Cultural Diversity: A Source of Competitive Advantage

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Cultural diversity as a source of competitive advantage Few companies today can deny the need to foster a culturally diverse workforce. From a purely legal standpoint, diversity and nondiscrimination policies are mandated in most of the legal systems of the major industrialized powers. Publicity about discriminatory behavior can also be extremely damaging for an organization, costing the company both in legal fees and lost sales. However, simply viewing diversity as 'the right thing to do' or the 'legally correct thing to do' may not be enough. Companies must give serious consideration as to how diverse hiring practices can also generate a competitive advantage. Diversity can expand the range of available ideas on which the company can capitalize; facilitate the retention of a wider range of top talent; open up new marketing opportunities; and better prepare the company to meet the needs of a diverse global marketplace (Espinoza 2007:43). On a very basic level, "people like to buy from people that look like them, have similar backgrounds, speak the same language and have similar interests" (Espinoza 2007:43). For many decades, companies asked themselves 'what do women want' and 'what does this specific demographic group want?' Having professionals on staff that represent these groups can eliminate the chances that companies will make serious blunders regarding the marketing of their product. For example, the manufacturer of Motrin, a popular analgesic, drew fire when it

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