In our world where there is a lot of travel, migration, union, and communication going on, there is no doubt that we are continuing to witness and experience cultural diversity. It is such an enriching experience, but there is no denying that such diversity can also be also challenging.
Many employers say that their biggest asset is their staff, and what often makes a great team is diversity. Everyone brings something unique and valuable to the table in different ways. Cultural diversity should be embraced, because with it comes a myriad of benefits.
What is cultural diversity?
Culture is considered to be the underlying values that direct how people behave. Cultural diversity in the workplace is a result of the practices, values, traditions, or beliefs of employees based on race, age, ethnicity, religion, or gender.
Economic globalization is one of the driving forces of cultural diversity in the workplace. The modern workforce is made up of people of different genders, ages, ethnicity, religions, and nationalities. Employers have realized that workforce diversity provides both material and intangible benefits. In order for employers to reap the benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace, they must communicate their commitment to addressing the challenges of a diverse workforce. Employers must be seen to be celebrating their employees’ diversity to avoid workplace issues, as awkwardness and hostility.
Why is cultural diversity important?
We’ve touched on the idea of the benefits cultural diversity offers, but equality and diversity are something that hasn’t just received lip service within the media. There’s been extensive research into its positive effects and the importance of business inclusivity.
Studies looking at why cultural diversity is important to give us solid stats to work from when thinking about its benefits. For instance, economically, research shows that the 43 most diverse public corporations were 24% more profitable than the S&P 500. Other studies show that almost 95% of directors agree that diversity brings unique perspectives.
Ultimately, workplace diversity and inclusion allow businesses to build teams that bring different viewpoints and talents to the mix, increasing innovation and driving higher revenues.
Six benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace
1. Cultural diversity helps develop and maximise skillsets
A culturally diverse workplace empowers people to develop their talents and skills. A range of ideas and expertise enables those to learn from a more diverse collection of colleagues.
It can also boost problem-solving capabilities and increase happiness and productivity. In an environment where all voices are heard, this spirit of innovation and encouragement to contribute can drive business success.
2. Cultural diversity improves the recruitment process
Surveys show that two-thirds of candidates cite diversity as an important consideration during a job hunt. By developing a strategy for cultural diversity, you can broaden your appeal to prospective employees, and reach out to more high-level candidates across the globe. Research shows that 67% of job seekers advised that a company’s diverse workforce is a key factor when evaluating job offers. These findings demonstrate that diversity is a key aspect when recruiting the best talent. Job seekers are aware of the importance of a diverse workforce and want to be part of a company that will value and appreciates their difference.
3. Cultural diversity can help you to retain talent
Aside from attracting a broader talent pool in the first place, cultural diversity is the key to building the ideologies of respect between company and employee, and cooperation. In turn, this makes you a more attractive proposition to valuable candidates making you stand out in the marketplace.
4. Cultural diversity improves your team’s creativity
When everyone in a company is from the same background, they’re likely to have similar ideas. In order to remain competitive, companies need new ideas and concepts. A diverse workforce brings unique perspectives on how to solve problems and innovate to gain a competitive edge. A more diverse workforce allows you to bring new ways of thinking into the business that can be applied in many different ways. By listening to each employee's voice and way of thinking, a company will no longer be pigeonholed in one direction.
A company that actively encourages diversity in the workplace will see more perspectives being discussed and more solutions being thought of than ever before. This can inspire employees to perform to the highest of their abilities.
5. Cultural diversity can help increase employee engagement
The best way to learn about other cultures and ethnicities is by talking to someone with that background. Research can only get you so far and has a far less personal touch. By communicating with someone with a different culture or background you not only gain first-hand knowledge, but also connect with someone directly.
Employees who engage with others about their background during lunches or out-of-hours drinks will feel better connected to a company, feel truly listened to, and in turn engage further with their colleagues and the business.
Employee engagement helps build trust, starting from the very top and moving all the way down throughout the company. Engagement is always positive for the company, it can lead to greater motivation, collaboration, and loyalty.
6. Cultural diversity will improve your company’s reputation
A company that employs people from all different types of cultures and backgrounds will be considered a good employer. This reputation amongst employees will elevate a company’s standing and attract more people to come and work there. A commitment to diversity demonstrates that a company values fairness and equality. These characteristics have a positive effect on its reputation with suppliers and consumers. A company that openly recruits the best candidates for a job, irrespective of which group they are in, will gain customer loyalty and a good reputation.
The importance of cultural diversity in the workplace can’t be understated. Having diverse employees increases the bottom line and also assists in staying on the right side of the law. Companies that have a clear diversity and inclusion policy (and are seen to enforce this policy) benefit from happier and more productive employees and a great reputation.
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