Diversity and inclusion are talked about a lot these days in the workplace. That’s because diversity is both an ethical imperative for your business and a means to reinvigorate your bottom line.
Building a diverse and innovative workplace if possible for small- to medium-sized enterprises (SME) that adopt some inclusive best practices. Among these is hosting cross-cultural awareness training across the whole of your business.
Cross-cultural awareness training can allow you to optimize your own business for success. However, you must understand the importance of getting this training right if you are to reap the benefits you’re looking for. In this article, we explore how cross-cultural awareness training benefits the workplace and how you can better educate your own employees for inclusivity.
A diverse workplace is optimized for success
Global demographics are changing. In the United States, for instance, ethnic minorities are increasingly making up a larger portion of the workforce, and yet, they’re still underrepresented in leadership positions.
At the same time, the research is clear on the benefits of diversity for businesses that hire more equitably. For instance, diverse executive teams tended to outperform their more homogenous peers by as much as 33%. In addition, diverse teams showed 19% more revenue from innovation.
At this stage in the pandemic economy, it is more important than ever to invest in diversity to support your business’s ability to scale, innovate, and understand its customer base. Diversity and inclusion quite simply give your business the benefit of additional perspectives. When it comes to innovation, this is never a bad thing.
That’s why, time and time again, the data has shown positive outcomes for businesses that have an executive suite that is more representative of the larger public. Diversity optimizes a business for success by fostering empathy and developing an internal company culture that truly places its priorities on its people.
To get there, however, provide your teams with effective cross-cultural awareness training that demonstrates the importance of cross-cultural awareness in the global marketplace.
Cross-cultural awareness training creates opportunity
With cross-cultural awareness training, a workforce comes to recognize the ways they might consciously or unconsciously categorize and stereotype their co-workers and customers. the range of cross-cultural signifiers and various identities represented in the workplace will be broad. To ensure that everyone understands one another well enough to work effectively together, it helps have the benefit of perspective exploration.
This is what cross-cultural awareness is all about. An awareness of other cultures allows you to put yourself in the place of another and imagine what life might be like for them. This is a good standard not only for following the Golden Rule of treating others as you want to be treated but for understanding an audience, as well.
Research shows that cultural differences tend to correlate with sets of shared values and even behaviors. From a business analytics perspective, that is a gold mine. When you assemble a culturally diverse and inclusive team, you gain the ability to apply these perspectives seamlessly across your workflow. In turn, all kinds of opportunities emerge.
For an SME, having a workforce trained in cultural awareness can help you cultivate exactly the kind of working environment you need to be successful. These are the opportunities that follow as a result:
- Growth into new markets. Awareness of other cultures allows you to develop international scalability potential.
- Collaborations with industry partners. The common interest in cross-cultural awareness leads companies to connect with all kinds of valuable business partners.
- Attention from a larger consumer base. Two-thirds of surveyed consumers say they are at least somewhat likely to purchase from a brand that embodies diversity and inclusion.
So with an understanding of how important it is to develop a culturally aware workforce, you can begin to explore your options for providing comprehensive training. This means a program that covers everything from international cultures to generational ones—like the difference in values between Baby Boomers and Gen Z.
Tips for establishing a cross-cultural awareness training program
Cross-cultural awareness training is essential for any company wanting to improve its inclusion standards. To implement training that will really stick with a workforce, you’ll have to follow a set of best practices, designed to improve the success of inclusive training.
These are just a few of the methods you can employ when finding or developing the right training program for your team:
- Offer employees flexibility in how they train. These days, you have plenty of options for implementing cross-cultural awareness training. To enhance the effectiveness of your training, develop options like online micro-learning so that employees have flexibility in how they go about cultural learning.
- Ensure your training covers a spectrum of cultures. Cross-cultural awareness should cover a wide range of cultural differences, such as the unique challenges faced by younger generations. Social anxiety is one example of a condition more likely to affect and shape the workplace experience of a younger worker, and cross-cultural training can help all employees make work easier for these demographics.
- Adapt training to different learning styles. In addition to a variety of mediums, your training should be adaptable across learning styles. This means developing more interactive in-person learning as well as audio and video content. Everyone learns differently, and a broad approach helps your entire team become aware of cultural differences.
- Engage your team in discussions. It’s important to open up learning to questions and discussion. HR professionals can help facilitate helpful team discussions regarding cultural awareness and sensitivity.
- Invite evaluative feedback. Your cross-cultural training should be evaluated for effectiveness through an open invitation for feedback. If you aren’t hearing good things, it might be time to adjust the program.
By following these tips, you can better implement effective training. As a result, you’ll find it’s easier to cultivate the kind of engaging, inclusive workplace that readily innovates and grows.
Learning to succeed together
Cross-cultural awareness is one of the most important aspects of a healthy and productive workforce. For a more ethical and knowledgeable workplace, implement awareness training that engages workers and helps them gain insight into a broader human experience. This means training that showcases the value of inclusion and helps workers prevent painful cultural faux pas.
A diverse workplace is optimized for success, so lay the groundwork for that success now with cross-cultural awareness training.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor