10 Mar Small But Smart and Significant Ways to Encourage a Culture of Diversity
A culture of diversity helps companies attain and sustain global connections and success and Bay Area residents are in for a treat this spring and summer when most of the cultural events happen.
The Taiwanese American cultural fair on May 12 will showcase Taiwanese culture, food and live performances; another event sits you down for a five-course Moroccan dinner, yet another that hopes to bring African millennials together and for those who love movies, the San Francisco International Film Festival is on April 4, with luminaries, including Charlize Theron, expected to be in attendance. The fest, which runs through April 17, features screenings, parties, musical performances, and enhanced Q&As. Finding these cultural activities is easy on eventbrite.com.
So whether the staff like to be in a group attending these activities or on their own, the organization stands to gain when they encourage its employees and assignees to attend them. Management and others in a position of authority gain a new understanding of how and why things work in another part of the world.
Employees might be able to reach that one insight that can empower them to expand their global market share. For example, Indian assignees could give the do’s and don’ts to executives recruiting from India, Singapore or Nigeria.
On the home front, assignees who want to make their mark in a foreign country such as the U.S. would be more driven to excel. A more collegial setting that includes them also pushes the rest of the team members to be more objective and fact-based in their decision making in order to eliminate whatever prejudices and biases they might have. At the end of the day, the organization remains stronger because of these changes.
A corporate policy that promotes diversity and inclusion, while creating preventive measures that can weed out or stifle bigotry and racism is one way to start. Intermittent team-building which bonds the homegrown employees and assignees from a foreign country can lower instinctive walls of defense while building up trust and respect.
Global mobility managers can further push these initiatives through small, smart, but empowering ways that can take diversity into the next high level. LinkedIn Talent Solutions suggests three solutions on how to do it:
First, try to include inclusive terms, ideas, concepts, and words in the language of everyday work. It is obvious that certain inflammatory labels attached to foreigners should totally be prohibited in the workplace. On a more positive note, giving lexical space to all the cultures and traditions represented could further open the door of understanding.
When it comes to religious holidays at the end of the year, equal space must be given to the well wishes of Christians, Jews, and secular agnostics alike. It is a tricky slope to manage but modifying language can be one powerful tool to build bridges and integrate assignees with the rest of the staff.
Second, encourage assignees to tell their stories. This is not a clarion call to flock to the watercooler and indulge in gossip but a constructive exercise wherein assignees are nudged to narrate their own experiences from their own countries or past assignments. Corporate policies can shape the behavior in the workplace, but by themselves they will not convince those who still have reservations of the power of inclusion.
However, as the assignee starts to reveal his thoughts, views, and experiences, they become less of the “imported talent” to the homegrown staff but transform into individual human beings who they can relate to.
As discussed by Psychology Today, storytelling is a primal form of communication that allows different people to empathize with and learn from each other. Storytelling can open the eyes of both assignee and homegrown employee, to recognize where they are similar, where they differ, and ultimately, why they must respect each other.
Finally, global mobility managers can make occasional trips to multicultural settings another way for their staff to bond. Sometimes, all it takes is a good drink and conversation outside the four walls of the formal office to create a strong connection among staff.
But in the interests of diversity, take this practice one step further and have the staff and assignees alike enjoy their time bonding in Filipino restaurants, a Chinese dance festival, or a Latin American soccer exhibition.
This way, homegrown staff can gain more understanding of their new colleague’s culture and help foreign staff feel at ease. At the very best, they will have a smashing good time that will strengthen their professional and personal connection which will slowly over time translates into a collective excellent performances at work.