The Practice of Organizational Diversity around the World

Organizational Diversity in the West

The practice of organizational diversity in contemporary organizations around the world offers some insights into how the discrimination, harassment, and prejudice based on gender and other minority groups plays itself out. For instance, in the West, it is common for employees to be politically correct in their utterances and communication with coworkers. This means that usually, one cannot expect racist and gender based remarks at the workplace. The ingrained sense of propriety and politically correct behavior means that senior management does not have to bother about the basics of organizational diversity and the practice of equal opportunity. For that matter, most western companies are equal opportunity employers where the clear organizational mandate is to ensure that the workplace is free from discrimination. Having said that, it must be noted that this does not mean that the west is free from sexual discrimination and harassment. On the contrary, despite the best efforts of the senior management, there are numerous cases of sexual discrimination and harassment directed towards women that often result in lengthy and expensive lawsuits against the companies. Indeed, in the recent past, even successful companies and investment banks have been the target of lawsuits and class action litigation in the US and in Europe.

Organizational Diversity in the East

On the other hand, in the East, one can expect the organizational culture to be hostile towards women. Without actually saying that the workplace culture is anti women, it needs to be mentioned that on several of the cultural parameters, it is often the case that workplaces in China, India, and other Asian countries tend to be patriarchic, male dominated, and discriminatory against women. Of course, the advent of the services sector and the concerted action by governments to discourage these tendencies partially as most service sector companies in the IT and BPO sectors have clear and stringent policies against discrimination and harassment. The key aspect here is that as Hofstede’s cultural model shows, the impact of culture on the workplace environment is very high. Given the fact that the culture in many Asian countries is conservative and patriarchic, one can expect this aspect to have an effect on workplace behavior. Apart from this, the fact that many women in Asian companies put up with the discriminatory behavior because of the fear of stigma and going against the norm is a significant indicator the practice of organizational diversity in these companies.

Difference between East and the West

The crucial difference between the practice of organizational diversity in the West and in the East is that whereas in the former, the cases of discrimination and harassment often end up in the courts, the tendency in Asian countries is to sweep these aspects under the carpet rather than taking action against the perpetrators. In the recent past, there have been a spate of cases in Asian companies where women have come out into the open and complained officially about discrimination and harassment. This is the result of greater awareness and concerted action by activists and governments that have been pressurized by the women’s rights groups to take action against the offenders and ensure that discrimination and harassment do not become the norm rather than the exception. It is also the case that in China and India, strict anti harassment laws have been passed in the last year or so which would hopefully embolden women to report offences and instances of sexual harassment to the authorities. Some of the provisions in the laws that were passed include anonymous reporting, provision of a committee to look into the cases of harassment and discrimination, and stringent punishment by the companies to the offenders instead of just warning them and letting them off.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, it must be remembered that the practice of organizational diversity must come from within and not imposed from external factors. We can pass as many laws as possible but without a sea change in the attitudes of all the stakeholders, sexual discrimination and harassment would continue to haunt organizations and society.


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