Multiculturalism in the workplace is a growing phenomenon in many companies, especially in large corporations, which often have huge teams within each headquarters or with teams distributed in different countries.
That diversity is something that some companies actively seek when building their work teams. Other companies simply find it as they grow and add new talent to their ranks. It is essential to know how to understand and manage it to become a tool in favor of the workforce and to prevent possible conflicts that may arise from it. Let’s discuss it in this post.
Understanding multiculturalism in the workplace
When discussing multiculturalism at work, we usually think of teams full of exoticism. This usually results in different ethnic groups with different languages of origin, diverse religions, and, in short, customs, sociological baggage, and conceptions of the world and interpersonal relationships that can be very different from one another.
This is true, of course, but we must also bear in mind that these same phenomena can occur even among people born and raised in the same country, primarily when working in large, cosmopolitan cities.
To manage this diversity properly in companies, it is essential to cultivate attitudes of healthy, prudent, and open-minded coexistence among all workforce members to accept each other’s differences. This means not letting respect or care for others turn into paternalistic, suffocating, or invisibilizing attitudes.
Paternalistic attitudes invalidate the other despite being respectful in appearance because we go too far in “taking care of the other” and end up making them feel inferior. Suffocating dynamics are those where the level of trust, collaboration, or flexibility within the team is so low that absolutely nothing can ever be said out of fear of offending.
Finally, multiculturalism in the workplace can become invisible if the idea is taken to the extreme that we are all absolutely the same in everything and that there are no substantial differences in our respective human backgrounds. In that case, there would be nothing to consider when preventing conflicts beyond basic ideas about education or courtesy that are assumed to be equally understood by all workforce members.
Therefore, to properly understand multiculturalism in the workplace and prevent possible conflicts within the workforce that do not benefit mental health in the workplace, it is important to consider the following four points:
1. Diversity as a plus
Understanding multiculturalism in the workplace is an exercise in team cohesion that goes beyond bringing together employees from different parts of the world. Integration is not about bringing people together but about connecting people firmly.
2. Intrinsic complexity within multiculturalism
Our passports don’t define us. People share codes according to their country of origin and their gender, age, or level of education. To consider intersectionalities within multiculturalism, not to have an uncompromising vision of what each group shares or does not share according to the “culture” to which it supposedly belongs.
3. Education in multiculturalism
Educate the staff on the risks and advantages of multiculturalism in the workplace. To teach how multiculturalism is understood in this company and what aspects should be considered so that it does not cause friction or inefficiencies within the work teams but rather is an element that improves productivity.
4. Equal and balanced vision
Do not pretend that there are no cultural factors that can be potentially conflicting for team cohesion, but do not overemphasize these factors by seeing possible sources of conflict where there is nothing.
If you are interested in learning more about this topic, you can also check this post about Workplace Diversity Statistics for 2023.
Multiculturalism in the workplace and corporate culture
Multiculturalism in the workplace is a characteristic of a company’s workforce. At the same time, corporate culture is the set of values and principles around an organization’s work methodologies and strategies.
The connection between both is found in the explicit conceptualization of multiculturalism at work as a clear asset for the company, for example, by contemplating some measures to take care of multiculturalism at work explicitly in the corporate codes of conduct, in addition to an appreciation of it as a value.
In this sense, it is not so much something to be sought or encouraged if it does not obey the company’s interests, since otherwise, multiculturalism in the workplace would become an aim in itself. However, it is something to defend, respect, and take advantage of when it is generated since it can be a source of benefit for everyone when it is appropriately managed.
Improving emotional well-being in companies
At ifeel, we are committed to improving employee and company well-being. That is why we strive to help them in the challenge of generating stimulating and healthy work environments for their employees.
For this purpose, our psychologists have created an emotional well-being program for companies. Through this collaboration, your company’s HR managers will be able to receive personalized, data-driven advice on how to improve their teams’ psychological well-being. In addition, this program provides employees with a complete mental health care service structured at different levels according to their needs. Try our program now to see how it can help you.
Visit our Resources section, where you will find podcasts, guides for Human Resources, or interviews with leading HR professionals. In addition, you will have access to a Psychosocial Risk Factors Template, which will help you comply with the Labor Inspection requirements.
We hope this post about how to understand multiculturalism in the workplace has given you some good ideas to make it easier for you to fulfill your tasks. Contact us to learn more about how our emotional well-being program for companies works.