Building Cross-Cultural Sensitivity in Your Organization
Cross-cultural sensitivity is more important than ever in today’s increasingly multicultural workplace. It is possible that the one thing every employee will have in common is that they are multicultural. Nationality, ethnicity, gender, or local geographic location may immediately come to mind. Yet, many organizations have global locations, international employees, and international clients. Cross-cultural sensitivity is knowledge, awareness, and acceptance of other cultures and others’ cultural identities. This is a skill that is especially key to effective communication between people with cultural differences. In addition, it displays a superior level of professional competence and emotional intelligence within your company.
Understanding the Benefits
An organization where the employees have cross-cultural sensitivity skills provides a competitive advantage. This begins with having knowledgeable, aware, and accepting employees. Cross-culturally knowledgeable employees have greater relationship-building abilities. They can bridge any communication gaps because of cultural differences and simulate engagement. When members of your organization are aware of cross-cultural differences, they will know how to show respect to others, inside and outside, of the organization. This enhances communication and helps prevent and mitigate conflict that could come from offending someone. Cross-culturally accepting employees help create a supportive and encouraging workplace environment for everyone, leading to higher productivity. Accepting employees are tolerant, appreciate each other’s differences, and utilize empathy when engaging with each other.
Promote Cross-Cultural Knowledge
Organizations can experience the benefits of having a cross-culturally sensitive workplace by providing professional development opportunities. This can be accomplished by working with a trainer specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion, or cross-cultural sensitivity. Employees should learn foundational cultural sensitivity skills such as empathy, bias awareness, and professional etiquette. Global cross-cultural skills training would include learning the customs of other cultures, culturally-based management styles, and other languages. It is wise to tailor cultural sensitivity skills training to your organization’s needs. For example, if your organization has a location in Germany, and employees are engaging with each other and clients across countries, it would be wise and respectful for all employees to know German culture.
Provide Cross-Cultural Immersion Opportunities
In addition to providing training on cross-cultural sensitivity, organizations can encourage cultural immersion opportunities for employees’ personal and professional development. One of the easiest and most popular ways to incorporate diverse cultures into the workplace is bringing in cultural foods. This can be done through potluck-style lunches, catered meals, visiting different restaurants as a part of team building, or social events. Management can also share culturally diverse events happening in the community with employees.
Building cross-cultural sensitivity in your organization should be an ongoing process and a part of employee engagement efforts. Every company in the workplace should have multicultural awareness and connect with and work with diverse cultures. Organizations must understand the benefits of these skills to put them into practice. By providing cross-cultural educational and immersion opportunities, companies can grow with the changes that multicultural workplaces bring.