Behind every innovation is a diverse team of people with different cultural backgrounds and perspectives. Although it’s tempting to believe that similarity is the path to success, true innovation flourishes when fueled by multiple perspectives.
Research shows that cultural diversity (which also includes ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic, gender, and religious diversity) is a key ingredient in fostering creativity and innovation. However, fewer have taken steps to highlight linguistic diversity.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Leaders who give diverse voices equal airtime are nearly twice as likely as others to unleash value-driving insights, and employees in a ‘speak up’ culture are 3.5 times as likely to contribute their full innovative potential.”
You don’t have to be a company with a global presence in order to benefit from cultural diversity on your team. In today’s more remote environment, talent acquisition has become an increasingly global proposition in an effort to bring new perspectives to the table.
In our office, Mango Languages embraces cultural diversity — there are over 30 languages collectively spoken by Mango Languages team members and over 19 different cultural backgrounds represented.
What are some ways that my organization can embrace cultural diversity?
Encourage language and culture sharing:
- Request an additional field to be added to your company’s internal newsletter or a space on your intranet where team members can pitch ideas which might not normally be heard.
- Consider creating an ESL/ELL conversation group to help expats who are learning English. These groups are also a great way to get to know people from other cultures!
- Weave diverse cultural behaviors and etiquette into the everyday work environment. For example, practice the Japanese way of handing out a business card (using both hands) or the German way of conducting a meeting — straight to the point.
- Equip your human resources department or training and development team with cultural and language-learning resources that can be easily accessed through your organization’s LMS (learning management system).