Cultural diversity at the workplace

Introduction

Diversity is a very up to date topic, now that people migrate more and more. Immigration and integration are nowadays buzz words in a lot of (Western style) countries. But what about the workplace? Some companies understand that diversity in the workplace can have its advantages. Diversity is by people of all kindsdefinition a broad concept, which I will explain in the next paragraph. There are those who claim that when a company wants to reflect modern society, it preferably has a rich mix of employees at all levels of the organization. And yes, there are benefits of cultural diversity, especially in the workplace, although not all companies may benefit. This and more below.

The meaning  of diversity

Let us first get clear of what diversity is. Wikipedia explains diversity as follows: in sociology and political studies, diversity is the degree of differences in identifying the members of a purposefully defined group, such as any group all racesdifferences in racial or ethnic classifications, age, gender, religion, philosophy, physical abilities, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, gender identity, intelligence, mental health, physical health, genetic attributes, personality, behavior attractiveness. This, indeed is broad.

Cultural diversity is the quality of diverse or different cultures, as opposed to mono culture, the global mono culture, or a company culture. The phrase cultural diversity can also refer to having different cultures that respect each other’s differences. 

The problem of discrimination

Ethnic minorities, elder persons, women and LGBT people, among others, still face discrimination in job application procedures and in the workplace. Because of that discrimination, diversity is not yet a reality everywhere. How did that happen?

Because people have implicit prejudices: their world is based on classical discard peopleviews. For example, the ideal that the man works and the woman stays at home and takes care of is still alive, often unconsciously. That requires a change in mentality, and luckily that is happening. Women no longer have to fight to be able to continue working after their marriage. But people still face minor but also serious discrimination: vacancies only aimed at men or women, or women who do not see their contract extended after their pregnancy.

I have written a special article about discrimination against age in hiring people, which you can access here.

Diversity in practice

Fortunately, more and more companies are committed to diversity. Some companies got it right. One representative said: “We have, among others, employees from Rwanda, Turkey, Morocco, Syria, Bosnia and Macedonia, throughout all layers of the organization. Thanks to our internal diversity, we are able to connect with the target group in a natural and relaxed way. ” 

“Everyone has the right to equal treatment, equal opportunities, regardless of the background. For years we have focused on competencies in our recruitment, not on background, age, religion, diplomas, sexual orientation, being disabled … We create a healthy mix, because we want to see our market reflected in our stores.”  

Benefits of diversity

In addition to addressing the right target group, there are numerous reasons for betting on diversity. First of all, a company increases its possibilities diversity is goodbecause suddenly there is a choice from a wider range of talent. “We are opening the door for many more people. “And diversity also increases creativity. With different backgrounds you hear different ideas, that is an advantage for us. ” 

A diverse team also offers the opportunity to conquer foreign markets. Knowledge of languages ​​and multicultural insights come in handy in a globalized world. This way, wider and new target groups can be addressed. 

In addition, cultural diversity and varied viewpoints ensure that the workplace becomes a bustling place. In a collaborative and mutually reinforcing workplace, people develop respect for each other. And with respect for each other’s differences, employees find agreements more easily. This way fewer conflicts arise. “We want to create a better workplace,”  a CEO says, “where people feel good because they can be themselves. Their faith, their sexuality, it doesn’t matter. In fact, it enriches the internal society that our company is. ” 

Finally, a detailed diversity policy is good for the reputation of a company. That is also important for the atmosphere on the floor. A company that does well offers employees more opportunities. Employees remain loyal to the organization for longer, and so do customers. A company with a good reputation also attracts even more diversity and therefore more talent. In this way, more diversity guarantees an upward spiral. 

How do you achieve a rich mix?

So it looks to be a good idea, but how do you initiate such a change? A major challenge is to promote diversity across the board, not just for women. Also for example for men who choose a caring profession or who want to take parental leave. We need to convince people that diversity is a challenge for everyone, not just for people in a minority position. build bridges, not walls 

In addition, you can bet on more diverse application committees. “We know from sociology that people are inclined to choose someone who looks like them”. “A group of white men therefore chooses a white man. There are also stereotypes: research shows that both men and women consider men more competent. Attention to the composition of selection committees is therefore important, as is making committees aware of the risks of implicit discrimination and inequality. “

Companies and organizations perform better if they employ people with different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The central government wants to share ideas with employers, so that they hire staff from different cultures.

Why is cultural diversity important in the workplace?

Companies and organizations perform better if their staff have a mixed have different points of viewcultural and ethnic background. Research shows that. The condition is that managers can handle the mix of backgrounds well. Companies with cultural differences in the workplace:

often have a higher turnover;
have better chances of survival;
are more innovative, creative and solve problems better. This is because employees have different points of view;
make better use of the labor market because they recruit more talent;
have more satisfied and loyal employees;
do better in the market because they know better what is going on among various customer groups. This allows them to respond more quickly to developments in the market;
get a better image through cultural differences in the workplace.

How do employers get culturally diverse staff?

Employers can ensure a cultural mix among their staff in all sorts of ways. Namely by:

recruiting staff through networks of their own (culturally diverse) employees;
recruitment of staff via networks of (culturally diverse) employees from outside the organization. And / or via (specialized) recruitment and selection agencies;
training managers so that they recognize the qualities of culturally diverse staff and know how to use them well. This is also called including leadership;
training employees so that they have insight into the qualities of colleagues with a different background than themselves. This way they can improve their collaboration.

Final thoughts

Nowadays, cultural diversity takes an important place in society and in corporate life. Companies can benefit from diversity.diversity is the future
With a diverse team, a company can respond better to the challenges of a globalized modern world. The world is simply diverse, so companies have to be, you can’t ignore that.

I think that multi national companies will benefit most of diversity and companies situated in a multi cultural environment.

Having said this, I am thinking about some parts of the world and if it would work there too. To name a view places: China, Japan, S-Korea and the Middle-East countries. What do you think, could it it work there also?

12 Replies to “Cultural diversity at the workplace”

  1. Hey, I enjoy your post while reading your article. A diverse team also offers the opportunity to conquer foreign markets. Knowledge of languages ​​and multicultural insights come in handy in a globalized world. Nowadays, cultural diversity takes an important place in society and in corporate life. Companies can benefit from diversity. Keep this grate work up.

    1. With the world getting “smaller” all the time, multiculturalism will only grow in importance. It cannot be stopped (it should not) and it is precisely the way we are going to handle this issue, that will not only make it work, but will also improve quality of work and indeed life.

  2. Hi, my name is Gomer, a supervisor in one of the multinational companies operating here in the Philippines. We are classified as Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) companies and we are headquartered in Manila. Since the Philippines is composed of people from different ethnic backgrounds, I can relate well to this topic of cultural diversity in the workplace. I will share the article with my American bosses so they’ll be able to manage the company better and apply the principles taught here. Thank you so much and I am looking forward to learning more from you.

    1. Thanks for bringing this article to the attention of your American bosses. By having a presence in the Philippines, this company already shows some affinity with diverse cultural circumstances, although they might have primarily settled there for economic reasons. If your company is producing for the worldwide market, the contents of this article will surely help.

  3. It is always a pleasure to read your articles. I’m sure to learn a few things anytime I do. Cultural diversity is still very much alive if you ask me. Looking at the example you used describing the discrimination women still face during job applications. Like you pointed out, these are issues of the mind and would require a change in mentality. It is , however, soothing to know that this is gradually changing for the better.

    Great post 

    1. A change of mentality is definitely required, which by definition means that this can only be achieved in a certain amount of time. This should not dis-encourage people from following this path and fight for equal rights for every human being.

  4. Many thanks to you for the gift of such a beautiful article. In fact, there are many types of cultures all over the world and our cultures do not mix with one another. We observe many differences between boys and girls in our career. In our society, girls do not usually go to work after completing their studies, The girls of our country nurture their sons and daughters after marriage, but they cannot enter the work life because they have many social norms. Yet in our country of work we see boys being recruited more and girls are recruited less I think it is a superstition we have to get out of these superstitions. Also another discrimination is that discrimination between nations is not yet removed from our society. In some respects, we are very much observing the issue of race discrimination

    1. Thanks for being so straightforward about your country. Yes, in some countries men and women still have their own specific tasks, whether led by religion or history. You make a good point that observing what multicultural countries are doing can open the eyes.

  5. Hello Jerry. Thank you for taking your time to share this informative and company transforming post on cultural diversity at workplace. Indeed, the importance of cultural diversity in workplace should not be underestimated because it has great value, rich in ideas and can tap globally into any market. I really like the way you explained it all. I think we should incorporate this into our companies. Btw, it’s a matter of choice.

    Regards!

    1. Yes, it is always a matter of choice. There might still be companies dealing in their domestic market, where other cultures are scarce. Others who deal with multicultural markets will be enticed to do something about diversity in their own company.

  6. Hello there,thanks for this awesome article it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.i must say that you have done a very nice job on this article as it’s very interesting and informative too.right now an array of employees with different tribes(cultural diversity) in a company is the best way to grow as different people from entirely different place with different morals and mentality coming together to put ideas together….I swear that’s the best work force.

    1. I am glad you agree and hope this is from your own personal experience in your working life. The fact that you easily recognize what I am writing about here, tells me it is a topic you have encountered already. And it was dealt with adequately.

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