The Disadvantages of Cultural Diversity

Cultural diversity also comes with many disadvantages that affect the workplace in numerous ways. One disadvantage of cultural diversity in the workplace is the increased likelihood that the diversity itself will cause interpersonal conflicts. This can create destructive communication especially when employees don’t accept those that are different then them.

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(Amadeo, 2019) When employees only see the gender and race of their coworkers, they may become prejudice against those coworkers. This can become challenging for working teams and some employees may be less likely inclined to speak up or provide ideas. (Amadeo, 2019) Culturally diverse employees come from different backgrounds, have different ideas, thoughts, opinions, norms, traditions, values, etc. and this can cause a rift when working with other employees who are different. (Martin, 2014) This poses as a disadvantage because employees are less inclined to work together due to cultural stereotypes that are negative. Martin (2014) mentions, “Whatever the cause, the interpersonal conflict results in lost productivity and development of negative emotions among employees, which can be detrimental to the organization.” High turnover and absent employees are also disadvantages of cultural diversity in the workplace. Those employees who don’t feel comfortable at work because they are different will either quit or call out of work. Companies face more risk when their employees don’t have knowledge about cultural diversity, which can lead to less productivity and even introduce hostility if employees have strong contradictory opinions with employees who are culturally different than they are. (Rao, 2016)

Another disadvantage of a culturally diverse workplace is when employees become uncomfortable when they are confronted with examples of employees who act against their view of the world. In these cases, these employees are working with others who go against their race, religion, or any other aspect of diversity, which can result in them struggling to be effective with their work. (Rao, 2016) Cultural diversity can also lead to behavioral changes in employees such as prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination, which ultimately leads to a stressed workplace environment, departmental complains, and possible legal complications. (Kolla, 2016)

Another disadvantage of cultural diversity is the language barrier among employees. Communication becomes difficult when cultural diversity exists in the workplace and employees from different cultures have a hard time understanding each other. Communication difficulties and cultural differences lead to inefficiencies and a longer decision making time. This also poses an issue when companies expand into other countries because employees may not be able to communicate and speak different languages with the local employees. The difference in language could result in miscommunication, which could have an impact on the team as a whole and could jeopardize trust. Language barriers create difficulties in written and spoken languages, which leads to inaccuracy in work and more time invested. (Shachaf, 2008) Miscommunication can cause rift among employees, which can lead to hostility if not address right away. This can make it difficult for employees to participate equally. To avoid this, manager should establish a clear line of communication that would allow employees to speak their opinion or idea one at a time to ensure everyone has a chance to speak. Intercultural communication is the ability to disregard and eliminate communication barriers such as different perceptions and insufficient exchange of information to better understand employees of other cultures. (Carnevale & Stone, 1994)

According to Anaram (2007), “Cultural diversity can make it harder to arrive at an agreement on a particular course of action, and can result in negative dynamics and cultural classes that can create work disadvantages.” Another disadvantage of cultural diversity is that it can lead to overemphasis on cultural differences among employees, which can pose as a disadvantage and may increase backlash and strengthen stereotypes about minority groups. (Nair & Vohra, 2015) Studies have shown that diverse employees have been placed in positions of lower power, which serves as a disadvantage to employees as it decreases their motivation and confidence. (Nair & Vohra, 2015)

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