Understanding and managing diversity Essay Example

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Understanding and managing diversity

Understanding and managing diversity


This essay addresses the cultural diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry which is brought about by the migrant workers. Cultural diversity relates to the tourism and hospitality industry in a great way due to high number of migrant workers. The industry has high number of employees from diverse cultural backgrounds. The industry benefits and gains from accepting cultural diversity include increased innovation, creativity, knowledge transfer, competitiveness and creating a positive image. The costs and consequences for not accepting cultural diversity are; discrimination, training barriers and poor communication which all leads to poor productivity. To improve firm position in cultural diversity, there is need for employee relationship management training, diversity training programme and cross cultural training. To sum up, cultural diversity is very important in the tourism and hospitality industry hence the need to adopt it.


Tourism and hospitality industry has been one of the most affected by the diversity in workforce. The issue of workforce diversity has been very vital in the hospitality and tourism industry. The issue of migration of labour has affected the hotel industry in a great way (Baum et al., 2007). This has led to a lot of attention being paid to the impact of labour migration and cultural diversity. As the number of minority groups entering the hospitality industry and tourism industry increase, the issue of cultural diversity becomes vital. Managing cultural diversity is becoming a major challenge in the industry especially to the human resource managers (Joppe, 2012). This essay will explore cultural diversity brought by migrant workers in the tourism and hospitality industry. The essay involves describing cultural diversity and how it relates to the tourism and hospitality industry. It then considers benefits and gains to businesses in the industry accepting and embracing this form of diversity, and the costs and consequences to businesses of not accounting for this form of diversity.

Migrant workers and Cultural diversity relation to tourism and hospitality industry

Migration of labour is one of the features in the human development and civilisation. At the moment, the levels of migration due to economy and wars have reached a high level. Countries such as Australia have a large group of migrant workers in the tourism and hospitality industry (Joppe, 2012). A cultural diverse workforce is an important reliance in the tourism and hospitality industry. The number of migrant employees in the industry has been on rise. This has led to a multicultural challenge in the industry. The rise of globalization has led to the number of multinationals in the tourism and hospitality industry to increase. As the industry competes for international talent, the issue of culture barriers arise. There is also use of expatriates who face cultural barriers in their new workplaces. Along with the globalised tourism and hospitality industry, the domestic market has immigrant and minority employees who want to join the workforce (Devine, Baum, Hearns, & Devine, 2007).

Tourism and hospitality industry are labour intensive and hence a major source of employment. The industry is among the top job creators globally. Despite this, most of the companies in the tourism and hospitality industry still encounter challenges in addressing cultural differences brought by immigrant workers (Ruhs, 2010). There is still the assumption of one culture existing in the workplace. Cases of discrimination and stereotypes still occur in some of the industry workplaces. Providing language training alone in the tourism and hospitality industry cannot address the cultural issues faced by the migrant workers (Joppe, 2012).

The tourism and hospitality sector is therefore characterised by diversity in the workforce. Hotel sector is one of the sectors in the industry where most of the dominant positions are held by the migrant workers (Ruhs, 2010). Cultural misunderstanding in the industry greatly affects the quality of the services offered. This is especially if they occur when offering the services to the customers. In the industry, if the locals and tourists are aware of the cultural differences, these misunderstandings can be avoided. The industry reputation depends on the quality of the service and professionalism (Devine et al., 2007). This has also led to the need for the expatriates in the industry. This is a method meant to keep the talented managers in the industry. The best expatriates are expected to be fluent with cross cultural training to enable them work efficiently.

The tourism and hospitality industry in Australia is experiencing acute shortages of labour. This can be attributed it the mining boom and low unemployment in the country. With this acute shortage of labour, chances of employing immigrant workers are high. The industry has a shortfall of 56,000 employees in 2015. As the industry utilizes the migrant and indigenous workers to address the shortage, the issues of cultural diversity are expected to be great. This makes it vital to look at the impact of cultural diversity brought by hiring of migrant workers in the industry (Joppe, 2012).

Benefits and gains from accounting cultural diversity in tourism and hospitality businesses

The benefits of accounting for cultural diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry have been the main drive for the industry to employ the migrant and minority workers (Ruhs, 2010). The main benefits and gains are; valuable innovation, knowledge transfer, competitiveness and creating a positive image. Diversity is well known to stimulate business innovations. When employees from diverse cultures meet, they bring improved innovation through new ideas and varying viewpoints. When the industry is able to utilize the different viewpoints from around the world through the migrant workers, they can benefit a lot. When compared to homogenous workers, diversified workers have an outstanding performance. They are able to take their duties in a more efficient manner. This is due to the increased creativity brought by workers from different parts globally (Devine et al., 2007).

Employees from diverse background lead to effective knowledge transfer. When the strangers come together, sharing the knowledge is easier if they have a common background. This is due to fact that it is easier to transfer knowledge if the group have the same language. Through eliminating communication barriers, the industry is able to benefit from the diverse knowledge from employees. This improves the industry productivity and efficiency (Baum et al., 2007).

When the cultural diversity is managed in an effective manner, it becomes easy to increase competitiveness. The employees from diverse cultural background lead to high level of competition in the industry. This can only be attained if there is effective diversity management. The multinationals have to serve customers from different cultural backgrounds and characteristics. Having cultural diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry helps in understanding the customer’s needs and creating the required business relations with them. The cultural diversity helps in improving the services offered and hence creating loyalty. Research proves that having minority workers in an organisation can help in attracting the minority customers (Fitzgerald, 1998). This is due to fact that most of the immigrants are minorities in the society. Cultural diversity is required in creating the firm image. The tourism industry is expected to have a positive image. This leads to the urge to have employees from the diverse cultures. Having cultural diversity helps the firm to relate well with the community they serve. The industry becomes accepted by the diverse communities that they serve (Baum et al., 2007).

Costs and consequences to businesses not accounting for cultural diversity

When the industry fails to account for cultural diversity in their workplaces, there are costs and consequences. Cases of discrimination in the workplace occur when the management fails to account for diversity. Most of the world wars have been based on the cultural and social issues. People with different cultures tend to act in protecting their own. It cannot be ignored that cultural differences increases the chances of discrimination in the industry (Baum, 2007). The hospitality industry is expected to have migrant workers and hence ignoring their cultural difference increases chances of discrimination to them.

Another consequence of ignoring cultural diversity in the industry is training challenges. Companies in the industry which ignore cultural difference face a challenge as they train their workers (Hearns, Devine & Baum, 2007). Lastly, the industry will face communication barriers if they do not acknowledge the cultural differences. With the shortage of employees in the domestic market, the number of migrant workers is high. Some of the migrant workers are not fluent in the local languages. This makes it hard for the employees to communicate in the workplace. Difference in languages leads to high chances of miscommunication (Fitzgerald, 1998). Employees from different background find it hard to understand each other quick enough. This may lead to workers exclusion, confusion and low performance. The problems caused by miscommunication in the industry are prominent. The employee becomes unhappy and their morale reduces. This makes it hard to adjust to the foreign country as their as their role in workplace (Baum et al., 2007).

Actions businesses could take to improve their position in this form of cultural diversity

There are different approaches that the tourism and hospitality can take to address the challenges brought about by cultural diversity. The first action to be taken is adopting an employee relationship management programme. This will make the management more sensitive to the cultural differences in their firm. The system makes it possible to manage the employees in an accurate manner taking account of their cultural diversity. This is through creating a program that is capable of enhancing cultural diversity and enhancing positive attitudes among the cultural diverse groups (Hearns, Devine & Baum, 2007). It also involves creating a family like atmosphere in the organisation. The second method includes coming up with a diversity training program. The program makes it possible for the companies in tourism and hospitality industry to have sensitivity to the cultural challenges. This includes programs such as cross cultural training where issues on managing cultural diversity are learned. The programs also diminish the cultural barriers faced by the managers in foreign countries. Through the program, it becomes easy to diminish the cultural stereotypes and ensure respect for all cultures (Reisinger & Turner, 2003).


With the rise of migrant workers in the tourism and hospitality industry, cultural challenges have been on increase. The industry is one of the highest providers of jobs to migrant workers. This makes it prudent to manage the cultural diversity that arises. Effective management of cultural diversity has great opportunities and benefits for the industry. Despite this, these firms still faces challenges in managing cultural diversity and multicultural workforce. To manage cultural differences effectively, there is need for overcoming communication barriers, discrimination and stereotypes. This can be attained through cultural diversity management, training programs and employee relationship management programme. To sum up, acknowledging cultural diversity in tourism and hospitality industry is necessary for success of the industry.


Baum, T. (2007). Human resources in tourism: Still waiting for change. Tourism Management, 28(6), 1383-1399.

Baum, T., Dutton, E., Karimi, S., Kokkranikal, J., Devine, F., & Hearns, N. (2007). Cultural diversity in hospitality work. Cross cultural management: an international journal, 14(3), 229-239.

Devine, F., Baum, T., Hearns, N., & Devine, A. (2007). Cultural diversity in hospitality work: the Northern Ireland experience. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 18(2), 333-349.

Fitzgerald, H. (1998). Cross-cultural communication for the tourism and hospitality industry. Hospitality Press.

Hearns, N., Devine, F., & Baum, T. (2007). The implications of contemporary cultural diversity for the hospitality curriculum. Education+ Training, 49(5), 350-363.

Joppe, M. (2012). Migrant workers: Challenges and opportunities in addressing tourism labour shortages. Tourism Management, 33(3), 662-671.

Reisinger, Y., & Turner, L. W. (2003). Cross-cultural behaviour in tourism: Concepts and analysis. Elsevier.

Ruhs, M. (Ed.). (2010). Who needs migrant workers?: labour shortages, immigration, and public policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.