HRM, Culture and Diversity The Impact of Culture on Human Resource

Impact of Culture on HRM Practices 13



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Culture and diversity are deeply entrenched in contemporaryorganizations. In the management of human resources, organizationshave to consider the diversity of cultures amid their workforce.Culture can influence HRM practices both negatively and positively.The perspective regards to the disparities amid people working in thesame organization. It defines how people behave and survive in agiven environment. Organizations that realize the influence ofculture are more likely to thrive in the contemporary business world.Diversity affects the way individuals in the organization interact.Hence, it is necessary for organizations to put into considerationhow cultural diversity is likely to affect their HRM practices. Thepaper outlines culture and diversity as a HRM theoreticalperspective, uses a case study to expound on the perspective anddiscuss the impact of culture of HRM practices.


Culture and diversity, as a HRM perspective, refers to thedifferences amid people within an organization. Culture refers topeople’s way of life, involving their viewpoints, beliefs, behaviorand action (Pauluzzo 2010, p. 78). In the context of HRM, culturedescribes how people live and act in an environment, as well as howtheir views are molded, which has an impact on the mutual associationamid both the people that are part of the environment and thoseinteracting with the environment. In contemporary human resourcemanagement, culture diversity is becoming more apparent. Due toglobalization, employees’ diversity has enhanced and culturaleffects are molding organization’s performance. Organizationsprogress to become diverse owing to more racial representation withinthe workforce. Since individuals from different racial groups haveunique values, such disparities result in cultural diversity. Thiscultural diversity has reflective impact on HRM management practices.

Cultures have an integral effect on strategies to managingindividuals, thus, the cultural disparities require variations inmanagement practices. Among all management actions, human resourcemanagement (HRM) appears most susceptible to culture disparities (Cox1993, p.13). Culture and diversity in HRM result in diverseperceptions, which mold organizational conduct involving workmotivation, disagreements, communications, defining goals, decisionmaking, performance appraisal and reward and management technique.Culture diversity has an effect on most organizational variables. Forexample, diversity could become an impediment to efficientcommunication within an organization. Impediments like semantics,which is the link of different word meanings, frequently results inconfusion and disagreements when employees from dissimilar culturesinteract. Individuals’ value systems depend on their cultures, andthe diversity leads to cross-cultural challenges. For instance,individualistic cultures motivate personal achievement, attaining ofpersonal objectives and believing in individual freedoms. Thisdiffers from generalized cultures, which encourage groupparticipation in achieving organizational goals.

Cultural diversity is an actuality in the contemporary businessenvironment (Rowe &amp Gardenswartz n.d, p. 35). When properlymanaged, diversity results in benefits, which enhance success. Whenpoorly managed, diversity results in impediments, which can impedethe organization’s capability to triumph. The issue then becomeshow to manage cultural diversity and benefit from its possibleadvantages. At the core, diversity focuses on inclusion and exclusion(Rowe &amp Gardenswartz n.d, p. 36). The basis for efficientlyleveraging diversity depends on defining it in a wide and inclusivemanner. Organizations, which describe it widely, including alldimensions of sameness and disparity around which there existsinclusions and exclusions, affecting the business, find there is morebuy-in and strategic significance. There exists a stronger businesscase, as well as minimal resistance when all individuals within anorganization view themselves as reflected in the description and areable to identify inclusions, as well as exclusions, which play out inthe organization daily via us-versus-them viewpoints, presumptions,stereotypes, disparities in treatment and preconceived expectations.

The four layers of diversity model are employed in most organizationsall over the world in framing the issue of culture and diversity, inaddition to motivate discussion and contribution in diversitymanagement (Rowe &amp Gardenswartz n.d, p. 35-37). The numerousdimensions of diversity, through which there exists inclusion andexclusion, are portrayed in four concentric circles. Personality,referring to personal style and techniques, is at the core. Whetheran individual is introverted or extroverted, reflective orexpressive, fast paced or systematic, a thinker or actor, forinstance, all impact the way a person becomes treated, relates withothers and advances in an organization. An internal dimension is thesecond layer including the six factors of individuals, over which wehave minimal power (Rowe &amp Gardenswartz n.d, p. 36). Thesefactors are race, gender, physical capability, sexual orientation,age and ethnicity are not choices, yet have an influence of howindividuals are handled in an organization, our expectations, andfunctions in life, both personal and those of others.

Third is an external dimension, which encompasses factors, which arethe outcome of life experiences and choices (Rowe &amp Gardenswartz n.d, p. 36). Spirituality, marital status, schooling, recreationalbehaviors and work experience are regions where workers may connector disconnect, become valued or not respected, dependent on how thedimensions are viewed and employed. Last is the layer oforganizational dimensions. It is made up of the factors of samenessand disparities, which make up work in an organization (Rowe &ampGardenswartz n.d, p. 36-37). What disparity does it make if anindividual is the CEO, or entry-level worker? Such dimensionsinfluence the treatment of workers as well as organizationalproductivity. All the factors are a representation of areas wherethere might be sameness and common ground, in addition todisparities, which have the potential of introducing adventperspectives, notions, and beliefs required in an organization.Conversely, when the factors are not properly managed, they result indisagreement and misunderstanding, which disrupt teamwork andproductivity in turn hindering efficiency.

Culture is a movement because it is continuously altering and isdifficult to predict. In the context of an organization, culturewithin the organization is never static and not a realization ofpreviously organized management initiatives. This is becauseindividuals within an organization are the representation ofdifferent cultures, hence, creating diversity. Thus, a singlemanagement approach cannot be applicable to all individuals withinthe organization (Sippola 2007, p. 197). Management ought to keepchanging their plan to accommodating the different values introducedto the organization through management functions like hiring. Everyorganization has its own structure of operation, which differsdepending on the country, cultures within the country among otheraspects. In the contemporary business world, however, managing HRcannot be restricted to an existing plan. IT ought to move towards apostmodernist approach, founded on the nature of the world. Thismeans adopting management approaches that are considerate to theculture values of different individuals from different races.

The metaphor of the organization as a river makes it possible toexpound on how culture is a movement. The organization is compared toa river, which means that it is constantly moving. Movement refers tothe recurrent action and association of individuals, without which itwould be impossible for the organization to survive. Describing anorganization as a river refers to its characterization by acontinuous and progressive procedure of taming the recurrentmovement, which is apparent at all phases of the organization. Anyendeavor to exercise power by management results in resistance, inthe similar manner that it is improbable to control the course of ariver. Culture and diversity are difficult to control when in anorganization. Cultural groups that feel they are treated impartially,because of their differences, will demonstrate strong resistancetowards management. Hence, culture influences HRM practices bydetermining the flow in decision-making when hiring, promoting,retaining and other HR practices. Contemporary HRM has to keepchanging to accommodate diversity within the organization.

Culture as a structure is explained using the metaphor, which equatesthe organization to an iceberg. The metaphor explains that theorganization comprises of hidden depths. Thus, management is not aclean and straightforward endeavor since a lot of what is significantin the organization remains unseen. The structural features thatcreate the organization’s building blocks are iceberg tip. This isthe part, which is simple to see and probably easy to handle andexercise authority over. Conversely, an entire iceberg cannot beseen, and is usually below the surface. This represents intangiblefactors within an organization that though difficult to uncover, playa crucial role. Social factors, like culture diversity fall in thebracket of the intangible factors. Every organization is guided by aset of culture values, which cannot be seen or ignored. Theorganizational culture ought to back its structure.

Case Study

The case “Institutional Racism after Macpherson: An Analysis ofPolice Views” represents the controversial and conflicting natureof policing (Newburn 2005, p.525). This is apparent in the mainargument on race and racism, which has progressed all through Britishpolicing from the 80s to current, which features more in media andpolitical arguments. The enhancing interest in the place of ethnicminority groups concerning the criminal justice structure was theacknowledgement that they fail to get equal treatment to whitecounterparts. This is evident in various high profile cases resultingin public apprehension on if racism operated at the personal level,or if it is entrenched in police policies and practices (Easton &ampPiper, 2005, p.33). The Macpherson report is an investigation andprobe of police processes to determine and detect the presence ofracism within the police system. The report is of societal value byhighlighting basic issues regarding police authority, capability,responsibility, workforce and training (Bowling, 1998 p. 14).

The Macpherson report tackles the inquiry on Stephen Lawrence’sdeath, where issues of policing were brought up. Macphersondemonstrates how a mixture of professional incompetence, racismwithin the institution and failed senior leadership (Newburn, 2005,p.546), worsened the murder. The report widely identified gravechallenges, which ethnic minorities in Britain are likely toexperience. These include discrimination, stop and search power, overpolicing and poor protection. A crucial finding from the report wasthe presence of institutional racism within the criminal justicestructure leading to a failure to safeguard ethnic minoritysocieties. Hence, it is possible to conclude that Britain is acommunity that knowingly discriminates ethnic minorities. Macphersonsupposed that there were three groups of racism. The most significantgroup depicts racism as unintentional in the structure ofdiscriminatory practice, apparent organizations operations (Lea,2000, p.221).

This resulted in the invention of an advent description ofinstitutional racism in policing by Macpherson’s report as ageneral organizational failure in providing a suitable andprofessional service to individuals due to their culture, ethnicbackground or color. It is apparent in procedures, attitudes andconducts that amount to discrimination via unsuspectingdiscrimination, ignorance, lack of thought and racist stereotypingthat are disadvantageous to ethnic individuals (Holdaway &amp O’Neil2006, p.350). Employing this context, the report notes thatinstitutional racism may be explicit or hidden, apparent in policies,processes, operation and policing culture. The outcome isreinforcement in personal prejudice and fundamental practices, aswell as systematic situations where the criminal justice structurefunctions (Waddington 2004, p.893). Macpherson demonstrates this viaStephen Lawrence’s killing, since the case collapses dues to lackof suitable and professional police service. If the policinginstitution was not ethnically biased, it could have been probablefor the police to depict the prerequisite for the diverse needs ofAfrican American and white individuals, resulting in a partialservice for people of all races (Britton 2000, p.13). The reportdemonstrates that Scarmen’s (1981) thesis on ‘rotten apple’,which argues that the police institution is not racist, is incorrecthence, resulting in a complex concept of discrimination. It derivesfrom the daily organization functioning instead of mere equation withillustrations of personal racial prejudice (Hale 2005, p.517).

The report forms an advent definition of institutional racism thatshifts away from the concentration of personal prejudice to theauthority of structures in resulting in racial division by whites(Race for Racial justice 1999, p. 1). This brings to light theperspective of culture as structure explained using the icebergmetaphor. The iceberg views the organization as a solid structure inwhich managers have the function of exercising authority over theorganization. Such authority is made complex by the fact that somefactors of the structure are not tangible. Such factors includeculture diversity, which is not tangible. Institutional racism inpolicing becomes possible because of managerial power, where those atthe top of the structure exercise control over those at the bottom.This means that when managers are biased towards certain ethnicities,the same becomes apparent in the entire institution. The effect onHRM practices is that the institution will tend to have a higherrepresentation of individuals from one racial background than othersdo. This is because the managers are capable of influencing thehiring and retention of personnel they deem suitable in theorganization. Minorities become under represented and theinstitutional fails to support culture diversity. In turn, thepublic, specifically those from minority races, will view theinstitution as discriminative.

The case makes institutional racism in policing apparent, whichdemonstrates that the practice is a reflection of present actions andvalues entrenched in our institutions (Chan 1997, p.11). The eventualoutcome is prejudice towards ethnic minorities evident all throughthe entire structure, as African American regions, social places andevents have become a target for special policing. When compared towhites, blacks get more searches, stops and detentions. Thus, theybecome over-represented during the latter phase of the policingstructure (Mhlanga 1997, p. 39). The institution does not respond tothe abrogation of the freedoms of ethnic minorities, in specific whenan incident of brutal death happens while the victim is in custody,it is not possible to find those accountable for racialdiscrimination (Holdaway 1996, p.7). Such practices are ademonstration of an institutional culture that has been nurtured fromthe top to other junior levels of HR management. The outcome is thatblacks are not viewed as victims hence, discrimination based on racein taken lightly (Easton &amp Piper 2005, p. 67). Due to thestructural society, an organization might not aim at acting racially,however, its culture and structure implies that during hiring,promotion or delivering services, individuals that are regarded asethnic minorities are disadvantaged (Green 2000, p.29).

When evaluating diverse sections of the police system, institutionalracism becomes obvious, which is part of the culture that Macphersonrefers to the canteen culture, or occupational culture. The effect onHRM is that occupational culture in the police service result innegativity towards individuals that are not white. This is explainedby the fact that most of the police officers are white, resulting inwhite beliefs, culture and experience (Holdaway &amp O’Neil 2006,p.486). The culture is influential in shaping police attitudes andviews of a specific society, causing them to have a divergenttendency of stereotyping.


The culture of an organization is apparent in HRM practices. Thecase study demonstrates the presences of institutional racism inpolicing. The police system operates on a culture results in racialdiscrimination of ethnic minorities. Since the system has a highrepresentation of whites, racial prejudice towards blacks iswidespread due to lack of shared values. The impact on HRM practicesis that the institution tends to hire and retain white personnel. Inother practices such as performance appraisals and promotions, thesame is apparent as white employees receive more appraisals thanother ethnic minorities.


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