{{B}}Background Information{{/B}}
Culture diversity in the workplace is a worldwide concept that continues to evolve as more industries move into the global market. Most people try and hold the belief that all people are of equal stature and deserve all of the same opportunities invariant of their race, age, gender, disability, religion or sexual preference. This concept which is becoming multi-faceted is leading to changes in the American workforce, creating equal privileges and opportunities for every human being. The idea of diversity in the workplace is the business reaction to sociological changes and pressure from social rights groups. In creating a diverse work setting there must be an atmosphere where all employees feel that they are valued by and contributing to an organization.
{{B}}Cultural Diversity—IBM Style{{/B}}
Cultural diversity initiatives can provide organizations with a number of benefits, however there are a number of variables that can impact upon the success of such initiatives. Kylie Nicolson looks at the history of cultural diversity within IBM Australia, examines the business case for establishing diversity strategies and shares some of the initiatives employed by IBM.
It's tempting for organizations in Australia to assume that employee communities generally reflect multicultural Australia. Certainly the experiences at IBM Australia during the past few years have taught me the value of reality-checking assumptions about what it means to be a culturally diverse organization.
Formal statements relating to diversity at IBM can be found as far back as 1953 by the then CEO Thomas J Watson, who said: "It is the policy of IBM to hire people who have the personality, talent and background necessary to fill a given job, regardless of race, color or creed."
More recently, in 2001, IBM Australia's bi-annual employee opinion survey included questions to enable us to better understand how different ethnicities within the corporate culture of the company. The study findings presented some variation between ethnic groups in individual levels of satisfaction with particular variables. Cultural issues did make an impact on how staff felt about IBM, especially where differences impeded clear communication, for example, between a line manager and staff member.
The decision to develop a strategy for cultural awareness and acceptance within IBM Australia was driven by corporate values, legal requirements and the business case. IBM's thinking on cultural diversity did not develop in a vacuum. It is a long-held view that by valuing diversity, IBM uncovers new perspectives taps different knowledge and experience and generates innovative ideas, suggestions and methods.
Making the business case for diversity
IBM's employee opinion survey(EOS)provided the hard data to substantiate the business case for cultural diversity. Modem organizations face a skills quandary. On the one hand, their workforce is ageing and skilled workers are in increasingly short supply, while the demands of clients driven by globalization and advanced technologies are becoming more complex. So any organization that fails to maximize opportunities for all employees will fall into a talent gap and miss business opportunities.
Part of the business case was about retention, particularly retaining people with languages other than English as their first language. Such employees are crucial to IBM's ability to serve its international clients. For example, an IBM Information Technology helpdesk, based in Brisbane, mainly deals with Japanese clients.
Another case reflected the global business market in which IBM operates. Employees must recognize and act on global opportunities. They must be able to operate effectively in a variety of cultural and business environments, whether traveling overseas or operating at home.
Making cultural diversity part of IBM Australia "s DNA
Our most effective diversity programs combine "push and pull" strategies. We've made good top down practices such as formalized training or policies like floating cultural holidays(exchanging an Australian public holiday for another significant cultural holiday). However the truly great progress has come about through the momentum generated by individuals who are passionate about diversity issues and truly want to make it happen.
Aside from IBM's diversity team within human resources, three other groups within IBM have formally identified roles in the implementation of the company's overall diversity strategy. These are IBM's Diversity Council, diversity contact officers and diversity champions.
The Diversity Council
IBM's Diversity Council, chaired by our CEO Philip Bullock, ensures that IBM visibly encourages and values the contributions and differences of employees from various backgrounds. Its key objectives are to heighten employee awareness, increase management awareness, and encourage the effective use of IBM's diverse workforce.
It does so through key initiatives such as developing attraction and recruiting strategies along with retention and awareness strategies(which includes the education of managers and employees). Once the business case for cultural diversity was established, it became a focus for the council and IBM's HR director, Robert Orth. In this capacity, Orth works with a team of senior IBM managers who champion particular diversity programs within IBM. This is achieved through personal commitment, regular communication, by gaining support for the program from other IBM managers and influencing decision making that may impact on the program.
Under the guidance of the Diversity Council, a series of cultural diversity employee roundtables have been held to gather more face-to-face feedback and ideas from staff. These meetings have generated many practical ideas for increasing awareness of cultural diversity within IBM, such as the suggestion for a cross cultural communication course. Others, such as a networking and cultural evening with the Vietnamese community in Brisbane, were one-off events.
Diversity contact officers
Diversity contact officers are regular permanent employees who volunteer to be conduits of information relating to diversity, are trained as work/life balance coaches, and help to integrate people with a disability into the IBM workforce. They include men and women from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, people with disabilities and people who are gay or lesbian, transgender or bisexual, to reflect the diversity of our organization.
Diversity champions
Our internal diversity awards recognize and celebrate individuals whose actions encapsulate our diversity principles. They help to raise awareness of the diversity program and establish cultural diversity as the "norm" within the company.
The power of internal awards for diversity champions lies in bringing to life the actions of "real" employees. The diversity team works closely with internal communications and public relations to communicate success stories. Ensuring that stakeholders outside the company know about the diverse culture within IBM directly supports recruitment efforts and forming commercial relationships, reinforcing the business case.
Professional Development
IBM manager's "Quick Views" are, as the name suggests, intranet-based resources designed to give managers essential and accessible information to conduct business successfully with clients or colleagues from another country. Topics include: culture and globalization, culture and business and diversity and multicultural management. So if a manager is called upon to travel suddenly to a new culture, Quick Views offer handy hints on business meeting protocol.
Another professional development initiative is IBM's "Shades of Blue"—a more in-depth program for managers who are engaged in cross-cultural business interactions or have multicultural teams. Shades of Blue are a unique learning experience in developing cross-cultural competence. The courses cater to individual managers or members of an established multicultural team and are designed to heighten awareness of each person's own cultural biases and increase their sensitivity to other cultures. The shades experience can be a powerful team-building exercise for multicultural teams to transcend cultural differences and become a high-performing team.
General staff awareness and policies
IBM's cultural diversity strategy relies on raising the general level of awareness of different cultures within the organization. General initiatives include:
Celebration of Chinese New Year for Sydney employees.
Publication of a diversity calendar, showing various dates of cultural significance that might be relevant to employees and business relationships.
Introduction of a floating holiday program where employees can exchange a public holiday for a significant cultural holiday.
Employee representation at an IBM global conference on multicultural people in technology.
填空题 I. Match the word with the appropriate meaning.
填空题 Impede
填空题 Initiative
填空题 Retention
填空题 Implementation
填空题 Quandary
填空题 Headway
判断题 II. True or False.It's also important to take the varying elements into consideration when company is carrying out culture diversity imitative.
判断题 With the development of corporation, the urgent problem of cultural diversity within IBM is the shortage of skilled workers.
判断题 Individual worker can also help the company to generate idea about how to deal with diversity issue.
判断题 IBM's Diversity Council holds more important position than others.
判断题 Quick View program designed to give manager a more in-depth training about how to conduct business in cross-cultural business interaction.
单选题 III. Multiple Choices.Whose focus was not to implement the company's overall diversity strategy?
单选题 What is the use of IBM Australia's bi-annual employee opinion survey?
单选题 Which of the following is not the problem faced by the modem organizations according to EOS issued by IBM?
单选题 How does IBM Australia heighten employee's cultural awareness?
单选题 Whose job is to help employee to balance their lives and integrate into organization?
填空题 IV. Answer the questions. What does the writer mean by making cultural diversity part of IBM Australia's DNA? 19. What is Diversity Champion? What kind of role does he usually play in heightening employees' cultural awareness? 20. Could you summarize the importance of cultural diversity in the workplace?
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