Cultural diversity in the workplace has become a very common term in today’s globalized world. It benefits your business in different ways. Simultaneously, raising multiple challenges.
So, what exactly is cultural diversity? How can it benefit your business? And what are the challenges you need to handle?
Let’s dive right in to find the answers.
What is Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?
Cultural diversity appears when a company hires employees of different regions, ethnicities, races cultures, or religions.
Different mindsets, thoughts, and experiences are parts of cultural diversity. Issues can be viewed from different perspectives, and people may come up with solutions that may surprise you.
Therefore, cultural diversity is extremely helpful when dealing with the problems and fluctuation of any industry.
Common Types of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Employees may come from different regions and have different races. It’s important to welcome and provide equal opportunities to every one of them.
The diversity in age is a matter of keeping the balance between youth and experience.
Although the senior staff are experienced, they may find it hard to keep up with new trends and suggest innovative ideas.
On the other hand, young employees may be faster in learning new things, adopting new working methods, and suggesting fresh ideas. But they can lack the experience and calmness to deal with complicated situations.
No matter what industry your company is in, having employees from different educational backgrounds is a huge asset because they can contribute different viewpoints and solutions when discussing issues.
Having employees from different countries can be a great way to expand your business to an international scale. However, language barrier may cause communication problems among your employees.
Staff coming from different religions may need some particular days off. They may also dress and eat differently.
Gender and sexual orientation
Females and males look at things differently. The LGBT community involves many individuals with unique opinions. That’s why companies with gender/sexual orientation equality and diversity often collect tons of ideas.
You need to enable every employee to develop and show their potential at work while paying careful attention to prevent discrimination.
Workers with disabilities
Many workers with disabilities have remarkable capacities and can contribute greatly to their companies. Facilitating the disabled not only benefits your business, but also helps those people pursue their dreams.
Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
1. Promotes creativity
A diverse workforce will promote creativity because employees from various countries, regions, and religions have different perspectives. And these views combined can create brilliant new ideas.
According to an article from Forbes: “Research on creativity and innovation shows that different individuals, who are exposed to experiences from various attitudes, can create distinctive values. The combination of unique perspectives will lead to the formation of new ideas.”
2. Improves business performance
According to studies, cultural diversity in the workplace contributes significantly to company success.
A report conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2015 with 366 companies found that racial and ethnic diversity helps businesses generate financial profits 35% higher than the average profit in the market.
Similarly, companies with gender diversity also get 15% higher financial profits than the average standard.
3. Improves company reputation
Companies that promote cultural diversity in the workplace often have a dynamic environment and conditions for staff members to improve themselves.
A flexible and positive place that welcomes differences and diversity will certainly have a higher reputation in candidates’ and customers’ eyes.
4. Minimizes staff turnover rate
Businesses embracing a diverse workplace culture are less likely to encounter staff turnover as employees feel respected and recognized as unique individuals. Feeling respected and treasured, employees are more likely to dedicate longer to their company.
5. Improves leadership skills
Workplaces with dissimilar cultures also make a significant impact on leadership skills. It will be the driving force to help managers/supervisors better the workflow and learn to deal with people from different cultures.
6. Increases employees’ respect for others
Cultural diversity helps team members respect and appreciate their colleagues’ distinction. Employees are encouraged to notice the cultural differences and be more careful in their behaviors.
7. Attracts a high-quality workforce
Besides salary and company reputation, cultural diversity in the workplace is also a component that job-seekers care about. Making potential candidates realize that you respect cultural diversity will highly make them choose to work for your company.
Challenges of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Besides the visible benefits mentioned above, cultural diversity also brings certain challenges. They might affect or even damage your business in the long run if you don’t handle them properly. Some of these include:
Cultural diversity can rise to discrimination and prejudice in the workplace. Conflicts may appear in different ways, including disagreements, opposing opinions, or even dramatic arguments, etc.
Conflicts can escalate if you don’t have proper and flexible solutions to deal with your employees.
Sexual harassment at work is not a rare phenomenon. Some employees might not be comfortable with overly intimate actions. Others can be too touchy. Some are real perverts.
You should establish clear policies to prevent and eliminate inappropriate behaviors. State clearly what behaviors are considered sexual harassment, and the disciplinary actions for these situations.
Some people can express hate and discrimination towards people who are different from them. This not only hurts other employees, but also damages your company’s reputation. To avoid this problem, you need strict rules, policies, and penalties regarding discrimination.
How to Handle Challenges of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
To prevent and handle the challenges arising with cultural diversity, you can apply the following solutions.
Create written policies
You should create rules and policies regarding cultural diversity, and put them in your company employee handbook. Inform your employees about the policies. Hand them the handbook and make sure they read it.
The policies should include anti-cultural conflict rules, behaviors that are against cultural diversity, and how they are specifically dealt with. State the steps you’re going to take if there are discrimination or hate cases arising.
Staff sensitivity training
Managers should train all employees on sensitivity levels by helping them distinguish offensive words, behaviors, and actions that hurt others.
Strictly handle unexpected cases
Every company needs to be strict and consistent in dealing with any anti-cultural and discrimination cases. Managers should avoid concession because this can set a bad example for other staff. Stick to the policies and rules you’ve established for your company.
No matter what market you are in, cultural diversity brings many benefits and challenges to your business. Don’t forget to apply the tips we’ve given above to support your staff and strengthen your company.