Workplaces are becoming more globalized, which means that employers may need to be more conscious of cross-cultural issues. Due to the increasingly diverse nature of the workforce, it would be more successful for teams to provide standards that are representative of local practices rather than enforcing a set of organizational standards across multinational organizations. By employing people from diverse cultural backgrounds, companies can gain the benefit of having different perspectives and new insights. However, it needs to be ensured that the organization is mindful of each employee’s culture and background and does not exhibit any sort of discrimination by focusing only on the majority group through their policies and standards. In this article, we discuss some of the ways in which organizations can effectively manage cultural diversity in the workplace.
Awareness and communication
This is perhaps one of the most important aspects to consider in a workplace with people from various countries and backgrounds. Employees need to be made aware of their coworkers’ differences, so that these differences can be appreciated and celebrated. Celebrating cultural differences and making employees aware of their colleagues’ backgrounds, behaviours, and way of life is a good way to start creating a safe work climate. This can not only foster teamwork and positivity in the workplace, but by creating an accepting and open-minded environment, can boost productivity and well-being of all workers. In order to create this awareness, organizations can celebrate festivals of different cultures, ask employees to share something about their traditions, etc.
Different cultures differ in whether they are individualistic or holistic. Individualistic societies, such as the United States, allow people to mostly work alone, without an emphasis on teamwork. Cooperation within or among teams is valued in other cultures. When teams are made up of individuals from a variety of cultural backgrounds, team-building problems can become more troublesome. Successful cross-cultural teambuilding is important for reaping the benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace. This can be done through diversity training, which focuses on positive intergroup interaction and can enhance relationships between employees of different cultures.
It is important for organizations to keep in mind the different festivals and events celebrated by different cultures. This may seem like a small step, but allowing employees to take leave during important dates in their traditional calendars can go a long way in making them feel accepted. Moreover, it is discriminatory to allow employees to take leave during holidays that are celebrated worldwide, as it focuses on the majority group and does not take into account local traditions. In this case, it becomes important for companies to not adhere to a standard, global policy for all employees, but leave room for flexibility.
Other than adhering to these broader aspects, companies should also take smaller steps to effectively deal with cultural diversity in the workspace. This can include holding workshops about microaggressions and sensitivity training, having a zero-tolerance policy against any sort of discrimination, and in general creating a space that is accepting and safe for all.
About the author
Payal is an undergraduate student, pursuing a major in Psychology. While her aspiration lies in clinical psychology, she is keen on learning about all fields in the domain of mental health. She thrives on books, music, and travelling, and dreams of making it big someday.