If you google the definition of the workplace, the search results would most likely say a place where people work. Jeez, thanks Captain Obvious. It’s not very shocking that such a term would have such a bland definition but it certainly raises the following questions.
What does the workplace mean to you? Is it just another place in your life or is it something more?
The workplace is NOT simply a location where people work. It is a melting pot of ideas, opinions and most importantly, it is a melting pot of different cultures working together with a shared goal. We live in 2020 not the 1950s, so it’s very likely that if you’ve ever been employed at least ONCE in your lifetime, you’ve worked with someone from another culture.
HOW TO ADAPT TO MULTICULTURALISM
We live in an increasingly multicultural world. Immigration has reached new records and more and more places are becoming more racially and culturally diversified. One of these places is the workplace. A very diverse workspace has many benefits but in order to truly take advantage of this diversity, it is crucial that all employees be open to change. Here are a few ways to do so.
1. Be open-minded.
In order to adapt to a pluralistic workspace, you have to be more understanding and more receptive to new ideas from people of different backgrounds.
“In diversity there is strength.” — Maya Angelou.
Dismiss all past stereotypes that you have attached to people of other races and cultures. Most, if not all, stereotypes and stigmas placed upon people of different cultures tend to be untrue, so do not let them cloud your judgement or make you shut someone out because they’re not a carbon copy of you and your beliefs. People from different backgrounds can even teach you new ways to approach obstacles, new strategies and new work habits. Even beyond that, you may even make a new friend that can show you the world through a completely different lens.
2. Create a friendly work climate.
The goal should ALWAYS be to make people feel welcome in the workplace regardless of their religion, colour, race, ethnicity, nationality, etc. Ask yourself these questions.
Are you someone that frequently boasts about your culture? Is your culture the predominant one of the country you reside in?
If you answered yes to any of those questions…STOP. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to share your culture, BUT if your culture is the most dominant of your home country, then it’s very likely that everyone is already acquainted with it. Now no one’s saying to do a silent protest, but instead of always making things about you, try to create a friendly atmosphere that would encourage an employee from another culture to share their beliefs and values as well.
3. Build a spirit of teamwork.
Introducing activities to bring employees together can reap excellent results. These activities do not have to be extravagant and can be as simple as a group lunch. These activities build a sense of togetherness and employees that have great bonds with each other, would have a more positive attitude towards their work. This would be a great thing for any business, big or small, because people would happily put more effort into their work as they won’t feel alienated for being different.
As previously mentioned, there are many benefits that come with a diverse work environment. Let’s explore some of these advantages.
1. You learn new things.
People from different backgrounds tend to have a different philosophy. They see things from another perspective. A business can profit from this as they can learn new organizational strategies and workers can even adopt new habits which can lead to an increase in productivity.
2. More clients.
The inclusion of multiple cultures in a business can greatly increase its clientele. If businesses market themselves as inclusive and diverse, people of various backgrounds would see them as safe places. Places where they are welcomed. As a result, if they are ever in need of something they would turn to these businesses for help because of their inclusivity. They would even promote these businesses to their friends and so forth.
3. You become more educated.
As you spend more time getting to know colleagues from different cultures, you learn more about them and others who share their beliefs. You develop a deeper appreciation for others and their differences and you even stop believing most stereotypes.
Multiculturalism is not something to be afraid of. It should be embraced with open arms. To keep up with our constantly changing world and to truly make significant progress as human beings, we also have to evolve our way of thinking towards others we perceive as “different.”
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