November 5, 2021
Workplaces are becoming incredibly diverse, and companies have understood that workplace cultural diversity can provide valuable benefits.
Around June, Emily Gonzalez, Blankfactor’s Chief-of-Staff, moved from Colombia to Bulgaria to aid with our new office opening in Sofia. She has been living there ever since, using her expertise to recruit talented developers all over Europe. Emily’s case is not an exception at Blankfactor. The constant exchange with different cultures is an everyday event.
Like Emily, more and more people live and work in foreign countries and contact people from different cultural origins, languages, and even lifestyles. A globalized world has allowed us to break down geographical barriers, fostering less uniform, homogeneous spaces. This increasingly global environment is not likely to change any time soon.
As a result, workplaces are becoming incredibly diverse. Companies have come to understand that cultural diversity (and diversity, in general) can provide invaluable benefits. In a Harvard Business Review report, nearly 95% of directors agree that diversity brings new perspectives into the boardroom, and 84% believe it enhances board performance.
I’m sure you’ve already heard of the multiple benefits of having a diverse working environment. But, before we dive into them, what does diversity mean, and how can a company achieve it?
If the world were a canvas, people from all walks of life and backgrounds would represent its colors. Cultural diversity is a system that recognizes and respects the existence and presence of diverse groups of people within a society. Within a diverse environment, everyone is welcome to make a significant contribution that empowers their cultural identity.
Diversity permeates different spheres, and it is often a reflection of social, geographical, and political events. What do I mean by this? For example, in the United States, it is foreseen that in 2050, ethnic minorities will comprise a total of 50% of the population. This also implies that the workforce is gradually becoming more diversified.
Achieving cultural differences, however, is not easy. For traditionally homogeneous institutions, diversity is a slow process. And it should be done slowly, for many reasons. According to leadership coach Janine Schindler, “if the change is rapid and somewhat drastic – think a speedy merger with a company based in a different country – there may be many disconnects. Specific cultural groups may feel left out, which will only foster tense environments.
This is why a thoroughly thought-out plan is more than necessary. If implemented correctly, companies may create integrated, synergistic teams working towards specific objectives. In addition, cultural diversity at its finest should seep through every single level, from upper management to entry-level, and project an organization’s commitment to particular goals.
We should understand diversity as a “knowledge-based asset” that leads people to consider multiple perspectives and more complex approaches. This has different effects on the company. Diversity means greater creativity, innovation, and flexibility for senior management when creating new strategies. For lower-level management, a more culturally diverse environment provides the opportunity to share original ideas.
In an article by Orlando Richard, the researcher states that if cultural diversity is found in upper and lower management positions, productivity is 1.32 times higher than in firms lacking diversity. In this case, productivity is understood in terms of goals, profit, and salary. The same study also notes that upper management cultural diversity provides a competitive advantage for many companies.
The benefits of cultural diversity are closely related to each other. For example, a survey undertaken by the Center for Talent indicated that 48% of US companies with more diversity at senior management improved their productivity and market share compared to the previous year.
Diversity proves incredibly beneficial for those businesses with an entrepreneurial mindset. For example, if a company’s management team is fluent in Mandarin, it is easier to venture into Eastern markets. In addition, a multi-lingual team can help increase a company’s reputation in different communities, thus providing an opportunity to increase sales.
Suppose your company created a people-focused environment that makes people feel valued, heard, and respected in every aspect of their lives. In that case, it is easier to encourage collaboration and authenticity. People are generally drawn to be their authentic selves in genuinely open and understanding spaces.
By having a diverse pool of employees, people are encouraged to learn more about each other’s backgrounds. In addition, sharing personal experiences help people find commonalities within their daily lives and, therefore, more engagement with their daily work.
A culturally diverse scenario does not intend to dilute or homogenize identities. It thrives on difference. Many candidates are higher educated and have had experiences in diverse environments. Most feel a more diverse company is more progressive and more suitable for them.
Because the number of suitable candidates increases, companies can put together talented working teams from a most diverse set of people. Do you consider your company has a diverse culture?