Corporate Culture vs. Ethnic Culture

Personnel Journal, March 1995 | Go to article overview

Corporate Culture vs. Ethnic Culture


It's a fact of human nature that we usually resist anything that's different. With those differences come conflict, and the workplace is no exception. Because of the growing diversity among workers, clashes between the employees' need to express ethnic identity and the unwritten rules of an organization's culture are becoming increasingly common.

Before managers deal with the problems associated with corporate versus ethnic culture, they must understand certain assumptions about diversity, including: Part of what makes each individual unique is how our values, attitudes and perceptions are shaped by our social, ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds or identity groups.

According to Marshall Singer, author of Intercultural Communication: A Perceptual Approach, our current, personal attitudes and behaviors are the result of an evolving development based in our ethnic roots. Therefore, ignoring these backgrounds is tantamount to discounting our uniqueness as individual. We feel appreciated and respected only when the full range of our background is recognized and appreciated.

We become more aware of our identity groups when we're faced with people who are different. When surrounded by the so-called majority, people who belong to an ethnic or other minority group usually are unable to forget their minority identities. Internal as well as external conflicts may arise. Singer also notes that one part of them argues for assimilation; the other side may resist, perhaps by expressing even stronger links to the minority identity group. In such a situation, ethnic identity can become more, not less pronounced.

One such pull for assimilation comes from corporations and other workplace organizations.

According to T.E. Deal and A.A. Kennedy in Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, employees attain yet another sense of who they are, what they should be doing and how they should behave through identification with their organization's culture. The company benefits from this cultural cohesiveness, which is essential for smooth work flow, productivity and a common sense of affiliation that, in turn, contributes to the organization's values and goals.

Mike Fenton, manager of affirmative action and HR planning for AT&Ts Bell Laboratories, says that people must be comfortable with each other to work well together.

The following guidelines help managers feel more comfortable in addressing the potential clash between corporate and ethnic cultures. Although there aren't any surefire solutions to this dilemma, these guidelines help managers get beyond the fuzziness that Francois Basili, director of employee communications at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, identified as the problem with most recommendations on how to handle diversity in the workplace.

Because dealing with cultural diversity touches on sensitive issues, cautions also are included with each guideline. These yellow lights alert managers so that special awareness and care is given when implementing these suggestions.

Guideline 1. Don't avoid the issue of diversity. Bring it out in the open and talk about it.

In many organizations, there's an unwritten rule: Don't openly discuss issues related to ethnic, racial or cultural, or gender differences. This usually is the result of EEO regulations that (rightly) alert managers to possible discriminatory consequences of policies and practices.

The emergence of diversity in the workplace now suggests, however, that being treated fairly means to be treated the same as everyone else and recognizing how each employee is different (i.e., how ethnic, racial and gender differences help define the person's identity). EEO didn't do away with difference, it just mandated that difference shouldn't be used for the purpose of discrimination. Difference, however, is a growing fact and needs to be recognized. Therefore, the no-talk rule must be rewritten.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Corporate Culture vs. Ethnic Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.