Diversity at work – diversiteit op de werkvloer
In the Netherlands managers often feel confused about cultural differences. The main confusion derives from the question: does this person act ‘like that’ because of his cultural background or is he ‘like that’ as a personality?
Apparently managers seem to consider culture as a source of behaviour that they have to take into account, while personality as the source of behaviour means that they will not accept the behaviour they see. As they cannot decide ‘is it culture or personality’ they are facing a dilemma in how to deal with ineffective behaviours at work – let alone the question how to deal with customer behaviour that is perceived as probably culturally different.
Last week I published a new book about diversity at work: Diversiteit op de Werkvloer (available in Dutch at www.diversityshop.nl). It shows how culture works out in daily business life. One chapter of the book proves that culture exists, another chapter that it doesn’t exist. There is no way managers will solve their business issues by analyzing culture as an objective fact. In line with that way of thinking, diversity at work is much larger than just culture.
The perception of difference matters at work (and also in other situations): when you see somebody, do you see a person that looks like you or that is different from you? And how does that influence your acts, your decision making?
The perception of difference includes not just culture but also gender, sexual orientation, age and many things that cannot be seen directly but can still be perceived like education, class or intelligence. Those who develop insight in the mechanisms of perceptions and skills in handling them, will be most succesfull when confronted with diversity at work.
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