Examples of how cultural differences impact the workplace
The diversity in today’s workplace means we must be more sensitive to those other cultures, as much as people from other cultures must be sensitive to yours. However, it also means that the culture of the workplace has changed. Cultural competency refers to the ability to interact with people from different cultures, as well as social and economic backgrounds. It measures the ability to effectively work with people who don’t share the same native language, who celebrate different holidays, who may not share the same beliefs, principles, or lifestyle. In today’s workplace, being culturally competent is critical not only to personal success, but to the success of the organization, as well.
A diverse labour pool is vital to any organization. It refers to the workforce, which includes individuals with a wide range of characteristics. Undoubtedly, it goes beyond the employees’ skin colour, hair, looks, religion, and ethnicity. It encompasses different significant factors like personality, education, interests, hobbies, and sexual orientation. Race, talents, cognitive styles, and abilities follow the list. People from different backgrounds and cultures come together to strengthen the diverse workforce. Each cause of cultural differences in the workplace can manifest in several ways depending on the environment and the unique backgrounds of your team members. Some of the most common examples of cultural differences in the workplace are:
Culture and generation often impact how people dress. For example, many Sikh men wear a turban as part of their religious commitment. Dress code restrictions on headwear can infringe on their right to religious expression in most circumstances. Another instance of cultural differences in dress code is younger generations who value personal expression dressing more casually at work than older generations who value conformity and traditional professional dress.
Different cultures have their own expectations about giving and receiving feedback in the workplace. For example, in China it is uncommon to criticize workplace superiors in any way. Someone who moved from China to the U.S. may be less vocal in group conversations because they expect to be called on by a manager before they share their ideas.
People from different backgrounds communicate differently depending on how they were raised. For example, people with European backgrounds tend to expect high levels of eye contact and directly say what they mean in conversations. They can be more comfortable rejecting requests and saying no. People from Native American cultures, on the other hand, can see direct eye contact as intimidating or disrespectful and use indirect communication to be polite, making suggestions instead of demands.
Employee ideas about teamwork and individualism can also show up in the workplace. Some people were raised to be independent and problem-solve on their own, while others rely on teamwork and community to be successful. For example, Gen X and Gen Z are both characterized by being more independent, while Millennials and Baby Boomers are more team-oriented.
Source: 4 Examples of Cultural Differences in the Workplace
Diversity and inclusion activities should exist in the life-blood of every company. It’s up to that company’s strategy how it leads to earning a competitive advantage.