7 tips for managing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
With rapid globalization, and immigration, both inter and intrastate, transfusions of cultures was a natural outcome. The economy is a primary affectee of this emerging trend, and companies are an integral part of it. Therefore cultural diversity has become a serious challenge for many employers. Not only in the developed world but also in a developing one.
A community of global workforce
There are numerous companies in western countries that are filled with employees from across the globe. They are from every ethnic, racial and religious affiliation that exists in the world, ready to blend in a melting pot of developed economies. Besides many of these firms have transnational and regional offices.
A Newyork based setup might have an operational branch in Dubai. So maintaining tolerance and assimilating opportunities for various cultures sits at the crux of its future success.
The developing world is no exception!
Maintaining and managing cultural diversity is not only limited to progressive countries alone. Many developing countries from the third world face the same issue, but why? Because there is an ever-growing internal migration going-on within these states. Poverty-stricken masses moving from rural and neglected areas towards large, urban centers have become a norm.
In every country, there is a variety of languages and culturally diverse communities. When they arrive to be a part of the workforce in larger cities, managing cultural diversity becomes a challenge.
How cultural diversity can impact the workplace?
In order to build a solid team network, all of its members need to understand each other. But social behaviors are always constructed by one’s culture. So at times, it becomes difficult to understand a variety of attitudes.
Modern companies often strive for and promote greater diversity among their employees. They are likely to hire workers of different races, castes, creeds, genders, and ages to bring more diversified experience in their job roles.
Having said that, we all know cultural sensitivity is crucial for businesses to succeed. And in order to do that, it is important to realize, recognize and acknowledge the difference other cultures hold.
1. Re-define work schedules!
People of different cultural, ethnic or religious origins often have a varied range of festivals, sacred days or holidays. No firm can afford to give these many holidays. But you still need to accommodate them. For that, you can provide paid leave for their individual national holidays while others come to work like usual.
This way they will feel valued and respected; delivering work more productively. You can even organize small scale events in break timings or after working hours for their cultural or religious festivities. This way co-workers can develop a better understanding of their colleagues from various cultural backgrounds. And that is essential to keep the work running successfully.
2. Be informed, not judgemental.
You need to be aware of cultural differences in order to cultivate cultural diversity in your business setup. Develop workshops to raise awareness among your employees regarding respecting the beliefs of others.
Many of them might carry preconceived notions or prejudices regarding different cultures. They might not favorably view other racial or religious orientations. It’s an employer’s duty to develop a culture of tolerance. With a mixture of both imparting knowledge and strict penalties for racially, ethnically, or religiously offensive remarks.
3. Every culture has its own language!
Don’t get confused, it doesn’t imply verbal language but behavioral one. Communication methods between cultures vary. In western cultures, people tend to be more straightforward and direct. Whereas in various Asian and Middle Eastern countries, being indirect is a norm.
It can be confusing but an adaptation of both employer and employee is necessary. An employer should be flexible enough to understand the different forms of communication. And employees should be able to make an effort to adapt themselves to their new environment.
4. Respect the dress!
Even though most of the companies require formal or at least suitable dressing. There are some cultures that demand a particular dress code mostly in a religious context. Like some women from Muslim cultures wear hijab or men from Sikh tradition wear a turban. It’s highly unethical to restrict someone from practicing their religion.
In some countries, it’s argued that religion should remain out of the workplace, following the rule of separation between religion and state. But the argument is flawed. Employees aren’t converting the secular nature of an organization with their dress code. Rather they are making use of their right to practice their religion freely, even if it demands adherence at both personal and professional levels.
Secularism demands non-interference of religion into professional practices. But it doesn’t seek to eradicate the religion itself, in fact, upholds the individual’s right to practice it freely. As long as it doesn’t become a nuisance for others.
5. Don’t just say ‘we are equal EOE’, act on it.
It might be possible you are an open-minded employer, but somehow happened to have a biased HR team of professionals. You need to make sure, your hiring staff is there to judge skills and talents not color of skin or passports. Especially in the contemporary world, there is a pressing demand for skills that can’t be fulfilled by hiring local talent alone.
6. Make your actions known.
If you have developed a healthy and culturally diverse work environment, try to make it known so others may take an inspiration. Create motivational videos; show your office environment as culturally friendly. Develop short presentations, and post on social media.
In case an employee misleads against his co-worker, triggered by their covet cultural or racial biases. You can always verify the performance of your colleague in question through a good time tracking software to see whether the accused is really guilty or just a victim of workplace bullying and discrimination. Therefore, you can hold the instigator accountable. Thus, making your actions known in eliminating biases.
7. Stay connected!
You need to build a connection of trust with your workforce through some chain of connections. For that, not only HR is effective but also hire cultural supervisors who can offer on-site professional counseling for employees. They can assist them while they are adjusting to a new environment or cultural norms.
Managing cultural diversity might be challenging, but eventually, it’s in greater benefit of any business setup. It will broaden the cultural horizons and awareness by bringing in experiences and perspectives of a diverse workforce. It’s especially true for companies with an international presence. As their foreign employees can help them understand the norms of different cultures, definitions, and values.