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How to Manage Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

2022-06-28
How to Manage Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

Cultural diversity helps businesses thrive psychologically and even financially. However, it's important to know how to manage a company's psychological climate to ensure that everybody feels included once they're hired.

Workplace diversity grounds an organisation in the reality of the world today by utilising the insights provided by people with different life experiences. It also makes the world of work fairer to people who have historically had many doors closed on them.

Processes to Increase Inclusivity in the Workplace

Flexible Working

In today's workplace, flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly common. By definition, flexible working refers to any work arrangement that allows employees to vary their start and finish times, or where they work from. This can include things like working from home, compressed hours, or part-time work.

For employers, flexible working can help to attract and retain a more diverse workforce. This is because flexible working arrangements can make it easier for employees with caring responsibilities, or those with disabilities, to enter or stay in the workforce. In turn, this can help to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace culture.

Moreover, flexible working can also improve employee productivity and engagement by giving employees greater control over their work-life balance. It's clear then that flexible working can offer a number of benefits for managing diversity in the workplace.

Merit-Based Policies and Processes

Merit-based policies and processes are an essential component of a diverse workforce. Such policies and processes are designed to ensure that every individual is evaluated on the merit of their skills, knowledge, and experience, regardless of their race, gender, or other factors.

Not only does this encourage individuals from different backgrounds to pursue careers in fields that may not have traditionally been open to them, but it also helps to create a more equitable work environment where each member of the team is valued equally.

In addition, equipping employees with these merit-based tools and processes can help companies attract top talent from across the globe, further ensuring that teams are made up of individuals with a wide range of perspectives and skillsets.

Use Tech to Assess Inclusivity

Technology can be implemented across all internal processes to increase fairness. It can ensure there are as few limitations as possible for diverse workers to get hired and thrive within an organisation.

When hiring, remote-access software can enable companies to meet staff without any accessibility barriers. Furthermore, skills-assessment software can enable interviewers to see the true talent of an individual without individual bias playing a part.

Equally when training, the accessibility of online software ensures remote workers are up-skilled with no barriers. Progress and achievements can be tracked and used as a way to demonstrate individual merit. This can later be used when assessing candidates for promotion, free of bias.

The multi-faceted tools available with recent communication channels enable colleagues to interact with ease. A few examples: language barriers can be overcome with translation software, screen readers can enable those with a sight impairment to communicate effectively, and private communication channels can allow diverse employees to voice concerns discretely if needed.

Senior Level Role Modelling

When it comes to managing cultural diversity, leaders play an essential role. In order to affect real, lasting change in an organisation, leaders must undergo the same behavioural shifts that they want for the rest of the organisation.

This means fully recognising and understanding their own individual biases, remaining open to new perspectives and experiences, and actively working to eliminate these prejudices from their decisions and behaviours. Only by truly dedicating themselves to this process can leaders hope to create meaningful transformation within their companies.

Leaders must then work to create real changes within the wider organisation. By thoughtfully planning out systems and processes that support equality and inclusion throughout all levels of the company, leaders can help create a healthy work environment that truly reflects the priorities of our current times.

Remember, the head of an organisation is the key figure who sets the tone for the rest of the workforce. Behaviours and attitudes observed in the leader will critically influence the wider team.

Assess Accessibility

Diligent diversity management involves ensuring work is accessible to all staff, regardless of disability.

In order to assess accessibility in the workplace, we need to consider how employees with different disabilities would be able to access the space and perform their duties. For example, are there any areas that would be difficult for someone in a wheelchair to reach? Are screen readers installed on all computers? Are there any job tasks that might be challenging for someone with a cognitive disability?

Tech can help hugely with accessibility. A cognitive disability profile assists with reading and processing information. For example, for those with ADHD, some widgets emphasize essential elements on a site to reduce distractions. Companies can also use Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA), which can be added to HTML in order to help assistive technologies such as screen readers better understand the information on the website.

Accessibility needs are unique to each employee and organisations should be willing to reassess and readjust depending on the needs of the team members at any given time. Often, adjustments are inexpensive and simple to implement, yet they make a huge difference to the team members.

Offer a Mentorship Scheme

Organisations that want to manage diversity effectively should consider implementing a mentorship scheme. A mentorship scheme pairs an experienced employee with a less experienced employee, providing an opportunity for them to learn from each other and develop their skills. The mentee will gain confidence and learn new ways of approaching work, while the mentor can develop their leadership skills and broaden their perspective.

Mentorship for minorities offers an invaluable chance for minority workers to learn from someone else who has navigated the world of work as a diverse employee. Research can back up the positive influence of mentorship schemes, showing that minority employees report increased confidence and satisfaction after participating in such a scheme.

Best Processes for Managing Cultural Differences

Organise Cross-Cultural Training

Managing cultural diversity in the workplace is a complex and often challenging task. A key component for effectively navigating this process is cross-cultural training for employees, which helps them to better understand and appreciate the cultural differences that exist in their workplace.

This entails taking a holistic approach that not only focuses on cultural practices, but also on how to overcome language and cultural barriers that may impact communication within teams or departments.

Through effective training programs and team building, employees can gain greater insight into cultural differences and learn strategies for effectively working with colleagues from different cultures.

Take Into Consideration Different Cultural Communication Styles

When working with individuals from different cultural backgrounds, it is important to understand the unique styles of communication that may exist within those groups. For example, individuals may have varying preferences when it comes to expressing praise or criticism. Some cultures may be more comfortable delivering praise directly, while others prefer to use more subtle forms of encouragement. Similarly, some cultural groups might tend to offer more critical feedback than others, often seeking to challenge and push team members towards growth and improvement.

At first, these cultural differences can present challenges for teams trying to collaborate effectively. In order to manage cultural diversity successfully, we must first take into account these cultural variations in communication styles. This requires a concerted effort on the part of both team members and team leaders, who must ensure that all parties feel heard and understood in their communications with one another. With good communication skills and an understanding of diverse cultural norms, however, even diverse teams can work together harmoniously and productively.

Work Through Language Barriers

Cross-cultural teams often have a diverse set of native languages.

One way to overcome these communication barriers is to normalise repetition. Workers should not feel uncomfortable about asking colleagues to repeat themselves if they did not fully comprehend their speech the first time.

If a team member is communicating in a second (or third) language, co-workers can make things easier for them by speaking in direct, simple language. This may feel formal at first, but we can enhance simple speech with visual cues such as body language or even emojis to set the tone of communication.

Another key strategy for enhancing communication is for the team to become acquainted with one another's cultures. Managers can encourage or facilitate team members in learning phrases in team members' first languages. This will boost minority members' confidence and allow them to feel valued for their heritage.

Discourage Stereotypes

It is essential that we be conscious of cultural differences in the workplace and strive to respect them. However, this does not mean that we should rely on stereotypes to understand these cultural differences.

In fact, cultural stereotypes can actually be counterproductive, as they limit our ability to really engage with people from different cultures and gain a deeper understanding of them. Instead, we should focus on building meaningful connections with others across cultural lines by listening closely to their unique perspectives and engaging in thoughtful dialogue about how our backgrounds and experiences influence the way we see the world.

In order to set the balance for this, employees can be mindful of their own behaviours according to other cultural contexts whilst remaining open-minded about the ír team members' individual viewpoints and personalities.