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Organizations are changing to welcome a multicultural and diverse workforce. They promote representation and invite people from different corners of the globe to bring in their unique perspectives. Diversity is a powerful source of inspiration that can empower performance and innovation within the organization.
However, to reap the benefits of diversity, an organization needs to promote cultural awareness at all levels and make everyone feel like they belong. Employees should learn how to empathize with one another and understand the differences in cultural beliefs, ethics, values, and perceptions. It’s the only way to create real unity in the workplace and achieve success as a team.
In this article, we’ll focus on the meaning of cultural awareness in the workplace and discuss several strategies to develop it in your organization.
Cultural awareness refers to the consciousness and sensitivity of different cultural beliefs, values, perspectives, and behaviors. It supports productivity and communication in the workplace. Cultural awareness helps people who come from different countries, speak different languages, and have different religions work together.
Cultural awareness influences employees’ attitudes and perceptions of other cultures and their own cultural backgrounds. It’s a complex concept that includes:
- consciousness and sensitivity of one’s culture;
- attitude to cultural differences;
- knowledge of diverse cultural values and behaviors;
- skills for dealing with cross-cultural matters.
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Here are some examples of how cultural awareness can boost the performance of any organization.
- Improved conflict resolution. Culture shapes the way people behave when there’s a note of discord in teamwork. Some might try to avoid conflict at all costs or try to resolve it through third parties, while others will address any disagreements immediately and directly. Knowing cultural differences, employees will be better at handling conflicts.
- Respectful relationships. Unless people understand cultural differences, they might cause misunderstandings or show a lack of respect without even giving a thought. For example, the ways people maintain eye contact, position themselves in space, and use gestures vary depending on their cultural background. Awareness helps to identify cultural behaviors and show that you respect them.
- Flexible and adaptable workplace. Culture may influence the workplace at many different levels: from leadership styles and strategic direction to one’s attitude to deadlines and task completion. Cultural awareness increases employees’ level of adaptability and teaches them to be more flexible and open-minded. As a result, they can adapt to any work environment and continue to be productive.
- More ideas and creative inspiration. Each member of a multicultural team brings new perspectives and views. Cultural competence increases the chances to leverage this diversity and use it for better decision-making and problem-solving.
- Effective communication. Cultural awareness enables people to be good listeners and communicators. They are more sensitive to cultural perceptions and behaviors and thus are more likely to get their message across without misunderstandings. It may not be obvious at first, but it is exactly what students are required to do when writing essays in college – to deliver their message and opinion without any misunderstanding. And that is what writing services that do my essay for me by quality authors are required to do as well.
Building a culturally literate workplace requires commitment from all employees and the leadership of a company. These strategies will help you reach the goal.
- Celebrate holidays and festivals. You can support cultural literacy by creating a shared calendar of holidays and festivals that are traditional to different cultures. Encourage employees to fill it out and share events that matter to them. It promotes acceptance and respect for diversity. You can send information about each holiday and its origin in company emails and host special staff dinners with traditional food and beverages that are typical to a certain culture.
- Create opportunities for employees to connect. Employees need to have opportunities to network and share their culture with colleagues. Exchanging ideas about their values and traditions helps to strengthen their relationships and improve team building. Employees who share a common culture can develop affinity groups to support each other and nurture their individuality.
- Provide cultural awareness training. As we’ve already discussed, knowledge is an integral part of cultural awareness. To become culturally competent, employees need training. Share information about different cultures and hold workshops where people can learn about values, conflict resolution, negotiation, etiquette, and nonverbal behavior in a cross-cultural work environment. The knowledge of cultural differences will make employees better communicators.
- Encourage open discussions. Open communication will increase cultural awareness in an organization. Encourage employees to gather and discuss culture-related issues. It will help to prevent cultural conflicts and eliminate bias. It might be helpful to create an online platform where employees can share their thoughts and voice concerns without hesitation or fear.
- Support diversity with corporate policies. Cultural awareness should be reflected in the policies of the organization. Intentions to build a diverse and multicultural workplace need to be supported with corresponding rules and guidelines. They’ll inform employees on what is considered acceptable and ethical behavior in the workplace.
- Ask for feedback. Building a harmonious cross-cultural workplace isn’t easy. It requires everyone to be equally committed to the promotion of inclusion and diversity. Ask employees for help with developing workplace policies and rules. You can also conduct surveys to find out more about their needs and evaluate the level of cultural awareness in the organization. This creates an ongoing conversation that allows everyone to be heard.
Being conscious of other cultures and their values enhances unity in the workplace. It allows employees to get along with colleagues as well as understand the needs and values of their clients. They become aware of how culture shapes people’s beliefs, perceptions, and behaviors. This helps people to empathize with each other to make communication effective and improve decision-making.