Cultural diversity in the workplace can be described as the working environment where workers come from different cultural backgrounds, including language, ethnicity, and identity. Scholars have substantially contributed to the discussion on the advantages and disadvantages of maintaining cultural diversity in the workplace. Culturally diverse workplaces can benefit corporations by creating a convenient and inclusive environment for innovation and providing diverse cultural perspectives in decision-making.
Benefits of Cultural Diversity in the Workplace
Creativity and Innovation
One of the most widely discussed benefits of cultural diversity in the workplace is its positive effect on innovation. Specifically, different opinions deriving from cultural diversity will likely encourage an environment where employees will produce innovative ideas. Aljaberi and Almarri (2017) provide a real-time example of how cultural diversity fosters innovation in the nuclear energy company in the United Arab Emirates. Cletus et al. (2018) have also emphasized increased creativity as one of the potential benefits of diversity. Thus, the primary benefit of cultural diversity is its significant contribution to enhancing creativity and hence, innovation.
Inclusivity and Productivity
A culturally heterogeneous workplace environment is likely to be more inclusive than culturally homogenous workplaces. In other words, workers are likely to feel more comfortable in an environment where individuals from different cultural backgrounds are represented. In turn, inclusivity encourages individuals to share their ideas without hesitation and be much more productive (Lambert, 2016). Hence, another primary benefit of cultural diversity is the worker’s inclusivity and subsequent increase in productivity.
The recent increase in the public awareness of progressive ideas, including workplace diversity, presents a challenge for companies to adapt their workplaces more diversely. A failure to maintain culturally, among other aspects, diverse environments is likely to alienate customers, employees, and business partners (Cletus et al., 2018). While employees want to feel comfortable in their workplace, business partners obtain a positive reputation for cooperating with progressive, culturally diverse corporations.
Impact of Cultural Diversity on Decision-Making
Cultural diversity in the workplace can impact the decision-making process of corporations by providing a unique perspective on customer expectations. Workers from different cultural backgrounds are likely to be more knowledgeable of the cultural uniqueness of the particular target audience and give this information to improve customer services (Ravazzani, 2016; Cletus et al., 2018). In other words, culturally homogeneous corporations are likely to misunderstand the expectations of particular cultural groups, given their limited firsthand experience. Meanwhile, culturally heterogeneous companies can better understand and meet the customer demands through the unique firsthand perspective of their workers. As such, a higher level of cultural diversity encourages better, more informed decision-making.
To conclude, cultural diversity is one of the essential aspects of corporate culture that brings several benefits by facilitating innovation, productivity, and corporate attractiveness. Cultural diversity also enables companies to identify better and meet culture-driven customer demands and make better decisions. Hence, corporations should actively embrace strategies to increase cultural diversity by hiring more employees from culturally different backgrounds and addressing ethnic and cultural discrimination.
Aljaberi, M. & Khalid, Almarri (Eds.). (2017). The impact of cultural diversity on the technological innovation process in the nuclear energy corporations. International Group on Research Reactors, IAEA.
Cletus, H. E., Mahmood, N. A., Umar, A., & Ibrahim, A. D. (2018). Prospects and challenges of workplace diversity in modern day organizations: A critical review. HOLISTICA – Journal of Business and Public Administration, 9(2), 35–52.
Lambert, J. (2016). Cultural diversity as a mechanism for innovation: Workplace diversity and the Absorptive Capacity Framework. University Libraries.
Ravazzani, S. (2016). Understanding approaches to managing diversity in the Workplace. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, 35(2), 154–168.