Organizational culture refers to the shared values and beliefs in an organization that influences the actions and decisions of the people in the organization. The culture ultimately affects the ability of the organization to accomplish its missions and objectives. Culture influences the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, performance expectations and the behavior of the employees. It can motivate employees or discourage them. It can cause discrimination or curb and prevent it. An organization’s work culture should discourage unethical behaviors and reinforce acceptable behavior. There are three main areas of organizational culture that play a big role in an organization.
It is important to instill ethics in the organization. As management there are several steps that have to be taken to ensure that an ethical culture is being built into the organization. There should be value statements and the company has to ensure that what is stated in the statements reflects the organization’s actions and decision making processes. If they do not tally the employees will not be able to relate with the values. Secondly there should be a code of conduct in the organization with management ensuring it is adhered to. The code of conduct gives the organizational policies and the required conduct of the employees in the different departments as per policy.
There can also be a section with frequently asked questions to assist the staff. The executive or the management should also embody the values of the organization (Federwisch, 2007).. They should not only talk the values but practice them as they are the role models in the organization. There should be constant trainings and communications for both the new and existing staff. The training should not be mostly online or too short. The company should invest and maximize on trainings. The systems in the organization should embody values. The performance appraisals should have values incorporated. Key decisions should be made in light of the values. The values should be embedded into the operating systems of the company. The management should have appropriate mechanisms to address difficult cases. A committee can be set up to analyze the cases.
There should be transparency or an open door culture with the employees knowing they will not lose jobs or face hostility for implementing values in their work life. Hotlines are helpful for staff to report cases of non-compliance and still maintain anonymity. For the system to work there should be an ethics officer or manager in charge of ethics in the company. He should continually audit the values, implementation and bottlenecks in the process. Revised values can be rolled out every three years in consideration of the progress and changes in the organization. This process should be an ongoing process and staff and management should not lose the vision of being the ethical organization.
The benefits of an ethical organization are employee work-fulfillment, high morale, great communication and teamwork, reduced conflicts and fraud related incidents.
This should not be a one-time process but an everyday practice. Empowerment is whereby the accountability and responsibility of work lies with the particular staff that actually does the work. It is not simply about delegation. It is about letting the concerned staff be creative in their role. The management should have the attitude that the staff’s talents and creative ideas are a great asset and should be maximized on to contribute to the organization positively.
Training and guidance should be given to managers so that they do not have the perception that their role is being downgraded. The management should communicate clearly to the people what they mean by instituting an empowering culture. The existing culture in the organization may have to be assessed and steps taken to ensure that it will support and not stifle efforts of implementing an empowering culture. The barriers in the organization should be addressed. The management should set limits on the responsibilities of the staff to avoid people getting into each other’s role (Entrepreneur, 2001). The staff should also be equipped with the relevant tools for empowerment such as resources and relevant trainings. After launching the procedures and policies towards building an empowering culture, the management should continuously monitor or audit the progress in the organization.
Cultural Diversity in an Organization
In an organization there will be people who are different in two areas. The first dimension of diversity refers to an individual’s race, ethnicity, age and sexual orientation. The secondary dimensions of diversity refer to educational background, income, religious beliefs and marital status. Management should be wise in handling cultural diversity in the workplace. It can be a source of competitive advantage with the organization having a wide pool of talent and innovativeness in dealing with the highly turbulent market place. If handled poorly, it can bring the organization down through conflicts that arise due to prejudice and discrimination practices. The management should take certain steps to ensure that the organizational culture in place supports cultural diversity. The policies and values of the organization should spell out the concept of inclusivity.
The staff should know that they are eligible for tasks within the organization based on their professional competence and not race, age or ethnicity. The core values of the organization should respect all the people in the organization. A multicultural organization should ensure that both the majority and minority cultures are represented in all job levels in all functional responsibilities. Training should be carried out on all staff on accepting diverse cultures so that group based biases are eliminated. Any form of stereotyping should be eliminated. The management should also address any hints of ethnocentrism. This is where one believes that his membership group is superior to all others. This usually occurs in the organizational subcultures such as occupational and functional subcultures.
The culture that will prevail in a company is the one that the senior management desires. The ball is therefore in their court to ensure that the organization has acceptable culture when it comes to ethical behavior, cultural diversity and empowerment.
Entrepreneur (2001) Empowerment: moving towards a culture of empowerment in an
organization. Retrieved from:
Federwisch, A. (2007). Toward an Ethical Culture: Characteristics of an Ethical
Organization. Retrieved from: http://www.scu.edu/ethics/practicing/focusareas/business/organization.html
Schermerhorn, J., Hunt, J., Osborne, R. & Currie, E. (2005). Environment,
Organizational Culture and Diversity. Retrieved from: http://media.wiley.com/product_data/excerpt/18/EHEP0017/EHEP001718.pdf