The Importance of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

September 22, 2023
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Our world is incredibly diverse, full of people who believe different things, grew up in unique areas and have individual experiences separate from those around them. Shouldn’t the workplace look the same? 

While the workplace has put more of an emphasis on hiring diverse workers in recent years, there’s always room for improvement and further education on the subject. This not only makes it easier for all people to feel comfortable and welcome in any environment, but it also provides people with better knowledge of how to treat the people around them. 

Managing diversity to ensure everyone in your organization feels invited, included and important requires specific training. This helps team members understand and appreciate one another more and promotes a more diverse workplace. 

Let’s take a look at the importance of cultural diversity and cultural awareness in every work setting and discuss the benefits of having an inclusive workplace culture. 

What Is Cultural Diversity in the Workplace?

Cultural diversity in the workplace is the inclusion of employees from different backgrounds, races, sexual orientations and religious and political beliefs. In a culturally diverse workplace, employees come together to contribute a unique perspective and set of ideas to an organization. The different types of cultural diversity include:

  • Race: An employee from a different racial and cultural background brings various perspectives and traditions to the workplace.
  • Religion: People who have different religious beliefs and practices can influence work schedules, holidays and dietary preferences.
  • Age: Most organizations employ a wide range of generations, including Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z, each bringing their own values and workstyles to the table.
  • Sexual orientation: Embracing diversity in sexual orientation creates a more accepting workplace. 
  • Education level: People with varying degrees of education can deliver opinions and thoughts on aspects of business that can be advantageous to consider. 
  • Gender: A diverse mix of genders and gender identities contributes to a more inclusive and equitable space. 
  • Language and ethnicity: A workplace that hires people from all over the globe who speak different languages can benefit from having an internationally knowledgeable workforce. 
  • Neurodiversity: A less talked about diversity that’s equally important, neurodiverse people provide new ways of thinking and processing business operations that others may not think of. 
  • Military experience: People with military experience have unique perspectives and insight.
  • Disability: As broad as this category is, it’s essential that biases against physically and mentally disabled workers don’t get in the way of hiring. 

Why is Cultural Diversity in the Workplace Important?

Besides being the most caring and inclusive hiring option, cultural diversity is essential for tons of different reasons that positively impact both individuals and the organization as a whole.

For starters, having a more diverse workforce means you’ll have increasing opportunities for innovative and creative thinking. Culturally diverse groups bring together different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences, which generates a wider range of ideas and solutions to problems. This all can drive the creation of more original ideas and thoughts. 

It’s also vital to hire a wide range of people because it helps each person become more confident in their ability to communicate with those with diverse backgrounds and different perspectives than themselves. This boosts conversations and deepens understanding among employees who may not have otherwise been introduced to one another or had a chance to meet. Ultimately, this ignites personal growth and compassion within each person at your workplace, which is conducive to a more cohesive and productive environment. 

Benefits of a Culturally Diverse Workplace

While a diverse workplace culture is necessary within an organization, it’s also extremely beneficial for several reasons. Here are just a few:

More Innovative Thinking

When everyone thinks the same way, it can be hard to come to a situation from a unique angle. A diverse team brings together individuals with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, enabling a unique assembly of ideas and approaches. This leads to an increase in thoughts that may not have been reached in a less diverse setting. The more variety of life and work experiences, the more creative methods for problem solving and completing tasks. 

Global Market Understanding

Businesses are increasingly operating on a global scale. By promoting workforce diversity, you can gain insights into various markets you may not have otherwise been able to understand. This allows you to cater to a diverse set of customer demographics and needs. Also, organizations with culturally divergent team members can be better equipped to grow internationally, enabling them to navigate different markets and build relationships with global clients and partners. 

Enhanced Reputation

People care about inclusive businesses and workplaces, and many of the individuals looking to shop from or do business with your organization will look at your ability to hire diverse staff members when deciding whether to consider your business. Highlight how your company values inclusive business practices to show your customers you take diversity seriously and consider it an integral part of daily and long-term success — resulting in a better reputation. 

Reduced Bias and Stereotyping

A diverse workplace challenges biases by getting to know the people within an organization as inherently important people rather than just an ethnic, social or religious group. Fostering cultural diversity isn’t just about business benefits — which it does provide — but also about treating all individuals with fairness and dignity. It aligns with ethical principles of equality and respect for all. When team members understand the importance of learning from each other and better acknowledging inclusive business practices, workforces will be more likely to eliminate biases. Otherwise, these stereotypes can make people feel like outsiders and slow down organizational growth. 

Better Problem Solving

Diverse teams often look at challenges from multiple perspectives, drawing on a broader set of experiences and viewpoints. Rather than do what’s always been done, a different angle or decision-making method can lead to a well-rounded and informed choice. A group of people with different ideas can also help identify blind spots and reduce the risk of turning into an echo chamber of similar thoughts. 

Higher Retention and Hiring Rates

A firm and unwavering commitment to cultural diversity can make an organization more appealing to a wider pool of potential employees. Glassdoor found 76% of job seekers reported a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating potential employers and job offers, and several current employees think their companies should be doing more to increase diversity. On top of that, about one in three employees and job seekers would not apply for a job at a company with a lack of diversity in its workforce. 

By hiring a wide range of people at your company, you can attract top talent and better promote your organization as an inclusive space. Demonstrating that an organization is committed to cultural diversity and social responsibility sends a message that the company values fairness, equality and social justice — aspects that are extremely essential to many people looking for work. It’s a way to differentiate your company from the competition and sell your brand with more than just benefits and pay. 

Less Compliance Problems

While a diverse organization is beneficial for many reasons outside of rules and regulations, there are also compliance requirements that must be met, depending on where your company is located. While diversity, equity and inclusion programs have grown and evolved to become less about compliance and more about creating positive change, it’s still important to consider what laws govern equal rights and outright discrimination within the workplace.

Increased Productivity 

By having a group with broader skill sets based on life and business experiences and being able to communicate more clearly and effectively with those around them, more work can be done in a timely manner. In fact, BetterUp found that job performance increases by 56% in more diverse workplaces. Also, more diversity can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts, but when worked through and discussed for a better understanding of one another, these conflicts can lead to developing resolution skills among teams. Learning to address and resolve cultural conflicts constructively can improve work dynamics and increase overall productivity

Improved Employee Engagement

There’s a common misconception that disengaged individuals don’t feel included because they don’t care or aren’t putting in any effort, but this isn’t the case. While some employees may choose to stay away from group gatherings or avoid engaging with those around them, the most common cause of someone choosing to disengage is that they don’t feel welcome. When someone becomes disenfranchised, it’s less painful and frustrating to just take themselves out of the group completely rather than have their ideas and opinions ignored or stomped on. 

By training on cultural diversity and employing an inclusive approach to business, you can improve employee engagement and help everyone’s methods be heard and appreciated. It also lowers absenteeism and turnover, keeping employees on the job for longer and encouraging them to give tasks their best effort. 

Promoting Cultural Diversity Within Your Company

While there isn’t a quick fix to a lack of diversity in your company, there are ways to improve over time and consistently make positive changes from the top down. To promote more inclusive practices within your organization, try out the following best practices and tips to see what works best for you:

Hear From Current Employees

Create and promote employee resource groups that can be led by your employees. These groups can be a safe space for team members to discuss their concerns about a lack of diversity and wishes when it comes to making positive change. This is also a great place for employees to connect, share experiences and get to know each other better. 

With your team’s permission, after each of these groups, thoughts and ideas on creating a more inclusive space can be shared with you to consider and implement. This not only ensures your employees feel heard and appreciated, but it also gives you beneficial feedback and ideas on ways the company could be doing better. 

Create a Strategy Behind Your Diversity

Like any order of business, you must put thought behind action if something is going to be done well. It’s not enough to just say diversity and equity are important to your brand and do your best to implement better and more inclusive practices — you must come up with a plan to make it happen. Diversity management starts by thinking about what your goals are for hiring more diverse employees, how you’ll accomplish this and what metrics you’ll use to determine if your efforts are hitting the mark or not. Then, share this strategy with your employees so they know what they can expect from you as a leader. This can help them hold you accountable. 

Provide Your Team With Proper Training

Every person has unconscious biases and prejudices that they must be held responsible for. By giving your employees helpful guidance and training on inclusive workplace practices, unconscious bias and cultural nuances, they can better understand each other and themselves. But, using outdated training methods isn’t always as beneficial or effective as it could be, leading to less constructive change and adaptations to business practices. 

Instead, implement training videos that can be played for your entire workforce to ignite positive communication and lead to actual actions. 

Training Your Team for Success

Promoting a culturally diverse workforce starts with education. By providing a classroom-style in-person training session, you can ensure deep discussions take place and relevant topics are discussed. Ensure your team members are cared for and understood by covering the extremely important topics affecting every employee. 

Video Training Power provides top-notch streaming videos tailored for every situation and topic necessary for corporate instruction. Once you sign up, you have access to any video, no matter what, and you can consistently go back and rewatch resources as needed. Hold your viewers’ attention and keep your team accountable by bringing topics to life through an engaging training method. 

Ready to promote workplace diversity and implement better diversity management strategies? Get started with Video Training Power today.