“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.” – Maya Angelou
Differences are a reality and yet, from the beginning of our education, homogeneity is the goal. Upon hearing the word diversity, people tend to associate it with abnormality.
Recognizing diversity as a value and not as a defect implies an effort by all of society to recognize the differences between groups of people and to accept them and be aware of the enormous value they have to build better societies.
Diversity must be a social value and not an obstacle to overcome. Differences can enrich us, and we should be able to see them as an opportunity and not as a rarity or as something unique.
It takes courage to be diverse in a world that doesn’t value or tolerate diversity as it should. It also takes courage to challenge the status quo and welcome diversity from people who may be considered “non-diverse.”
Diversity has fundamental value for businesses, for society by promoting healthy coexistence, and on a personal level, because it helps us live our lives with purpose and helps us raise our standards of tolerance and respect.
What is cultural diversity?
Cultural diversity refers to the variety of cultures that exist in humanity. It acts as a principle of openness and tolerance between ethnic groups, languages, religions, values, worldviews, etc. It is a principle of openness between cultures without any one culture being in a position of superiority over another.
Cultural diversity is expressed in all the elements that characterize each culture: language, dialects, religion, gastronomy, literature, music, clothing, dance, sexuality, art, festivals, sports, political order, etc.
According to UNESCO, “Cultural diversity is as necessary for mankind as biological diversity is for living organisms.”
It is an important force that drives development – not only economic development, but personal development, too, by helping to enrich people’s lives.
Differences have the potential to create positive solutions that allow coexistence in natural and social environments.
Discovering cultural diversity is a competitive advantage and a long-term commitment, especially for companies.
May 21 has been declared by the United Nations as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Its purpose is to raise awareness about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity, and inclusion, to combat polarization and stereotypes, and improve understanding and cooperation between people of different cultures. However, there is still ample room for improvement in business environments.
Today’s societies are becoming less homogeneous. Cultural and social differences are no longer an exception; they are the general trend. The great challenge for organizations is to know how to properly manage and enhance diversity to take advantage of and retain talent and to créate positive, tolerant, and fully inclusive work spaces.
Cultural diversity in the business world
Cultural and thought diversity is the new frontier in business, and diversity should be part of every company’s DNA. After all, new ideas come from different ways of looking at things.
Cultural and diversity of thought is the new frontier in business. Diversity without inclusion is not enough, however. Diversity is like being invited to a party, while inclusion is like not wanting to leave the party and being taken out to dance.
It is essential, moreover, to stress the importance of diversity as a strategy for the sustainability of organizations and society. Everyone in the organization must be committed to diversity.
Cultural and diversity of thought is the new frontier in business. When my team and I hold cultural diversity workshops, we often see that senior managers are reluctant to participate in the dynamics. If all members are not involved, it is very difficult to establish a diverse culture in the company. When we began holding workshops in which organizational leaders worked on areas of empathy and vulnerability, we began seeing the most success.
Changes and strategies for cultivating diversity must be promoted under the direction of company leadership.
From experience, the benefits of cultural diversity in a company include the following:
A culturally diverse team favors the continuous development of corporate culture and proposes innovative ways of thinking.
Each person brings something different from the knowledge they have gained, thereby enriching and increasing the value of the organization.
– Creativity and innovation: The different experiences and different ways of understanding the world by a multicultural team contribute much to creative and innovative processes.
-Differentiation and uniqueness: A culturally diverse team will stand out for something that makes them special.
– Broader vision and different points of view: When making decisions, more alternatives are considered and more ideas arise to help deal with an increasingly uncertain world.
– Teams that exhibit more unity and consciousness: Team members learn to respect differences and pay attention to what helps people improve. This creates more harmonious environments and more tolerance, therefore helping society improve.
– Economic development: Companies with diverse cultures have been proven to be more profitable.
– Promotion of globalization: Cultural diversity helps companies face the challenges of globalization and improve relations with the countries and people we work with around the world.
Empathy, the answer to creating more culturally diverse environments
Empathy is the ability to perceive another’s emotions and to understand what they are going through.
Rather than just putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, it is like trying to walk with them. Would they be too big for you?
In this way we can understand others without necessarily having to agree with them.
Empathy is a skill that can be developed and enhanced. It is a quality that allows us to relate well and forge positive, healthy relationships with other people in both business and personal environments.
Empathy is also fundamental to understanding diversity. When we take an interest in others on a human level, it creates feelings of well-being in people.
Empathy is the effort we make to understand and recognize people’s feelings, attitudes, and circumstances. Empathy creates endless possibilities to ensure people’s well-being and positive development.
Empathy is the key that will allow you to go farther by opening the door to greater opportunities. In the puzzle of life, it is the piece that will help you achieve happiness, prosperity, tranquility, and well-being.