December 20, 2023

Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

As the world continues to become more globalized, embracing diversity in the workplace is no longer an option but a necessity for companies to thrive.

What does workplace diversity mean? It means that companies employ individuals with different backgrounds and characteristics, including gender, age, religion, culture, ethnicities, and levels of education. Time and time again, research shows that by cultivating a more inclusive and diverse work culture, organizations can positively impact individuals and create greater bonding within teams.

A 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report shows that culturally diverse companies are also 35% more likely to outperform their competitors. Companies with diverse management teams reported 19% higher in revenue than those with a below-average diverse leadership.

However, despite workplaces across the globe quickly adopting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as part of their policy, organizations still struggle to successfully bring impact to their workplace. A Gartner research showed that only one-third of employees agree that their employers encourage an inclusive environment for them. Without sustainable support from leadership, clear goals, or proper assessment to measure employees’ satisfaction and levels of belonging, most DEI efforts fall short in achieving tangible progress and results.

DEI is much more than just a work policy to equalize differences in the workplace; it should be a collective shift of mindset. While there’s no magic bullet strategy, the key is that employees start making progress to make success sustainable. Here are strategies to embrace diversity in the workplace:

1. Build Trust

When you build trusting relationships where humility and respect prevail, others will do all they can to support you. According to research published by Bart de Jong and colleagues, there is a direct relationship between trust and team performance. However, only 24% of employees feel a strong connection with their colleagues. When there’s an opportunity to increase trust within your team, this also directly improves loyalty. Simple actions such as rewards and recognition are powerful ways to incorporate cultural diversity into team engagement.

2. Communicate Respectfully

To communicate respectfully in a diverse workplace, it is essential to research and understand cultural norms and etiquette. Managers should set the tone and listen to employees while setting standards for DEI implementation. Be aware of familiarity tokens, such as using formal communication in some cultures, and wait for cues before addressing colleagues by first names. These simple practices can help foster a respectful and inclusive workplace.

3. Value Individual Strengths

Building employees’ strengths, rather than focusing on weaknesses, is a more effective approach to driving behavior change. According to Gallup, a strengths-based culture leads to faster learning, better work quality and quantity, higher employee engagement and retention rates. In fact, 67% of employees who reported to be highly engaged agree that their manager focuses on their positive qualities. When leaders focus on employee strengths, employees are 30 times more likely to be actively involved in their work. By valuing individual strengths, companies can improve work ethic and foster creativity and innovation.

4. Increase Transparency

Every employee plays an important role in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Without common understanding into the goals their company is doing for DEI, efforts fall short when teams don’t feel like they’re doing enough to improve. Make your DEI goals and efforts transparent to all employees by creating an open platform to share ideas and encourage dialogues for improvement. Continuous and transparent conversations ensure that DEI efforts are focused on the areas that matter most. This can also make your organization more responsive, encouraging teams to work on a common goal.

Embracing diversity in the workplace is a long-term commitment that requires effort, time, and investment. Ultimately, a diverse and inclusive work culture not only creates a better work environment, but it also positively impacts business performance. As the business world continues to become more globalized, embracing diversity in the workplace is no longer an option but a necessity for companies to thrive and bring service excellence.

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