Implementing Cultural Awareness
According to GlassDoor, more than 75% of job seekers deem a diverse workforce an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.
It’s incredibly important that employers understand that diversity is not about meeting quotas or tokenism. In fact, a culturally diverse workplace is more productive. Having a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures, and of different identities working together introduces more ideas and perspectives into your workplace. Being able to learn from a more diverse group of colleagues encourages every employee to develop their skills and knowledge in new ways and is proven to ultimately increase both employee happiness and business productivity.
What is cultural diversity?
We are all shaped by culture. Everybody is who they are as a consequence of a variety of factors, such as where and how they grew up, their religious beliefs or their history. Cultural diversity refers to the representation of the different cultural and ethnic groups in society or a workplace.
When an organisation has this diversity, they encourage an environment of inclusion where people from many different backgrounds can come together and work as a team.
What is cultural awareness?
This diversity is only valuable when each employee is aware of it. We talk a great deal about diversity and inclusion, and whilst the legal requirements are crucially important, it’s also important to think about how best these diverse workplaces can function.
In other words, employees should have sensitivity to the similarities and differences that exist among them and view them as an opportunity for growth and development rather than as a barrier.
Why is it important?
There are of course ethical factors that play into the importance of cultural awareness, but this article is seeking to emphasise the opportunities for growth that diverse perspectives offer. Workplace diversity and inclusion allows organisations to build teams that bring different viewpoints and talents into the mix, which increases innovation and drives higher revenues.
When we are open to different ideas, we create space to grow, which benefits us as individuals, as well as the team and organisational level. Engagement, productivity, creativity, reputation and talent retention are all proven elements of a workplace that can benefit from a culturally diverse workforce.
In today’s digital environment, many businesses exist on the global platform, which means an appreciation for different cultures and backgrounds is crucial.
That being said, there are always risks of conflict when people with vastly different ideas come together. It is important that employers and organisations take steps to promote awareness of these differences.
We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you improve cultural awareness in your workplace.
1. Training. One of the best ways to ensure your employees understand what it takes to be culturally competent is to offer them training. Through effective training, employees should gain important knowledge on the subject, such as what it means to be respectful, how different cultures work together and so forth; as well as real skills for dealing with conflict in the workplace or how to communicate productively with a variety of people.
2. Promote discussion. Training is always more beneficial when complemented with discussion. Encouraging employees to discuss their differences and open up healthy channels of communication can be crucial to stopping conflicts arising in the first place. If your employees know that they can raise their concerns without hesitation, cultural issues will be addressed sooner.
Misunderstanding often arises from poor communication, so by having an open environment where people feel safe to discuss issues or questions, you reduce the risks of conflict and encourage employees to share their experiences and cultures with one another. This helps your organisation bridge the cultural gap and reap the benefits of a culturally diverse workplace.
3. Celebrate differences. By encouraging healthy discussions, you are already celebrating differences. Motivate your employees to share stories about their own backgrounds. Being culturally aware means finding the balance between not reducing individuals to what makes them different, but also placing value in the differences that there are among us. This comes down to placing different cultures and experiences in a positive light.
As an employer, you can acknowledge different cultural holidays, for example.
4. Implement policies. Of course, it is important to ensure your policies and guidelines keep people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, and preferences safe. These are the fundamentals of being culturally aware and are in many instances a legal requirement.
It is important to remember that cultural awareness not only refers to internal relationships. Many professionals deal with clients and customers all over the world and from many different backgrounds. Being educated on how to approach this diversity is equally important.
It can be daunting to create a culturally diverse and aware workplace, as many issues can be sensitive. However, by ensuring employees are trained, and ensuring there is an open channel of communication for employees to voice concerns, you are already on the right track to creating a healthier, safer and more productive culture.
Trainer Bubble offers a variety of training resources on a variety of topics including our cultural awareness e-learning course. Check out the full range here, or contact us to find out how we can help your business.