Cultural diversity in Business: When diversity becomes Blessing

By Imane Mdarhri

“Culture” is a term without a standard definition and a field featuring two contrasting sides. And because, the significance of culture is deeper, finding the right definition can be arduous. However, we can consider culture to be an open term with an individual and unique definition. Today, cultural diversity in business is a blessing.

While everyone belongs to the « universal human culture », yet, each individual has a distinct culture that set their views apart, allowing them to see from another perspective totally incompatible from someone else’s.

Individuals are part of culture

Throughout history, there have been many examples of how culture played a role. In peace and war time, slavery to freedom. Even presently, think about how major nations and organizations have successfully created bodies like UNESCO and World Health Organisation (WHO), or even smaller regional programs like Erasmus+ and AIESEC.

Nevertheless, on the contrary, there are individuals, groups and nations still living under complicated circumstances; for instance ethnic and religious conflicts.

In brief, each one of us represents a combination of the six-part component of culture: Age, Gender, Ethnicity, Religion, Nationality and Generation. This in essence means that culture is: I, you and we.

Recently, the world of Business also has started to integrate culture in its process of development and operations. This is as a result of SMEs and multinational companies now understand the importance of cultural relations between people of various backgrounds and socio-economic classes. The idea is that successful integration will ensure increased productivity, which in turn leads to economic development.

Diversity Increases Productivity

In our current globalised world, diversity is a blessing. Therefore, it is crucial for businesses to tap into this incredible pool of talent. By doing so, a company attracts a broader skillset with different experiences and working styles. In addition, it is an important puzzle to unlock employees’ motivation. Which will drive up their creativity level, problem-solving skill, and add a boost to productivity.

Also, a recent Harvard study showed that investing in cultural diversity equals to productively investing in human values. Consequently, when businesses invest in a diverse workforce, the benefits are enormous. Setting up a generation of new ideas to an agile workplace, and the attractiveness of a broader customer base. A culturally diverse workplace is sensible and profitable.

Diversity Maintains Reputation

The global economy is a fast train. Changes are happening at a lightspeed. Hence, it is pertinent to ensure brand value remain unscathed. Undeniably, even the world of business rely on numbers and high productivity level to grow and sustain liquidity. However, strong brand reputation plays a major role at ensuring the sustainability of essential organizational functions such as HR, marketing & sales, and communication.

Additionally, strong brand attract more talents, investors, and, of course, more opportunities in new and existing markets as well as clients. All of which impact positively on the reputation of any company on the international level.

Unquestionably, adopting a good cultural diversity strategy can open doors to companies. Open access to new markets, creating stronger connection with more clients, more benefits as well as more growth potential.

However, despite all these benefits attached to a culturally diverse workplaces, there are hurdles to climb. CEOs and business owners have to deal with two major challenges: communication and bureaucracy.

Diversity could be a big challenge

While cultural diversity in business enviroment is a blessing, it does come with a price. People of different background do not always collaborate smoothly, there are certain obstacles that pose a significant problem. First, communication misunderstanding. In a given circumstance, communicating information among employees of varying cultural backgrounds can be misconstrued. Certain actions, gestures, or even silence can be perceived as slightly unacceptable or appear rude. This could be down to unfamiliar nature and differences in cultures.

However, there is also the idea of stereotype – which prompts some employees to perceive other cultures in a certain way – positively or negatively. Secondly, the challenges regarding bureaucracy as a result of international policy. These include visa requirements obligations, immigration and employment laws, accommodation availability, and residency regulations. Also, there can be some unruly challenges like non-acceptance, lack of mutual respect, and slow integration. To a large degree, they are individual-oriented but in the work team are fundamental.

Rules to Preserve culture and Guarantee diversity

As a rule, businesses should clearly communicate their message. By making it clear in writing as all level. In addtion, zero-tolerance policy rules, should be required by employees and managers to attest. Correspondingly, it will ensure everyone in the workforce understand and abide by the standard code of conduct. Again, organizing annual training to present cultural projects is helpful. It will strengthen the social relationships between the team members.

Also, it is helpful to arrange team-building activities. Such as games or other outdoor activities, to break the ice and strengthen team collaboration, on a personal and professional level.

Therefore, it is important to define shared corporate goals among all team members to create a conducive and smooth professional environment. Because essentially, Cultural diversity in business is a blessing.

To conclude in the words of Tony Hsiech: ‘If you get the culture right, most of the other stuff will just take care of itself.’