Managing Diversity For Competitive Advantage Argumentative Essay Sample

Type of paper: Argumentative Essay

Topic: Diversity, Hospitality, Management, Culture, Strategy, Organization, Human Resource Management, Workplace

Pages: 9

Words: 2475

Published: 2020/12/08

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INTRODUCTION

Change in hospitality industry occurs across fundamental service areas. By increasing in- /outflows of people and capital across boundaries – physical and virtual – hospitality businesses diversify market portfolio by expanding into new, niche markets. By engaging in new markets and restructuring of existing ones, hospitality businesses are responding to a rapidly changing hospitality marketplace. In fact, changes cut across all business functions. Internally, hospitality businesses are reorganizing in response to dynamic market forces at local and global platforms. Existing, loyal clients need to be appeased continuously. Conventional service offerings are re-packaged. Consequently, new roles by new personnel are created to cater for changing needs. Often, local expertise is lacking. Therefore, businesses seek critical workforce internationally. By importing "expats", setting up new subsidiaries abroad or developing skills of local expertise, hospitality businesses adopt ad hoc policies in response to internal, organizational requirements and external, marketplace needs.
Externally, hospitality market is experiencing major shifts in consumption patterns and styles. Hotel chains and groups – a major part of hospitality business organization – are marketing new offerings in different packaging sets formerly deemed economically unsustainable. In addressing international market needs, hospitality businesses no longer wait for clients to decide but set up subsidiaries staffed by local expertise. As well, "local" businesses are staffed by international expertise which, as corporate literature often states, add value and leverage business. Further, as hospitality businesses expand into more international markets – given oversaturation of local markets or emergence of new market niches internationally – management problematics become more accentuated. Integrating local workforce into global chains / groups – or luring international expertise abroad – has become one management issue hospitality businesses are encountering increasingly at all platforms of business operations, particularly organizationally. If anything, hospitality businesses are at an unprecedented management dilemma. Given increasing diversity of workforce, hospitality businesses in different service areas are approaching diversity differentially. By diversity is meant variability of workforce as regards cultural backgrounds. Put differently, workers in hospitality industry are no longer confined to a limited set of cultural groups whose representations are predictable in different organizational structures. That is, instead of conventional differentiations of cultural groups in a global hospitality business into "expats" at higher executive orders, mixed cultural makeup in middle organization and largely, if not, purely local cultural sets in lower organization – current hospitality businesses suggests different organizational landscape. Accordingly, as more and more personnel of mixed cultural backgrounds join hospitality business workforce, issues of managing, integrating and developing diverse cultural groups emerge more prominently. Further, given current practices strategies adopted to address diversity in hospitality business appear to fall short of meeting needs of concerned stakeholders, particularly staff. Indeed, hospitality worker is proven an area of limitless potentials both in research and applicability (Ladkin, 2011). Exploring diversity in hospitality business requires, accordingly, a more narrowed focus. Particularly, more focus is required, given urgency and significance, for diversity practices in hospitality businesses. More specifically, diversity programs and management strategies need be explored in more depth in order to recommend optimum diversity management practices in hospitality business. Indeed, effective cultural diversity practices are proven an enhancement for overall chain value system and hence market competitiveness (Roper, Brookes & Hampton, 1997). Further, research has shown proactive diversity management practices lead to innovation, sustainable growth, positive brand equity and, not least, enhanced ability for employment of qualified workers (Kim, 2008). Given hospitality industry's highly competitive ecosystem, expanding internationally and employing more diverse workforce requires, accordingly, more responsive diversity management policies and strategies. This paper aims, hence, to explore diversity management strategies in hospitality industry for competitive advantage.

DISCUSSION

As noted, managing cultural diversity has become increasingly a mandate in current hospitality industry practices. Interestingly, current landscape shows a range of differential practices for different reasons. Probably, one most dominant and long-standing practice across different marketplaces and business organizations is affirmative action and equal opportunity. Therefore, instead of adopting proactive diversity management programs, many hospitality businesses are responsive to law requirements and hence become "plural" organizations instead of being actually diverse (Gröschl & Doherty, 1999). This impacts, in fact, adopted policies and enacted programs, if any, accordingly. For example, instead of addressing organization's diverse workforce's specific needs, hospitality businesses are superimposing policies which marginalize – in lieu of integrating – workers. Further still, diversity management programs and strategies appear to occupy lower slots in management's priorities (Woods & Sciarini, 2000). Again, by relegating cultural diversity into policy and regulation realm – instead of strategic management – workers are not actually managed, let alone integrated, into organization's overall organizational structure. If anything, applying affirmative action and equal opportunity laws hardly means incorporating, let alone, organizational as well as personal adoption of diversity values. Based on a Northern Ireland study, for example, international, diverse workforce is an invaluable source for a hospitality business's labor (Devine et al., 2007). However, effective diversity management requires, according to study, learning from cultures, acceptance, appreciating differences, identifying commonalities and pursuing inclusiveness. Thus, an organization's diverse workforce is actually integrated into overall workforce body. More significantly, innovative programs and strategies (discussed later) – adequately administered – and learnings – properly enhanced and regularly practiced – would lead, eventually, to adoption of diversity values as integral to an organization's short-, medium- and long-range practices.
Additionally, current diversity management practices appear to draw resistance rather than agreement and integration. Given employer's resistance to education and development of international, diverse workers, existing pools are hardly participative in, let alone integrated into, a hospitality business's work and social life (Baum et al., 2007). Unsurprisingly, integration emerges as a recurring recommendation in diversity management programs and strategies.
Central to diversity management practices in hospitality industry is cultural harmony. By cultural harmony is meant minimal or lack of dissonance between staff members in an actually diverse organization. Indeed, cultural harmony – or "congruence" – has been shown to impact on staff perceptions of leader-member communication as well as staff behavior (Testa, 2009). Predictably, national cultures are shown to impact on managerial behavior stronger than corporate culture which emphasizes values affect attitudes and hence behavior (Pizam et al., 1997). This, again, should lead to further integration by enacting values as opposed to imposing policies and regulations.
Interestingly, diversity management programs are not only lower in management's priority list but also are embedded in a broader ethnocentric practice. Given most global hotel chains and groups are Western, evidence shows models of organizational behavior and management styles are Western ethnocentric. In a comparative study, for example, attitudes and hence behaviors of workers at chain hotels in different countries are shown to be biased against based on a Western ethnocentric management style (Lee-Ross, 2005). Understandably, hence, diversity management programs and strategies do not only encounter recurring challenge of management's indifference but also bias. Thus, a much broader and deeper approach to diversity management programs should address, fundamentally, models of organizational behavior and management. This should ensure, ideally, consistency and integration between micro-frameworks addressing specific inter-organizational objectives and macro-frameworks addressing super-organizational goals.
The need for effective diversity management programs and strategies cannot, of course, be viewed from organizations' perspective but needs to be addressed as well from clients' perspective as well.
If anything, hospitality businesses aim, ultimately, at service quality. Unlike many industries, services offered by hospitality businesses are experience-based. That is, in lieu of concrete products, hospitality businesses offer similar range of products and services which can only be differentiated by experience quality. Tourism, essentially cultural, is receptive to experiences which, accordingly, are shaped and informed by cultural contexts a guest / visitor is exposed to. Service quality has, in fact, been confirmed by expectations and perceptions in cross-cultural encounters in and out of hospitality businesses (Weiermair , 2000). Unsurprisingly, managing diversity has been linked to service quality – an essential strategic mandate for hospitality businesses (Maxwell, McDougall & Blair, 2000).
Against such a background, managing diversity programs and strategies in hospitality businesses appear to encounter major gaps in development and conceptions. Given dominant practice of affirmative action and equal opportunity, employers' resistance, lower priority and service quality based on clients' experience, exiting diversity programs and strategies, if any, require more holistic and innovative approaches.
Probably, one most important step into building an effective diversity strategy and developing cross-cultural programs is communication. Notably, communication is a critical component in any diversity strategy and/or program across an organization. After all, one main goal of diversity strategies and programs is to facilitate communication across cultural boundaries and hence further integrate an organization's workforce. By helping staff communicate more effectively, not only cultural boundaries are brought down but also all boundaries which hinder workflow dynamics. Indeed, corporate communication has been proven fundamental in not only conveying messages to stakeholders but also lead to significant sustainable competitive advantages in talent acquisition, corporate social responsibility and market accessibility (Gröschl, 2011). Thus, by further granulating messages delivered across corporate communication platforms, staff of all cultural backgrounds can be better addressed and hence integrated into organization's overall structure more harmoniously.
The need, accordingly, for more innovative diversity programs and strategies in hospitality industry cannot be overemphasized. As opposed to conventional professional development methods and strategies – e.g. lecture-group, on-job and videotaped programs – which are typically adopted by human resource departments, more innovative methods could be designed and applied for more effective outcomes (Harris & Cannon, 1995). Given diversity programs specific nature, more customized program designs and methods might be required. A global hospitality chain could, for example, enact programs which adopt retreat designs which gather staff of diverse cultural backgrounds in less formal settings and facilitate group as well as individual interactions. Notably, as well, personal narratives are of powerful impact particularly in group deliverances. By enacting vignettes, for example, diversity program participants are more effectively immersed in a different culture and hence are better able to infer more meaningful judgments. Tapping into ICT applications is another method hospitality businesses can apply across different geographies. Given global geographical spread of hospitality chains and groups, videoconferenced interactions are increasingly becoming a regular mode of corporate communication. Indeed, virtual – as opposed to physical – communication is one interaction mode which, given conflict of schedules, travel limitations and time zone differences, is becoming essential. In spite of limitations, virtual communication remains one mode of interaction of promising potential.
Undeniably, diversity programs and strategies are not limited to methods and designs. In fact, as noted, holistic, diversity programs and strategies require proactive measures made by hospitality businesses for more effective programs. By strategizing for diversity prior to actual market entry, diversity does not become an extra in an organization's rich strategic repertoire but a fundamental part. Further, by revisiting learnings and refreshing insights about diversity across geographical locations and cultural fault lines, hospitality businesses will not only be at a better competitive edge – catering for local needs by local knowledge – but will also enhance brand equity and might even offer, as a unique service in B-2-B partnerships, diversity programs and strategies as an additional, add-value service. Indeed, independent, stand-alone subsidiaries could be set up to cater for diversity needs in particular. This should, predictably, enhance chain value not only for a leading organization in diversity management and strategizing but also for hospitality industry overall. Two activities, in particular, are anticipated for chain value enhancement: marketing / sales and human resource management.
At frontline of professional development in organizations is human resource department. Admittedly, human resources department has played significant roles in sourcing and retaining talents. However, given international expansions of hospitality businesses and further involvement of different departments in development programs – and particularly diversity programs and strategies – human resources department is under increasing pressure to develop strong international management development programs instead of expatriate model of management (D’Annunzio-Green, 1997). Therefore, by incorporating more inclusive diversity programs into an organization's overall strategy diversity can be enacted more effectively and embedded as an adopted value.

CONCLUSION

Managing diversity is becoming increasingly a mandate in hospitality industry. As hotel chains and groups expand internationally, workforce becomes more diversified. Local and international hotel chains and groups are hiring more diverse workforces which change, gradually, how organizations are structured, organized and managed. The hospitality industry's response has not, however, kept apace. Current practices of hospitality industry are, largely, marked by employers' reluctance and resistance to diversity programs, adoption of law-abiding affirmative action and equal opportunity programs and inadequate integration of minority and diverse workforce. Proven ineffective, such practices are further alienating – instead of integrating – minority and diverse workgroups into organizations. The rising pressures on hospitality organizations has far exceeded regulatory and policy superimposed dictates into more demanding corporate needs.
In order for hospitality organizations to gain competitive advantage – and not least to achieve optimum service quality – more holistic diversity programs and strategies need be enacted. Contrary to conventional development methods, hospitality organizations need develop innovative methods. These include, for example, vignette-based programs and virtual interactions by which participants gain deeper and hands-on insights into different cultures by direct participation and hence are more adequately integrated into organizations. Notably, by emphasizing corporate communication as a means of staff integration diversity programs and strategies are better conducted, delivered and managed. If anything, communication remains diversity flagship channel via which common understandings across cultural boundaries are established, enhanced, developed and maintained.
More broadly, hospitality organizations need approach diversity more strategically. By assuming new markets, hospitality businesses are – in a very dynamic and diverse global context – required to further decentralize not only operations and service supply chains but management styles and organizational systems in offshore subsidiaries. By opting out from a conventional model of corporate governance framework mandated by headquarters to an agile, innovative model responsive to local market hospitality needs, businesses are set to grow more sustainably and not in cyclical economic upturns and downturns. As well, value chains are enhanced dramatically as international standards are customized to local business needs and local needs are leveraged by international insights.
Finally, by enacting effective and sustainable diversity programs and strategies hospitality businesses could reduce, significantly, marketing efforts and hence enhance brand equity. Transferring international knowledge into local contexts and vice versa is, if anything, a branding effort par excellence. By managing corporate communication across cultural boundaries effectively, hospitality businesses are at better competitive market edge as internal stakeholders, i.e. diverse workforce, are well informed culturally and hence are better able to address needs of external stakeholders, e.g. clients and partners, more proficiently. After all, stakeholders, internal and external, reciprocate corporate knowledge by means of constant communication and value addition to brand.

REFERENCES

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