Businesses can thrive when they get the best out of each individual in the workplace. Photo: iStockphoto/Courtney Keating

Sharpening the benefits of diversity

Businesses need to build an environment that enables work teams to balance integration with differentiation.


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Language and Culture Pty Ltd /
Thank you for Cristina Gibson’s succinct and inspiring article, supported by useful research. I have been providing intercultural training to businesses in Perth. Top management often avoid discussing cultural differences, instead preferring to focus specifically on the similarities of their corporate members. Many of them believe that talking up similarities enhances cooperation and integration in the workplace. Pretending there are no, or few differences, does nothing to assist loyalty and real connection between employees at any level. The truth is we are made from other cultures. We ARE other cultures. Australia has been built this way. We can use the huge diversity to our advantage. All that is required is encouragement and training. Diverse team members have to get to know each other. They need to explore how each individual member can contribute best. Staff must be trained to communicate effectively, coordinate their interactions and learn the techniques to deal with conflicts. It is hard work but everybody can be trained. The rewards are enormous for the individual and ultimately for their corporation. With organisational encouragement and support, it is the trainable skill-set that makes diversity work best. Merely putting culturally diverse workers together doesn’t deliver optimum benefits. Cristina Gibson’s point about deliberately building an environment that enables teams to balance integration with differentiation is spot on.

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