Cultural diversity is in many ways a good thing. It means increased creativity and adaptability in the workplace. It also means a melting pot of ideas in the workplace. In most cases it also means increased productivity. It is, in fact, a great asset in today’s modern socio-economy. This is not to mean however that having or getting into a culturally diversified workforce lacks in weaknesses.
Here are a few unique and not so unique shortcomings:
1. Communication Barriers
This is one of the most common limitations of cultural diversity. Other than the lack of common understanding based on a single language, cultural diversity presents a lot of differences in terms of cognitive misinterpretation of communication symbols. The truth is that we’re products of our cultures. We make meaning of the world and what we see and interact with in it based on culture.
2. Limited Freedom of Speech
Luckily in heterogeneous communities, workers don’t have to work so hard to communicate with colleagues of different origins. In the event of lack of understanding because of language barrier, most organizations hire interpreters but this too often has its own set of limitations. The results of such barriers if not effectively managed are lack of freedom of speech, and reduced productivity.
3. Resistance to Change
Cultural diversity is associated with pressure, particularly when introduced in organizations with an originally homogenous workforce. It comes with increased competition. The result is a lot of stress among workers. It is the foundation of many changes including organization culture, roles, hierarchies, and sex-related concerns at work. In response, most workers often develop resistance.
4. Workplace Discrimination
Often, organizations that deliberately hire a culturally diverse workforce have significant policies and processes in place to manage the diversity. When introduced however in a company without proper strategies, it may lead to discrimination between management and subordinate and among the workers. Discrimination, in turn, causes unnecessary tension. It can also strain communication
5. Disintegrated Teams at Work
Even in non-culturally diverse organizations, selective social grouping of employees naturally occur. This can be worse in a diverse workforce. When such circles are formed on the basis of negative cultural biases work is affected because teams often disintegrate. Fellows then avoid each other. This can hinder effective sharing of knowledge and skills thus reduced productivity.
6. Increased competition
Multicultural workplaces are also characterized by increased competition. It is a good thing but when workers discriminate each other based on cultural differences then they are more likely to compete against each other rather than form collaborative teams that can be wholly relied upon to successfully complete a task. There is strength in numbers. Such competition may slow you.
7. Delayed Decision Making
Due to the divergence of views involved in large multicultural organizations, decision making is often delayed as consensus is sought. There are also lots of bureaucratic procedures involved in multicultural organizations. Communication, on the other hand, is often very complex. The delay may also affect flexibility of the organization. It is also not good in the event of an emergency.
8. Extra Costs in Training
One more shortcoming of having or getting into a multicultural workplace is the extra costs to be incurred by you and or the company in language classes and skills enhancement. There are direct and indirect costs associated with hiring a culturally diverse workforce. Also, companies require additional consultancy services. Other than language classes, you’ll need cultural history lessons.
Despite these shortcomings, diversity is a good thing. As for whether or not to embrace it is not a question to ask. It’s one thing every organization needs. It doesn’t mean hell for you who may be planning to start working in another country either. It would, however, help to keep these in mind. Besides increased creativity and productivity, cultural diversity is good for your personal growth.