“A work environment that welcomes, teaches, promotes and streamlines diversity and inclusion - for all - evolves daily to emit the beauty of a changing, more unified multicultural world.” - TY Howard
The world has become a global village. We cannot deny that values differ across the globe. Culture influences the way we think, the way we respond, the way we process information, the way we react , the way we dress or eat and hence it becomes a part of who we are. Cultural sensitivity does not require you to be an expert in all cultural values. It implies that you are eager to learn and practise empathy rather than passing judgement on those around you, because when you know about their culture, you will not be looking down on them.
In today's multicultural workplace, the ability to engage effectively with people from various backgrounds, experiences, and opinions is becoming increasingly crucial. Recruiting and keeping a diverse workforce can give numerous benefits and competitive advantages to businesses of all sizes and industries, including increased and improved creativity, productivity, employee engagement, teamwork, customer satisfaction, and company and brand reputation.
Thus, an interactive diversity training programme is becoming a crucial component of a long-term plan to increase diversity and inclusion. Training should be provided on continuous intervals to ensure holistic transformation in the team members. It should be engraved in the organisation values and policies. By giving your employees the skills, information, and abilities they need, you can help them overcome cultural differences and work together to reach common goals. This lowers the chance of cultural clashes and helps your team serve and connect with customers and coworkers better. Thus diversity and sensitivity training is also a powerful way for an organisation to share its goals and standards for behaviour at work.
In this blog, we'll look at ways for increasing cultural awareness in the workplace:
1. Increase Cultural Awareness
Increasing cultural awareness involves developing an understanding and appreciation for different cultural perspectives, practices, and beliefs. Be aware of the communication style, food, working style, clothing preferences, values, attitude, background, etc of the person you are interacting with. For instance, if you are from India and you're communicating with an American client, you need to communicate with more facts and figures rather than emotions.
Even in the same country diversity exists. If you go to South India and you see everybody is eating on the leaf with their hands and you say, no, you want a fork and spoon, that's not appropriate. It sounds like you are saying, I'm not like you. I'm better than you. That's inappropriate. So you need to blend in and to blend in you need to be aware of that culture.
2. Get rid of personal biases
To become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive , one needs to get rid of their personal biases. For instance , While many countries around the world have patriarchal societies, Japan is often cited as a primary example. This system enforced the notion of women as housewives and men as the breadwinners.
While this may not align with the belief system of other developed countries, one needs to acknowledge and respond suitably when interacting with Japanese counterparts.
3. Act with empathy, respect and compassion
Cultural empathy is simply having an appreciation and consideration of the differences and similarities of another culture. For instance , you are the leader of a multicultural team working on a project with tight deadlines. You observe that one of your team members, who comes from a work-life balance-oriented culture, appears unwilling to work overtime. You speak with the team member and inquire about their point of view.
Thus you demonstrate empathy by respecting their point of view and devising alternative approaches to fulfil the project deadline that are consistent with their cultural norms. You may, for example, reorganise the workload or provide flexible working hours.
4. Communicate Clearly
People from different cultures often have different ways of talking and acting with each other. Therefore, when you are culturally sensitive you will not be speaking in a manner that they feel offended, you will know what they like, what they don't like. For instance, in India, putting your hand on a small child's head is totally allowed, and it is called a blessing. But if you do that in any Asian country, it is very disrespectful. You can't put your hand on anybody's head. Showing thumbs up in India and America is considered good. But showing thumbs up in many other countries could be very disrespectful.
In some places, making direct eye contact is rude, but in other places, it shows that you are honest and trustworthy. In some parts of the world, it's considered rude or disrespectful to tell a boss something straight out. In other places, though, it's a sign of speed and efficiency, no matter how high up the person you're talking to is.
Thus, when you interact with coworkers, partners, or clients from other cultures , you should spend some time learning about how people in those countries communicate with each other. So, you'll have a better idea of how to interpret body language and words that are different from your own.
The impact of cultural awareness, inclusion, diversity and the ability to value and respect each other's culture is going to be a game changer for any organisation. It will help employees to come out as more professional, more acceptable, boost their satisfaction and create a workplace that's healthier.
Every business's ultimate objective is to generate more revenue. To achieve this, you must collaborate and work towards a common objective. The only way to collaborate with individuals who are sitting across the globe or who have different cultures is to ensure that your team is equipped to deal with differences or miscommunication that may occur over a great distance.
And the way to bridge the gap is through these training sessions. Hence the impact of these training sessions can be significant for your organisation.