Workforce Diversity affects the Leadership and Negotiation in an Organization

It is no surprise that the environment in which businesses operate is in a state of flux. There are many new phenomenon that affect how businesses operate. Leaders have to change the way they lead and negotiators have to change the way they negotiate. All these changes can only be made if the problem is understood properly. This paper will talk about one major change in the working environment which has called for both the negotiation and leadership style to change. This change in the environment is the moving from a similar workforce to a diverse workforce.

Before we can understand how this change affects the businesses, it is very important to know what this is. Diverse workforce is a phenomenon in which companies hire people from all genders, age, ethnic backgrounds, race, income level, religion etc. All these people are supposed to work together. The concept of workforce diversity is gaining popularity because businesses are realizing how this can benefit their business (McInnes, R. , 2000). When an organisation has a diverse workforce, they are in a better position to innovate.

Different ideas are generated by people from different backgrounds, hence the organisation thinks out of the box (Friedman, H. and Amoo, T. , n. d). The people move away from their restricted mental models and hence the company innovates in terms of its operations. A diverse workforce can also help different markets. For example, if an American company has a Spanish marketing manager, this manager will be able to understand the market in Spain which this company caters to. However, despite all these advantages, this change in the workforce affects how leaders and negotiators are supposed to carry out their work.

These challenges have to be taken care of in order to be successful in the industry. First we will look into how a diverse workforce poses a challenge for the leaders. Leaders need to have the insight and skills that is needed for the organization to be successful in the future (Schein, E. , 1992). The leader is supposed to use power and persuasion to influence people to achieve the company’s goals and provide them with a working environment which will help them achieve these goals (Clark, D. R. , 2008). Both these aspects of a leader’s duties require a clear understanding of the people he will be interacting with.

When this leader has a diverse workforce, the leader will have to understand the difference between the people and respect them. For instance, the eastern culture is very high in power distance. This means that people in eastern cultures do not mind differences in power as a result of level of hierarchy. On the other hand, the people from the western cultures score very low when it comes to power distance. This means that the degree to which these people differences in power as a result of level of hierarchy is low.

When these two types of cultures are present in one workforce, the leader will have to behave differently with both of them. He will have to keep in mind that both the cultures expect a different style of display of power by him. Another aspect which the concept of workforce diversity affects is negotiation. Sawyer and Guetzkow defined negotiation in 1965 as “a process through which two or more parties-be they individuals, groups, or larger social units-interact in developing potential agreements to provide guidance and regulation to their future behavior (Green, J. and Burleson, B. , 2003).

Through negotiation, both the parties try to maximize the benefits for themselves and minimizing the differences between their demands. According to this definition of negotiation, it takes place between two or more parties. It has four major elements. These are people, interests, options and criteria (Fisher, R and Ury, W, 1992). All of these elements differ for different people and both the parties must understand these (). They must understand what the other party values and how they expect the other party to behave with them. For instance, in some cultures, the workers might value non monetary rewards.

While negotiating with the people from this culture, the management must ensure to offer them non monetary rewards like recognition for their achievements rather than cash rewards because then only these people will be motivated to negotiate further. In contrast to this, some workers from different cultures value monetary rewards more therefore in negotiations, they will only accept an offer if it has cash rewards involved. Therefore the management must know that when dealing with workforce from different cultures, their demands will differ. They must understand what each culture values before going in negotiation with them.

This way, they can alter their offers with negotiation with everyone. Another aspect of how workforce diversity affects negotiation is during the negotiation phase. Each culture has its own verbal and non verbal behavior and these differ from each other to a great extent. For example a gesture such as a ‘thumbs up’ sign may be normal in the United States; however, the same gesture may offend people from Australia. Therefore during negotiation, the management must take into consideration how people from different cultures interact and must incorporate the findings into how they interact with their workforce.

The concept of workforce diversity has increased the differences between the workforces which was once the same. The leaders and management now have to take into consideration before they deal these people. They must recognize and respect the differences that are present. This poses a challenge for the leaders and the negotiators as they have to be more careful and there is a higher chance that the people from the diverse workforce will not be satisfied with the leaders and negotiators they are dealing with.

The first step of coping with this challenge is understanding the problem and opportunities that workforce diversity brings with it. Since the concept is gaining popularity very quickly, managers and leaders must be prepared in advance to deal with this challenge so that they can make use of the opportunities and avoid the challenges that workforce diversity brings with it.


Clark, D. R. , (2008) Concepts of Leadership. Retrieved on May 18, 2009 from http://www. nwlink. com/~donclark/leader/leadcon. html Fisher, R and Ury, W, (1992) Getting to Yes 2nd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Friedman, H. and Amoo, T. , (n. d) Workplace Diversity: The key to survival and growth. Retrieved May 18, 2009 from http://www. westga. edu/~bquest/2002/diversity. htm Green, J. and Burleson, B. , (2003) Handbook of Communication and Social Interaction Skills. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Isasken, S and Tidd, J (2006) Meeting the Innovation Challenge: Leadership for Transformation and Growth. John Wiley. McInnes, R. , (2000) Workforce Diversity. Retrieved on May 18, 2009 from http://www. diversityworld. com/Diversity/workforce_diversity. htm Schein, E (1992) Organizational culture and leadership. John Wiley.

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