The words “diversity” and “inclusion” are big buzz words in today’s society, and they should be as they are very relevant and important in today’s times. But although these words are often thrown around, it is important for us to think critically about what they mean. And to assess their impact on business and society as a whole.
Many large companies are hiring for diversity in race and gender, amongst several other categories. But why, so often, is culture left out of the equation? Should it be? Definitely not. And here’s why.
The word “diversity” carries a connotation of variety. It pertains not just to categories such as race, gender, and religion, but to other areas less focused on such as age and experience as well. If we want to have a truly diverse organization, we must make sure to be diverse not only in one of these arenas, but in all of them.
And diversity pertains to culture too. Cultural diversity is just as important, if not more so than diversity in the other categories. Why is that?
Teams with higher cultural diversity have been shown to produce extraordinary results. This is because culturally diverse teams have the power of drawing upon a variety of perspectives and problem-solving approaches. Which leads to more creative and effective solutions to problems.
When the culture of each member of a team and/or organization is understood and respected, these differences transform from barriers into synergistic catalysts. But accomplishing this is easier said than done. Cross-cultural training is a phenomenal way of providing the guidance, support and empathy needed to ensure that cultural differences are used to catapult productivity and revenue, rather than decrease them.
Because we have suddenly become a more interconnected world, we have seen a significant rise in global teams. And therefore, in cultural diversity among these teams. The importance of understanding and championing this diversity is vital. This is an important trend that has arrived. And it’s here to stay.
Many organizations have made great strides to hire and retain diverse talent. But that alone doesn’t mean these organizations are inclusive. Diversity is an excellent start, but INCLUSION is what is really needed to move organizations to the next level.
At present, we mostly see diversity WITHOUT inclusion. Many organizations employ members from various groups, yet many of those powerful voices are never heard. We are on the brink of an extraordinary change as organizations become aware of this major problem, and look for solutions to fix it.
So how can organizations become more inclusive?
In order to be truly inclusive, an organization must listen to and factor in the thoughts, opinions, and solutions of all of the diverse people, on all levels, whom they employ. This can be as simple as asking for feedback in a meeting, to having a dedicated process set up where all employees can provide input. And then those thoughts must be considered and applied to key decisions and company operations.
As organizations become aware of the dire need to better understand and utilize cultural diversity as a competitive advantage to both survive and thrive, we are seeing a rise in inclusion as well. Companies, organizations, and global teams are starting to better see and understand the positive and powerful impact of creating an inclusive environment in the workplace. And they are beginning to take action. This too, is not a trend that will be going away anytime soon. This too, is a trend that is here to stay. This too, is both the now and the future.
So let’s embrace cultural diversity with open arms. Let’s acknowledge its challenges. Let’s utilize its advantages. And let’s use it to foster a more inclusive environment in corporations, on global teams, and in this world as a whole.
- Here to Stay: Cultural Diversity & Inclusion – by Robert Maisel - January 7, 2021