Multiculturalism in Work Environment

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Multiculturalism! Sounds like a long heavy word, but this is a phenomenon which each one of have undergone right from our childhood. To explain in short, it is a social life, which involves the co-existence of people from different cultures, gender, languages, nationality, religion, mindset, behaviours, etc., (Clara M. Chu, 2005) These differences have been there from the ancient times. These differences have created disputes and at the same time served as a learning platform. It is all about accepting their methodologies, inculcating them if it seems right to you and educating them about your way of approaches. It can be taken as a healthy platform to learn and teach, live and let live. Multiculturalism refers to Integration of thoughts and opinions with respect. To live in a Multicultural society is a good thing or a bad thing? Not really an easy concludable question.

May it be anything in this world definitely has a good side of it and a bad side of it. It just depends on situation and way of approaches. Taking this as an advantage, we can open our minds and thoughts to new living and opportunity to learn various things. Living in such an environment makes us more tolerant of each other. Many countries and cities around the world are living examples of such kind of existence that are successful. It is also a common fact that companies nowadays prefer to have a multicultural working environment, but the conclusion is to see how successful are these culturally diverse teams, their individual performance and most importantly the team performance. The research is carried out with the help of surveys, personal experiences and various sources.


Multiculturalism in organizations refers to the organizational phenomenon that occurs when people of different cultural backgrounds, with many different values, life experiences, and ways of expressing themselves, work together. (MISOC, 2017) In this fast growing world, we come across many different personalities, new changes and experience the effects of the changes too in our work environment. Due to the fact, that many people are looking for an exposure overseas, better life and decide to leave their home countries. Because of which many companies call themselves a Multinational company, meaning that the working teams are people from different nationalities and other aspects, which forms a Multicultural team. Mastering the ability to interact with different cultures is thereby an important device for future business success. (Thomas & Inkson, 2004).

Adapting to these differences is not easy since the cultural differences are not very close. A multicultural team are a group of different people from various cultural backgrounds, languages and way of approaches who communicate with each other, exhibiting their unique talents to achieve a common goal. Though each one is skilled in their work and can do their piece of work perfectly with assistance, the real problem arises during the integration of their work into one project. Communication becomes the key role to play during this phase. Quite naturally, in a multicultural team, there is the biggest barrier of language. This again depends on the team size, mastery level of each member in the team, project familiarity, attitude of the team manager, tenurity of the team.

For example, it would be a real challenge for Indian to work in a French company, having the language as the biggest barrier. However, it would be a great advantage for him to work in the US or the UK, because Indians use English for educational and professional means of communication.

Just to illustrate few differences:

  • During the meeting and project discussions, it is very difficult for a non-French to follow, as the French companies have French as their principle means of communication. Even, if the non-French speaks a considerate level of French, he can definitely not follow the native French, because they very fast.
  • Taking the situation on the other hand, the French panic when they have to speak English. They fear for the grammatical mistakes. Hence, communication plays a major role for successful business.
  • The French are very well organized and like to keep things in control. This could cause problem for an Indian though he is similarly organised, but very less expressive compared to the French.
  • The time definition – “In India, people may say, “Yes we’re doing it at once”. The ‘at once’ can be immediately, or within 3 months, 6 months or even a year. Time is more flexible. On a lighter note, Indians remind Westerners of a proverb: You have the watch, but we have the time”. This concept of time increases the difficulty to understand each other as the French are very time-oriented. (Shanbhag, 2016)
  • The Indians are more friendly and emotional in nature. We tend to have emotional relationships at work and mingle with each other very well, but the western countries would like to keep just a professional relationship at work.

These are a few differences, to have an idea about the basic cultural differences at workplace. Therefore, as per my experience, as a result of this, working in multicultural teams makes a person more creative, innovative and a great platform for learning. It makes them more tolerant and cooperative with each other.

Objectives and Research Problems

The idea behind choosing this topic is to know the importance, advantages and disadvantages of working in a multicultural environment in an organization. This research involves opinions and ideas from people working in a multicultural team as well as monocultural teams. By interviewing and discussing with people, there were a few pros & cons that they face and a few ideas on how to make it successful as a multicultural team. The factors that affect the overall performance of the project.

The main problem is to know whether working in a multicultural environment has a positive impact or a negative impact. Due to the cultural differences, it can cause hindrances for a smooth working of the project, which in turn effects the performance of the project.

If each other’s beliefs and practises are not respected and just one way of working is imposed, it leads to a lot of clashes and misunderstandings. So, the challenge is how to overcome this. The second problem is to have equal productivity as an individual in order to have equal contribution towards achieving the goal. Hence, they must have regular trainings and performance analysis to analyse the individual and team efforts.

Literature Review

This part of the thesis enables us to know the factors to be considered and the means of overcoming them when working in a multicultural environment.

Factors to be considered when adapting in the culturally diverse work environment

The key factor to be considered for any effective teamwork is COMMUNICATION. When we take into account, a multicultural team, each member will have their language of comfort. Unfortunately, without communicating with each other you cannot survive in the organization, if not personal talks, it very necessary for professional conversations. This majorly contributes to the collaboration of the team internally as well as externally. In order to overcome this we firstly, have to respect the other employee’s beliefs and opinions. Try to converse in a common language, though it is just for that one person in the group who has a different native language.

One solution that can bring all the employees together and to improve their communication is not have frequent trainings or activities. The trainings can include a session to know and learn about each one’s cultural beliefs and differences to improve mutual respect and understanding. This can develop a healthy working environment. Motivation is one area to also look, at in the case of trying to adopt multiculturalism in a working force. One must be aware of the needs of their employees who come from different background; the things that would motivate an employee from one culture would not be the same that would stimulate another employee from a different culture (Gyebi, 2016). For example, few cultures are used to work in groups and few believe in individual work. In a collectivistic culture, the general desire comes more from personal satisfaction and competition between individuals. Taking note of these differences is important when you are dealing with employees in a multicultural setting. (Wilson, 2001).

Effective Management in a Multicultural Work Environment

An organization without a well-managed structure, it effects the employee’s personal growth and the company’s performance and growth. So, the organization should be aware of its employees needs and most importantly, make them and their efforts feel valued. Which in turn motivates them to work more towards perfection and for appreciation. Each employee’s effort should be recognised, irrespective of any favouring.

The manager should encourage and channelize each team member’s interest and career to improve their skills and work delivery. The management should recognize the employees who are really deserve promotions, new roles and responsibilities and give them opportunities to grow. All this should be judged just on their quality of work and work behaviour and not concern to any other cultural factors. By being this transparent and fair in the management decisions, contribute to the company’s growth and reputation. Workers can have different mindsets and opinions but with proper organization, these differences can be accepted. (Castaneda, M. E & Bateh, J, 2013) Support should be giving to workers with the inclusion of an effective communication with all employees. (Wilcox, D. A., & McCray, J. Y. , 2005)

When the company focuses on hiring individuals from various cultural backgrounds, we can see great ideas giving way to an innovative environment. When the company creates such a healthy working platform for it’s employees, they tend to open their minds and themselves to changes and new leaning. Nelson Mandela quotes that “My dream would be a multicultural society, one that is diverse and where every man, women and child are treated equally. I dream of a world where all people of all races work together in harmony.” (Nelson Mandela. (n.d.). AZQuotes.com.

The Relationship Between Communication and Culture

The relationship between communication and culture is very closely related. Communication is the principle means of human interaction, but they differ because of different cultures, customs, rituals and other parameters. In a sense, cultures are the ‘residue’ of social communication. Without communication and communication media, it would be impossible to preserve and pass along cultural characteristics from one place and time to another. ‘Culture and Communication.’

In order to accept and inculcate the multicultural environment, we certainly need to be open to changes, mindset, attitude and behavioural changes to keep the organization as one entity with respect and cooperation. If there is the need for the existence of an effective multiculturalism then there is certainly the need in the changes of mindsets, attitudes, behaviours and organizational structures together with culture, regulations and power relations (Kirton and Greene, 2005), (Lorbiecki, 2001), (Dass and Parker, 1999), (Kandola and Fullerton, 1998). Long term employee involvement is also very essential, but what does this term mean; it simply the means that each employee in the organization is viewed as a special human being, not just as a machine, and as a result each employee is involved in helping the company to reach its goals and to succeed. This can be regarded as a new empowerment-based method for organizational development. (Iverson, K., 2000) (Gyebi, 2016).


Cite this paper

Multiculturalism in Work Environment. (2020, Nov 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/multiculturalism-in-work-environment/

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