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 definition 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 differences 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 views. 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.
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 because 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.
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 cultural 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.
Nowadays, cultural diversity takes an important place in society and in corporate life. Companies can benefit from diversity.
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?