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Managing Cultural Diversity Involves Transformation: 5 Strategies To Succeed

In today’s modern world, technology is only one of the factors giving many companies the opportunity to recruit the best people, from all around the world. This translates to people from different countries, cultures, and ways of life put together in offices or remote work spheres.

Yes, the benefits of diversity in the workplace are numerous and very much appreciated, but managing cultural diversity involves transformation which is not always an easy task. For this reason, we bring you some of the best strategies that you can put into practice in your organization. Let’s review them: 

If you need help building a healthy work environment, try EasyLlama’s Diversity and Inclusion Training. We help you raise awareness about cultural differences in your company.

5 Strategies To Manage Cultural Diversity In The Workplace

Here are 5 strategies to help transform your organization and effectively manage cultural differences in the workplace:

1. Hiring

Your recruitment approach is one of the most important drivers of diversity in the workplace. Biased hiring decisions and processes that do not aim for diversity can lead to a homogenous workforce. 

Here are some recruitment strategies for organizations to hire a diverse workforce:

  • Widen your applicant search by posting job ads on diverse job boards
  • Optimize your job postings by writing inclusive descriptions and avoiding gender-coded language
  • Train your recruitment team on how to tackle unconscious bias to create awareness
 

2. Communication

Organizations must ensure culturally inclusive communication with employees in order to manage a diverse workforce. All procedures, safety rules, and other important information should be designed properly in order to overcome cultural and language barriers. 

Translating materials when possible as well as using symbols and pictures is a great way to make everyone feel included. This will make your message easier to understand for all employees regardless of their native language.

Also, give people enough time to think before and during meetings or presentations as language barriers may prevent them from expressing their thoughts and questions clearly. Ideally, send out meeting agendas in advance to allow members enough time to prepare for it.

3. Religious Accommodations

Another important aspect to keep in mind when managing cultural diversity is religious differences. As an employer, you are required to provide workplace religious accommodation. This includes schedule changes, dress code exceptions, and excused absences from programs that might be conflictive with the employees’ beliefs. 
Some of the accommodations you can provide are: 

Schedule Changes

You should provide schedule flexibility to allow your employees enough time to perform religious activities like prayer days, or Sabbath. Even New Year, Christmas, and other common holidays are celebrated on different days depending on culture and religion. It is important for you to be aware of this and allow schedule modifications if needed.

Exceptions To Dress Code

Some religions do not allow women to wear pants or short skirts, while others require them to wear religious head scarfs or skull caps. Other religions prohibit men from cutting their hair and beard, which may not adhere to your established dress code.

Generally speaking, you have the right to set boundaries, create dress codes or grooming standards including wearing jewelry or displaying piercings and tattoos. But when an employee argues that your policies conflict with their religious beliefs, you may opt to make an exception.

Excused Absence From Programs

As an employer, you are free to include religious expressions in your meetings, training material, and other functions. You may also choose to include spiritual practices and express humanist beliefs. 

However, considering the cultural differences of a diverse workforce, you must allow employees whose religious beliefs conflict with your program, to be excused from attendance.

4. Team-Building

Effective team-building practices are essential when managing cultural diversity in the workplace. Making sure everybody feels like they are an important part of the group will make team members more open and comfortable around each other, potentializing the benefits of cultural competence.
You can come up with different team-building activities such as off-site trips or have informal gatherings for lunch. Activities like scavenger hunt will get everybody collaborating and encourage them to work together, or a “circle of appreciation” to get everybody acknowledging good traits about each other.

5. Intercultural Interaction

The best way to show your employees that you appreciate and respect cultural differences is by being open to their traditions and values. Avoid embracing or promoting only one culture in your workplace and make an effort to learn more about the characteristics of your employees’ traditions.
For example, during the holiday season, make sure decorations are varied to represent the different cultures, or include popular dishes from different countries at employee gatherings. 

Best Organizational Practices

Managing cultural diversity also requires organizations to have policies and practices in place. This will ensure that employees’ rights are protected and the company stays compliant with government regulations. Consider the following.

Policies and Procedures

You must develop concrete policies that outline the company’s expectations regarding employees’ conduct. Express your commitment to making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect at all times. Also, specify procedures to follow in case of a violation of any given policy. 

Your policy should include the proper procedures to report a discriminatory incident and the disciplinary actions an employee may be subject to. 

Zero-Tolerance Policy

Organizations should put in place a zero-tolerance policy to handle misconduct and specific behaviors that will not be tolerated. These include offensive jokes about ethnicity, gender or religion, slurs, name-calling, and any other intentional abusive behavior.

Remember, a key to the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy is communicating it effectively to your employees. Review it with all new hires and include it in your employee handbook.

Sensitivity Training

Sensitivity training in the workplace is important to make sure all employees understand how to co-exist with a culturally diverse range of people. Creating self-awareness, empathy, and tolerance are some of the main objectives of this type of training program. 

To achieve effective sensitivity training, you can complement employees’ education with diversity and inclusion training as well as provide them with an open, judgment-free environment. Make employees feel comfortable discussing concerns regarding day-to-day interactions with their co-workers.

EasyLlama can help you provide all of the necessary training material for your company. We are a top-compliance online training platform that offers easy-to-access material that is fun and engaging. 

With our help, you can raise diversity awareness among all your employees and build a positive work environment.