Journal of Diversity Management – December 2014 Volume 9, Number 2
Copyright by author(s); CC-BY 89 The Clute Institute
The Effects Of Cultural
Diversity In The Workplace
Gillian Coote Martin, South Florida College of Arts Science & Technology, USA
Cultural diversity in the workplace has grown as a trend over the passage of time with the
increase of globalization in the world. One positive effect is that employees belonging to different
cultures usually have different ways of thinking and can thus analyze a matter at hand from a
variety of perspectives. This is hard to achieve when employees belonging to the same culture are
asked to analyze the same matter.
Keywords: Effects; Workplace; Cultural Diversity
ith the increase of globalization in the world, cultural diversity in the workplace has grown as a
trend. “Cultural diversity is when differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality, religion, and
sexual orientation are represented within a community” (Amadeo, 2013). Although the media and
contemporary literature embark upon the benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace, citing enhancements to
employees’ competence and creativity, this recognition does not reflect, in actual practice, as strongly as in theory
(Al-Jenaibi, 2011, p. 49). Cultural diversity can affect the workplace in numerous ways. Negative effects can include
miscommunication, creation of barriers, and dysfunctional adaptation behaviors. Positive effects can include
building a sound knowledge base with in-house talent, which can make for smoother integration of the organization
into foreign cultures.
One negative effect of cultural diversity in the workplace is the increased tendency of organizational
personnel to indulge in interpersonal conflicts. Culturally diverse workers have different opinions, thoughts, beliefs,
norms, customs, values, trends, and traditions. “The analogy of an iceberg comes to mind in the face of these
potentially endless dimensions; the obvious characteristics of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and disability relate to the
small, visible portion of the iceberg and are the basis of much anti-discrimination legislation around the world”
(Białostocka, 2010, p. 6). Not so obvious dimensions, such as culture, religion, and politics, only show up with the
passage of time. The core of individual identity constitutes the tertiary dimensions and exists deep beneath the
surface. These deeply buried qualities offer the actual essence of diversity. “An individual’s spirituality is personal
and although effects of their spirituality may be seen at the surface level, the source is still a deep-level artifact”
(Moore, n.d., p. 83).
When culturally diverse workers are placed in a group to achieve a goal with mutual effort and
collaboration, these differences of opinions and other variables can hinder the development of unity. Harrison, Price,
and Bell (1998) assert that the effect of deep-level similarity on group cohesion is positive,...