In December 2002, the UN declared 21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
As stated by the UN, culture is commonly defined as "that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [a human] as a member of society."
In other words, cultural diversity obviously shows in gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, age, and other aspects, while the effects of culture are reflected in human behavior.
But what does cultural diversity stand for? Does it mean that we have different opportunities with regards to our professional career and that we are possibly favored over others because of different cultural backgrounds? What does cultural diversity imply for organizations and does it need management?
Management of Cultural Diversity is becoming more and more popular in workplaces as well as in lectures at universities or at conferences dedicated to this topic. With increasing globalization, diversity is increasing and so are the challenges but also the opportunities.
It is essential to look at diversity management, not only with regards to cultural differences themselves, but also with regards to its effect on work outcomes.
According to Taylor Cox, a leading expert on cultural diversity in organizations, managing diversity is one of the most important tasks we are facing today within organizations and it is “at the core of leadership”. Management of diversity is maximizing possible advantages while it is minimizing possible disadvantages.
There are three main reasons for managing diversity, and ultimately benefitting from it:
Managing diversity within organizations is a very complex topic and thus would require a lot more evaluation and explanation than we can handle within this article. Put briefly, here are a few approaches which can facilitate intercultural cooperation within organizations:
We should all bear in mind that cultural diversity is good and necessary not only for ourselves, but also for the organization we are working at! Various experiences can help us to get a better understanding of new markets. Multiple viewpoints make up a vibrant work environment and help to bring about more creative solutions than are possibly found within homogenous groups.
Going abroad, we should be open-minded and accept and respect the new culture we may experience. Likewise, back home, we should learn from other cultures and integrate them into our daily lives. No matter whether it is with regards to ethnicity, religion, gender, or other areas — make diversity management your topic. Today is the perfect day to start!
Martina Ambiel is currently studying Human Resource Education & Management at the Munich School of Management. After her first degree in Business Administration she lived and worked in Salzburg, Madrid and Singapore.
If you are an InterNations member and would like to contribute an article, do not hesitate to contact us!