Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our differences make difference

Imagine, we ask a layman on the street, what are the causes of divorces in marriage and major conflicts in the world, majority of them would say “differences”.  Supposing, we ask a successful multinational company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), why do you think your company succeed in a fiercely competitive market place? CEO argues that our company’s success lies in the competence of our employees drawn from different parts of the world with diverse cultures. Why a lay person and a CEO would differ in their opinion on “differences”?  Venerable CEO probably could be a product of popular business school where he / she would be taught on the advantages of diversity but the random person wouldn’t be aware of economics of diversity or differences.

If differences are the root causes of many problems in the society why the companies with diverse employees are always succeeding in the world economy?  There has to be a reason behind any success. Increasingly the world economy is intertwined. The market place that every global company encounter now is more globalized than before. Once the poorer parts of the world is also witnessing rise in disposable income levels. Subsequently there is a ubiquitous market or in simple terms money can be made in any part of the world. The onerous question is “Does the company that is headquartered out of developed market succeed in developing market?” and also vice versa. Companies around the globe particularly multinational corporations evidently understand this conundrum of diversity factor.

Diversity is not limited to people from different nationalities or skin tone or cultures but very often forgotten women at workforce. Gladwell Malcom argues vehemently in his famous book “Outliers” it is the culture of a human being that determines him / her squarely. Any sane human being would agree to the concept of different thinking patterns between Men and Women. Are different values and patterns of thinking good or bad for a company? Business schools charge a hefty amount of fees to prove this simple fact that differences within employees create value. In fancy world of MBAs we could say shareholder values. One ponders more to understand what is this value created out of diversity?

The rocket science behind this diversity factor boils down to priorities or values within different cultures. In case of Men and Women it is differences in perception. Each culture on this planet has something quintessentially “theirs” that make them very special in solving a particular problem. For example, western cultures place strong belief in individualism on the other hand Asian cultures trust their “collectivism”. In any work environment, these differences certainly create initial ruffles but eventually it results in “innovation” if work culture is channelled properly. It is undoubtedly a challenge for companies to create that unique work culture.

Presumably every global company is trying hard to create that unique work culture so that they tap into every employee’s skills. Employees would augment each other by bringing specific example how somebody in their country of origin would perceive something for instance.  Women at workplace would inculcate style and elegance to the products’ offering. The phrase “thinking out of box” inherently ascribes to the notion of employees who can’t be defined into a boxed nationalities and gender. To fittingly finish, the beacon of hope has drawn on us to make the reality “our differences make difference” through several companies embracing diversity as key factor. 

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