10 Amazing Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace

In this era of technology and globalisation, many companies are making an effort to succeed in cultural diversity in the workplace. There are some very positive benefits of having a more diverse workforce.

Let’s discuss ten amazing benefits to individuals and employing companies;

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved creativity
  • Increased profits
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Improved company reputation
  • Wider range of skills
  • Improves cultural insights
  • Improved customer service
  • Improved compassion

Before we dive into the main benefits though, what exactly do we mean when we say culture and diversity?

Culture encompasses the beliefs, values, norms and behaviours of people. Cultural elements may include; languages, what and how people eat, festivals, rituals and pastimes.

One may attain culture as a result of how they were brought up or from the societies in which they spend most of their time. An example of culture is the Chinese culture of gift giving.

Within culture comes a lot of considerations. In the gift giving culture of China for instance, care is taken to ensure that the gift achieves its intended purpose, which is to build and maintain relationships.

What is cultural diversity in the workplace?

Cultural diversity in the workplace is when companies are open to hiring employees from different backgrounds; regardless of race, religion or culture.

When companies recruit and retain a diverse pool of people, it brings about different benefits to the company as well as its employees.

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In a culturally diverse workplace you will find a multilingual team and have a diverse range of ages working together.

Other types of diversity in the workplace

Before diving into the benefits of cultural diversity, let’s discuss other types of diversity in the workplace. Being aware of these differences lends itself to a deeper understanding of cultural diversity.

Gender diversity

This pertains to the representation of both sexes in the workplace and availing growth opportunities for all.

Ethnic diversity

An ethnically diverse workplace has people from different ethnic groups at different levels in the workplace.

Age diversity

Both young and old employees are given opportunities commensurate with their skills. Both are also availed training opportunities.

Social diversity

With social diversity, employees are from different social groups. For instance, you will find that they are from different universities and neighbourhoods.

Workers who are differently abled

In such a workplace, people are hired for their skills and not what their bodies look like. In such a workplace you will likely find wheelchair ramps, bathrooms for wheelchair users and more improvements to cater to all employees.

“When employees respect each other and get along in the workplace, it’s amazing how productivity increases, morale increases and employees are more courteous to customers.”

– Maureen Wild

Here are 10 benefits of cultural diversity:

Cultural diversity can improve productivity levels

Do you know that a diverse company can lead to greater productivity? Diversity brings in different talents together, all of them working towards a common goal using different sets of skills.

In their research, The economic value of cultural diversity: evidence from US cities, the Authors conclude that “these findings are consistent with a dominant positive effect of diversity on productivity: a more multicultural urban environment makes US-born citizens more productive.”

Companies will also gain from each employee by learning from each other’s experiences and applying this new-found knowledge to their work. Employees from all sorts of different backgrounds get to learn from their colleagues’ experiences from a different perspective. Thus, they are able to bring fresh ideas to the project by thinking out of their comfort zone.

Remember that a diverse workplace combines employees from different backgrounds, ethnicity and experiences, and together breed a more productive environment.

Cultural diversity increases creativity

Another benefit of cultural diversity in the workplace is the increase in creativity among teams, and the ability to have a more diverse set of solutions to specific problems.

In this Forbes article, the writer points out that “Research on creativity and innovation has been consistent in showing the value of exposing individuals to experiences with multiple perspectives and worldviews. It is the combination of these various perspectives in novel ways that result in new ideas “popping up.”

With so many different and diverse minds coming and working together, many more solutions will arise as every individual brings in their personal way of thinking, operating and solving problems and making decisions.

More to the point, cultural diversity in the workplace makes room for new hybrid ideas. Picture a blend of ideas from employees with different perspectives and experiences. This can give you a completely new idea that can serve everyone better.

This episode of the Hidden Brain podcast discusses how diversity and creativity are linked in the workplace.  The podcast guest, social scientist Adam Galinsky found that in a study on creativity and diversity, students who interacted with people from other cultures were more creative than their counterparts.

The results from a diverse workforce can even be a source of competitive advantage for the company.

Cultural diversity can increase profits

Many recent studies have shown that increased cultural diversity in the workplace can lead to greater profits for the organisation.

A 2013 survey undertaken by think tank, Center for Talent Innovation, found that 48 per cent of companies in the US with more diversity at senior management level improved their market share the previous year, while only 33 per cent companies with less diverse management reported similar growth.

This may be in part to global business trends, and the benefits of language diversity in creating an entrepreneurial mindset.

For example, with the rise of companies dealing their businesses in China, a company that hires employees fluent in Mandarin to increase the company’s reputation in Chinese communities could see results like an increase in sales, which could in turn result in improved profits.

cultural diversity
Image: Unsplash

Cultural diversity can improve employee engagement

What better way to learn about other cultures than from colleagues that come from a different background than your own? Forget about researching them online.

Ask and learn them from employees during lunch break or after work drinks. What is the point of having a pool of diverse employees when they do not learn more about each other’s lifestyle and culture?

When your employees are sharing their personal experiences about high school or what every festive season meant to them, they are building a trusting relationship with their colleagues. This is great because it increases employee engagement.

Feeling connected as a group, as well as feeling valued for our personal differences improves wellbeing.  It leads to improved self-worth. In addition to seeing an improvement in engagement, organisations can see improved job satisfaction and improved motivation. These are all good for the company’s performance.

Cultural diversity helps to attract and retain talent

There is an increased demand for qualified talent and businesses are doing their best to get the best people to work for them. One way they can beat the competition is by having a diverse workforce.

According to Glassdoor, 2 out of 3 job candidates consider diversity when deciding where to work. A company that embraces cultural diversity in the workplace immediately entices a wider pool of candidates for its job vacancies. Higher-educated candidates who experienced diversity while at university may feel that a diverse company is more progressive and therefore will want to work there.

Being known for diversity can lead to more candidates applying for a job with a company, widening the pool of applicants and increasing the company’s choices.

Workplace diversity can easily be achieved in today’s remote working age. Businesses have already identified tools such as Android Mobile Device Management Solutions that help them manage their remote operations, keep their employees from different parts of the world seamlessly connected and provide secure remote access to corporate resources.

See also How We Encourage Diversity and Equality in Our Content Marketing

When companies recruit from a diverse set of potential employees, they are more likely to hire the best of the best for the industry.

In a constantly increasingly competitive economy where skills and talents are crucial to improving the company, putting together the most diverse set of candidates is increasingly necessary to succeed in the market.

Studies also show that job seekers are often drawn to companies with diverse workforces because it is publicly obvious that these companies do not practice employment discrimination.

Cultural diversity reflects positively on reputation

Another benefit of cultural diversity in the workplace is the positive reputation that the company receives. Companies who recruit and encourage individuals from a wide range of backgrounds generally gain a reputation for being a good employer.

Potential clients can see themselves reflected in the staffing of the company. This can lead to them feeling more valued, which can drive business to the company.

A diverse collection of skills and experiences allows a company to provide services to customers on a global basis because the company is able to relate and understand their clients better, and some even on a personal level.

Cultural diversity encourages wider range of skills

When companies hire a more diverse workforce from all backgrounds, these employees inevitably bring their own specific skills that can often be just as diverse.

Having a wider range of skills and knowledge available to them, these companies often enjoy a more diverse and adaptable range of products and services that they can offer to their respective markets.

In addition, working with people from varied cultures provides employees with more confidence in dealing with situations outside of their comfort zones. If you are looking to offer your teams new experiences, to build character and confidence, pair them with people different from them.

Diversity in cultures means diversity in skills and therefore products and service offerings. At the same time, due to shared learning, it means growth in employee skills.

Cultural diversity can lead to improved customer service

The positive effects of a culturally diverse workforce trickle down to the employees. Employees who appreciate and value diversity are respectful, they are empathetic, keen to understand and thus can better serve diverse clients.

The awareness of diversity can be seen through active listening; allowing customers to share their concerns, listening without interrupting and above all, patience.

Even when they don’t know how to navigate a situation with a customer, employees in a diverse environment are curious and remain open to learning.

Cultural diversity improves insights and reduces racism

By enjoying a more culturally diverse workforce, it is often found that employees then spend more time in their daily lives with people from cultural backgrounds that they are often never exposed to.

The end result of this is that employees learn new cultural insights and this in turn, reduces negative emotions such as racism, homophobia, sexism and the like.

Cultural diversity leads to improved compassion

Compassion in the workplace is seen in how people interact with each other, with customers and with other stakeholders. Employees who are compassionate are able to see things from someone else’s perspective. Instead of being judgemental or dismissive, they are understanding.

This quality arises from working alongside people from different cultures. For instance, your employees will not be surprised if a client requests to have a meeting done on another day because of a cultural engagement. Compassion reduces conflicts and helps in the building of better team dynamics.

How to support cultural diversity in the workplace

Employers need to nurture cultural diversity in the workplace. Employees too have a role to play in being the kinds of employees who encourage and thrive in diversity.

What employers can do:

Carry out diversity training

In order to enjoy the benefits of diversity, employees need to know how to navigate intercultural encounters.  A diversity training program will arm your employees with the skills necessary.

This type of training will teach people to appreciate differences among colleagues, build their awareness of diverse groups, improve interpersonal skills and ultimately create a positive work environment.

The benefits of diversity training will not stop with employees, they will spill over to their interactions with customers and other stakeholders.

Have a culture day

To show employees that cultural diversity is supported, organisations can have culture days. On these days, people from different cultures have a chance to share their traditions with their colleagues. Invite employees to bring food, talk about their traditions, exhibit their dressing and more.

This encourages people to be proud of their culture and shows everyone in the workplace that the organisation values diversity.

Have clear policies around diversity

Workplaces have different policies guiding how things are done. These help to build culture and guide people on the right processes and systems to use. In order to encourage diversity in the workplace, organisations should institute policies around it.

These can be anti-discriminatory policies, hiring and promotion policies and different policies embedded in their HR code committing to creating a cultural diverse workplace.

Global HR plays a crucial role in overseeing the implementation and enforcement of these policies on a worldwide scale, ensuring that the company’s commitment to cultural diversity and inclusivity is effectively integrated into all aspects of its operations across various countries and regions.

What employees can do:

Employees too have a role to play to create a culture where diversity thrives. This goes beyond asking workmates to explain their cultures. They too can take proactive steps to learn, welcome and accommodate diversity in the workplace.

Educate yourself

Read up on resources about different cultures. These can be books, articles and more. Remain curious and open to learning about other people and how they live.

Remain curious

It is not uncommon that terms we use and things we have done for so long can turn out to be hurtful to certain cultures. As an employee, remain open to learning when a colleague corrects you or shows you the right way.

Remember that culture evolves so remain open to learning.

In Summary

When next planning to hire new employees, consider making an effort to hire a diverse range of people, across gender, age and cultural backgrounds. This should apply whether you have a remote workforce or you have one office. Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace inspire all of their employees to perform to their highest ability.

By having a diverse workforce, your organisation can soon enjoy a wide range of benefits, such as the ones we have mentioned in this article;

  • Increased productivity
  • Improved creativity
  • Increased profits
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Reduced employee turnover
  • Improved company reputation
  • Wider range of skills
  • Improved cultural insights
  • Improved customer service
  • Improved compassion

I wish you all the best in increasing the cultural diversity in your team and workforce!

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald Ainomugisha

Gerald is a freelance writer with a pen that is keen for entrepreneurship, business and technology. When he isn't writing insightful articles on employee engagement and corporate culture, Gerald can be found writing for a number of media outlets.