Why You Should Build a Multicultural Workplace


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With rapidly increasing globalization and increasing numbers of diverse individuals in professional fields, there’s almost no excuse for not having a diverse team in the workplace. At no other time in history have we had access to such an immense amount of technology, education, and qualified individuals than we do right now.

So why is diversity so difficult for companies to achieve?

Sure, diversity is something that “sounds nice”, but there hasn’t exactly been follow-through over the years. Past attempts have gotten the process completely wrong, with most programs ending in false results.

However, while many of these initiatives have backfired, researchers have honed in on much better practices for developing and running a multicultural workplace. Here are some ways to create a workplace culture that is, in fact, based on culture.

It Starts from Within

The first step is looking at your company and asking if it’s reflective of the racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and gender demographics of the local community. If it is, then that’s great. However, be mindful as to what the national averages for these demographics are as a whole. Just because your company’s demographics run parallel to its location doesn’t necessarily mean you’re hosting a diverse workplace.

It’s also important to think about how your business’s growth could impact the culture of a city. Even if your business only creates a .05% increase in the total population, that’s still a significant mark; it will likely earn you praise from local government and community leaders. This improves relationships with not just your company, but your town as well. As a result, maintaining diversity in your hiring can, in turn, promote diversity in your city. This is a significant responsibility and should be handled with care.

From the Top Down

A true multicultural workplace starts with leadership. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, having leaders from different cultures helps define diversity more tangibly, increases engagement with organizations around the community, and gives employees a benchmark of cultural awareness.

By building out your company’s direction from the top, you’re not only setting the standard as to what culture will exist but how individuals within it will interact. After all, diversity doesn’t necessarily just constitute a wide variety of races and sexes, but experiences as well. This is critical in bringing in new ideas and is a foundation for collaboration and innovation — this diversity of ideas is integral to the success of businesses in all industries. Finally, by having a level playing field for folks of all different backgrounds, you’re also reducing communication barriers across the board.

Another strategy to implement tenets of diversity from the top down is paying attention to the safety needs of a diverse workforce. By putting up safety signs that follow Spanish Language Compliance and communicating with OSHA Diverse Workforce Coordinators to learn about workshops and seminars to promote diversity, you can work to ensure that your team will be safe, secure, and productive.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

According to a study by McKinsey, ethnically diverse firms are 35% more likely to outperform their competitors and gender diverse groups are also 15% more likely to do the same.

This is because these companies are often more attractive to top-tier talent, have an improved sense of customer service, and hold an overall higher rate of employee satisfaction. Additionally, a larger pool of opinions and perspectives brings about better decision making, one of the most vital aspects to the success of any business.

Although there’s no direct correlation between having a more diverse staff and higher profits, these influencing factors strongly suggest better performance across the board.

Final Thoughts

In recent memory, we’ve witnessed several companies fail at trying to approach and embrace diversity (ahem, Pepsi). This can be an absolute nightmare for not only how the general public perceives a firm, but how it’s looked at from within as well. No one wants to work for a place that comes off as insensitive or out of touch, especially when it’s where they spend at least a third of their day.

While it’s true that having a multicultural workplace is an idea we inherently love, the actual practice of it is sadly still lagging behind. It’s important to approach this not just from a holistic perspective, but from a business one as well. How your employees and their peer groups view your brand is critical to its success, and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Finally, this isn’t just a company you’re building, but a family. The dynamic of it is defined solely by you, but bear in mind that you want them to not just call your business home, but the community you’re building as well.

AJ Agrawal
I am a regular writer for Forbes, Inc., Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Media (among others), as well as CEO and Chairman of Alumnify Inc. Proud alum from 500 Startups and The University of San Diego. Follow me on Twitter @ajalumnify


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