For diversity professionals around the world, the trials of creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is both challenging and thought-provoking. We often speak in broad terms when it comes to the need of having a globally diverse work and educational space for citizens around the globe to come together and share in experiences outside of their cultural and comfort zone. In order for us to live in a place where the majority shares a globally diverse mindset, we need to resist the urge to define what diversity looks like and instead focus more on listening to the ideas of others not from our own background. For our ideas about global diversity to become a reality, it is imperative that we recognize that global diversity is more about a global way of behaving and thinking and less of a personal definition of diversity.
Globalization is quickly changing the landscape of the corporate and business world. For long term success, the way we assess and define diversity and inclusion should drastically change because diversity in a global context focuses on finding shared ideals and values and implementing them into our personal and professional lives. According to Faith Miller, author of “How do you Define Diversity”, she suggests “Diversity is actually diverse in that one person or group may define it differently based on what best suits the organization.” But, if we work to achieve results more advanced and comprehensive than those we attain from our own homogenous groups to push forward into design a new era that truly is globally diverse.
Currently, diversity in workplace or any professional setting is mainly viewed as a positive which produces a space of innovation and creative thinking, but global diversity is much more than this. “Cultural Diversity and Universal Ethics in a Global World,” by Domènec Melé and Carlos Sánchez-Runde states, “Organizing corporations so that people from different cultures live and work together peacefully is a challenge for management that we cannot ignore (Melé and Sánchez-Runde). The way businesses and corporations view diversity and inclusion are not in line with the realities of what needs to occur to enact constructive change. With this in mind, we also need to recognize diversity on the global stage is more than statistics or quotas. Global diversity is about establishing the best possible outcome in terms of performance and unconventional thinking.
Through the inclusion of various talents and backgrounds, we can evolve both personally and professionally in ways we have been unsuccessful in the past. Ensuring diversity becomes global is not about putting in place programs which create diversity, but about creating a movement in professional value systems which express belief in how diversity and inclusion is fundamental to growth. Through infusing this energy into various corporate institutions, the struggle to preserve the uniqueness of a domestic culture fades away to the inclusion of diverse cultures in professional day-to-day operations. Melé and Sánchez-Runde state, “simultaneously, the current globalization and the existence of an increasingly interconnected world seem to require a common ground to promote dialog, peace, and a more humane world.” The goal should be to build corporate institutions which cultural change lasts over time. Redefining diversity or opening up to the possibility that our way of understanding diversity is underdeveloped, is the only way to converge and successfully work with other nations and backgrounds in a way which translates across all cultures.
By leveraging and investing in carefully selected team members from different regions, corporate levels, genders, orientations, generations, and ability groups we will create a group of team members diverse enough to enact change in the ways needed for the future. In using this new model for diversity in professional settings, we can take down the barriers separating us and put in place a standard which highlight individual assets and cultural similarities. Miller believes diversity should not be about a preconceived notion about a culture or even the stereotypes associated about certain people or regions. “Diversity or the intent to diversify should be about embracing the differences in culture and ideologies that each individual brings to a group or organization and to the workplace” (Miller, 1). The more corporations and other professional entities keep this in mind, the closer we come to actually achieving our goal. The purpose of diversity is to foster growth between individuals who may be seen as different as ourselves. It is in this atmosphere we learn to cope, interact, and accept people from various cultures unlike our own. Within our own organizations we should encourage new ideas and perspectives, especially if culturally they run counter to our own. Diverse work spaces create an atmosphere where people can learn to accept differences and make them work within a group setting. The ability to harness the strength provided through the pool of numerous talents and perspectives creates a more complete work and learning environment which reflects the world as it changes around us.
In Beth Schudels’s “How Would you Define Diversity,” she writes, “Understanding cultural competence starts with individuals. Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures, and work with varying cultural beliefs and schedules”. In making a distinct shift in the way we define diversity and inclusion businesses and corporations will bring in assets that will increase profits and generate revenue streams. Real diversity embraces inclusion of all cultures for more than appearances and representation. We no longer live in a world where bringing diverse groups of people is enough. To be successful in any global approach, we must bring together influential partners and maintain a space for all people to contribute in a way that is both productive and meaningful.
The more we truly understand the beliefs and morals of others, the easier true global diversification will be. Common values and principals are similar across many wisdom traditions and religions worldwide. According to Melé and Sánchez-Runde, “Several empirical research works show that beyond specific moral judgments there can be found basic values or principles underlying those judgments,” Universal understanding of values, ethics, and humanity is something that hold everyone together. In this, it matters not where you are from or what you believe. Having these same understandings in professional spaces guarantees a coming together of not only different ideas, but different cultures as well. Melé and Sánchez-Runde also go on to say, “This similarity suggests that a universal virtue ethic may already exist in the form of a powerful shared strand of moral thinking.”
By focusing on the similarities between cultural groups instead of quotas and data research, we allow ourselves to see corporate and global connections through a globally diverse lens. Without this approach, we all take the risk of losing out on beneficial professional business relationships because of cultural biases.