Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Cultural Diversity Today
In as much as it can create a great competitive advantage, cultural diversity has been one of
the major challenges facing many big companies. A 2017 survey by Data Face shows that
about 50% of the 100 fortune 500 companies involved in the study have a workforce with
over 38.7% ethnic minorities drawn from different countries worldwide.
Dealing with employees and customers from different races, ethnicities, sexual
orientations, gender, nationalities could be a hot-button affair for a company that hasn’t
given diversity management the attention it deserves. Every culture has unique ways of
dealing with different matters such as teamwork, decision making, leadership and risk
management. If a company’s leadership doesn’t come up with ways to accommodate
diverse views from its diverse stakeholders, then issues like conflict and inefficiencies are likely to occur. Therefore, cultural diversity management is an important matter that
requires a well-informed approach and much commitment.
Steps To Take
Understanding Cultural Diversity in the workplace
By default, people think that if they apply the golden rule of “doing unto others as you’d
expect others to do unto you”, they’ll certainly make others happy and avoid conflicts.
However, “good” and “bad” is relative, depending on your personality and cultural
background. For instance, pork is a delicacy for many people, but someone who is Muslim
will not eat it. As such, the assumption that the golden rule would bring harmony and
prevent conflict at workplace doesn’t hold water.
People who lead big companies are usually very busy and it’s highly likely for them to be so
preoccupied with meeting targets and self-development that they are left with no time to
devise proper approaches for handling cultural diversity within their jurisdiction.
Being Culturally Sensitive
To work effectively with their subordinates and amongst themselves, company leaders
ought to embrace intercultural sensitivity in their work. Intercultural sensitivity involves
having a deep understanding and accepting other people’s cultures and how one’s own
perceptions can affect other people.
Through diversity education, leaders are able to recognize different prejudices and
stereotypes that can influence the learning, working and personal development of every
person they interact with within their job scopes.
Cultural sensitivity is not only important for leaders but also for all employees to enable
smooth and highly productive teamwork and minimize employee-customer conflicts.
Being Culturally Competent
Cultural competence is a measure of the ability of a person, to function effectively across
different cultures as well as think and act aptly, communicate effectively, and work
smoothly with people from different cultural backgrounds. Many recruiting panels
overlook this important aspect while hiring employees, when being culturally competent
has very significant influence on the productivity of an individual/team and the success of
an organization at large.
Developing Cultural Competence
Here are some tips that leadership can adopt to develop cultural competence:
Introduction of employee cross-cultural team building
Involving a cultural diversity expert in recruitment/hiring process
Encouraging employees to report cases of cultural insensitivity cases in their
Facilitating regular training and workshops to create cultural awareness for
particular potential differences.
Regular evaluation of existing cultural inclusion strategies and making necessary
Intercultural skills are a great resource for any company with global teams. However,
without cultural sensitivity and a culturally competent workforce, dealing with cultural
diversity will be a daunting experience for company leaders. A cultural expert comes in
handy for effective cultural diversity management.
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