Why Cultural Diversity is Important for your Organisation
People are different. People are same. Learning how to accept and respect one another is the key to celebrating, and leveraging, human diversity as an organisational strength.
The workforce has changed since this industrial age. Whereas women were once not allowed to work, women play an integral part in the workplace. Whereas discrimination in terms of race existed in the organisation because of political and prevailing ideologies, the modern workplace today attracts individuals from various cultural backgrounds.
- How do we allow our diversity to be a strength in greater teamwork?
- How can diversity be a strategic advantage for a company?
- How do we ‘transform’ as an organisation, without duress from legislative laws but principle or the ‘right thing to do’?
- Even more basic, how do we not allow our differences in our diversity to pull us apart, let alone lead to formal or legal battles?
The first step in bringing about change is a commitment from leadership. Unless, leadership are on board little much can prevail or trickle in change from a day to day basis.
Organisations need to ask tough questions:
- Are all people treated with dignity and respect regardless of their race, colour, sexual orientation, gender, religion or physical ability?
- Do these issues take up manager’s time and resources?
- How would we like the organisation to be?
- How would we like to appear to our customers, and stakeholders?
- Can diversity be a strategic advantage for productivity and ultimately, profit?
- How do we build cultural competence within the organisation?
Whilst bringing about all the changes above may not be an overnight process or appear achieveable short term, we can start somewhere to bring about awareness, knowledge, skill, ability and reinforcement. These are things we can control.
The key to diversity is examining our beliefs in an honest and safe environment, where we can discuss issues ordinarily perceived as ‘no-go areas’, and allow individuals to reach their own conclusions. Diversity and Cultural Awareness training can help. It is mindsets, stooped in perhaps the way we were raised, myth that was perpetuated, fears of the unknown, habits which can be blindspots among other diverse groups – that need to shift.
When changes happen within an organisation, stakeholder perceptions change – and ultimately creativity, synergy and teamwork improves. Human and cultural diversity is fascinating, and people remain the greatest asset of an organisation.
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