Free Essay: Challenges Faced by the USAID in Relation to Geographically Dispersed Multicultural Workforce

Published: 2022-04-05 04:12:43
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United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is a federal agency that is primarily responsible for giving civilian foreign aid and development assistance. According to Mark Green, USAID administrator, the agency provides development assistance to help countries in order to ensure their self-reliance.

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USAID spreads its operations all over the world. As such, the agency has developed human resource policies, structures, and services that support globalization. This agency is perfect for studying the challenges faced by organizations with culturally diverse workforce spread all over the world. Cultural diversity comes in the form of ethnic, age, racial and gender (Edewor and Aluko 2007, 1). With the differences that are there between different cultures, more so those across various locations, it is imperative that organizations strike a good balance between strong corporate culture and local cultural differences (Rioux, Bernthal, and Wellins 2000, 1). USAID has to integrate its human resource policies to ensure it meets its objectives, and at the same time be flexible enough to allow for differences in the types of HR policies that are more effective in the cultural environment they work in.

The human resource function faces many challenges during the globalization process, including creating a global mind-set within the HR group, creating practices that are consistently applied in different locations/offices while also maintaining the various local cultures and practices, and communicating a consistent corporate culture across the entire organization (Riox, Bernthal, and Wellins 2000, 14). The challenges experienced by USAID in its workforce revolve around HR planning, recruitment and selection/ retention, HR development, remunerations and industrial relations. These are critical facets of the Human Resource management and failure to manage them well will lead to fail of meeting organizational goals. As such, it is critically important the agency recognizes the value of differences, combat discrimination, and promote inclusivity (Green, et al, 2015, 1). If the agency embrace diversity and look for ways to become an inclusive organization, it will find it generally easier to achieve high productivity and competitive edge.

HR planning

Human Resource planning is a procedure that recognizes present and future human resource needs for an organization to accomplish its purposes. It links HR management to the strategic plan of the organization. HR planning helps the organization to keep up with social, economic, statutory, and technological trends that has an impact on human resource in the industry of charitable organizations (Shwind, Das, and Wagar, N/A).

HR planning plans for the future needs of the organization after analyzing its current human resources, external labour market, and the future human resource environment a country will be operating in. the process involves assessing the current HR capacity, forecasting HR requirements, doing a gap analysis, and developing strategies to support organizational strategies (Shwind, Das, and Wagar, N/A).

Due to geographical limitations and cultural diversity, HR planning gets challenging for USAID. Different roles are reserved for a certain gender in some cultures. For an organization striving for gender parity in its HR policies, this may bring conflict when they assign roles meant for one gender to a member of opposite gender.

Assessing the capacity of the current workforce also poses a logistical nightmare. With the organization's workforce spread throughout the world, identifying the skills, knowledge and the abilities of the human resource is difficult, more so in organizations employing centralized human resource structure. Forecasting HR requirements also becomes hard as labour markets keep on changing trends across the world; what works in Asia may not necessary be a success in Africa. Accurate forecast of HR requirements involves estimating demand and supply, a factor that is volatile and can change in a short span of time due to external factors such as economy slumps technological advancement, cultural shifts and political changes.

HR Recruitment, Selection, and Retention

Recruitment, selection, and retention involve the process of an organization attracting new talents, getting the best of them and eventually holding on to them for periods. The labour market is not only tight in the united states but also in many other parts of the world (Riox, Bernthal, and Wellins 2000, 4). The unavailability of qualified candidates and the great competition for these rare talents are the top hindrances to effective recruitment and selection. Finding skilled employees who can work across cultural boundaries is even a bigger challenge to organizations.

Retention can be defined as the employees upholding their professional relationship with an organization because of their feeling of effective commitment to it (Ramlall 2004, 264). This loyalty involves promoting the organization to other people, protecting and defending its wellbeing and remaining committed to its course even in bad conditions (Organ et al. 2006, 264). Retention helps a charitable organization like USAID achieve its goals. Skilled employees who are familiar with the HR culture of USAID, its routines and the people ensure the operations of the organization continue uninterrupted.

USAID face challenges in its attempts to hang onto the best of its human resource. Despite all the benefits of performance, satisfaction and retention of a diverse workforce, there are some challenges. Hiring a diverse workforce can pose challenges. Nishii (2013) points out that demographic diversity brings about high levels of conflict, turnover, and tension. Furthermore, Marina (2010) noted that for organizations simply "hiring a diverse work force is not enough; diversity tends to create conflicts and tension, if not properly managed" (p.236). Brenda (2010) further went on to say that, if organizations want to capitalize on the benefits of a diverse workforce, those conflicts and tension must be actively managed in a culturally sensitive manner.

Another challenge of a diverse workforce is institutional racism. According to Rivera and Ward (2010), institutional racism is defined as "practices that directly or indirectly restrict the professional access and mobility of individuals or groups on the basis of race" (p.237). Furthermore, Rivera and Ward (2010) pointed out that institutional racism often goes undetected because the practices are simply an expression of the status quo. In order to retain its top talents, it is of utmost importance that USAID deal with these divisions and guarantee there is a sense of equality in its ranks.

HR development

Human resource development is the use of training, organization, and career development efforts to improve the workforce and the effectiveness of an organization. It is important that agencies come up with creative ways of dealing with challenges arising because of culture diversity.

One of the main problems that the organizational has to deal with is enforce trust among people of different cultural backgrounds. It goes without saying that cultural differences breeds mistrust. As such, career development of an organization's employee could be hampered because they are of the "wrong" gender, age, race, or ethnic group. By developing culture diversity training, it will help in building trust, which will lead to effective decision-making and open doors to compromise (Gong 2008, 28). This kind of training is important when skills of dealing with difficult situations and communicating effectively in a multicultural workplace are required (Day 2007, 216).

HR development helps the employees to develop awareness on cultural diversity and encourage learning from each other. They understand how these differences arise and what forms they might take (Vo 2014, 36). Recognizing these differences creates teamwork in the organization and consequently help the organization achieve its goals.


As with every workplace with members with rich diversity, USAID finds it challenging in equalizing remuneration. Female and minority groups are at a disadvantage when it comes to salaries (Shen, et al. 2009, 246). Pay inequality is the main cause for job dissatisfaction and demotivation (Mcloughlin and Carr 1997, N/A). While the implementation of equal pay has significantly reduced the gap between men and women, gender income inequality remains a global problem (Blau and Kahn 1994).

Pay inequality is not limited to gender. Different races continue earning different amounts of money for relatively same amount of work. Lewis (1998) highlighted that white men in federal service earned more than women and minority groups (N/A). It is important for USAID to adopt an equalizing remuneration structure to ensure no ill feelings amongst its employees. As mentioned earlier, this will go a long way in ensuring the workers remain highly motivated and satisfied. This will help the agency maintain a good employee retention rate, very important in meeting its objectives.

Industrial relations

Lewis, Thornhill, and Saunders (2003) describe industrial relations as the relationship between employees and their employers (3). Industrial relations examine all various employment situations, not just labour relations (unionized employees). Industrial relations operate in the basis employers' have a bigger bargaining power than the employees do does since labour markets are not perfectly competitive.

In any company, if the relationship between the management and the employees is poor, the system is going to be dysfunctional. It is therefore imperative that USAID ensures that its relationship with its workers does not become strained. This it can ensure by adopting HR structures which ensures there is absolutely no discrimination of any kind, ensure gender parity when it is recruiting new staff and maintain a fair and justifiable salary structure for all its employees. Training all the workers on the benefits of coexistence will go a long way in fostering peace and unity in the USAID ranks.


In conclusion, for USAID to meet its organizational objectives, it will have to invest more in HR diversity policies implementation. The agency will have to go beyond fulfillment of minimal legal requirements. The agency will also need to invest more in adequate diversity programs in its overseas operation.

The secret to achieving all these lies in developing a framework of HR diversity management. Effective diversity management requires a culture of inclusion that emphasizes in organizational vision, mission, and strategy. This creates a sense of teamwork, all round participation and cohesiveness.


Shen, J., Chanda, A., D'Netto, B., And Monga, M., 2009. Managing diversity through human resource management: an international perspective and conceptual framework. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, Vol. 20, No. 2, 235-251

Kochan, T. 1989. Looking to the year 2000: challenges for industrial relations and human resource management. Massachusetts Institute Of Technology

Shaban, S., 2016. Managing and leading a diverse workforce: one of the main challenges in management. Procedia- Social And Behavioral Sciences, vol. 230, 76-84.

Huddart, J., 2005. Human resource development plan: Jordan human resources development project report No. 8. USAID.

Edewor, P.A., and Aluko, Y.A., 2007. Diversity Management, Challenges, and Opportunities in Multicultural Organizations. The International Journal Of Diversity In Organizations, Communities, And Nations.

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