The Advantages of Multiculturalism in the Workplace

by Caroline Banton, Demand Media
    Diversity can make work more rewarding.

    Diversity can make work more rewarding.

    An organization that values diversity can enrich the careers of its employees and provide superior products and services to its customers. Fons Trompenaars and Charles Hampden Turner, authors of “Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Diversity in Global Business,”describe culture as the shared way that different groups of people understand and interpret the world. From a management perspective, a diverse workforce can provide insight to the value of a company’s products to the community. From an employee perspective, personal development can be a result of appreciating alternative approaches in the workplace.

    Company Culture

    A culture of inclusivity projects a positive image to clients and stakeholders. A company with a multicultural recruitment strategy will appeal to a broader labor market and is more likely to have loyal employees who will stay during times of labor shortages. A paper by the Government of Alberta, “Employing a Diverse Workforce: Making it Work,” describes how adequate staff training and management of diversity can result in innovation, creativity and increased productivity.

    Better Products and Services

    One consequence of a diverse workforce is improved customer service. A paper by Marsha Lien of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics uses the teaching, nursing and legal sectors to illustrate that multicultural employees can improve an organization’s understanding of its clients. The classroom is often a microcosm of society; hiring teachers from different backgrounds to serve in public schools enriches education for students. Laws affect every person in society, and diverse law firms can better represent all citizens and enhance interaction between clients and communities. In the health sector, nurses from different cultures can provide improved care, understanding the differing lifestyles and nutritional habits of their patients.

    Leadership

    “Bloomberg Businessweek,” in an article from May 2010, highlights the advantages of hiring managers and potential leaders from different backgrounds. With cultural-sensitivity training and a “top-down” approach to diverse recruitment, a company can develop inter-cultural collaboration that will encourage innovation and creativity. “Bloomberg Businessweek,” in October 2009, reported on Deloitte’s efforts to concentrate its CPA recruitment efforts at community colleges, as opposed to traditional universities, in an effort to reach multicultural applicants.

    Personal Development for Employees

    In a multicultural working environment, different approaches can seem in opposition. Trompenaars and Turner, explain that self-awareness and an open mind to the way that others see things, can lead to personal development and better results for everybody involved. Organizations not making the most of the diverse talent at their disposal, will find themselves watching competitors take the lead.

    About the Author

    Caroline Banton has more than 14 years of experience in the communications and publishing fields, working in global development and finance. Her articles have covered business, economics and recruitment, among other topics. Banton holds an M.B.A. in marketing management.

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