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HUMAN RESOURCES, DIVERSITY, AND CULTURAL COMPETENCE

During the past two decades, cultural diversity in workplaces and organizations has become an international challenge. Much like the personality of a person that is shaped and molded by parents, relatives, and friends, the personality of an organization is molded and shaped by the founders, board members, and the experiences of each and every employee. Organizations and agencies often establish a socialization process, a pecking order in which there are those who are included and others who are excluded from the organizational social norm (Glass ceilings).

The most significant problem is not the lack of diversity in agencies and organizations but rather effective management of the diversity already there. Consequently, diversity is seldom acknowledged and understood as an asset for the organization. Organization managers—intentionally or not—tend to see or present a picture of inclusion and cultural competency at their organization as being much better than the reality. This is not surprising as we all have some blind spot that we are often unaware of but others see. Religious background, sexual orientation, gender, age, place of birth, and things as minute as individual talents and special abilities contribute to the employee's organizational microcosm, which emulates the real world. In other words, the organizational environment is a smaller version of what we all experience globally. Just as in the real world agencies and organizations are susceptible to hiring and retaining bigots, racists, and those with hubristic and elitist personal beliefs and attitudes. Therefore, nonprofit organizations have responsibilities to ensure that racism, discrimination, prejudice, and other forms of bigotry are not part of hiring and personnel management practices and the work experience of employees. This will contribute to employee dissatisfaction, high turnover, reduced morale, lack of commitment, and decrease in productivity. Organizations should develop a plan that is designed to assist in implementing a system that encourages diversity in hiring practices and prepares staff to become culturally sensitive. In other words, nonprofit organizations should strive to set the stage for understanding diversity, for the purpose of improving relationships, increasing employee morale and productivity, facilitating employee buy-in/ loyalty, and influencing the consciousness of organizational goals and effectiveness. The ultimate goal is to create an environment that will institutionalize cultural competence by new knowledge and changes in policy and procedures.

ORGANIZATIONAL AMBIDEXTERITY

The term "organizational ambidexterity" was first introduced by Duncan (1976) when asserting that an "organization has to be strategically responsive in making major changes while at the same time it must be concerned with carrying out its activities in the most efficient manner" (p. 172). In other words, organizations should make changes in a way that does not cost too much. March (1991) defined organizational ambidexterity as the ability of an organization to explore and exploit simultaneously. Exploration means that an agency or company transforms itself as a learning organization (He & Wong, 2004) that is continually exploring new knowledge, ideas, and strategic initiatives for transformation (Han, 2007). Exploitation implies that an organization should seize the opportunity to make routine changes (Beck, Briiderl, & Woywode, 2008), and experiment with new processes, products, and services (Im & Rai, 2008). Several studies have found that organizational ambidexterity as a measure of exploration and exploitation contributes to organizational performance (Bierly & Daly, 2007; Cao, Gedajlovic, & Zhang, 2009; Sarkees, 2007). This principle also applies to human resources management and development, because team commitment plays a key role in organizational ambidexterity (Bolman & Deal, 2008). As Rothaermel and Alexandre (2009) suggested, organizational ambidexterity is "not simply achieved through organizational structure, but requires a shared vision, a common set of values, and a reward system that enables managers to resolve the paradox of ambidexterity and harness its benefits" (p. 776). Organizational ambidexterity is considered by some scholars as a strategy for organizational survival or sustainability (Andriopoulos & Lewis, 2009; Markman, Gianiodis, & Phan, 2009).

HUMAN RESOURCES AND FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY

Findings from recent studies show that staff turnover is a major problem that affects organization effectiveness (Mayer & Botha, 2004). We have seen also that monetary compensation is not the dominant factor that hinders employee retention in organizations. Likewise, there is no single strategy for staff retention. There needs to be a global, systemic strategy to retain staff in organizations and avoid the high costs of employee turnover. Staff retention starts during the hiring process, through the integration of employees in organizations. Other factors such as a strength-based approach that seeks employee commitment and participation have been shown to contribute to productivity and organization effectiveness and sustainability.

Human resources management plays an important role in fostering organizational sustainability because of the role of human capital in organizational performance (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2008). Human resources management has various implications for financial sustainability, such as organizational ambidexterity, cost of hiring, cost of job stress, cost of high staff turnover, return on investment of staff development, saving through staff retention, higher productivity through job satisfaction and employee motivation, return on investment of cultural competency, and in-kind contribution of volunteer personnel.

For example, turnover costs are significant to organizations, including nonprofit organizations. Egan et al. (2004) argued that organizations with lower turnover rates benefit in increases in organizational performance, reduction in costs associated with organizational and job-specific knowledge, hiring, and retraining of replacement employees. This is in contrast to the potential of high turnover rates that cost organizations in the areas of severance pay, higher unemployment taxes, training costs for replacement employees, paying overtime to other staff or temporary staffing, lost productivity, reduced morale, and loss of organizational knowledge. The ability of an organization to reduce turnover results in cost savings. Turnover reduction will make money available that can be used for other activities, including activities to strengthen the financial sustainability of an organization.

Further, the financial sustainability of an organization is not a linear initiative. Financial sustainability requires an organizational environment that is committed to the higher purpose of an entity. If staff is not motivated, there will be no commitment to take actions and follow up on tasks that would engage a nonprofit organization on a path toward financial sustainability. Although the connection may not seem obvious for some, an organization cannot become financially sustainable without the belief, commitment, and the hard work of its staff.

 
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