Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Diversity, Human Resource Management, Culture, Workplace, Corporation, Staff, Training, Ethics

Pages: 8

Words: 2200

Published: 2020/09/29

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The need for intercultural competency in an increasingly diverse workplace cannot be overemphasized. In fact, not only awareness of cultural differences is becoming mandatory in local and global businesses competing for world-class knowledge, expertise and skills but incorporating cultural diversity not only as a "desired asset" but also as a "basic requirement" in workplaces becoming decidedly diverse has been a widely accepted practice. Literature has, moreover, amassed evidences of how cultural diversity awareness helps leverage performance, boost staff communication across organizational hierarchies and reduce conflict between individuals and groups of different cultural background. Consequently, programs to enhance cultural diversity awareness and knowledge continue to appear as part of corporate training portfolios (Roberson, Kulik, & Pepper, 2003; Egan & Bendick Jr., 2003; Holladay& Quiñones, 2005). Corporate-wide as well as limited diversity courses has show upon application, however, problematics requiring further consideration not only in design phase but during and after training as well started to appear. By applying ad hoc diversity programs, for example, recipients showed different sets of reactions based on legal, demographic and ethical bases. Indeed, due to broad span of cultural diversity programs, federal-level legal frameworks have been set in order balance off staff rights and corporate goals (Kalev, Dobbin, & Kelley, 2006; Brief, 2008).
Moreover, human resources experts – ones typically assigned creation and implementation of diversity programs – usually anticipate lawmakers and public policy officials by setting precedents for organizational change and hence define professional jurisdiction (Dobbin & Kelly, 2007). Thus, legal frameworks and implications for diversity programs become a reciprocal process, one by which lawmakers and corporate executives negotiate diversity program initiation and implementation.
Demographically, reactions to diversity programs based on trainee's culture and trainer's effectiveness factor in as significant determinants of cultural diversity programs (Holladay& Quiñones). Attitudes of training participants, as well, are shown to be influenced by gender and framing of diversity program as regards description, content focus and instructor (Holladay, Knight, Paige, & Quiñones, 2003).
Ethically, further application of diversity programs shows evolving conceptualizations of diversity management as opposed to affirmative action (Gilbert, Stead, & Ivancevich, 1999). The shift comes at a critical point of corporate evolution and responsiveness to staff inclusion as part of diversity management programs. Of note as well from an ethical point of view is counselor's / instructor's worldview in absence of specific ethical guidelines in diversity programs (Burn, 2011). This is a particularly interesting point which will be picked up later in more detail as part of diversity program designers' discussion.
Integral to an informed discussion of cultural diversity programs is standardization. In fact, as businesses expand activities overseas, conflicting needs for diversity programs emerge on international levels (Egan & Bendick Jr.). Therefore, instead of simply replicating diversity programs implemented in largely U.S. businesses, European businesses need to adapt to different European business model (Egan & Bendick Jr.). The standardization approach has called, upon refinement, for a paradigm shift from "managing diversity" to "managing for diversity" and hence a need to re-examine existing programs based on conventional learning strategies which do not deliver as desired (Chavez & Weisinger, 2008). This is a consideration which will be later discussed in further detail.
A viable diversity program for APEX should, accordingly, consider for all aforementioned issues. Given APEX recent expansion into more international markets, a growing need has been identified for an all-inclusive diversity program. True, APEX has right from start been exposed to international markets. However, APEX's expansion has been largely online, without much physical representation offline. The diversity issues arousing online was hardly problematic for business performance and/or expansion since standardized platforms and applications implemented much business communication across markets of diverse segmentation and needs. However, recent physical expansions into APEX's international markets – in which on-ground operations are typically outsourced to local intermediaries – show exposure of now staff operations to intercultural encounters on daily, weekly and monthly basis requires reexamination in light of recent loss of business opportunities due to intercultural miscommunication encounters. APEX's strategic decision for vertical integration of business functions has highlighted, as well, pressing needs for staff diversity awareness enhancement. The lack of an overall benchmark for diversity training in APEX professional development literature has further called for a foundational program for all staff, existing and potential.
Securing management's required approvals, an initial Needs Assessment Survey (NAS) has been delivered to all concerned stakeholders. The NAS has been designed in different formats in order to address different response rates based on clusters of position, geographical location, cultural affiliation and gender. Based on APEX's existing human resource pool, four modes of surveying are adopted as an initial inquiry into needs and backgrounds:

Generic E-Mail Campaigns (GEMCs);

In-Person Oral Communication (IPOC);
Bulletin Board Corporate Posts (BBCPs); and
Global Video-Conference Announcement (GVCA).
Indeed, all four formats of NAS have uncovered cultural needs and biases of staff. For not only has staff responded according to expected set of cultural beliefs and attitudes but has also contributed, indirectly, to how diversity program is designed.
Upon evaluation – considering for legal, demographic, ethical and standardization factors – a diversity program has been set in place in order to meet APEX's staff needs for further diversity awareness within a changing framework of APEX's corporate structure.
Given current corporate structure, APEX's human pool has expanded from a base performing business in standardized form, by largely homogenous staff operating from four main physical locations and multiple virtual, standardized locations, within one legal framework and considering for implicitly understood (not clearly pronounced) set of corporate ethics addressing both internal and external stakeholders – to a pool spanning four continents, performing operations utilizing non-localized communication platforms, across differential legislations and conflicting corporate ethics. The new makeup of crisscrossing dynamics has exacerbated how managing for diversity has been a big missing input in APEX's Training and Development portfolio. Accordingly, a diversity program is proposed in order to address aforementioned problematics.

The proposed diversity program design incorporates:

Program Focus;
Program Objectives;
Program Designers;
Program Format;
Program Content and Methods;
Program Duration and Venue; and
Program Evaluation.
The program design is discussed in further detail below.
Program Focus
Against recent corporate expansions and based on NAS, diversity has emerged as an indentifying focus of corporate training of priority interest in upcoming period. Further, given feedback from concerned stakeholders diversity has come to constitute a basic component of APEX's present and future professional development needs. Scaled down from a broader intercultural communication program, diversity has emerged as most appropriate focus for current, midterm and long-term corporate needs.

Program Objectives

The proposed diversity program is aimed to achieve a set of objectives including:
Establishing diversity as a core corporate value;
Streamlining staff internal and external communication by smoothing out "cultural rough edges";
Embracing an all-inclusive corporate culture by not only catering for specific needs by staff based on cultural differences but also by considering for legal as well as ethical frameworks; and

Creating an in-house prototype model for diversity programs based on which future programs are designed according to changing corporate needs.

Program Designers
Assigned program creation by management, paper author has not taped into personal expertise alone but chosen to adopt a hybrid approach. By soliciting dynamic staff and middle managers deployed continuously, paper author has developed a program such as to both depend on professional expertise and potential input from existing and potential stakeholders. (At some point, potential learners could act as diversity instructors, mentoring for new sets of future potential learners.)

Program Format

Given novelty of program and incomplete integration of internal and external communication strategies in APEX, NAS shows a retreat setting is one most appropriate approach to conducting proposed diversity program. Since not all staff is physically located in one geographical area, retreats could be conducted both online and offline. In an online format, learners could join in webinars set at specific dates suitable to learners' working hours. In an offline setting, assigned instructors could gather learners – after business hours or over weekends – in more relaxed settings to receive training in a peer-to-peer mode rather than an instructor-leaner one.

Program Content and Methods

The proposed program should cover:
Local Diversity. This is a form of diversity encountered in a local workplace in which workers of different cultural background interact within local, standardized demographic, legal and ethical contexts.
Global Diversity. This is a form of diversity encountered in a global context in which workers of different cultural backgrounds interact within international, non-standardized demographic, legal and ethical contexts.
Physical and Virtual Diversity Encounters. This should cover cross-cultural encounters on- and offline. A particular focus is laid on visual miscommunication across corporate proprietary platforms. For physical, actual encounters focus is laid on use of body, space and time.
International Deployment. This should focus on relocation issues for expatriates. Targeted learners include middle managers, regional mangers and board of directors.
Most adequate methods for conducting program in all forms is a mix of vignettes, games, lectures, role plays and seminars. Of course, depending on availability of participants and space, each method should be adopted accordingly.

Program Duration and Venue

This is a flexible diversity program which does not have a global, fixed duration or venue. However, based on locale and date training duration and venues should be specified accordingly. For example, an in-house program could span four weeks and is carries out in APEX premises. A videoconferenced session, meanwhile, may be carried out in crashed form over condensed durations. Group video conferences are also possible in-house or outside APEX premises. Durations and venues are dependent on learners' background, number of learners, mode of delivery (in-house or videoconferenced) and hence are left to each instructor's discretion but only with prior consultation with paper author.

Program Evaluation

The appraisal process should be based on participant and non-participant feedback. That is, in order for proposed diversity program to meet set objectives not only participants directly involved in program should be consulted for program evaluation – and future modification – but also non-participants. This should adjust for participant bias.
Finally, paper author recommends APEX diversity program should adhere to flexibility both in design and delivery. This is because, given current dynamic workplace contexts, conventional, fixed diversity programs are hardly of value for constantly deployed workforce. Also, instructor-learner relationship should not be one fixated on a linear model in which an all-knowing instructor conveys information to an all-blank learner. Instead, instructor-learner relationship should be one based on collaboration and adopts a circular model in which one potential learner becomes one potential instructor. Thus, institutional learning is established by constant knowledge reciprocation.

References

Brief, P. A. (Ed.). (2008). Diversity at Work. Retrieved from http://books.google.com
Burn, D. (2011). Ethical Implications in Cross-Cultural Counseling and Training [Abstract]. Journal of Counseling & Development, 70(5), 578-583. Wiley Online Library. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1992.tb01664.x
Chavez, I. C., & Weisinger, Y. J. (2008). Beyond diversity training: A social infusion for cultural inclusion [Abstract]. Human Resource Management, 47(2), 331-350. Wiley Online Library. doi: 10.1002/hrm.20215
Dobbin, F., & Kelly, L. Erin. (200). How to Stop Harassment: Professional Construction of Legal Compliance in Organizations [Preview]. American Journal of Sociology, 112(4), 1203-1243. JSTOR. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/508788
Egan, L. M., & Bendick Jr., M. (2003). Workforce diversity initiatives of U.S. multinational corporations in Europe [Abstract]. Thunderbird International Business Review, 45(6), 701-727. Wiley Online Library. doi: 10.1002/tie.10098
Gilbert, A. J., Stead, A. B., & Ivancevich, M. J. (1999). Diversity Management: A New Organizational Paradigm [Abstract]. Journal of Business Ethics, 21(1), 61-76. Springer Link. doi: 10.1023/A:1005907602028
Kalev, A., Dobbin, F., & Kelly, E. (2006). Best Practices or Best Guesses? Assessing the Efficacy of Corporate Affirmative Action and Diversity Policies [Abstract]. American Sociological Review, 71(4), 589-617. SAGE Journals. doi: 10.1177/000312240607100404
Holladay, L. C., & Quiñones, A. M. (2005). Reactions to diversity training: An international comparison [Abstract]. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 16(4), 529-545. Wiley Online Library. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.1154
Holladay, L. C., Knight, L. J., Paige, L. D., & Quiñones, A. M. (2003). The influence of framing on attitudes toward diversity training [Abstract]. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 14(3), 245-263. Wiley Online Library. doi: 10.1002/hrdq.1065
Roberson, L., Kulik,, T. C., & Pepper, B. M. (2003). Using Needs Assessment to Resolve Controversies in Diversity Training Design. Group Organization Management, 28(1), 1148-174. SAGE Journals. doi: 10.1177/1059601102250028

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