Cultural Diversity: A Tool for Growth

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Technological advances and globalization have facilitated the exchange of trade, knowledge and skills between different cultures. Today, a company’s limits are defined by its business strategy and its ability to adapt and evolve quickly within a business ecosystem that is becoming more and more culturally diverse.

Multiculturalism and interculturalism

We often use the adjectives “multicultural” or “intercultural” when referring to a culturally diverse group. However, these concepts have different meanings, even though they are closely related. The Universidad Americana de Europa (UNADE) defines “multiculturality” as the respectful and peaceful coexistence of different cultures in a given space. In turn, it defines “interculturality” as taking things a step further, whereby these cultures not only coexist, but also relate and interact with each other, enabling the creation of common cultural expressions without individual cultures losing their unique identity.

While multiculturalism makes a very important contribution by promoting the healthy and safe coexistence of different cultures, interculturalism enables the creation of environments that become increasingly enriched thanks to cultural exchange. If we apply both concepts to the corporate world, a multicultural company is one whose collaborators belong to different ethnic groups, whereas an intercultural company is one that employs a group of collaborators from different parts of the world who work together to generate a shared corporate culture built on equity and respect.

Variety is the spice of life

If we compare our companies to a fine dining experience, we might find that the more varied our ingredients are, the more creative and universal our menu will be, which will increase our chances of attracting a larger number of diners.

According to HULT International Business School, culturally diverse groups provide companies with the following advantages, among others:

They are highly creative: Having people who have lived and learned through different experiences, in diverse scenarios and environments, fosters multiple points of view when similar issues or situations need to be addressed. Creativity is activated when solving problems, designing value propositions for clients, and creating procedures to improve productivity, among other situations. Innovation and diversity are encouraged.

They help us create relationships: Collaborators who have real-life experience with a given culture are essential to helping businesses build relationships with customers who belong to these same cultures. They provide first-hand, vital insights that can help companies develop professionally, design more global products or services, and communicate with confidence. They also provide guidelines in terms of procedures, standards of behaviour, and other key areas. They are an invaluable source of information when it comes to penetrating foreign markets.

They offer a wide range of skills: Intercultural teams have diverse skills that often complement each other. One such skill is a remarkable ability to adapt, which can help companies increase and improve their reactivity and thus provide a superior customer experience. Members of these teams train and strengthen their capacity to adapt more frequently than collaborators who belong to groups where only one culture prevails, even if several cultural groups coexist within the team.

They help us build a more inclusive corporate culture: Each culture has its own scale of values in which some values are considered more important than others. Working with collaborators whose values are diverse makes it possible for companies to enjoy a richer and more inclusive work culture that benefits not only their current and future collaborators, but also their customers, who will more easily be able to identify with the company’s values. Simply put, diverse values help create a more empathetic work environment.

And last but not least, to wrap up the fine dining analogy, another advantage of culturally diverse teams is the incredible variety of amazing food served at corporate events!

Multilingualism: one step further

Cultural diversity necessarily implies linguistic diversity. Needless to say, language is one of the most important aspects of culture. As such, linguistic competence is a gateway to adaptation and integration with other cultures and greatly facilitates cultural exchange.

In the business world, the ability to communicate with clients in their native language creates stronger and longer-lasting business relationships. The more languages spoken within an organization, the more opportunities there are to do business in foreign markets. Creating multilingual work teams is a competitive advantage in corporate internationalization processes.

But simply having multilingual collaborators is not enough, as multilingual content aimed at potential customers needs to be strategically developed to help open paths to new markets. According to the results of a survey carried out by CSA Research and was published on the website, approximately 40% of Internet users claim that they would never buy from websites that are not in their native language, and 65% of non-native English speakers prefer content in their mother tongue, even if they speak English.

Working together

The creation of culturally diverse work teams within organizations often takes place in an organic way, meaning that it does not follow a strategy that has been clearly defined by the organization, but rather occurs naturally as a result of discrimination-free and inclusive hiring policies where all candidates have the same possibilities regardless of their ethnic origin. In organizations that operate in societies with higher levels of immigration, it is more likely that culturally diverse groups are common, although it should be noted that thanks to technology, many of today’s companies work with collaborators located in different countries and belonging to different cultures.

To enjoy the benefits of cultural and linguistic diversity within our organizations, it is important that we define policies and action plans aimed at managing these groups properly and maximizing their potential. These actions may focus on training, raising awareness regarding the importance of cultural equity, and encouraging professional development opportunities at all hierarchical levels.

Encouraging and supporting collaborators in their efforts to learn a second or third language and creating impactful marketing and communication strategies in different languages are just some of the initiatives that can be implemented to take advantage linguistic diversity.

About The About BG Communications International Inc.

Backed by 28 years of experience providing comprehensive language solutions. Our goal is to help organizations connect effectively with their multilingual audiences. We support and guide them in the creation of content in multiple languages to be published in different channels and media.

Maryse Benhoff
BG Communications International Inc.