Managing cultural diversity in today’s workplace

In a multicultural atmosphere, employees must understand, respect and appreciate each other’s differences.

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way that we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others,” said author and coach Anthony Robbins.

From Michigan to Melbourne and Sao Paulo to St. Petersburg, communication throughout the world has become shorter and faster and the global pandemic has further accelerated global communication. Communication across the globe now happens within a click.

Technology has successfully cleared barriers for intercultural communication and global assignments. Such changes, especially in the international environment, have successfully brought us together with people from a variety of background and cultures. Colleagues from different cultures may act in a different manner, sometimes even in ways completely opposite to our practices.

Managing cultural diversity at the workplace has become an essential skill, as many are required to connect globally and virtually to accomplish daily tasks. Talent managers and human resource professionals can help enhance cross cultural communication and manage diversity at the workplace.

Eliminate ethnocentrism

With businesses crossing borders, employees must understand and respect different cultures. Fear might arise among employees who are new in cross border assignments. There is a lack of knowledge, experience and blatant insensitivity towards cultural diversity, which all lead to a major collapse of business.

Ethnocentrism is a tenacious belief that your culture is superior to the rest. It is the inclination to look at the world primarily from the perspective of one’s own culture. The negative mindset of establishing cultural superiority needs to be erased. Undoubtedly, this destructive approach contributes to unwanted clashes at the workplace. Managing this  belief effectively can lead toward a better working environment for all.

Ethnocentrism fuels misunderstanding amongst colleagues from different backgrounds. Understanding the reasons behind certain cultural practices can helps us to understand the rationale behind one’s behavior. Being culturally sensitive is essential to ensure pleasant interactions among colleagues.

Seek similarities

Identifying common interests and seeking similarities among colleagues with different backgrounds leads to stronger relationships. Avoiding disagreements related to cultural differences helps people work together and establish common goals.

As far as the business is concerned, the critical challenge is to get the job done across the globe. What are the underlying challenges in accomplishing assigned tasks despite employees’ differences? Ultimately, what are the skills needed to handle the cultural diversity and communicate effectively with the respective counterpart? And how can an employee ensure they have the desired skills to survive in the global environment?

Undoubtedly, organizations’ tremendous growth worldwide opens more doors to intercultural communication and businesses should fully utilize this exposure and opportunity to enhance affiliation with multicultural employees under a single entity.

Identifying and focusing on similarities and appreciating differences between employees can be one solution in strengthening diversity in a workplace. Seek to understand and focus on employees’ similarities to be a diversity champion.

People vs problems

As a talent manager, help employees separate people from problems and encourage them to practice professionalism at work. Often employees carry personal grudges, dissatisfaction or on-going conflict with colleagues. When employees are prejudiced, it creates a mental barrier and they may be doubtful toward other colleagues’ commitment and performance.

In a multicultural atmosphere, employees must understand, respect and appreciate each other’s differences. To succeed in a culturally diversified environment, it is essential to know not only one’s own cultural rules, but also the cultural rules of others. If employees understand the rules and practices of another person’s behavior, it will enable them to control and modify behaviors to conform to others’ expectations. In one way or another, find an appropriate path to understand and respect the cultures of colleagues for the betterment of the organization.

Cultural diversity is becoming increasingly important for businesses striving to establish a strong presence in the ever-transforming international market. As Confucious said, “Everything has a beauty, but not everyone sees it.” It’s time for talent managers to be a champion for a diversified working environment.