Roper et al, cite the theory of cultural divergence which states that organizations are culture-bound and not culture-free. However, with a “ valuing-diversity” approach a diverse workforce can be turned into a source of competitive advantage for organizations (Cox and Blake, 1991) because ignoring culture is no longer an option (Richardson, 2005). Cultural diversity reflects the characteristics that make one individual cultural different from another. This implies that in a community, people from different ethnic and racial background coexist, each with their own values and beliefs, and with their own expectations (Richardson, 2005).
Cultural differences can thus impact harmonious functioning of communities and the firm performance. There is not much evidence to substantiate the claim that managing diversity can improve financial performance, evidence from companies such as Coca-Cola and Publix suggest that not effectively managing ethnic diversity can be detrimental to the organization (Friday and Friday, 2003). Managing diversity should be an integral part of the organization’ s culture. Diversity has two constituents – internal and external development. This paper focuses on internal development which fosters a harmonious work environment, where workers feel valued, and their contribution recognized (Richardson, 2005).
External development pertains to the flexibility and alertness to respond to the changes and challenges in the wider community but this aspect will not be covered in this paper. The benefits and challenges of a culturally diverse workforce in the hospitality sector have been discussed. The theoretical concepts of multicultural diversity and its implications of the hospitality sector have been reviewed. Based on the dilemmas identified, different approaches such as leadership and management have been suggested that can help overcome the dilemmas with particular reference to communication and top management intervention.
Managers within organizations hold assumptions, ideas, and beliefs on how to manage human resources that differ widely across cultures (Groeschl and Doherty, 2000).
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