Culture and Diversity Issues in the Workplace

Culture and Diversity Issues in the Workplace
Currently, the debate about cultural and religious diversities should
focus on how to manage issues raising the differences and not whether
issues of diversity should be managed. This is because the increase in
the rate of cultural and religious diversity creates a necessity for
anticipation and management of cultural and religious intolerance at the
workplace. This means that cultural and religious diversity is a reality
in the modern business environment. Effective management of cultural and
religious diversity enhances organizational success while mismanagement
of diversity creates obstacles and challenges that hold back
organization’s capacity to succeed (Kaya, 2010). The majority of the
diversity issues encountered by different organizations pertain to
inclusion and exclusion of individuals on the basis of their religion or
cultural background. This paper will address ethical issues (including
favoritism at recruitment, discriminative compensation, staff
development and promotion as well as task allocation. The
utilitarianism, deontological, and care ethical theory are the most
relevant ethical theories in the detection and resolution of issues
caused by cultural and religious diversity at the workplace.
Unethical issues in workplace
The cultural and religious composition of a given workplace is
determined the recruitment process adopted by the organization. A
broader view of diversity help organizations in perceiving the greater
strategic relevance and buy-in associated with recruitment of
individuals from different cultural and religious backgrounds. However,
the adoption and practice of fair inclusion and exclusion criteria
requires organizational management to overcome the challenges of
stereotype, preconceived expectations, assumptions, differences in
treatment, and us-versus-them attitude. These are difficult conditions,
especially for organizations that operate in areas dominated by certain
religion or ethnic group. In such organizations, the recruitment teams
are likely to be dominated by people of the same cultural or religious
background, which may reduce the capacity of the recruitment team to
consider experience, knowledge, talent, and skills during short listing
and recruitment exercise (Kaya, 2010). This subjects the recruitment
teams to the risk of unethical practice of recruiting employees on the
basis of their cultural of religious backgrounds.
Cultural and religious differences trigger employee discrimination in
terms of compensation. Grossman (2013) defined pay discrimination as
the employee compensation system that is based on employees’ religion,
race, national origin, or sex instead of job performance and title.
Currently, there are laws set to protect employees from compensation
discrimination and ensure that employers provide equal pay for their
employees. For example, the Equal Pay Act prohibits employers from
offering wage inequalities on the basis of race, religion, gender, or
age. However, research shows that the wage inequality in the United
State’s labor market is mainly based on racial differences
(Antonovics, 2004). These differences in the compensation of employees
within the same workplace and equal qualification can be attributed to
persistent racial discrimination and previous pay inequalities that set
precedence for the current inequalities. This is an unethical practice
that persists in spite of the existence of strict rules to curtail it.
Training programs are part of the employee development process, which
help workers to assume higher responsibilities at their places of work.
However, the training programs are often offered discriminately by
organizations with cultural and religious diversity. The discriminating
staff training favors the members of staff who come from the dominant
ethnic or religious group on the assumption that they are the ones who
should assume higher responsibilities through promotion in the future.
Although denying access to training opportunities to members of staff on
the basis of their religion or race is prohibited in many jurisdictions,
research shows that members of the minority race and religions are still
being denied equal training and staff development opportunities compared
to their majority counterparts. According to The Telegraph (2010) the
police staff training programs in London have been discriminating
against the minority races and Muslims while favoring the white and
Christian police officers. Consequently, the police officers from the
minority groups (non-white and Muslims) fail to meet the required
knowledge and skills to assume higher ranks. This is an unethical
practice at places of work, which is taking place in spite of the
presence of prohibitive rules and regulations.
Despite the existence of many antidiscrimination laws, race-based
harassment at places of work is a common occurrence. Racial harassment
at place or work may include ethnic slurs, racial jokes, derogatory
comments, and offensive statement. These forms of racial harassment are
intended to intimidate the minority groups and interfere with their work
performance (Burney, 2013). Simple acts, such as placing racially
charged photographs at place of work can also amount to racial
harassment against the minority groups. In addition, some derogatory
comments that are directed to individuals from the minority religion or
race are forms of harassment that may result in an offensive or hostile
working environment. Research shows that racial harassment in factories
and offices have doubled within the last two decades (Tahmincioglu,
2008). Trends show that the emerging types of racial and religious
harassment are taking more serious forms, which include physical
harassment such as the showing a hangman’s noose as a tool to
intimidate the Black American members of staff.
Laws, in many jurisdictions, protect all employees from unfair
termination of employment or unfair selection for redundancy exercises.
However, the prevailing legal and policy measures have not been
sufficient to prevent the racial and religious based retrenchment in
many parts of the world. This has continually subjected the minority
groups to the risk of losing their jobs. Unfair dismissal is the
termination of employment that violates the rules of workplace
relationships, which define it as the unjust, unfair or unreasonable
dismissal. However, these rules exempt small organization with less than
a hundred employees, which creates a room for these enterprises to
dismiss their workers and terminate their employment contracts unfairly.
There are some national of global events that may trigger racial of
religion based dismissal. For example September 11 attack increased the
rate of discrimination against Muslim workers in the United States
organizations by 64 % (Rabby & Rodgers, 2009). The younger Muslims lost
the highest number of jobs compared to their elderly counterparts.
Ethical theories showing that discrimination and harassment at workplace
are unethical
Ethical aspects of the workplace issues aforementioned can be identified
and explained by considering three ethical theories. First,
utilitarianism is an ethical theory that holds that something can be
termed as good if it produces the highest level of pleasure to the
greatest population of the number of people (Sandler, 2011). Based on
its basic principle, the theory of utilitarian asserts that everyone
should select actions that have the capacity to positive outcome of the
large number of people. Most importantly, the theory holds that one’s
own happiness should count equal to each of the persons who are affected
by certain actions. Similarly, all the actions (discrimination during
recruitment, compensation, training, harassment, and unfair termination
of employment) considered in this study maximizes pain to employees of
color and religious groups other than Christianity where Christianity
dominates. This is an unethical practice that can be avoided if
organizational management can emphasize on the importance of maximizing
the happiness of individuals of all races and religion, which will also
enhance their productivity at their places of work.
Secondly, the deontological theory of ethics holds that any action can
be considered to be right or wrong if it conforms to certain rational
duties. The basic principles of this theory state that people should
seek to fulfill duties towards self as well as other people (Sandler,
2011). This implies that people should select actions that best conform
to their recognized duties. These duties should be understood either by
reason or healthy common sense. Similarly, the acts of harassment and
discrimination against some workers on the basis of their race or
religion fail to conform to duties of employees who practice these
actions. In addition, harassment and discrimination against people on
the basis of their race or religion can be considered to be bad because
they fail to conform to rational duties of persons employed to pursue
some organizational goals. These actions are, thus unethical and should
be avoided at all costs.
Third, the theory of care ethics holds that actions can be considered to
be good or bad depending on whether they support a relationship or
caring for others (Sandler, 2011). Based on its basic principle, the
theory seeks to promote the support of people who are perceived to be
vulnerable and in need of support. Consequently, people should select
actions that guarantees support to others who are vulnerable in order to
enhance their wellness. The theory has a wide application in the
workplace context because there are individuals within organizations who
are vulnerable to the risk of discrimination or harassment by others
based on their racial or religious differences. This means that failure
to maintain a working relationship, discriminating, and harassing others
at places of work violates the basic principles of the theory of care
This study has significant implications in the modern business
environment given the fact that diversity is an inevitable issue in this
era of globalization. The study creates awareness to the organization
about unethical issues that are likely to arise in their workplaces as a
result of intolerance of cultural values and norms. Wide spread of
intolerance at places of work leads to discrimination and harassment of
the most vulnerable members of staff. This means that organizational
management should address the issue of multiculturalism and religious
tolerance in order to reduce the occurrence of unethical instances at
work. This can be achieved by training all members of staff on the
importance of upholding relativism while at work.
The utilitarianism, deontological, and care ethical theory are the most
relevant ethical theories in the detection and resolution of issues
caused by cultural and religious diversity at the workplace. Religious
and racial diversity have enormous benefits to organizations that have
the capacity to manage the potential negative effects of such forms of
diversity. The five types of unethical issues that are experienced at
places of work as a result of racial and religious diversities occurs in
places that are dominated by certain race or religion against the
minority who secure themselves some employment opportunity in these
organizations. The three theories of ethics (utilitarianism,
deontological, and care ethical) helps in the determination of
discrimination and harassment as unethical since they maximize pain to
the affected members of staff. The affected organizations can reduce the
occurrence of discrimination and harassment of individuals on the bases
of their racial and religious differences by training all members of
stall on the importance of upholding relativism and high level of
Antonovics, K. (2004). Persistent racial wage inequality. La Jolla:
University of California.
Burney, A. (2013). Example of workplace harassment. Global Post.
Retrieved December 10, 2013, from HYPERLINK
Grossman, L. (2013). Employment discrimination: Equal pay and
compensation discrimination. Justia. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from
Kaya. A. (2010). Management of ethno-cultural diversity in Turkey:
Europeanization of domestic politics and new challenges. International
Journal of Legal Information, 38 (2), 214-226.
Rabby, F. & Rodgers, M. (2009). Post 9-11 U.S. labor market outcomes.
Discussion Paper, 4411, 1-30.
Sandler, G. (2011). Five ethical theories: Bare bones for business
education. Academia. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from HYPERLINK
Tahmincioglu, E. (2008, January 13). Racial harassment still infecting
the workplace. NBC. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from HYPERLINK
The Telegraph (2010). Senior back officers sue metropolitan police for
racial discrimination. Ontario: Telegraph Media Group.