Gonzalez (2008), assert that one’s culture is part of his/her soul. In the event, the culture suffers suppression or wound, the person suffers, as well.

Cultures, traditions and customs cannot be ignored in the business. They are a crucial controlling factor in the business environment. The world is undergoing a period of rapid globalization. Globalization refers to the increasing economic integration among countries. This process involves geographical alignment of networks of production, consumption and power play. It is, therefore, the opening up of regional and national boundaries and increasing relationship between countries. Integration of economies on a worldwide basis considers the world as a single market and production is a subset of local economies rather than national economies connected by investment, trade and production flows. Businesses that aim at working on a global scale must, therefore, embrace cultural diversity and use it as an instrument for progress rather than view it as an obstacle (Abu-Ghaida & Klasen, 2003).

Different cultures and customs exist in every part of the world, and they are whatever different colors the world may be. The title of the book ‘Half the sky’ reflects on the popular Chinese proverb:”Women Hold up Half the Sky”. In some developed and developing countries, this is more of an aspiration than the fact. Gender gaps persist in education, health, work, wages and political participation. Prevalent cultures and traditions in the communities facilitate these gender gaps. Education is significant in achieving gender equality. Promoting girls’ education leads to higher salaries; lower fertility; higher chances of working outside of home; reduced maternal and infant mortality; and better health and education. The effect is apparent not only in women’s lifetimes, but also in education, health, and output of forthcoming generations. However, most cultures, especially in developing countries, do not value education of their women. For instance, some cultures in Africa explain this culture by asserting that when a woman marries, all the benefits from her education will accrue to her husband and his family. Furthermore, most cultures are afraid of the empowering nature of education. They consider educated women with opinions as unruly and rebellious. Although sprouting views of women’s roles over the past fifty years have moved the reality closer to the objective, there are still substantial cracks in many countries.

Multifaceted combination of factors often lumped under the title of culture obstinate enrollment of girls across the educational spectrum. Across many nations parents consider the girls’ education as inadequate, and this perception is lower than those for boys. This view is, however, a misperception. Frequent studies have proved that the returns on girls’ education are higher versus that for young men. On average, appraisals of girls’ education are higher in points than those of boys’, although females have to work hard at home. Most obstacles to girl education fall clearly into the cultural bucket. Some of the obstacles may be transfer of a women out of her own kin to a new family upon marriage; letting her husbands’ family collect the returns of her education; anxieties about security and hygiene (especially the availability of toilets) at school; lack of female tutors; and the portrayal of a woman or a girl in the curriculum. For instance, some books portray that males are hardly doing household tasks, while contented women are seldom doing anything else. This further propagates the mindset that women’s only role is to stay at home doing household chores. On the contrary, males play the roles of leaders, liberators, heroes, inventors, problem solvers and are adventuresome and proactive. Girls are panicky, incompetent in the use of technology, craving for rescue, easily duped or surprised, and become desperate in distressing situations. The motives explaining why different civilizations fail to educate their female offspring varies from one community to another. Nevertheless, some of the shared reasons are economic strain, limited returns to the immediate family and the opportunity cost for going to school.

However, there may be no better investment for the growth, development and health of the third world nations and other nations than investments to educate girls. At a wide range of countries with diverse levels of economic growth and development, female education links with higher incomes; lower fertility (and thus lower population growth rate); reduced maternal and death of children; and better wellbeing and tutoring, both for women and their children. From the macroeconomic point of view, female education has a positive effect on higher economic productivity, better yields in agriculture and a more encouraging demographic organization. Since education supports economic growth, it benefits further advancements in health, education and productivity, thereby creating a virtuous circle that spreads the achievements of the human capital.

Women are a large part of the developing countries untapped resources. Cultures and traditions of different communities affect the business environment adversely. Businesses have to check the cultural practices of an area or region during the feasibility study. A business has to know how to approach a society, and adapt to its cultures and traditions. As companies embark on global expansion, cultural diversity becomes a complicated part that has to be adequately dealt with by the management. Managing cultural diversity needs to be incorporated into the corporation culture right from the top management of a company (International Monetary Fund, 2007).

Cultural barriers can create volatile hitches as corporations set up offices and production around the globe. To many organizations, global diversity and cultural variances are difficult to overcome rather than as tools to be swayed for global business prosperity. Multinationals often perceive the cultural diversity and differences within their operations as a problematic area rather than as an opportunity to draw their competitive advantage. A study conducted in the early 1980s by Laurent and Adler well demonstrates this fact. Further to the study request, international executives and managers of multinationals attending management workshops in France, listed the merits and demerits of cultural diversity for their firms. From the study, all participants were able to ascertain demerits while less than thirty percent could identify any benefit of cultural diversity as a driver for globalization (Psacharopoulos & Patrinos, 2004).

In most cases, understanding and appreciating the nature and value of cultural multiplicity is not well entrenched within business thinking and practice. In more ways than one, the mentality of many organizations has not developed according to the trends in globalization. Despite the fact that more than seventy five percent of American firms focuses on diversity as a strategic gain and business leverage in the United States, the positive attitude and experience have hardly spread around internationally. These firms find themselves in the bewildering position trying to carry over to other countries those diversity programs originally intended for the local workforce. This practice is prone to fail because societies overseas are different from the native societies in the US, in many aspects.

Appreciating the nature of cultural diversity aids businesses to comprehend a society’s needs and wants. This further aids in integrating international products with local products in an ethical method and reduces communication errors with clients. Dependable and solid culture is significant, and managers need to understand the similarities and differences across national boundaries.

Harnessing of cultural multiplicity and differences in tastes and preferences by multinational organizations helps them in earning extra profit. For instance, Coca cola, a multinational company incorporated in Atlanta has grown to serve over one hundred and eighty four countries worldwide. This is because of its synergistic management approach. The company realizes the power and potential that can be drawn from different cultures, societies and their varying tastes and preferences. As a result, the company invests millions of dollars in research and development of products that match the tastes and preferences of all communities. This has in turn resulted in building of a global brand that reaps billions of dollars per year in profit.

The synergistic approach of management recognizes and understands that cultural multiplicity may result in massive benefits or losses for the firm. Therefore, the firm picks out the best parts of a culture and incorporates them into its management style. The employees and members of the organization need to be trained to recognize and respect cultural differences. If a firm operating across different cultures is to succeed, the top management has to incorporate a number of values into its employees. These may include building cohesion and teamwork, ensuring there is quality dialogue between stakeholders, developing knowledge of cultural alterations among employees and establishing feedback mechanisms to review team processes. 

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