Does your workplace look like a holiday fair, with people from different backgrounds, religions, skin color and even different languages and or dialects are spoken? Then you certainly work in a place where cultural diversity is a way off being.
Diversity in the workplace has never been such a hot issue as in the last decennial. People are not only bringing their talents and skills to work but also their lifestyle, religion, norms and values, gender, cultural background, race and ethnicity.
Managing diversity is a challenge managers and employees are constantly faced with. People are not the same. Even though they want to be treated equally, it does not mean they want to be treated the same. This is not only within the company but also includes customers, providers and the general public.
Nowadays the current business environment is one of change in demographics, increase in globalization of businesses and a radical change in production, work, organization and competition. If enterprises wish to thrive in this global economy they need to better understand cultural diversity and how to manage it effectively.
Multi-cultural organizations that leverage on its diversity have a cost effective competitive edge: there is an increase in creativity, helps the organization to be more flexible to changes and it attracts a diversity of new customers. The one who understands the global market is the winner!
Why is it so important to be aware of cultural differences?
- Culture is more often a source of conflict than of harmony
- Cultural differences can be a nuisance
- Since communication differs among cultures it often becomes an issue among people
- When managed positively cultural differences bring innovation and creativity
- Lack of understanding of other cultures can be source of intolerance and misunderstanding
- Diversity brings flexibility, ideas and different ways of doing things
Understanding how important family relationships are in work, social life and networking will help you understand why in Latin America friends and family are also found in the workplace.
As employee you can take the next steps to support diversity development in your organization:
- Be interested in getting to know your colleagues
- Share things about your culture, without imposing
- Be open to share your experiences of things that happen in the office
- Improve your communication towards other people
As Employer spend some energy in:
- Ask staff to share their customs and beliefs
- Organize meetings to share happenings at the office and discuss how it’s being experienced by the staff
- Give communication and diversity awareness training through the year
- Include all your staff in decisions that will affect them like working hours and days, clothing, and company’s norms and values
The important step is to start an open discussion on diversity, norms and values. Just by sharing, people will become aware how things affect other people.