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With the ever-changing demographics of the country, increased cultural diversity in the workplace can have a substantial effect on the workplace and on the individual professionals within it. Individuals can learn new ways of thinking, understand different points of view and create innovative solutions that may not have otherwise come to fruition. The same can be said of both managers and employees.
In the American workforce, the dominant language spoken is generally English. However, shifting demographics have encouraged the need for cultural diversity in the workplace, increasing the value of speaking more than one language. Working with other professionals from different cultural backgrounds can provide motivation for both managers and employees to embrace learning new languages such as Spanish or Mandarin in order to better communicate with both co-workers, direct reports and clients.
Increased Problem Solving
According to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, workplaces that boast a more culturally diverse environment are better at innovating and brainstorming new ideas. In fact, when an organization or department becomes so homogeneous that there is little to no diversity, the more likely employees are to only see one perspective or method of solving a problem. With increased diversity comes different life and career experiences that can provide the necessary insight to improving processes, products and services.
Better Conflict Resolution
Many workplaces experience conflict, but a more culturally diverse workplace may actually be better equipped to handle inter-office spats. When team members seemingly come from similar backgrounds, there can be an unintentional expectation that everyone will always get along or think the same. This can cause quite a jolt to team harmony when disagreements on how to approach an issue or problem arise. However, in groups with a stronger mix of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, there can be a heightened awareness of the possibility of disagreements. An employee or manager in the more diverse team will be more apt to recognize potential conflicts and more quickly identify solutions that will benefit the team and its members.
When professionals are immersed in a culturally diverse work team, they are more likely to be surrounded by peers of equal or great caliber, which improves the team's success rate. When teams are more homogeneous, the talent pool shrinks, meaning that employees and managers who may have heightened abilities are forced to work with individuals who may not be on their professional level. This can slow down team performance and decrease individual employee engagement. With a wider net cast, employers have a larger number of talented professionals to help grow their teams, which not only benefits the organization, but its individual team members as well.
M. Skylar Ezell has been writing about politics, entertainment, urban culture and career-related topics since 2007. His communications work for Fortune 500 companies in health care, technology and hospitality has resulted in international recognition, including the Association for Talent Development BEST Award and Achievers Global Award. He is a graduate of Georgia State University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and public relations.
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