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The Importance of Creating Cultural Diversity

 

In recent years, tremendous attention has been directed towards the importance of creating cultural diversity within organizations. Although growth in gender differences and racial identity of most cultures has taken place in societies, there is still a struggle related to the implementation of cultural diversity which has delayed progress in a workplace setting.  When it comes to the workplace and interacting with people from different cultures, this struggle can be overcome through leaders with strong cross-cultural leadership skills.

 

An inclusive leader can succeed through cultural awareness and meaningful cross- cultural communication. This leader should have business acumen, possess a diverse perspective, be receptive, and provide useful, candid feedback to employees. The strength of any team and organization depends on a leader’s ability to communicate effectively and respond appropriately to all employees.

 

The practice that continues to allow our society to progress is diversity. Cultural diversity is the inclusion of assorted people in a group or organization and has become more widespread in workplaces across the globe.According to researchers, cultural diversity has accumulated numerous components for classifying it within organizations which can be interpreted as different outcomes for people and work groups.
In an effort, to successfully create cultural diversity within an organization, an emphasis of collectivism in the work environment is more beneficial than a focus towards individualism. The teamwork creates better relationships and can also promote identity within the organization.

 

Problems to Watch Out for

 

Groups often have difficulty solving problems. Therefore, organizations must understand the differences of each member of the group and work to manage those so that the problems groups are working on can be solved more easily.

Many people do not speak up or share information because they might be unsure of how that information will be received. It is important that all members are encouraged and acknowledged so that they are motivated to share their creative ideas with the group.

 

Finally, communication can establish a problem to a diverse organization. Differences in cultural dialogue may create misunderstandings and ultimately lessen workgroup effectiveness. As a result, tools to create cultural diversity can be implemented to try to overcome these difficulties.

 

Tools to Create Culture Diversity

 

Within a culturally diverse work environment, one must be even more aware of various types of communication. For example, a certain gesture does not always mean yes or no and a look-in-the-eye does not always mean there is understanding. Below are a few tips to improve cross-cultural leadership in a cultural diverse workplace:

 

  1. Empower employees  

    All employees, regardless of ethnicity, nationality, or gender should be at liberty to contribute in organizational decision-making processing. Involving all employees regardless of cultural differences empowers their stance within an organization. Accordingly, empowerment within a diverse organization creates success. Empowering diverse employees and making them feel their contribution is significant and useful, will improve the diversity climate and overall organizational goals. As a recommendation, use confirmation, the process of recognizing and acknowledging the presence and value of others.

 

Confirmation in a workplace setting can improve relationships through higher self-esteem, improved work productivity and minimized negative impact of cultural diversity within an organization. Confirming responses uses recognition, acknowledgement, and endorsement to link interpersonal communication.

 

  1. Create cultural diversity programming & procedures

    Creating diversity in the workplace can be challenging when the differences among people tend to affect work performance, productivity, satisfaction, or advancement. Cultural diversity requires purposeful processes and techniques that allow individual differences to be an asset instead of an organization’s liability (Stockdale & Crosby, 2004).

 

Therefore, imposing a system of planned programs and procedures that are intended for improvement of interaction among diverse people and making diversity creative will cause for greater organizational effectiveness.

Many organizations have adopted diversity training programs to manage cultural diversity. For example, diversity training programs are used to make people more aware of relevant diversity issues in organizations.

Diversity training programs train employees in understanding diverse group members and shaping people’s behavior. Moreover, these programs enlighten employees on positive aspects of various group members and highlight the main barriers such as prejudice and stereotyping which can create a hostile working climate and restrictive attitudes.

 

  1. Develop mentorship initiatives

    Culturally diverse mentoring programs can provide support, experience, and recognition to help shape the future of organizations. A lack of mentors and role models is a barrier for many in leadership roles. For example, nontraditional leaders may especially need the guidance, encouragement, and advocacy that more seasoned leaders can provide to overcome such hurdles as isolation, lack of credibility, and innocence about institutional politics. Mentoring networking opportunities used by traditional and nontraditional leaders presents forms of support to nontraditional groups.

 

Mentoring networking groups can support and encourage nontraditional leaders and serve as counselors, cheerleaders, sounding boards, content experts and resources in all capacities.  Furthermore, networking groups are useful for discovering problems related to cultural diversity within the organization, receiving feedback on how to correct those problems, and implementing that feedback.
Many global organizations are beginning to provide cross-cultural training to employees. It is essential for an effective globally-minded leader to be preemptive in setting common expectations for more applicable cross-cultural diversity within the workplace.

 

Reference

 

Stockdale, M. & Crosby, F.J. (2004). The Psychology and Management of Workplace Diversity. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.

 

About the Author: Valamere S. Mikler is the founder and principal consultant of V.S.M. Professional Services, a consulting firm providing organizational efficiency and administrative office management services. She can be reached at vmikler@hotmail.com.

 

Additional information: The Institute of Organization Development offers Certification Programs. To learn more about our Certification Programs or to register for them please click on the relevant links below: