Understanding the impact of culture is particularly important in the context of a work setting. In the big business culture of the US, for example, the predominance of multi-national corporations means that people from many different cultures often find themselves in communication in the business environment. Differences in cultural perceptions can cause frustration, anger and resentment, where the views of the dominant and subcultures clash.I experienced this personally when witnessing the organization of business meetings between an American company, and counterparts in Qatar. The American cultural view of time is influenced heavily by the wider focus in American culture on success, business, and commodities. This leads to a view of time as something fixed and manageable – a view which is not shared by all cultures (Zafar, n.d.). This can lead to frustration and impatience on the one hand, and bafflement and offence on the other. In the example I witnessed, my ability to explain this difference in the approach to time enabled me to help smooth the organizational process, ensuring that both cultural views of time were catered for in the program for the meeting. This example underscores the importance of understanding diversity: in a workplace setting, such an understanding aids communication and improves working relationships and performance.
In terms of guidelines for embracing diversity, I feel the most important initiatives need to come from management. As a working environment becomes more diverse, the leader’s role and responsibilities should develop to include the integration of different and diverse viewpoints, needs, and approaches into a seamless whole for the team which he or she leads. This might include a number of new aspects to the role of leadership, such as organizing education for team members to encourage a positive approach to diversity, facilitating positive communication where diversity might make that an issue, and promoting equality in all aspects of the team. Most importantly, the leader’s role when it comes to diversity is to lead by example, providing a role model for positive communication and a sense of unity.
- Grove, Corneilus (1992). “Novus Ordo Seclorum: Why Americans Handle Time in Peculiar Ways”. Retrieved from http://www.grovewell.com/pub-american-time.html.
- Lewis, Richard (1 June, 2014). “How Different Cultures Understand Time”. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-different-cultures-understand-time-2014-5?IR=T.