Maintaining Cultural Diversity In An Indian Manufacturing Industry

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 3431 , Published on 09 July 2012

“Success and failure in our own national economy will hang upon the degree to which we are able to work with races and nations whose social order and whose behaviour and attitudes are strange to us”

These words by Ruth Benedict aptly reflect the very essence and the need of maintaining cultural diversity within any manufacturing firm. Finding, maintaining and nurturing the right diversity and talent is crucial to any business’s success especially in today’s world. Maintaining cultural diversity in many situations is a fact of life and not a matter of choice. However manufacturing industries often see a lot of inter-group conflict especially related to cultural diversity.


Some of the common reasons for it can be summarized as

  • Competing goals
  • Competing for resources
  • Power discrepancies and power distance
  • Cultural differences
  • Assimilation versus preservation of micro cultural identity

Given the above mentioned possible conflicts that may arise in a firm, the choice of strategies that need to be adopted by any manufacturing firm varies on firm to firm basis. To illustrate the same - fora manufacturing company which manufactures hazardous chemicals, the most important HR aspect to ensure continued employee commitment and loyalty is the safety of employees.

Similarly for a company which believes in innovation and bringing new inventions in the marketplace, undertaking appropriate measures to foster creativity and innovation is the major HR challenge. Thus it is the mission, vision and the objective of the company which shall eventually determine the appropriate strategies that need to be adopted.

Some of the possible strategies that can be adopted by an HR Manager to resolve the commonly observed conflicts and avoid a diversity-consensus dilemma are

  • Mediation & compromise
  • Collaboration & Negotiation
  • Structured interaction

These strategies can be effectively used to increase the group cohesiveness and dilute the impact of conflicts that may arise in employee-employee relation or employee-employer relation or in the work involved.

Further Competency based HR system which uses the concept of STAR- Situation, Task, Action, Results can also be implemented. All these factors shall play an important role in assessing employee capability and performance and ensuring harmony among them while driving the productivity of the employees.Developing HR scorecard can also be used effectively to enhance employee productivity, drive long term shareholder value and avoid a diversity-consensus dilemma.

Balanced scorecard is yet another strategy possible to avoid cultural conflicts and drive corporate performance by balancing short term and long term measures, financial and non-financial measures, performance drivers with outcome measures. A commonly used approach is the Six sigma approach used to ensure the improvement in the quality of the product along with the removal of defects.

More stark measures include Organizational redesign. Organizational redesign is a process by which dysfunctional aspects of a business is recognized and steps are taken to realign the business in accordance with the realities. It can result in immense improvements in quality, customer service, decreased cycle times, lower turnover and absenteeism and productivity gains from 25 to at least 50% also.  It can be used in almost any type and size of business.

The time required to complete a redesign process varies depending on the nature, size and resources of the organization. Along with it is essential an appropriate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) strategy and its application. CRM would help bring a lot of information about sales, customers, marketing effectiveness, marketing trends and effectiveness. Further putting in place an exhaustive Knowledge Management System (KMS) comprising of a range of strategies and practices to identify, create, represent, distribute, and enable adoption of insights and experiences would help further enhance productivity while maintaining diversity.

Another important aspect in maintaining cultural diversity within any manufacturing firm is the process of recruitment and selection. An organization is made by the people who work in it, the people who lead it and here in lies the importance of recruitment and selection. The process of recruitment can be done efficiently through interviews, departmental examinations, performance appraisal, promotion and various other such means to ensure a culturally diverse environment.

In today’s competitive scenario where companies are facing immense skill shortage and high attrition rates avoiding the diversity-consensus dilemma and maintaining cultural diversity within an organization is extremely vital for its success. Employees working within an organization are equally important as the customers outside waiting to buy the product. Therefore designing appropriate and innovative HR policies, ensuring the employees a proper work-culture and work-environment remains an integral part of any business’s success today.

This article has been authored by Ankita Shah from IIM Shillong.

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