As globalisation is speeding up, the debate about its effects on diversity is getting increasingly polarised. On the one side there are those who claim that the increased international integration is threatening local cultures and minority groups by substituting their culture with the Western values and lifestyle. And on the other side there are those who argue that globalisation is actually a good thing not only for cultural diversity but for promotion of human rights, democracy and universal freedoms which unfortunately, aren’t universal just yet. Only time will show which side is right as both have a few very good arguments.
Those who are concerned about the effect of globalisation on diversity almost exclusively focus on cultural diversity. The latter is claimed to be at risk because multinational corporations are not only selling their products/services. They are also ‘selling’ consumerism, a type of lifestyle that is based on the desire to accumulate ever larger amounts of goods and services which, of course, are produced by the very same corporations. And virtually all are headquartered in Western countries which means that their products and services were originally developed for Western consumers and lifestyle. Therefore, they need the international market to be as ‘Westernised’ as possible.
Besides by multinational corporations, local cultures and traditions are also jeopardised by Western values and ideals which are spread as ‘fundamental’ by some states, mainly through economic and military means.
There are quite a few competent individuals and highly acclaimed think tanks that don’t see globalisation as detrimental for cultural diversity. On the contrary, they argue that globalisation actually promotes cultural diversity through increased exchange of ideas, information and know-how, encouraging interaction between different cultures and increasing inter-cultural tolerance, respect and understanding.
Easier access to information and increased international cooperation also create new opportunities and facilitate social changes that lead to better health services, more gender equality and greater awareness about the basic human rights.
The last but not the least important, globalisation intensifies competition and makes diversity not only desirable but a necessity to stand out from the crowd. This has been recognised by both commercial, non-for-profit and government organisations, and as a result, diversity isn’t only promoted but has also become institutionalised in a growing number of countries.