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Why Cultural Diversity is Important in the Workplace

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.. Three of the most popular words in corporate culture, in higher education and any modern organization to describe policies and programs that promote the representation and participation of different groups of individuals. But unless applied, these remain words and nothing more.

In fact, different perspectives make innovative teams, whether your team is made up of individuals with diverse expertise or social diversity. To continue attracting and retaining the right talent, you cannot be aiming to fill a quota; you must know what attributes your business requires and consider all team members' skills and perspectives.

All team members must feel comfortable using their voice, and this starts with feeling dignity and respect, for members to feel encouraged.

Representation is Important

The innovative organizations we seek to create for the future are only possible when ALL of our differences are taken into consideration – and when the minds we aspire to hire can see themselves in the shoes of someone who is already there. We all know role models can change your entire life; so imagine if nobody at the top looked like you?

Increases creativity

Cultural diversity in the workplace can increase creativity among your team, by providing a more diverse set of solutions to specific problems. With every person bringing in their personal way of thinking, and making decisions.

Improve productivity levels

Diversity is “the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds..” and this brings in people of different talents together, to use their skills to work towards a common goal. 

The Journal of Economic Diversity, printed The economic value of cultural diversity: evidence from US cities concluding  that “these findings are consistent with a dominant positive effect of diversity on productivity: a more multicultural urban environment makes US-born citizens more productive.” Think about it, what have you learned from the different types of co-workers you’ve had the privilege of working with? By learning from each other’s experiences and applying the new-found knowledge to your work, you will be able to bring fresh ideas to any project by thinking out of your comfort zone.

Increase profits

Studies have shown that increased cultural diversity in the workplace can lead to greater profits. In a 2015 report from McKinsey & Company, they reported companies with more culturally and ethnically diverse leadership were 33% more likely to increase profits. At the board of directors level, companies were 43% more likely to see higher profits with a more ethnically and culturally diverse team. 

To be successful in today’s economy, the goal is to take any business global. To do this, there is a huge benefit in hiring people who speak different languages, leading to a more diverse team. Not only will this help when negotiating with the different off-shore parts of your supply chain, but it will affect customer service. Employees who appreciate and value diversity are respectful and empathetic so they can better serve diverse clients. This can be proven by actively listening to customers and allowing them to share their concerns, thus allowing teams to personalize products based on an understanding of the cultural needs; creating a more adaptable range of products and services. 

 To attract and retain talent

Ever applied to a job because you wanted to be like a member of their leadership? 

According to Glassdoor, 2 out of 3 job candidates consider diversity when deciding where to work. Being known for diversity can lead to more candidates applying for a job with a company, widening the pool of applicants and increasing the company’s choices.

When companies recruit from a diverse set of potential employees, they are more likely to hire the best of the best for the industry.

Cultural diversity reduces racism

Some people, whether they’re raised in a small town or away from others, have never been exposed to a diverse room of people. A diverse workplace allows these employees to spend more time with people from cultural backgrounds that they are often not exposed to.

This results in employees learning about other cultures they would have never been exposed to normally, and this reduces the negative emotions and stereotypes against people they don’t really know.

It’s up to employers to create a culturally diverse workplace. Employees too have a role to play, but if a company isn’t hiring different types of people there isn’t much employees can do right away. 

As a leader, you have the unique opportunity to create diverse teams and to give your organization the competitive advantage in our increasingly global world. The decisions you make in hiring, and utilizing your employees’ skill sets and knowledge not only go a long way in promoting dignity and respect, they put you in a position of promoting truly successful business.

Diversity training is important for employees to know how to navigate intercultural encounters. This will teach people to appreciate differences among colleagues, build their awareness and create a positive work environment. In order to encourage diversity in the workplace, organizations should institute policies around it.

In an increasingly competitive economy, putting together the most diverse set of candidates is increasingly necessary to succeed in the market.