Culture is the natural development we call behavior that changes from individual to individual. In a family or work related situation when a group behaves in a similar fashion we establish a business culture or family culture. Culture evolves based on reaction to experiences and needs.

Diversity refers to differences or variety. When we speak about diversity people usually jump to the conclusion that we mean or refer to cultural diversity.

Cultural Diversity means a range of different societies or peoples with different origins, religions and traditions all living and interacting together.

There are many forms of diversity and there are many forms of culture but each is linked to areas such as race, religion, sexual orientation, upbringing, language, thought and background.

Diversity therefore can refer differences within cultural groups, religious groups, political groups or people with a variety of different human qualities.

The basic dimensions of diversity include differences that basically cannot be changed and impact throughout our lives such as Age, Ethnicity, Gender, Physical ability, Race and Sexual orientation. These are the basic dimensions that are core to our thought processes and shape our views, morals and values.

It is these basic dimensions that determine how we view the world as a whole and are closely related to our culture, our upbringing and/or our conditioning.

Bearing this in mind I then pose the question - What role does culture play In workplace and societal diversity and how should we deal with the impact?

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Hi Des, interesting discussion.  I'd like to disagree with what I think you are proposing and I would suggest that what we think, our values, morals and approach to others is not determined by our age, gender, race, and so on.  I can point to many women of my age, gender and race who are diametrically opposed to me in what I believe, how I feel about other people and what I stand for.  I'm inclined to view this as an "excuse"/explanation for people not being brave enough to venture out of their enclaves.  The biggest problem I see is the use of stereotypes to view the world. What do you think?  

Hi Sylvia- My you are quick off the mark but no that was not my objective but your thinking does fall in line with mine.
We work every day with people from other cultures and backgrounds and in many cases take no time to get to know them as individuals. We do as you say tend to stereotype groups.
When we try to get to know others, particularly those from other cultures we suddenly find the cultural differences are interesting and enriching. We learn from the experience.
Occasionally things go wrong for various reasons we cannot understand or had not forseen. This is why I believe it is important to try to understand the differences between cultures and why people behave and act the way they do. This is essential in order to be able to work with people more effectively and at the same time prevent misunderstandings.
In society as a whole we are very quick to judge others and to compare their actions to how we might have acted in a similar situation. We set our standard baed on our peersonal beliefs and in accordance with our culture. We forget people are entitled to their own beliefs and to behave in accordance with their valus and culture.
In terms of what you are saying I tend to agree up to a point but bear in mind your culture may have been formed as part of a family culture and may fall outside the culture of a of age, gender and race.
People from different cultures differ in very specific ways because each culture has its own way of thinking, its own values. it's own beliefs that are associated with a variety of factors. People don't have to "venture out of their enclaves" but they must realise there are others outsied the enclave they find themselves in and must learn to respect this fact.

Hi Des, I agree with you that exploring cultural differences is very interesting.  One of the aspects of exploring cultural differences I have found is understanding the assumptions others have made about you - and then trying to explain who you actually are.  Also encountering extreme hostility and resentment based on who they think you are and managing oneself not to respond aggressively but with understanding - that is a learning experience.  

I Agree Sylvia "One of the aspects of exploring cultural differences I have found is understanding the assumptions others have made about you - and then trying to explain who you actually are"

Culture is a part of your personality.  Pesonality is made up of values, beliefs, assumptions, interests, experience, habits, etc.  Many of these attributes describe culture. An organization’s culture is influences by the different cultures and personalities that employees bring to work. When we have interviews one of the questions we ask when discussing the outcome is, Will this person fit in to our department’s culture?

Why on earth should a person fall into your culture i.e. the organisation culture?
Surely your company or business culture must cater for other cultures otherwise diversity will be stifles. Would the company not set itself into a stereotype as mentioned by Sylvia?
We should, in my opinion rather ask - how can our culture be adapted to cater for the varying cultures we need to recognise and accept. How can we teach our employees to accept and welcome people from a very different culture?
What can we do about the fact that this person has all of the attributes we desire, all of the competencies but there is a difference in terms of culture. How do we deal with this? Hence my question - What role does culture play in workplace and societal diversity???

I am also of the believe when they talked about a department's culture, it is actually only the personality & believes of the departments leader they are trying to explain. Having said that, while it sounds nice and easy to say all cultures enriched our live, especially if you work in a more in a HR/Training department, it is more challenging appreciating cultural differences in a more line/pressured environment.

I am also of the opinion that there is a big need for a strong company culture that displays values & believes that fosters the correct behaviour to that business, if this culture can indeed permeate within the company then that communal feeling can be very positive, the challenge for the leader is to make sure that these values is not his own, but a reflection of the needs of the business and then still take ownership to drive and foster this within the business. It is a great feeling that when you have a diverse group but everyone feel bonded by this culture.

Yes I would agree with you here Wilma, many people do not fit with the "WOW" factor of a company but prefer the rigid and 'no greeting in the hallway' approach

Culture, race, gender, age etc are always hot topics as defining factors of behaviour that define whether or not a person should extend tolerance to another. Often overlooked are matters ethical behavour, an ability to stand by basic human standards of what is what is morally right, an ability to seek what is right. The fact is regardless of culture, upbring, race of any other variance you want to throw out there - there are those that possess the desire to adhere to a moral code within their particular "world" and those that don't. This is what is defining.

True that! To many their cultural moral code is what their world is about - it makes them touch sides, what keeps them going when times get tough

You are right in terms of what is defining - adhering to a moral code. But it is not always possible to do so if that code is in conflict with cultural beliefs and standards. So where does this leave us????

Moral Code universally is basic to all cultures - not to murder, steal, abuse etc - get the idea. If a person willingly abides by a moral, ethical code imposed on them within the framework of their culture it makes them different to someone who rebels against these basic laws. This is what will define whether of not a person will be subordinate, be willing to learn or even defraud your company, ...their attitude not their culture. Has anyone considered what can develop a positive, moral and ethical attitude?




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