Five Tips for Success in a Multi-Cultural Workplace

by Stacey Lynn

By standards relating to both morality and money, a diverse workplace is a successful workplace. In a brick-and-mortar office, diversity in the workplace is generally limited by the demographics of a given locale. As most know, COVID-19 forced many companies to start working completely remotely, and a lot of those companies are expected to continue this style of work, at least as an option, as it saves money and generally makes for happier employees.

With that, remote workplaces allow for the hiring of individuals far beyond “the daily commute,” and the growth of multi-cultural workplaces is expected to be steady. It’s easy to realize that having a hiring pool of, literally, the entire world will result in more qualified employees finding their ways to given companies, no matter the locale. Building a positive workplace culture is paramount in any business, but with multi-cultural online “offices,” a bit more care is needed to ensure that all members of a given team are being treated with respect in regard to their beliefs and cultural differences.

Ultimately, the more diverse a team is, the better for the bottom line! Here are five ways to ensure your employees feel comfortable and empowered, regardless of their cultures or locations on a map.

Address the Proverbial Elephant

This should be the easiest step on this list, but for some, simply “putting things out there” is a big challenge. If you’re serious about improving the comfort of your employees, simply sending an email, or speaking to the whole team at a meeting about how your company has workers from many different religions, locations, backgrounds, races, et cetera, doesn’t take more than five minutes. State that it is completely normal to have implicit biases that make us think our own cultures are “right.” It is a familiarity thing that no one should be ashamed of. Next, state that your company will be actively working to correct these implicit biases — and share the rest of this list!

Communicate about Communication

There should not be a set way to communicate in your office, because odds are that “correct” way is just what is familiar to you due to your own cultural beliefs. Cross-cultural communication is not difficult so long as everyone feels enabled to share the “whys” and “hows” regarding their communication styles. Employees should be open to compromise, and should be told that their personal preferences will be respected but not pushed on anyone else.

Have Flexible Holidays

In the U.S., most companies have gotten as far as calling the week or two off at the end of the year a “winter break,” but it’s still quite obvious that it is for certain religious groups to celebrate their faith. In the U.S., more than a quarter of the population identifies as not being religiously affiliated. If you add the rest of the world to your hiring pool, as remote work allows, it’s really a bit of a disrespectful move to force them to take time off just so Christians and Jewish employees can celebrate their faith. Having flexible holidays allows for everyone to celebrate whatever they want to celebrate in a fair manner.

Share International News

If your company has employees from other countries (or even if it doesn’t), it’s a nice gesture to share a newsletter with news about where your employees are from. In addition, it allows for the other employees to learn about those cultures, ultimately chipping away at those aforementioned implicit biases, and also enhancing your staff’s ability to communicate cross-culturally.

Show and Tell

We’re never to old for a good ol’ show and tell session. Empowering your colleagues to share experiences, artifacts, customs, et cetera, about where they grew up or where their families hail from is a great way to increase inclusion, educate and, once again, break down those implicit bias barriers.

No matter the type of work, a diverse team offers more insight, more ideas, different angles and unturned stones. Allowing your workforce to evolve together starts with understanding and appreciation of those differences that allow for so many extra ideas. Workplace diversity should not only be taught about, but it should be embraced heavily and should be something you pride yourselves in as a company!

Rider University’s Online Master of Business Communication recently released Why Cross-Cultural Communication Skills are Vital in Business. This in-depth resource guide was created for business consultants, human resource departments and team leaders who are interested in sharing information about the importance of cross-cultural communication and multicultural business environments. The modern business professional works with individuals from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and cultures, and, to communicate in a culturally diverse environment, it’s important for business professionals to develop cultural intelligence (CQ).

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