What Is the Relationship between Organizational Culture and Diversity?

Esther Ejim

The relationship between organizational culture and diversity can be seen in the manner in which the different backgrounds of employees affect their ability to adapt to an established corporate culture. The advent of globalization has made it easy for cross-country immigration, and many people go to the countries with the best jobs. If they are hired by any organization, the question becomes whether they will be able to blend in with the corporate culture of the organization. This is a serious consideration because a person who is brilliant academically may not have the necessary social skills to be a team player. Someone with a different background who is not willing to adapt to the culture of an organization might turn out to be a liability rather than an asset if the person becomes a disruptive influence.

Different people will respond differently to various organizational cultures.
Different people will respond differently to various organizational cultures.

Organizational culture and diversity includes not only people from different backgrounds but also people with different sexual orientations, handicapped people, and the hiring of the opposite sex in a position mostly done by the other gender. For instance, an elite military unit might have only men. The culture in that branch of the military might be one that includes grueling training routines, intensive physiological training, and even the telling of outlandish jokes as a means of relieving stress. If a woman were to be added to this unit, she would have to adapt to the culture in place or leave. Trying to accommodate her would only prove to be a disruptive influence on the military organization.

Hiring a woman for an upper management position would be an example of a diversity initiative set by a company.
Hiring a woman for an upper management position would be an example of a diversity initiative set by a company.

In the same sense, people from different backgrounds must also adapt to the corporate culture in place in their organization, regardless of their background. Some organizations might be willing to make a few little concessions, but the person must largely make the effort to blend in and not be a disruptive influence. For instance, someone whose mother tongue is Spanish would not expect to speak Spanish in an organization with an English-only policy. As such, the person would have to learn English so as to fit into the corporate culture. This is an example of the relationship between organizational culture and diversity.

Another example that can be used to show how organizational culture and diversity are related is through the use of outsourcing as a means of recruitment by organizations. In this case, the employers go to the employees' countries. The application of the organizational culture might also be an issue. It is up to the individual companies to decide how to handle any potential clash between national culture and the culture in place in the organization.

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Discussion Comments


I'm a little confused about this topic. I thought that the government gives incentives for organizations to diversify their workforce. Don't a certain percentage of employees have to be from minority groups?


@fBoyle-- That's right.

Employers will definitely try to find out if an employee will be a good fit for the organization before hiring them. This is also why internships are a great idea. Many organizations require their employees to intern with them first. If everything works out for both sides, an intern can become a full time employee later. Internships not only allow the employee to know if they will enjoy working in an organization, but it also allows employers to select employees that suit the organization best.


Don't employers usually know about a potential employee's worldview and qualifications during the hiring process? So they can decide before hiring an employee if he or she will be good fit for the company right?

I don't think that employers should take any chances when it comes to organizational culture. Of course, diversity is great. It can add a lot to a company. People will naturally have different backgrounds, but their basic values and worldview should be similar to the organization's culture. Otherwise, it won't be a good fit. There will be problems communication and the employee will be unhappy as well.

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